AURORA — Unless one makes his home in a cave, under a rock or perhaps Atlantis, a certain four-word phrase has resonated rather vehemently during the last three years.

Rumor has it the indelible catchphrase was particularly vociferous in a land known for its "amber waves of grain" and "purple mountain majesty."

"Make America Great Again."

That infectious campaign slogan led a certain tycoon and larger-than-life television personality all the way to the White House.

Of course, legend has it that the 45th President of the United States’ famous mantra actually may have originated with his potential trailblazing 2016 opponent.

It has been stated that his former liberal rival’s Commander-in-Chief spouse mentioned those four immortal words in his speeches back in 1992.

Regardless of who coined the phrase or owns rights to it, the Aurora football team has put its own spin on a powerful but yet often taken for granted two-syllable word.


This illustrious term may have to be put on the shelf for now. As the Greenmen’s glittering history has shown, the first step toward making Aurora great will mimic the astonishing journey taken by the current POTUS.

In other words, greatness is achieved in November.

Nevertheless, this campaign trail gained quite a bit of steam last Friday.

The host Greenmen improved to 4-0 after earning a come-from-behind 14-13 victory over Parma Padua Franciscan at Veterans Stadium.

Aurora trailed 13-0 heading into the fourth quarter and looked inferior against the talented, but hard-luck Bruins (1-3) in just about every way imaginable.

The Greenmen, who did not reach the playoffs last year for the first time since 2004, don’t particularly care for the term, "inferior."

As a matter of fact, they abhor such a word.

"We take it game by game," said senior linebacker/tight end AJ Barner, who plans to continue his academic and football careers at Ohio University. "We always believe in ourselves and we expect to go out and win every game. We just have to trust in each other."

That trust led to Barner’s carpe-diem moment that gave his team a pulse when all directions pointed to an inevitable flatline.

Barner’s teammate, Lenny Galaska, sacked Padua quarterback Drew Butler from behind. After Butler was hit, the ball dropped to the turf and Barner alertly picked up the loose pigskin. With no one in front of him, Barner scampered into the end zone untouched.

As a result, Aurora, which seemed discombobulated much of the evening, found its magical powers just in the nick of time.

"When we came back into the locker room, we weren’t too happy with how we played," Barner said. "We didn’t lose faith."

They didn’t need to. That’s because Barner’s classmate was saving his beast-mode moment for just the right time.

Senior running back Tony Gramm activated his hidden invincible circuits and punished Bruins’ defenders on his way to a 45-yard touchdown run. Gramm busted through a few tacklers, cut left and sprinted into the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning score.

For Gramm, such a breakthrough was bound to happen. The Greenmen had followed a script that was first introduced during their mundane but critical drilling sessions that took place prior to game night.

"We had a great practice this week," Gramm said. "We worked hard all week. I think we just took it to them at the end."

This sort of physical domination up front was a welcome sight since Aurora struggled to launch its aerial assault.

There were several occasions when a Greenman wideout found himself all alone with nothing but green turf around him. Alas, those passes went a hair too far or too wide of Aurora’s expeditious receivers.

"We thought we had them deep several times," Greenmen head coach Bob Mihalik said. "We were just missing. We had guys behind their DBs [defensive backs], which was a big part of our game plan all week. We had to miss five or six touchdowns by just a little bit.

"We’ll keep working on that. We have to be able to throw the ball vertically to keep teams off us."

That work will be performed by a gifted sophomore who, despite his continued efforts to perfect the deep ball, has been thriving under center thus far. All sophomore quarterback Alex Moore has done is win his first four starts as the team’s field general.

His gritty first-down run despite lots of contact sealed the win for Aurora on the final possession.

"We never lose faith in Alex," Barner said. "He’s going to keep working. When it matters, he’s going to come back and make that throw. I know that for a fact. I trust that guy with everything."

Gramm did too. In fact, the Greenmen’s robust backfield wrecking ball didn’t blink in the face of adversity.

"I don’t think we lost momentum," Gramm said. "We got in the locker room and everybody was picking each other up. We came out with momentum and we just kind of carried it from there."

Does a win like this assure greatness during the harvest season? Time will tell. However, a certain imposing 6-foot-5 two-way behemoth isn’t going to deny such a bold claim.

"That was a hard-fought win, but we got it done and great teams get it done no matter what," Barner said.

"Make America Great Again" has become a pop culture phenomenon of epic proportions. Making Aurora great again, on the other hand, appears to be accumulating vast gains in the electoral college some six weeks before the votes are tallied.

According to at least one political expert, counting ballots in November will be a worthless exercise.

In his mind, it’s already a landslide.

"It was about whether we’re a good team or a great team," Gramm said. "I think we evolved into a great team [last Friday]."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @FrankAceto_RPC.