I had heard about the history quite often.
Since I shared an office with the Aurora Advocate staff for many years, I knew all about this certain football team that made its home on West Pioneer Trail.
I can remember thinking about its funny-sounding mascot’s name. Even today, there are times when I wonder, "What in the world is a Greenman?"
Regardless of this goofy moniker, I knew these armored gladiators dressed in mostly green could play some serious football.
I remember being somewhat jealous when one of my colleagues covered Aurora when it won the Division III state title back in 2008.
Sure, I covered the Greenmen a handful of times, but those situations usually occurred only if things fell into place.
If I did see Aurora play, it was because a few of my other teams from our coverage area bumped into them. That was pretty rare since those squads did most of their work in Summit County.
Therefore, I must confess that the Greenmen were an afterthought for much of my career.
That, of course, changed dramatically some two years ago.
I was told that I would be responsible for putting together the Advocate sports’ section during the summer of 2017. As a result, Aurora’s fantastic football team was now my turf and mine only. While I was intrigued, I couldn’t escape the fact that the timing didn’t seem right. Yes, the Greenmen had reached the playoffs 12 consecutive years, but the word on the street was this: Aurora’s better days seemed to be locked away in another era.
The plot thickened when the Greenmen finished a modest 6-5 later that fall. Yes, Aurora’s playoff streak continued, but it didn’t look anything like a powerhouse that I had been told it was in previous years.
Those negative rumors continued to be justified when Aurora didn’t even make the playoffs in 2018. Despite a 7-3 record and a three-game winning streak to end its season, the Greenmen were coldly left at the door. In other words, there was no trick-or-treating for some gentlemen in green.
Thus, I often wondered if Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson had the best way of describing my situation. Were my days of covering a once invincible superpower "Living in the Past?"
Fortunately, the answer turned out to be no.
Aurora returned to its rightful place of supremacy after a fantastic 2019 season. The Greenmen finished 13-1 after losing to Mansfield Senior 27-21 Friday in double overtime. The Division III state semifinal contest took place at Nordonia High School’s Boliantz Stadium in Macedonia.
The loss ended a 16-game winning streak for Aurora, which had its first 10-0 regular season since 1998. The Greenmen also won their first Suburban League American Conference title in three years and made their first appearance in the final four since 2012.
Yes, there seems to be no truth to the rumors of a "Great Depression" taking place at Veterans Stadium. And I plan to cover this, hopefully, long-as-possible "Age of Prosperity" as much as possible.
Like a certain progressive rock band that got its start in the late 1960s, I’m looking forward to taking this cue: "Let’s go living in the past."
The football players weren’t the only ones who had all the fun this fall.
Sophomore Matthew Singleton added to his already legendary status by placing 10th at the Division I state cross country meet last month. I have a hunch that Singleton, a two-time state qualifier, will be running for a Division I college team one day. Yes, this kid is a flat-out stud.
Singleton’s teammates aren’t too shabby either. Both of Aurora’s boys and girls cross country teams qualified for the regional competition. Perhaps Mr. Singleton will have some company at the 2020 state meet. I’m not going to bet against such a possibility.
The boys soccer team continued its stellar tradition by getting back to a Division II district final after a one-year hiatus. Despite not having a big-time scorer like it did last season, the Greenmen finished 13-5-1.
The girls soccer team seemed destined for a rebuilding year after a glorious 2018.
That didn’t happen.
Aurora returned to a Division II district final for the second consecutive year despite losing a ton of quality seniors from the previous season. I have a feeling this team is in pretty good hands. A lot of key pieces were underclassmen, so don’t be surprised if the Greenmen make it this far or even further in 2020.
The Aurora volleyball team’s record signifies a team that seems to be stuck in neutral. For the second straight year, the Greenmen were relatively average.
Until the postseason, of course.
Aurora saved its best for last and wound up reaching Division II district play for the first time ever. Doesn’t sound like average to me, does it?
How about the boys golfers? The Greenmen’s season on the links looks eerily similar to the football team. That’s because the Aurora boys golfers finished 12-0 during the regular season. The Greenmen fell just a hair short of capturing a Suburban League American Conference title, but any season that has a "zero" in the loss column sounds pretty darn fantastic to me.
The girls tennis team, which had about as many players as the IMG Academy on its roster, also had a fine regular season after posting a 14-4 overall record.
Last but not least, the girls golf team finished a very respectable 7-6 overall.
Congrats to all of the athletes this fall. By the way, a "Green Man" is a sculpture or representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves, according to Wikipedia.
It’s a safe bet these "vegetation deities" on West Pioneer Trail have a tendency to regenerate themselves.
Over and over.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.