• Dr. Herpy

Ohio coach headed for state championship is also a Christmas tree farmer

Published in USA Today
November 26, 2018
Cam Smith

It’s been a magic season for Kenston (Ohio) High School. Still fighting through the Ohio state playoffs, Kenston has advanced to the Division III state championship.

And that’s the rub for Jeff Grubich, the man who leads both the Kenston football team and a Christmas tree farm nearby.

Clearly, ’tis the season to be jolly.

For Grubich, this is truly unanticipated ground. The head coach has been a stalwart for both the football program and Howling Pines Tree Farm in Chagrin Falls, where Grubich and his wife are co-owners and use a robust seasonal staff help Northeast Ohio residents find and cut their own holiday trees.

According to the News-Herald, the past week has been hectic, to put it mildly. On Friday, Howling Pines officially opened for business the day after Thanksgiving. Grubich missed the grand opening because he was across the state in New Philadelphia for a state semifinal. On Monday, instead of selling trees at his farm, Grubich will be breaking down game film. The same follows on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before he also misses the next big sales day on Friday for Kenston’s own big date: the state championship against Kettering Alter at the Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, the first time in 22 years Kenston has played for a title.

“It’s amazing. Simply amazing,” Grubich told the News-Herald. “I told the guys in the postgame huddle — all of the parents and community members had swarmed the field and surrounded us — that this is what high school football is all about. It’s a group of guys that have been together their entire lives and they’re living out a dream.

“It’s busy, but it’s a good problem to have. People are coming left and right to cut their own trees. It’s a fun time of year.”

A very busy Saturday will likely be a lot more fun if things go the way Grubich and his players hope on Friday.

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