State for 38: Mentor Football Inspired By Fallen Teammate
The Mentor Cardinals are one of the favorites to win the state championship in high school football, and the team is using the memory of a fallen teammate as their inspiration.
Brandon Shima was just 16 years old when he died one year ago, from what the coroner concluded were natural causes.
Shima’s image and his number 38 are prominent everywhere at Mentor’s Osbourne Stadium.
The players pass a memorial to their friend every time they go onto the field, and Brandon’s locker and the team roster still carry his name.
The support shown by his teammates over the past year has helped comfort his grieving family.
“A little sad, but I know he’s here with us. I know how Brandon is and he wouldn’t want this to be a distraction. I know he’s there with his team,” said his father Keith. “I think he’s kind of proven it with the whole 38 thing along the way, kind of letting the guys know he’s still here.”
What he means by “the whole 38 thing,” is that the 9-1 Cardinals have scored 38 points four times this year, and won two other games by 38 points.
Mentor Coach Steve Trivisonno has also used Brandon’s number in his battle cry for a championship, “State for 38”.
He says Brandon Shima is a reminder of how fleeting life can be.
Trivisonno told Fox 8, “You’ve got to enjoy every moment you have, you know, we’re only here for so long, and so many opportunities of days in life, and you’ve got to take advantage of what you have.”
Brandon’s death was the first time many of his teammates have had to deal with something so traumatic in their lives, and it has brought a maturity to the team.
“Losing him is probably the biggest impact on my life, and we all miss him very much,” said teammate Logan Urban.
And when they get on the field and play, they feel Brandon Shima is at their side.
“If you want to be a great team, you have to play like a family. So when we lost Brandon, it wasn’t like losing a classmate or losing a teammate, it was like losing a brother,” said teammate Regis Coustillac, saying, “and you don’t need much inspiration to go out there and win a state championship, but we sure got it.”
The Cardinals opened the playoffs on Saturday night with a convincing 48-16 win over the JFK Eagles.