John Harbaugh congratulates Xenia football team on making OHSAA playoffs

The Xenia Buccaneers are having quite a week.

Not only did they clinch the school’s first playoff berth with a 42-0 win over Fairborn on Thursday night, they also got some encouragement from a Super Bowl winner.

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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh took a break from preparing his team for a Sunday night matchup with the defending champion New England Patriots to congratulate the team on their great season and share a message about the power of football.

“We’re pretty fired up about (the Patriots game), as you can imagine, but we’re also thinking you guys — the Xenia High School football team,” said Harbaugh, who with his brother, Jim, lived in the Miami Valley as a young boy when their father was a high school coach in the area.

Jack Harbaugh led Xenia to a Western Ohio League championship in 1966 after two seasons as the head coach at Eaton.

>>RELATED: Roots of Super Bowl coaches run through Miami Valley

He began a long career as a college coach after that, but his boys haven’t forgotten about where they spent part of their youth.

“You guys are living in that great tradition, Xenia football, Jack Harbaugh,” said John Harbaugh, who was a defensive back at Miami University. “We’ve got a lot of great memories, from what I can remember of it. We were like 3 years old, me and my brother, but it’s part of our history too so I feel very strongly about you guys.”

After congratulating the Miami Valley League Valley division champion Buccs on their great regular season, he spoke about faith and character being pillars of the program he has established in Baltimore, where he has been head coach since 2008 and won more than 100 games.

“There’s no greater place in our society today that builds character than football,” Harbaugh said. “There’s nothing like being a football player. Once you’re a football player, you’re always a football player. I’ve never heard a high school football player, no matter how old they get, say, ‘Man, I really regret that I played high school football.’ No, just the opposite. They’re always proud of it. ‘I played football at Xenia High School.’ That’s something you can be proud of for the rest of your lives.”

>>READ MORE: The top 7 football players in Xenia High School history

After assuring the players, “You will walk together forever in those relationships and being a part of that great football team, so take pride in that but also understand the responsibility that goes with it,” he stressed the importance of being “courageous” both on and off the field.

“You’re the football players. You’re the guys they look up to. You’re the strongest guys in the building. You should be taking a stand for what’s right, and what’s good and looking after those in the school that can’t look after themselves as well. That’s your responsibility: Make that choice, be courageous. Be a man of character.

“Good luck in your game, get after ‘em, fly around. Run to the ball. Life is short!”

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