Ted Ginn's Glenville football team looks to repeat 2022's historic title
Cleveland's Glenville High School football team is playing for its second straight state championship under now-Hall of Fame coach Ted Ginn Sr. The team made history in 2022, becoming the first Cleveland Metropolitan School District football team ever to win a state football championship.
Ideastream Public Media’s sports commentator Terry Pluto said a second championship would mean more to Ginn than just another trophy.
“As he's told me over the years, the feeling was, yes, Glenville would win a lot of games in the regular season, but the kids weren't disciplined enough or they didn't have the mental toughness to win a state title. You know, he thought that was unfair, and I did, too,” Pluto said.
Ginn, 68, has been Glenville’s football coach for 25 years. He’s also coached the high school track team to 17 state titles.
He's been a Tarblooder his entire life.
“You're talking about a guy who went to Glenville, ended up working at the school as a security guard (and) then he would volunteer with the football program,” Pluto said.
Under Ginn, Glenville’s football team has become known as an NFL pipeline. But Pluto said for Ginn, that’s a secondary goal.
“A lot of his success stories are just maybe kids that went to Glenville graduated and got a job or kids that went to Glenville and went to a small college and got a job and (are) raising a family the right way,” Pluto said.
This year, Ginn was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame and into the inaugural class of the National High School Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In December 2022, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
“But what I find, as Ted and I are the same age, 68, I don't know how he has the energy to do the stuff he's done,” Pluto said, noting that Ginn is a pancreatic cancer survivor.
It’s the kids, Pluto said, that keep Ginn going. In 2007 the Cleveland Municipal School District created Ginn Academy in the Collinwood area, an all-boys school for at-risk students.
“He's always worried about losing kids to the street,” Pluto said. “I remember in 2020, we talked and that was the year of the pandemic and they closed down the football season. And in fact, he helped some of his kids go to, like, Shaw [High School in East Cleveland] and some other places to play because he just felt that if they lose that structure, things could go really bad,” Pluto said.
This year’s Glenville team is led by running back D’Shawntae Jones, whose uncle is former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.
“The last two games, he's rushed for over 250 yards and just kind of carrying the team on his back,” Pluto said.
They have to players who have committed to Ohio State – cornerback Bryce West, who’s currently injured, and tight end Damarion Witten.
Pluto said Glenville players have told him they’re playing for something bigger.
“A lot of the kids there, and Ginn will play into this, is like, you know, ‘You've been overlooked. You're underrated. Go show ‘em. Go prove it,’” Pluto said.
Regardless of whether Glenville wins another state title or not, Pluto says Ginn’s legacy is cemented.
“It doesn't change a thing about Ted Ginn’s program and what he's done there, because the state titles are really nice. It's kind of like the dessert. But the main meal there, it's been what he's been doing with these young men for a quarter of a century,” Pluto said.
Glenville (12-2) plays Kettering Archbishop Alter (12-3) for the Division IV state championship on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.