As football-centric as Cincinnati and Clermont County are, getting from February to September can seem like an eternity. However, the Clermont County Grizzlies are giving football fans an opportunity to feed their addiction with hard-hitting action right in our backyards.
Started in two years, the Clermont County Grizzlies were founded by brothers and co-owners Forrest and Kirk Rogers. Originally known as the Goshen Rampage, the Rogers’ decided to change the name for the 2012 season.
“We currently play in the Northern Frontier Football League and we’re based out of Goshen,” new head coach Mike Kirchgessner said. “I took over the coaching duties a week and a half ago.”
Kirchgessner is keen on getting the community involved with the team because he feels that both parties can help out the other.
“I want to create a little more community involvement,” he said. “It would be great to have the community coming to us as well as us coming to the community.
“We’re just putting out our feelers right now,” he went on. “We want to find youth football camps that we can volunteer at, anything youth related. Anything that will benefit the community, for that matter. I have a roster of 45-50 really strong guys and anything that the community needs, we’re more than happy to lend our services.”
The Clermont County Grizzlies are made up of different kinds of football players, from guys just out of high school, to college students and even beyond.
“Players do not get paid to play,” Kirchgessner said. “A lot of guys are using this time to improve their skills in hopes of making a college team, so they can’t get paid because they would lose their NCAA eligibility.”
The players actually pay a fee themselves to play, about $100 when it’s all said and done, but most play for the love of the game. As a result of the pay-to-play, many of the teams assets, as far as jerseys, helmets and league fees are taken care by the players themselves along with donations and sponsorships.
The Grizzlies have found a new leader that is grounded in the game and committed to turning the team into a contender.
Kirchgessner has a solid foundation in semi-professional football, already being named to the Cincinnati Semi-Pro Hall of Fame in 2011.
Before coming to the Grizzlies, Kirchgessner was affiliated with the Northern Kentucky Bulldogs, a semi-pro team playing in the Heartland Football League.
After the Grizzlies got off to a 1-4 start, Kirchgessner was brought in when the Rogers’ decided a coaching change was needed.
“I’m coming in to help get (the Grizzlies) to the next level,” he said. “I want to turn the team around.”
Since Kirchgessner has been at the helm, the Grizzlies have gone 0-1-1, tying their first game under the new coach against the Ohio Ducks and losing the second game to the highly-touted Tri-State Sharks.
“Last week we played a team (Sharks) that were nationally ranked,” Kirchgessner said. “This coming weekend we play a team from northern Kentucky, the Cincinnati Falcons that beat us pretty bad the first time.
“But I expect this game to be a big turnaround point for the season. With me coming in and finetuning, retooling and doing what I do – I scouted them and know what they’re going to do – we’re fully expecting to shock some people.”
The Grizzlies kick off against the Falcons on Saturday, July 28 at 7 p.m. at Goshen’s Jim Brown Stadium.
For more information on the Grizzlies or to contact them about donations, sponsorships or team information, visit their website at goshenrampage.com.