The Versailles Tigers finally have a state football title in the post-Hetrick era. Al Hetrick was at the Tigers helm for 38 seasons and won Ohio championships six times, most recently in 2003, before retiring after the 2005 campaign.
Al’s teams once won 54 games in a row (ending 1996) and last Saturday derailed a Kirtland juggernaut that had captured 55 straight. Here in Ohio, those streaks rank behind only Delphos St. John’s with 57 that ended in 2001 also at the hands of Versailles.
During all of those state titles, the term “Tigerball” became affixed to Versailles football. Though somewhat dormant for some time, it’s again center stage while resonating from the Tigers rooting section and beyond.
Head coach Ryan Jones was hired from Troy Christian in 2019. At that time a Versailles school board member told me that “we’re confident we got the right guy.” There was talent in the pipeline and some of it was massive, a vital factor in the Kirtland matchup.
Marion Local also won an Ohio crown last Saturday to give the Flyers a state record dozen, all under Tim Goodwin. The coach mentioned during postgame that this marks the first time they’ve had 16 wins in a season. No wonder. That opportunity didn’t exist until the playoffs were just expanded here in 2021.
Chalk up two more OHSAA football titles for the Midwest Athletic Conference. The MAC has now won 39 of them by nine different members among the ten who play football. Full breakdown at midwestathleticconference.com.
75 years ago
SDN’s “Out of the Past” 75 years ago column recently reported that Oakwood was joining the old Miami Valley League to hook up with Sidney, Piqua, Troy, Greenville, Fairmont, Xenia, and Miamisburg . This was in late 1946 and took effect in the 1948-49 school year.
Big mistake by the Lumberjacks who had been scoring touchdowns at will against previous competition. They spent a disastrous five years in the MVL and did not win a game, gaining only a tie with also winless Troy in their final season of 1952.
Oakwood was outscored 1392-179 in their 0-34-1 performance. Sidney had its way with the ‘Jacks five times with a point differential of 173-19.
The MVL played football with seven members in 1953. The Oakwood slot in the Sidney schedule was filled by the junior varsity from mighty Massillon on a Saturday night at Julia Lamb Stadium. Fairborn got the MVL back to eight members in 1954. That group of eight lasted for a decade and the original MVL survived another ten years beyond that. The MVL was reincarnated in 2019 with many of the former cast members.
Army plays Navy on Saturday in this annual gridiron classic. My most memorable Army-Navy clash came in 1973 when one of my Sidney High classmates gained over 100 yards for Army in their loss to the Midshipmen. That was Dan Spangler, now residing in Montana. Dan was in Sidney this week for the funeral of his brother Ed who was our Yellow Jacket teammate in 1969.
In 1974 I went with Ed and a few others to West Point to visit Dan and see Army defeat Air Force. For postgame dinner I had an “Ike Burger,” named for General and President Eisenhower who loved the double cheeseburgers that bore his nickname. West Point was an incredible place to visit.
Odd sidelight… We stayed at Middletown, New York, not far from West Point. On Friday night I watched the late sportscast on channel 7 from New York City with former pitcher Jim Bouton. His lead story came from back home as he proclaimed that “I’ll tell you about the worst high school football team in America.”
Bouton was referring to the Bethel Bees who lost that night to Riverside 49-0, resulting in an 0-10-0 season while being outscored 544-0. Bouton got the score by calling the Brandt Volunteer Fire Department which was near Bethel High School. Again, this was 47 years ago.