It’s been three weeks since the Anna Rockets became state football champs. During the title game telecast and the time since I’ve had so many different random thoughts from the past and present related to Anna and this huge accomplishment. Here we go.
My first Anna memory is going to Wenger’s Fine Foods with my grandparents in the early 1960’s. Esther and Wilma had great food.
My first Anna athletic event as both a fan and broadcaster was a boys basketball game at Lehman against Houston in late 1975. This was Houston’s home floor.
Continuity is part of Anna’s football success. Original head coach Bryan Rioch is still an assistant coach. Athletic Director Mike Muehlfeld is only the second AD since 1956 when Bob Anderson arrived.
Anderson has always been a big football fan. Before the Anna gridiron experience the future Mayor often came to Sidney and elsewhere on autumn Friday nights.
Anna is starting football. Is this a good idea? I’m initially skeptical. Early results will be positive.
I can still see Muehlfeld working the room at a Sidney OHSAA regional meeting in search of opponents. He found several in the Cross County Conference and it isn’t long until Anna becomes a football member.
I remember a hybrid JV/varsity road game in 1999 where the home team forgot to hire officials. Some coaches from each side officiated the Rockets victory.
The first full varsity season (2000) begins with a surprise win at New Bremen and ends in the playoffs at Ansonia. I witnessed the emotional team huddle on the field after the game. Coach Rioch then separated to the goal post area for a special session with his first departing senior class, taking the emotion to another level.
Anna’s football boosters don’t stop raising money and making improvements when the sport becomes reality. A similar group in Fort Loramie is inspired and follows the Anna model. Many in Anna advise the Loramie effort. An Anna assistant becomes the Redskins first head coach.
Anna and Loramie basketball players seem to appear larger in uniform as basketball and football share athletes. Looks like the weight rooms are in full use.
Anna becomes a football only member of the powerful Midwest Athletic Conference. Is this a good idea? You bet.
When a new head coach is needed, the job is coveted and desirable. Nick Marino arrives from the head coaching position at Urbana.
Anna wins the state in 2019 and Loramie is nosed out in round two by eventual champ Marion Local. How cool if the two Shelby County squads could have both won it all in the same year. Maybe it will happen someday. Great job Rockets !!!
Next week: Joe Morgan and the trade that almost wasn’t.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross is a local sports historian and longtime media member.