Sidney High School football won all ten of its games in both 1968 and 1969. Many observers felt the experienced and talent laden 1970 edition of the Yellow Jackets would dominate and add ten more victories to the total. When the young men of Head Coach Dave Haines took the field after Labor Day a half century ago, that’s exactly what happened. However, that summer’s road was not smoothly paved.
The same five men coached both the 1968 and 1969 squads. Assisting Haines were veterans Lew Blackford, Frank Focht, and Bill Takacs, along with new arrival Tom “Scooter” Hollman. Blackford, Focht, and Takacs all remained in the school system but retired from coaching varsity football after 1969, leaving only Haines and Hollman to anchor a largely new staff.
In the spring of 1970, minor league pitcher and future Indiana University baseball coach Bob Morgan signed on but wasn’t available until right before two-a-day practices began in mid-August. The Findlay native tossed 128 innings in the Florida State League that summer before heading north.
For whatever reasons, the other two positions had not been filled the first time the team suited up. Despite his hometown not having high school football, Anna native and Sidney junior high coach Tom Fogt came to the varsity as an interim assistant before becoming permanent a few days later. The final slot was not filled.
There were several keys to making the reworked staff effective. The players knew the systems in place. Hollman was able to handle the line duties of Focht and Takacs while motivating his guys to new heights. Morgan and Fogt fit in nicely. Haines led with a steady hand in his 11th season.
It’s hard to explain what happened on the field in the weeks leading up to the traditional opener with St. Marys. Workouts were sluggish and so were the two scrimmages. Chaminade doubled the score on Sidney, four touchdowns to two. A storm ended the final practice game at halftime with Troy leading 8-7 (actual points). Little did we know that Sidney and Troy would both have perfect seasons.
Things were still not going well at the Saturday “helmets and sweats” session that followed the next morning. The 11-on-11 “walk through” segment was a disaster to the point that the head coach told the players not among the 22 to “take off running. I’m sick of looking at you.” I was in that group and most of us ran five miles.
Practices didn’t get much better during St. Marys week and things still didn’t click during our warmup at Julia Lamb Stadium on Friday night. When we went back to our game night locker room at the northwest corner of the field, the garage door closed and something special and amazing happened in the place we called the “dungeon.” Infectious emotion came over our team and reached a fever pitch as Coach Haines delivered a memorable pep talk and raised the garage door for introductions and the national anthem. Everything clicked en route to a 27-6 halftime score and 54-12 final. We’d handled a team that would go 8-2 and win its league.
We had one close game in 1970, a 21-6 win over Toledo Whitmer in week three. We trailed 6-0 at the half. Seven weeks later the 30 wins were complete with an aggregate season’s score of 430-38. The preseason was a distant memory.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross is the historian of SHS football and was a team member from 1969-71. The perfect teams of 1968-70 will hold a reunion on Labor Day weekend 2021.