Sports Extra with Dave Ross: 50 years ago: A memorable trip to Piqua

Sports Extra - With Dave Ross

This is Piqua week, always a monumental inclusion on the Sidney High School football schedule. It evokes many memories throughout the Yellow Jacket community. My recollections often revert to game 27 of the 30 game winning streak of 1968-70. There are many interesting aspects to that October 1970 Friday night at Piqua’s Wertz Field.

You’ve no doubt heard the saying “I remember it like it was yesterday.” That applies here as I’m writing this entirely from memory. I was a junior on that squad.

The week before Piqua we’d beaten previously unblemished Lima Shawnee 33-8 but lost senior starting quarterback Bruce Williams to an ankle injury. My classmate, Tom Asbury, capably took over at Shawnee and was set for his first varsity start at Piqua.

Being a short road trip with a potential opportunity for reserves to get varsity playing time, the entire squad boarded two buses, one more than normal, to journey down I-75. Pregame warmup went well. When we emerged from our locker room behind the home side just before kickoff, we were greeted by a chorus of boos which were quickly drowned out by the thunderous response from the jam packed visitors side as we ran across the field and became visible to our fans.

The game had a modest pace and we led 14-0 when we recovered a fumble near midfield with the clock almost expired entering halftime. Our offense huddled for one final play, likely awaiting a play call from the sideline. Wide receiver and MVP Mike Flanagan took over and told Asbury to throw the ball to the goal line. “I’ll be there,” promised the future Indiana Hoosier.

The ball was snapped. Flanagan jogged a few steps before bursting north and blowing by the defense. Asbury’s delivery met him according to plan resulting in a more comfortable 21-0 halftime margin. It was 40-0 after three periods and Coach Haines put the substitution process into high gear. About halfway through the final stanza, the eleventh year mentor walked his sideline to inquire and confirm that everyone on the trip had played, which they had.

Sidney led 54-0 with the ball on the Piqua 11 yard line as the final seconds clicked down. I was rising from my seat on the bench near midfield when I noticed our coach jumping and yelling for a timeout. I was shocked. This could only mean one thing. I was being called on to kick a field goal on second down and time running out. The timeout was granted with four seconds left. Haines barked “field goal” and my unit entered.

Flanagan was my holder and was set at the 18 yard line on the left hash for a 28 yard kick. Great snap by Bob Osborne, perfect hold by our incredibly versatile MVP, then the best kick of my lifetime. The ball was still gaining altitude as it split the upright high above the south goal post. It sailed out the of the stadium and hit a parked car across the street. Final score 57-0.

When we got back to school on Monday, a friend advised that he and his girlfriend were in that vehicle and not paying attention to the football game when our final three points arrived. The couple had been startled by the impact.

Needless to say, coach Chuck Asher and his Piqua Indians weren’t happy. There was minimal interaction between the two sides after game’s end and nothing notable happened. I was thrilled with the field goal against our biggest rival but was still surprised I was given the opportunity. Over 47 years later I finally got the full story.

In early 2018 my 1969 teammate Dan Murray and I went to visit an ailing but alert Dave Haines one final time at his Piqua residence. Yes, Piqua. His second wife was from there and Piqua became home. We talked about many memorable games from his 15 seasons as SHS head coach including Piqua 1970.

Dave kidded me with, “I remember you begging me to kick that field goal.” I responded that I was nowhere near him when the decision was made. He then admitted that he’d gotten mad when we cleared the bench while Piqua kept starters in the game. “I yelled at Chuck to substitute but he didn’t. That’s why I called for the field goal,” he revealed “I shouldn’t have done that. Chuck Asher was always a good friend.”

Ironically, Chuck also became my good friend through my media work as he was head coach at Piqua, and then Bellefontaine, and Lehman. I even attended his 2001 Lehman retirement party. Asher’s friendship with Haines was obvious to me. Many times I’d see Chuck Asher, he’d ask how Dave Haines was doing. Both passed away in 2018. Haines was 84, Asher 88.

I never mentioned the field goal to Asher but he did bring it up a few times. We actually had some fun with it including at a Sidney Rotary meeting where he was the featured speaker.

1970…half a century ago…still seems like yesterday…

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross is the historian of Sidney High School football and has worked in radio, TV, and newspaper since 1975.

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross is the historian of Sidney High School football and has worked in radio, TV, and newspaper since 1975.