Julia Lamb Stadium… Friday, Nov. 13, 1970… 50 years ago tonight as the clock counts down to zero. Final score: Sidney 27, Lima Bath 0.
This was the 30th and final chapter in the Sidney Yellow Jackets three consecutive perfect seasons on the gridiron under coach Dave Haines. 50 years. Is that possible? I’m now 66 so yes it is.
Bath entered the contest at 4-5-0 and had lost 50-0 the week before to St. Marys, the same bunch we’d beaten 54-12 on opening night. At any rate we still had one more game to play to make our seniors ledger perfect over five campaigns, eighth grade through varsity.
Around 4:30 p.m. we had the traditional pregame meal courtesy of the Football Moms in the SHS cafeteria. I was seated with senior defensive tackle Doug Spillers who said he’d like to score a touchdown before his career ended. “Better hurry,” I told him. “Third play of the game,” he responded. Less than four hours later it actually happened.
Friday, Nov. 13, 1970 was a damp and cool night in Sidney. As per usual during the winning streak, the home side was full as local fans wanted to see one more big show from Mike Flanagan and company.
We lost the toss, kicked off, and Bath went on offense. On their third play, Wildcat quarterback Dennis Cosart fumbled at his own 30-yard line. As fate would have it, Spillers picked it up and rumbled in for a 7-0 lead that became 21-0 by halftime. A late game tally concluded the scoring and the 30 wins. This was shutout number five of the season.
When the game ended, it got quite emotional. We were saying thanks and goodbye to an amazing group of 20 seniors. While the versatile and talented Flanagan would head to Indiana, only two others would play college football. The other 17 would hang it up for good after being a collective backbone to something very special. Doug Spillers was one of those guys. We lost Doug last year after an extended illness. I remember him and our other fallen teammates quite often.
There were no playoffs back then but the 30 wins were punctuated by league, regional, statewide, and even national recognition (a telegram from VP Spiro Agnew). The streak ended at 30 as I began my senior year of 1971 with a sad visit to St. Marys. That 1971 team evokes another special memory. We were 1-5-0 and then won our last four for a break even season. Though not legendary it was still a nice way to finish.
Speaking of Mike Flanagan, I heard from him twice last Saturday. Seems he was quite excited about his Indiana Hoosiers taking the measure of Michigan. Mike recalled a close game between the two back in his era.
Mike has an interesting distinction from his Indiana days. In separate games, the wide receiver both caught and threw a TD pass against Ohio State.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has followed Sidney football since 1962 and authored a book on its first century, available at the Ross Historical Center in downtown Sidney.