Back in early 1967, Miami University football coach Bo Schembechler was searching the high school ranks to fill a vacancy on his staff. Bo’s finalists were both from Sidney’s Miami Valley League, Middletown native Chuck Asher of Piqua and Bellefontaine’s Gary Moeller who hailed from Lima.
Asher was offered the job and turned it down, reasoning that he liked high school and could make more money staying where he was and painting in the summer. Such were the economics of college athletics which is one reason why Sidney mentor Dave Haines never took such a step during that same period.
Moeller, meanwhile, decided to leave Bellefontaine for Oxford after just two years. In 1969 he went to Michigan with Schembechler and eventually became head coach with Illinois, Michigan, and the Detroit Lions.
Asher’s decision to stay in high school eventually paid big dividends for Lehman Catholic High School which had become a Sidney-Piqua consolidation located in Sidney in 1970. The late Charles “Chuck” Asher will enter the Lehman Hall of Fame on Saturday August 7 along with Sidney Holy Angels alums Tom Westerheide (1965) and Colonel Cole Kingseed (1967), resulting in a very deserving trio.
After his 1964-77 Piqua gridiron tenure, Chuck became Athletic Director at Bellefontaine before adding the title of head football coach from 1982-87. All the while he lived in Piqua. It appeared that Bellefontaine would be the final stop on his coaching resume’ but this physical fitness nut who loved football was not done.
Lehman’s coaching job opened in 1991 and the school also needed a full time history teacher. Guess who signed on for both at age 61 after not coaching since 1987? Asher gave the Cavaliers a five year commitment and stayed twice that long as his classroom duties were lessened until eventually eliminated.
He built a fine coaching staff and his teams won regularly (71-36) including three playoff appearances in his final four seasons. When he finally retired, he turned over a solid returning squad to successor Jeff Uhlenhake and the 2001 journey ended in the state semifinals. An earlier playoff contest became the highlight of Chuck’s days at Lehman when his 1993 squad derailed defending state champion St. Henry, which then won the 1994-95 Ohio crowns. The Asher career mark of 203-111-10 also included an initial stop at Springfield Northwestern.
I got to know Chuck through his games with Sidney during his Piqua and Bellefontaine years. The relationship became regular when he went to Lehman and I enjoyed it immensely, even when I had to wait for him to return from jogging or pumping iron so we could do our weekly interview.
Chuck became a periodic football radio broadcaster after his permanent coaching retirement. Several times he traversed the stairs at Sidney Memorial Stadium to the pressbox where I was delighted to see him once again.
I just reviewed Asher’s 2018 obituary and saw that memorial funds had been set up at Piqua, Bellefontaine, and Lehman Catholic High Schools at his passing. How appropriate.
He’s one of the coaches remembered at the entry to the visitors locker room at Sidney Memorial Stadium, and is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. Congratulations new Lehman Hall of Famer Chuck Asher!
Maggi a big hit
Last week’s column on Maggi Williams has received more feedback than anything I’ve ever written including in an area I don’t really understand, social media. Sidney High faculty member Brett Bickel handles social media for SHS athletics and he posted the piece on four outlets, most notably Facebook. During the first 22 hours, over 9,000 hits were received.
I’m very pleased and continue to understand that subject selection is critical to what I do.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross authored a 438 page book on the first century of Sidney High School football that is available at the Ross Historical Center downtown.