Sports Extra with Dave Ross: Lehman coach Roll closing it out

Sports Extra - With Dave Ross

It all began over 15 years ago when a call was placed from Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney to athletic director Dick Roll at Plymouth High School near Mansfield. The purpose was to check on a prospect for Lehman’s vacant girls basketball coaching position. As that dialogue concluded, Roll asked if Lehman was also still in need of a football coach and athletic director. The answer was positive and Dick said he’d be interested. Incidentally, the basketball candidate was hired.

The North Star native and Versailles graduate was ending 30 years at Plymouth where he had previously also been the football coach. Roll saw the opportunity to retire from public education, get closer to home, make a difference, and take care of some “unfinished business” when it came to his football coaching career. He was hired and made that move, agreeing to give Lehman at least five years.

The match was made and those extended five years will finally end when his 16th Lehman campaign concludes on Saturday as Northridge visits Sidney Memorial Stadium. His final squad will not qualify for the playoffs but future prospects are good including roster size, as detailed here recently. Beginning in 2006 he assembled a solid coaching staff and then won the large majority of his games while also making numerous playoff appearances and advancements.

Roll has been even more valuable as the Cavaliers’ athletic director, which had become a revolving door position prior to his arrival. He quickly established contacts with his counterparts at other schools and took Lehman from independent to conference status, first with the Northwest Central Conference and recently with the rebirth of the Three Rivers Conference. When asked this week if he’s also retiring as AD, his response was “more than likely.”

Dick Roll was a fine tackle for Al Hetrick at Versailles. His final game was in the mud at Piqua against Lehman in November 1970, a 6-6 tie. That was Lehman’s first year. He eventually went to work for that opponent. I’m delighted that our paths crossed. Nice job, Dick!!!

Bowser back

Former Sidney running back Isaiah Bowser returned to the Central Florida lineup for last Saturday’s 56-21 thumping at powerful Cincinnati. The Bearcats were simply superior and played the game at a different speed en route to a 35-0 halftime lead.

Bowser had 13 rushes for 28 yards including a ten yard touchdown on a “wildcat” direct snap. Isaiah also took some direct snaps for the Sidney Yellow Jackets. Former offensive coordinator and current high school principal Greg Snyder recalled this week that this was sometimes attempted when it looked like quarterback Andre Gordon was trying to change the play. When Gordon missed playing time with injury, the Bowser gimmick became more prominent in the Sidney arsenal.

UCF will host Memphis at the “Bounce House” in Orlando on Friday night (Oct 22) at 7pm on ESPN2.

Thursday Night Lights

Eight days ago the colossal gridiron mismatch between a strong Tipp squad (two losses) and winless Fairborn was shown “live” as part of the Thursday Night Lights series in the Dayton market. Final score 45-3 with a running clock after 37-3 at halftime. The fact that this game was aired shows how far the program has fallen since its 2016 inception. Many schools want no part of playing football on Thursday for many reasons.

First, it causes a disruption in the normal routine surrounding a regular Friday night game. Then there’s the feeling among many school administrators that Thursday night football is followed by a less than stellar school day on Friday. Also, the “live” TV factor is no longer a novelty.

Then there’s the quality of the presentation which has slipped badly, in my opinion. I’ve seen games where the main camera shot at the start of a play was not properly framed including much wasted space behind the running backs. When I watched Sidney at Troy a few weeks ago, I heard the announcers venture into the football histories of the two schools. One mentioned that Sidney won 30 straight games between 1968-70 and that the star player was Kris Haines. The accurate version is that Haines had not yet entered high school during that streak.

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been covering local high school sports since 1975, and has been attending since 1962.

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been covering local high school sports since 1975, and has been attending since 1962.