Has it been 50 years?

It is really hard for me to believe that I have been out of high school and playing football for 50 years. To me, it seems like only last week that I was practicing and playing with guys that I still communicate with today.

It is true when old folks (of which I am now one!) say time goes faster as you get older! I think one of the best things ever said about being young was by Winston Churchill. Winston said “The only problem with youth is that it is wasted on the young!”

As I now am 67, I couldn’t agree with him more. I would love to be able to do what I used to do at 18, but let’s be honest, that ain’t gonna happen! So here I sit, pounding on this keyboard like a carpenter with an air gun wondering where the time went?

What got me thinking about the last 50 years was a visit I had with Ty House a month or so ago. Ty was telling me that this August was the 50 year anniversary of the only undefeated 10-0 football team in Greenville High School history.

We were also the first team since 1954 to win the league title! Apparently, the High School is going to recognize this at the first football game of the year. It is on a Thursday night, August 19th and will be the Channel 2 game of the week. Anyone who was on the team and the cheerleaders are asked to attend.

I do not know any real details yet, but I am excited about seeing some old friends on that night. As with most High schools, some kids stay close to their hometown, others move away. Thanks to modern technology, we can still keep in touch no matter how far away they go. I was lucky enough to be on that team and I made friends that have lasted since then.

The 1971-72 football team did not seem any different at first from all the others. We did have a new coach, Tom Hollman from Sidney, and he had 3 new assistants, Pete “Hoss” Moore who coached the offensive and defensive lines, Rex Radeloff who coached the receivers and Defensive backs, and Mike Coberly who coached tight ends and linebackers and helped out where needed.

What I do remember that was different was Coach Hollman worked us hard, but smart. After a few weeks of practice one of the cheerleaders, (I think it was Peggy Crawford) asked how good would we be? For some reason I said, “Pretty good, better than the last few years by a mile.”

There was a building air of confidence around the team. We knew we could be good if we just kept working and learning. It was a feeling that we all fel…this was gonna be different.

“Hoss” Moore was my coach and I really enjoyed him. He was a hoot! Coach Hollman, who became the MVL Coach of the Year, never said very much to me at all, but Pete and I became friends more than coach and player.

He demanded a lot from me, and he did get the best out of me. No, I was not a star or superstar, but, as he once said to me towards the end of the season, “you get the job done, that’s why we win”. (I am sure he just said that to make me feel better…it worked!)

I remember a lot about that team, but the one area I want to acknowledge more than others is our offensive line in 1971. I have stated many times that football is won or lost on the lines (Our defensive line was darn good too, and so was the rest of the defense!). I still believe that.

The game of football will always evolve, but being able to block, tackle, run the ball, and stop the run will always make you a winner. Our offensive line wasn’t big, (I think Bill Ison and I were the biggest at about 190-200 lbs.) but we had a blocking scheme and more importantly the proper coaching to make it work.

Our starting line was John Hathaway and Bill Ison at tackles, Mike Shroyer and Charley Goodpaster at guards, and me at center. I still think it is the best offensive line Greenville has ever had, not because we won all our games, and not because I was a part of it, but we made so few blocking mistakes, our technique was really good, and we communicated well with each other and winning is what mattered. We were all about the team, no individuals. That was a good bunch of guys!

I could go on and tell you all about that great season, but like most former athletes, the stories get bigger and better over time. One thing to remember though is that season was a total team effort, and I mean players, coaches, cheerleaders, Wavettes, and the Band.

They all worked to make that season the best in Greenville football history. I am glad I was blessed to be a very small part of it. I never dreamed that this team would ever be that special, nor that so many of my fellow players would be so successful in life too.

Some of you younger people are not aware of this, nor will they believe it, but your High School years are some of the best you will ever have. They are filled with every human emotion, situation, tragedy and surprises you can experience.

I was fortunate, I loved my High School years, and now at 67 having my High School team recognized for being special, well…it means a lot more to me. I can’t wait for August, seeing old friends, swapping stories and telling lies about how great we thought we were! That’s the way I see it from the sidelines.

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By Michael Stegall

From the Sidelines

Contributing columnist Mike Stegall a 27 year former OHSAA high school football official and current Darke County Commissioner