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Several Coaches Flew Under the Radar

May 21, 2011
By DOUG HUFF - Sports Columnist , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register


The recent presentation of the annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Coach of the Year award jump started the memory bank of this jock journalist.

So, we got out the list of the past winners since 1969 along with the annual Coach of the Year honors selected by this newspaper and other major local awards.

The result?

There's been some pretty good prep pilots who have never won a major Ohio Valley Coach of the Year honor and we've compiled a personal listing of a few of them that come to mind.

Here's our "Most Underated" former Ohio Valley High School Coaches, listed in no particular order:

BOB DAWSON, Wellsville boys' basketball: He was a mulitple state Coach of the Year and one of the OVAC coaches who founded the current Ohio-W. Va. All-Star Game. A Tigers mentor from 1968-81, he had the area's best record of 136-15 from 1970-76 which included three unbeaten regular-season teams, three No. 1 Ohio ranked poll teams and the school's first state tournament squad of 1976.

JACK BERGER, Shadyside boys' track: The Tigers have won more OVAC track titles (28) than any other school and this late mentor was the architect of the program. From 1968-75, he guided the Tigers to a record eight straight crowns before retiring. The next year, his successor, TOM VICHICH, led Shadyside to the first Ohio state track title for an OVAC school. Berger also coached the Tigers football teams for 10 seasons.

HEN HEALY, Paden City and St. John's football and basketball: He's one of only two OV coaches to win state championships in football and basketball, both at Paden City for 1960 basketball and 1970 football. He coached four unbeaten football teams-1956 St. John's plus three at Paden City in 1959, 1963 and a once-tied 1966 squad. As PC's basketball coach from 1958-63, he never won less than 15 games and had three 20-victory seasons.

GARY SPRAGUE, Linsly baseball: The Cadets have won the second-most OVAC titles (15) of any school and this 33-year mentor captured an OVAC-record 13 crowns. The fourth-winningest baseball mentor in the OV with a 488-257-1 record includes only regular-season play since Linsly doesn't compete for a state postseason title.

BOB SULLIVAN, Magnolia football, basketball and baseball: One of the last three season sport coaches in the area from 1956-64, he recorded an unmatched feat in the 1961 calendar year with a state championship basketball team followed by an unbeaten football squad. That feat did earn him the W.Va. All-Sportrs Coaching honor. His final Magnolia basketball team, in 1964, went unebaten in regular season and ended at 24-1 with a state Class AA runner-up finish.

BOB McFERREN, Wintersville football: The Warriors' mentor from 1948-55, he guided the then small-school power to a 54-9-4 record including four straight unbeaten seasons. The Warriors set two Ohio Valley records with 31 straight victories and 38 straight unbeaten games including ties.

JOHN STENDER, Tyler County & Tyler Consolidated football: He coached 32 years in one county and his teams recorded a 160-92 record with 12 state playoff berths. He had back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons and his 1983 squad won a state Class A title while the 1986 team finished as runner-up.

Any others?


An Ohio Valley native is making news on the BASCAR auto racing circuit.

MIKE CASTO, a John Marshall High School graduate, won the annual Jack-man Crew Challenge competition this week at Charlotte, N.C.

Casto works on the pit crew for racer TONY STEWART.

Enjoy the weekend.

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