All-50 Year Team Unveiled
This year marks the 50th year The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register has produced its annual Football Preview. In that time, a lot of good players have graced the gridirons of the Ohio Valley. Many have went on to excel in college and even have careers in the NFL.
To pick the best players in that timeframe would be almost impossible. But that is what we tried to do.
The following is the top players and coach from the past 50 years, as selected by former The Intelligencer sports editors Doug Huff and Don Clegg, as well as current Ogden Newspapers executive sports editor Bubba Kapral, The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register sports editor Josh Strope and Times Leader sports editor Seth Staskey.
Quarterback: Jose Davis, Bellaire
Davis was a three-year starter at quarterback for legendary coach John Magistro, leading the Big Reds to a combined record of 30-5 and three straight OVAC Class 3A championships, the first undefeated regular season in school history and the first playoff appearance in school history. That season, Bellaire advanced to the Division IV title game, losing in double overtime. For his career, he set Big Reds records with most yards gained (7,306), pass attempts (790), pass completions (455), highest completion percentage (55.7), passing yards (6,769) and touchdown passes (60) — many which have been surpassed by his younger brother, Nate. Davis continued his career at Kent State University before going on to the Canadian Football League and later coming back home to win a National Indoor Football League title with the Ohio Valley Greyhounds in 2002.
Running Back: Tim Spencer, St. Clairsville
Many consider Spencer the best player to ever play running back in the Ohio Valley. That’s pretty high praise. Spencer, though, may be able to back it up. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder rushed for 3,144 yards and 50 touchdowns, compiling 338 points for legendary coach George Strager. As a senior, he was selected a Parade All-American and gained 1,670 yards and 28 touchdowns. In a game against rival Martins Ferry, he rushed for 306 yards and six touchdowns. He was named All-Ohio and spent his college career at Ohio State, where he rushed for 3,553 yards — fourth in school history. He was the second player selected in the 1982 USFL draft by the Chicago Blitz. He later played four years with the San Diego Chargers. He is currently the running backs coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Running Back: Quincy Wilson, Weir
Wilson may have been the best pure runner in Ohio Valley history. He could blow past you or run you over. Either way, he will go down as one the greats to ever put on a helmet and pads. During his 1998 season season, he became the first Ohio Valley and West Virginia prep athlete to accumulate 3,000 yards in a season, going to 3,262 yards and 47 touchdowns, finishing with 282 points. He finished with 6,162 yards (5,624 coming in his final two seasons) and 83 touchdowns. He led the Red Riders to the state championship in 1998, rushing for 250 yards and two scores against DuPont. He was named co-Kennedy Award Winner with Nitro’s J.R. House. He later went to West Virginia University and played in 44 games, running for 2,608 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons before being released and spending parts of four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He is currently the running backs coach at West Virginia State.
Wide Receiver: Joey Galloway, Bellaire
Galloway rewrote Ohio Valley record books for receiving yards with 2,332 and touchdown receptions with 27 during a stellar career with Magistro at Bellaire. He led the Big Reds to the OVAC 3A championship in his junior season, catching 43 passes for 973 yards and 13 touchdowns. He finished his career with 108 catches. Also a stellar basketball, track and baseball athlete, Galloway took his talents to Ohio State where he finished with 2,754 all-purpose yards, 108 receptions for 1,894 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was the eighth overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He also played for the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins. He retired in 2011 with 701 catches for 10,950 yards and 77 touchdowns.
Wide Receiver: John (Fuzzy) Filliez, Magnolia
Filliez was the first OVAC athlete to earn All-W.Va. first team honors in football, basketball and baseball and also set an NCAA pass receiving record at Marshall University. The Blue Eagles’ wide receiver-defensive back led the Ohio Valley in pass receiving yards his last two seasons and ended his career with 81 catches for 1,434 yards and 16 touchdowns in regular season play. In his senior season, Magnolia went 10-2 with a state Class AA runnerup finish to Ravenswood. Nicknamed “Fuzzy” for his bushy red hair, he signed with Marshall and led the Thundering Herd in pass receiving for four straight years and set school records with 168 catches for 1,954 yards and 14 TDs. He set a then-NCAA record by catching passes in 42 straight games.
Tight End: Blaine Rose, Stanton
Arguably the best player to come out of now-defunct Stanton, Rose was a three-sport standout for the Red Raiders. He was a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end, recording more than 100 tackles and catching 23 passes and four touchdowns despite being in a run-heavy offense. He continued his academic and athletic careers at the University of Maryland and later moved to starting guard after being the backup tight end for his first two seasons. He later played for the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, as well as the Orlando Thunder of the World Football League.
Offensive Line: John Leon, Brooke
This Bruins standout was a beast on both sides of the line, earning the 1975 Ken Hunt Award, given to the Lineman of the Year in West Virginia, the first OVAC player to win the honor. He led Brooke to a 9-1 season and an OVAC championship in his junior season. He was also a standout wrestler and broke OVAC and state records in the shot put and discus. After school, he went to Notre Dame and was a three-year letterman at guard.
Offensive Line: Janis Trupovnieks, Cadiz
At 6-7, 255 pounds, Trupovnieks had his way with just about anyone he wanted to on the line. A three-year starter for Coach Ron Pobolish, the Cardinals went 18-1-1 in his final two seasons, winning an OVAC Class 2A championship as a junior. He was the Eastern District Lineman of the Year, made 67 tackles with 31 assists and recovered two fumbles as a senior. He was also the kicker, making 42 consecutive PATs and hit four field goals as a senior. He went to the University of Tennessee and was a two-year letterman, starting as a senior.
Offensive Line: Gordon (Charley) Gordon, John Marshall
Despite playing on unsuccessful John Marshall teams, Gordon found a way to make a name for himself. While it could be said that track was his best sport, he was pretty good at football, too. He received All-Mountaineer League and All-OVAC laurels as senior, then decided to walk on at West Virginia. He earned a full scholarship and started two seasons on the offensive line, lettering three times. He was elected a team co-captain his senior season, the first under Coach Don Nehlen.
Offensive Line: Tim Moxley, Barnesville
Moxley garnered All-Ohio honors in football for the Shamrocks while also grabbing a pair of state wrestling championships. He was a three-year starter at Barnesville, guiding the Shamrocks to a 17-3 mark in his last two seasons and an OVAC championship in 1983. He was named All-Ohio his senior season. Despite probably being a better wrestler in high school, the 6-7, 300-pounder played football at Ohio State, being a starter for three seasons. He was selected by the Washington Redskins in the 1990 NFL Draft.
Offensive Line: Jeff Woofter, Oak Glen
Following in your brother’s footsteps is never easy, but it is even harder when your brother is one of the best in school history. Jeff Woofter can add his name to that list, though. Woofter was a monster along the line for the Golden Bears, earning the Hunt Award in 1980. Woofter went on to play for legendary coach Joe Paterno at Penn State.
Athlete: Mark Cisar, Magnolia
Cisar may be sharing his knowledge of baseball this coming season as John Marshall’s new coach, but it was on the football field where this do-it-all athlete’s name remains in Magnolia lore. Cisar played quarterback, safety, placekicker and punter on Blue Eagles teams that compiled a two-year record of 25-3, finishing as the Class AA state runner-up twice under the tutelage of his father, Dave Cisar. He passed for 5,193 yards and 64 touchdowns during his career. His junior season he threw for 2,691 yards and 34 scores, also kicking 85 points. He was named the Kennedy Award winner twice, in 1992 and 1993, and was a two-time all-state captain.
Athlete: Zach Collaros, Steubenville
Arguably the biggest winner in Ohio Valley history, Collaros went 41-1 in touchdowns (53), and completion percentage (67 percent). After school, he went to the University of Cincinnati where he passed for 6,278 yards and 51 touchdowns in his four seasons. He is currently the starting quarterback of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
Defensive Line: Adam Hoppel, Beaver Local
A former Eastern District Player of the Year, Hoppel was a member of two undefeated teams and three playoff teams under former coach Rich Wright. Along with wrestling, he earned eight varsity letters. He later went on to the University of Cincinnati, helping them to the school’s first Big East championship in 2008 under former Bearcats coach Brian Kelly.
Defensive Line: Charlie Keenan, Steubenville
Steubenville is widely considered the top program in the Ohio Valley and helping begin its run of success was Keenan. The relentless lineman was the cornerstone of Big Red’s initial state championship, leading Steubenville to a 13-0 record and the 1984 title. He established then-school records for tackles and sacks en route to being the Division II Lineman of the Year. A three-year starter, he went 30-0 in the regular season and 33-2 overall. He went on to Ohio State where he lettered for the Buckeyes.
Defensive Line: Tom Perko, Steubenville Catholic
A member of the only unbeaten and untied team in school history, Perko helped Steubenville Catholic to a AP and UPI state championship in 1971. After school, he took his talents to the University of Pittsburgh before being selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
Defensive Line: Derek Wolfe, Beaver Local
A three-year letterwinner on the defensive line, Wolfe was named All-Ohio his senior season and finished his career with 205 tackles for the Wright. Like fellow Beaver and close friend Hoppel, Wolfe went to Cincinnati and won the Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011. He was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos and recorded five tackles and a half sack in their Super Bowl 50 victory against the Carolina Panthers.
Linebacker: Lance Mehl, Bellaire
Mehl earned All-Ohio honors while serving as co-captain of the 1975 team that went 9-1. He later went on to Penn State to help lead “Linebacker U.” under Paterno. He was the leading tackler for the 1978 Nittany Lions. He was drafted in the third round by the New York Jets, where he played for nine years and went to the 1985 Pro Bowl. He recorded 172 total tackles in 1984. He finished his career with 15 interceptions.
Linebacker: Jeff Snedegar, Buckeye Trail
Whether it was offense or defense, Snedegar did everything for the Warriors. He was the Division V Offensive Player of the Year, a four-year letterwinner at quarterback and linebacker, he racked up 7,000 yards offensively and registered 673 tackles on defense. His senior season, he led Trail to the playoffs with an 11-2 record, combing for 3,390 yards (1,769 passing, 1,621 rushing) and making 212 stops on defense. He went on to play outside linebacker at the University of Kentucky.
Linebacker: Ben Taylor, Bellaire
Bellaire has had high-flying offenses, but it was pretty good on defense in the mid-90s as well, led by Taylor, who helped Magistro’s squad reach back-to-back state championship appearances. He then took his talents to Virginia Tech and developed into an All-American linebacker. Recently inducted into the Hokies’ Hall of Fame, he finished his college career with 318 tackles and helped Virginia Tech to a perfect regular season and national title game appearance in 1999. He spent five years in the NFL, spending four years with the Cleveland Browns and one with the Green Bay Packers.
Linebacker: Jim Woofer, Oak Glen
The first Golden Bear to be selected an All-American, the 6-2, 225-pounder was a two-time first team all-state selection. He was a runner-up for the Hunt Award as a senior in which he recorded 126 tackles, 49 assists, five fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles. Woofter spent his college career at the University of Tennessee, where he was a two-year starter at defensive tackle.
Defensive Back: Willie Clay, Linsly
Clay propelled Linsly to 23 straight victories and the first two undefeated seasons in school history (1986: 10-0; 1987: 9-0). As a senior, Clay took two kickoffs back for touchdowns to go along with five interceptions. He was also a stellar basketball and baseball athlete. Clay accepted a scholarship to Georgia Tech, earning All-ACC honors twice and is the school’s career leader in interceptions. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions and spent eight seasons in the NFL, also playing for the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints.
Defensive Back: Curt McGhee, Wheeling Central
One of the best to ever play at Wheeling Central, McGhee was a ballhawk for the Maroon Knights during his time in the maroon and white. Upon graduation, McGhee went to the University of Pittsburgh and was a four-year letterwinner, serving as the Panthers’ captain during his senior season. He finished his Panthers career with 244 tackles. He is currently a defensive assistant at West Liberty University coaching cornerbacks.
Defensive Back: Shawn Vincent, St. Clairsville
Inducted into the OVAC Hall of Fame in 2012, Vincent was a standout on St. Clairsville’s state semifinal team in 1986, earning All-Ohio laurels that season. He then went to the University of Akron where he was a three-year starter in the secondary and named the team’s defensive player of the year. He played one season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and intercepted Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon twice in the same game.
Kick Returner: Less Browne, East Liverpool
Talk about someone you don’t want to kick the ball to. This former Potter returned eight kickoff or punt returns during his career at East Liverpool. In his senior season, he rushed for 992 yards and scored 56 points. He went to Colorado State as a running back, but then moved to defensive back, starting for the three seasons. He went on the CFL and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2002.
Kick Returner: Eddie Drummond, Linsly
Possibly the fastest player on the list, Drummond helped Linsly to a 29-11 mark during his time with the Cadets. In his senior season, Linsly finished with a 10-0 record. He finished his career with 3,918 yards and 70 total touchdowns (55 rushing) and 168 points scored. He went on to Penn State as a wide receiver. He signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions and made the team as a kick returner. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and named an All-Pro in 2004. He also played with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Utility: Mike Dawson, Magnolia
A runner-up to the Kennedy Award in 1977, Dawson had a stellar career in four sports, earning 12 letters with the Blue Eagles. Football is where he earned his name, though and for his career had more than 3,000 all-purpose yards and totaled 152 points. He went to West Virginia University and became a starter as a sophomore before a knee injury sidelined him.
Utility: Jeff Sweitzer, Brooke
One of the most decorated players from a storied Brooke program, Sweitzer helped lead Brooke and Coach Paul “Bud” Billiard to back-to-back appearances in the W.Va. state championship game as a quarterback in his final two seasons. As a senior, when the Bruins finished 11-2 as the state runner-up, Sweitzer set an Ohio Valley record for total yardage with 3,399. He also accounted for 36 touchdowns. Of his yardage total, he had 2,203 passing; 674 rushing and 522 on kick returns. Sweitzer went to college at the University of Akron where he passed for 2,744 yards.
Coach: Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
Saccoccia is the “standard” when it comes to the coaching ranks in the Ohio Valley. Ever since he took over at Steubenville in 1983, Big Red program has been the premier program in the Ohio Valley. Saccoccia led the team to state championships in 1984, 2005 and 2006. Saccoccia has coached more games than anyone in Big Red history (424) and has an overall record of 356-68 (84 winning percentage).