EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s story concludes a 12-part series on Ohio’s historic football personalities. The series began on Aug. 5. It continued on Aug. 6, Aug. 7, Aug. 8, Aug. 9, Aug. 10, Aug. 11, Aug. 12, Aug. 13, Aug. 14 and Aug. 15.
Let’s say you wanted to start an all-time Ohio football team. There is no shortage of material. Hall of Fame players, in college and pro, prep legends, national heroes, celebrities within the sport. Ohio has supplied them all.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located an hour east in Canton for good reason — the NFL began there in a garage on Aug. 20, 1920.
To begin a list like this, one must be prepared for backlash, because it’s surely coming.
When I compiled a team like this a decade ago, a wildly rabid bunch from Kenton threatened to burn me at the stake for having the audacity to choose Roger Staubach over Ben Mauk as my all-time Ohio quarterback.
As a history minor, I am adamant about remembering those from the early days of the sport. Hence you will find Marion Motley, Bill Willis, Chic Harley and Pete Henry on my first-team.
And if you don’t know who Pete Henry is, you’re not qualified to start your own All-Ohio football team. I’ll save you the Google search with this helpful hint: Pete Henry is Ohio’s lone CHARTER member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, one of only eight men to have that distinction in the history of the sport.
The other eight are: Red Grange, Jim Thorpe, Bronko Nagurski, Sammy Baugh, Ernie Nevers, George Halas, Don Hutson and Curly Lambaugh. That’s the kind of company the Mansfield native keeps.
This particular team is littered with Hall of Famers, All-Americans, military veterans, tragic heroes, and even a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice.
I also reserve the right to switch positions.
Although Paul Warfield was a tailback at Warren Harding, I’m moving him to wide receiver, where he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Desmond Howard was a tailback at Cleveland St. Joseph’s, but a wide receiver at Michigan. He became a Super Bowl MVP largely because of his skills as a kick returner. That’s where I have him, too.
There is no discussion about the state’s greatest coach. His name is Paul Brown, and he won championships at every level.
There’s a tremendous argument for the greatest team. The 1940 Massillon squad, coached by Brown, is a leading contender as the best ever. It defeated Kent State 47-0 in a preseason scrimmage.
“The best high school team I ever saw was our 1940 team, the last team I coached at Massillon,” Brown said. “I seriously doubted whether my first team at Ohio State the following year could have beaten that team.”
For the record, those 1941 Buckeyes went 6-1-1 and were ranked No. 13 in the final AP poll.
The 1997 Canton McKinley squad was crowned USA Today’s national champions. The 1936, 1950 and 1953 Massillon teams, the 1976, 1980 and 1982 Cincinnati Moeller teams, Chuck Kyle’s 1989, 1993 and 1995 Cleveland St. Ignatius outfits, the 2004 Cincinnati Colerain squad and the 2005 and 2007 Cincinnati St. Xavier clubs.
All were outstanding. However, none was quite like the 1912 Fostoria team that outscored opponents by an incredible 596-0 in an undefeated, 8-0 campaign.
So, here’s my team, and let the arguments begin …
ALL-TIME OHIO FOOTBALL TEAM
QB Roger Staubach, 6-2, 190, Cincinnati Purcell (1957-59), Navy
FB Marion Motley, 6-1, 232, Canton McKinley (1937-39), Nevada
RB Archie Griffin, 5-8, 180, Columbus Eastmoor (1968-71), Ohio State
RB Robert Smith, 6-3, 210, Euclid (1986-89), Ohio State
OL Pete Henry, 6-3, 245, Mansfield Senior (1911-14), Washington & Jefferson
OL Orlando Pace, 6-6, 330, Sandusky (1990-93), Ohio State
OL Jim Parker, 6-3, 273, Toledo Scott (1952), Ohio State
OL Calvin Jones, 6-0, 220, Steubenville (1949-51), Iowa
OL Dan Dierdorf, 6-3, 275, Canton Glenwood (1964-66), Michigan
TE Jim Mandich, 6-2, 224, Solon (1963-65), Michigan
WR Cris Carter, 6-3, 210, Middletown (1980-83), Ohio State
WR Paul Warfield, 6-0, 188, Warren Harding (1957-59), Ohio State
K: Lou Groza, 6-3, 240, Martins Ferry (1938-41), Ohio State
KR Desmond Howard, Cleveland St. Joseph (1986-87), Michigan
DL Bill Willis, 6-2, 213, Columbus East (1938-40), Ohio State
DL Alan Page, 6-4, 245, Canton Central Catholic (1960-62), Notre Dame
DL Ross Browner, 6-3, 247, Warren Western Reserve (1970-72), Notre Dame
DL Jim Houston, 6-2, 216, Massillon (1953-55), Ohio State
LB Jack Lambert, 6-4, 220, Mantua Crestwood (1966-69), Kent State
LB Randy Gradishar, 6-3, 236, Champion (1966-69), Ohio State
LB Chris Spielman, 6-1, 225, Massillon (1980-83), Ohio State
LB Tom Cousineau, 6-2, 230, Lakewood St. Edward (1971-74), Ohio State
DB Chic Harley, 5-8, 160 Columbus East (1911-14), Ohio State
DB Charles Woodson, 6-1, 200, Fremont (1991-94), Michigan
DB Vic Janowicz, 5-9, 185, Elyria (1944-47), Ohio State
DB George McAfee, 6-0, 178, Ironton (1933-35), Duke
P: Tom Tupa, 6-4, 220, Brecksville (1980-83), Ohio State
PR Rick Upchurch, 5-10, 175, Holland Springfield (1968-70), Minnesota
COACH: Paul Brown, Massillon, 1932-1940, 80-8-2 record, 6 state titles, 4 national titles; Ohio State 1942 National Title; Cleveland Browns, 3 NFL championships; Cincinnati Bengals.
TEAM: Fostoria, 1912 national champions, 8-0 and outscored foes 596-0.
QB Len Dawson, 6-0, 190, Alliance (1950-52), Purdue
RB Frank Sinkwich, 6-0, 230, Youngstown Chaney (1936-38), Georgia
RB Keith Byars, 6-3, 235, Dayton Roth (1978-81), Ohio Sate
FB Larry Csonka, 6-3, 235, Stow (1960-63), Syracuse
OL LeCharles Bentley, 6-2, 309, Cleveland St. Ignatius (1995-97), Ohio State
OL Bob Brown, 6-4, 280, Cleveland East Tech (1957-59), Nebraska
OL Mike Michalske, 6-0, 210, Cleveland W. Tech (1919-1921), Penn State
OL John Hicks, 6-3, 258, Cleveland John Hay (1965-68), Ohio State
OL Chris Ward, 6-4, 275, Dayton Patterson (1970-73), Ohio State
TE Tony Hunter, 6-4, 230, Cincinnati Moeller (1976-78), Notre Dame
WR Dante Lavelli, 6-0, 200, Hudson (1938-40), Ohio State
WR Joey Galloway, 5-11, 197, Bellaire (1987-89), Ohio State
K Mike Nugent, 6-0, 190, Centerville (1997-2000), Ohio State
KR Charles Follis 6-0, 200, Wooster (1899-1901), College of Wooster.
DL Gary Jeter, 6-4, 259, Cleveland Cathedral Latin (1970-72), USC
DL Jim Marshall, 5-11, 208, Columbus East (1954-56), Ohio State
DL Mike Vrabel, 6-4, 260, Walsh Jesuit (1989-1992), Ohio State
DL Irv Eatman, 6-7, 293, Dayton Meadowdale (1976-78), UCLA
LB Jim Lynch, 6-1, 225, Lima Central Catholic (1960-62), Notre Dame
LB Clarke Hinkle, 5-11, 202, Toronto (1925-27), Bucknell
LB Andy Katzenmoyer, 6-4, 245, Westerville South (1992-95), Ohio State
LB Bob Babich, 6-2, 231, Campbell Memorial (1925-27), Miami (Ohio)
DB Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, 5-10, 172, Columbus Central (1948-51), Ohio State
DB Michael Doss, 6-0, 200, Canton McKinley (1995-98), Ohio State
DB Antoine Winfield, 5-9, 170, Akron Garfield (1991-94), Ohio State
DB Dave Brown, 6-1, 185, Akron Garfield (1968-70), Michigan
P John Kidd, 6-3, 208, Findlay (1977-79), Northwestern
PR: Ted Ginn, Jr., 5-11, 180, Cleveland Glenville (2000-03), Ohio State
Coy Bacon, Ironton; Cliff Battles, Akron Kenmore; Gordon Bell, Troy; Todd Bell, Middletown; George “Puck” Burgwin, Steubenville; Hubert Bobo, Chauncey-Dover; Jack Cannon, Columbus Aquinas; Rob Carpenter, Lancaster; Ki-Jana Carter, Westerville South; Bob Chappuis, Toledo DeVilbiss; Maurice Clarett, Warren Harding; Bob Crable, Cincinnati Moeller; Tom Curtis, Aurora; Van Ness DeCree, Warren Western Reserve; Brian Dowling, Cleveland St. Ignatius; Marc Edwards, Norwood; Ray Eichenlaub, Columbus East; Curtis Enis, Mississinawa Valley; Wes Fesler, Youngstown South; Bob Ferguson, Troy; Dave Foley, Cincinnati Roger Bacon; Tim Fox, Canton Glenwood; Dennis Franklin, Massillon; Benny Friedman, Cleveland E. Tech;
Tom Hamilton, Granville Doane Academy; Jeff Hartings, St. Henry; Don Hasselbeck, Cincinnati LaSalle; John Hicks, Cleveland John Hay; Les Horvath, Parma; Gomer Jones, Cleveland South; Dick Kazmaier, Maumee; Rex Kern, Lancaster; Bernie Kosar, Boardman; Jim Lachey, St. Henry; Mel Long, Toledo Macomber; Rob Lytle, Fremont Ross; Marcus Marek, Brookfield; Rufus Mayes, Toledo Macomber; Steve Neihaus, Cincinnati Moeller; Ray Nolting, Cincinnati Hughes; Jim Otis, Celina; Ray Pryor, Hamilton; Ben Roethlisberger, Findlay; Kyle Rudolph, Cincinati Elder;
Art Schlichter, Miami Trace; Don Scott, Canton McKinley; Mike Sensibaugh, Lockland; Kurt Shumacher, Lorain; Percy Snow, Canton McKinley; Tim Spencer, St. Clairsvillle; Frank Stams, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s; Greg Stemrick, Lincoln Heights; Pete Stinchcomb, Fostoria; Steve Strinko, Middletown; Korey Stringer, Warren Harding; Dana Stubblefield, North Bend Taylor; Harry Stuhldreher, Massillon; Dick Szymanski, Toledo Libbey; Billy Taylor, Barberton; Aurelius Thomas, Columbus West; Jim Tyrer, Newark; Jeff Uhlenhake, Newark Catholic; Garin Veris, Chillicothe; Chris Wells, Akron Garfield; Merle Wendt, Middletown; Mike Zordich, Youngstown Chaney.