WIN NO. 361

Published 10:31 pm Saturday, October 24, 2009

With a few minutes left in Friday’s Ironton and Nelsonville-York game, the fans in the covered Tanks Memorial Stadium home side began a chant.

“3-6-1. 3-6-1,” they shouted.

A few moments later, the No. 361 was official as Ironton beat Nelsonville-York 32-12 to give Fighting Tigers’ head football coach Bob Lutz the Ohio high school record for career coaching wins.

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Lutz — who has had just one losing season in his 40-year career — now has a 361-82-5 record including a 20-8-1 mark in three seasons at Ironton St. Joseph.

Lutz broke the record held by former Hamilton Catholic-Badin coach Terry Malone who was unable to attend the game because he was at his grandson’s game on Senior Night at Badin.

However, his daughter Kathy Malone did make the trip and spoke on behalf of her father.

“My father said if there was any coach he wanted to break the record, it was you,” she said. “He has tremendous respect for you.”

Lutz and Malone met twice during their careers and each time Lutz came out the winner, 21-6 in 1979 and 14-13 in 1989. Ironically, both wins came in the state semifinals and Ironton went on to win the state championship the next week.

Lutz had nothing but praise for Malone whom he considers a friend.

“He’s one of the classiest, best football coaches,” said Lutz. “If there was a record to break, it was his because he’s a classy individual.”

The ceremony ended with the naming of the Tanks Memorial Stadium field after Lutz.

“With all that Coach Lutz has done, it’s hard to find a way to repay him. So when you come here to Tanks Memorial Stadium you are looking at Bob Lutz Field at Tanks Memorial Stadium,” said Ironton athletic director Mark LaFon.

Lutz — who is not one for individual records — told the crowd, “I’m glad this is over,” drawing a collective laugh from the Ironton fans who know their coach well.

“I want to thank my wife who has been with me all these years, my steady right-hand man Mike Burcham, all the coaches with me through the years here and at St. Joe, all the players, and to you, the fans of Ironton who follow us everywhere we go throughout the state of Ohio. Thank you very much,” said Lutz.

Also attending the game was Dan Ross who is the commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Ross has known Lutz for years and praised him for his service to the program and the community.

“I know coach Lutz doesn’t like all the attention, but this is an important night to the state of Ohio,” said Ross who noted there are 716 schools playing football across the state.

“Tonight coach Lutz has moved to the head of the class.”

Junior running back Tres Wilks scored two touchdowns in the win. He said the post-game ceremony was very emotional.

“I cried. I didn’t think it would be like this,” said Wilks. “When coach Lutz turned and saw the fireworks, I saw him start to tear up. It got to me.”

For a commemorative edition honoring Lutz, pick up a Sunday edition of the newspaper or visit the office on Monday.