Flyers should be proud of 1964 team

Published 2:28 am Monday, August 2, 2010

There was no denying it. The pride in the air was so thick your fullback couldn’t make a dent in it with a 10-yard run.

And they had a right to be proud. The group who featured nine of the 11 seniors on the unbeaten 1964 St. Joseph Flyers football team weren’t just the best team in the school’s long history, they were one of the best teams the area has had to offer.

Period.

Ironton has put some outstanding teams on the field over the years, especially during the Bob Lutz era. But the Flyers scrimmaged and beat Ironton prior to the 1964 regular season.

Coal Grove has had some outstanding teams under the guidance of the late, great Red Duty and current mentor Dave Lucas including their 1963 and 1964 teams that had players like Tim Deeds, Doug Price, Frank Collins and Jim Hankins.

South Point during the Butch Davis, Dane Conwell and Moo Moo Pleasant years were good, as were some Rock Hill teams including 1953 and 1995.

But this Flyers team ranked with the best of them. Probably top five. Not many teams can send three players to Division I programs on full athletic scholarships. Ironton sent five off the 1989 state championship team.

Mike Holtzapfel went to Notre Dame and ended up on the 1966 national championship team. Jack Davis and Pat Meyers both went to Ohio University when Bill Hess had one of the stronger Mid-American Conference programs.

Pete Kratzenberg bypassed college football to play baseball at Bowling Green. J.C. Medinger had a chance to play at a few smaller colleges but opted for academics only at Ohio.

The list goes on and on.

And they were a tough, scrappy team. Just ask big Dan Geswein and diminutive Joe Doughman. Although they were like brothers, they also fought like brothers.

“He was the toughest guy I ever fought. He wouldn’t quit,” said Geswein.

Doughman laughed when recalling their fights.

“He’d ask me if I was going to quit, and I’d ask him if he was tired of hitting me,” said Doughman.

Please don’t scoff at this team. Don’t say they played a different game then and couldn’t compete in today’s world. Some of today’s players may not have been able to compete in their era.

The truth is, good players can play in any era. They will adjust to the game. The 1964 Flyers team had a lot of speed and athleticism. Tell me what team in any era doesn’t possess those qualities?

And with any great team, there has to be a good coach putting it all together. Pat Sheridan did a masterful job as the Flyers’ head coach, and it wasn’t a one-time fluke or just a good group he enjoyed during a two-year stretch. In eight seasons, Sheridan was 50-33-1 at a place that had as many boys in the entire school as other programs had on their teams.

Sheridan later was an assistant at Ironton when the Fighting Tigers began their four-decade dominance. And make no mistakes, Sheridan wasn’t just another guy on the staff.

Lutz — who became the winningest coach in Ohio high school football history last year — played for Sheridan and learned first-hand about his coaching ability. When Sheridan was at Ironton, Lutz said he didn’t worry about assistant coaches coming and going “as long as I have Pat (Sheridan) and Mike (Burcham).”

Besides football, Sheridan coached baseball and won several Ohio Valley Conference titles. He also won an OKAC title at Ironton and guided the Fighting Tigers to the state baseball tournament in 1994.

Sheridan and the 1964 Flyers’ football team are among the best this area has offered throughout history.

So if you get close to a member of the 1964 team and start to feel something, don’t worry. It’s just a little glowing pride.

Sinatra

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.