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2012 Sports in Review: Lutz retirement headlines area year

Bob Lutz, left, retired after 42 seasons as head football coach at Ironton and St. Joseph. He won a state record 381 wins. Also retiring was assistant Mike Burcham, right. (Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

Jim Walker



The 2012 sports year began with an ending.

Bob Lutz — the all-time Ohio high school football victory leader — retired in January after 43 years as a head coach.

Lutz posted a 381-91-5 record in 42 seasons, 39 at Ironton where he was 361-83-4 with two state championships, six runners-up, two state coach of the year awards, 28 playoff appearances, and his election to the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and National Football Coaches Hall of Fames.

He began his career at St. Joseph where he was 20-8-1 with two Ohio Valley Conference titles and a runner-up.

A week after Lutz retired, Ironton assistant coach and former Fighting Tigers All-Ohio quarterback and defensive back Mark Vass was named the new head coach.

Here’s look at some of the local sports highlights from the past year.


Fairland won the OVC wrestling tri-match.

The Dragons senior basketball standout Evan Salyers reached 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds in a 59-40 win over River Valley.

South Point Lady Pointers’ Allison Mitchell reached the 1,000 career points milestone in a 43-27 win over Boyd County, Ky.

Dr. Kenneth Fairchild, the first Tiger Clan winner at Ironton High School, died at the age of 76.


Ironton quarterback Jake Kratzenberg signed to play college football at Mount Union.

Fairland senior guard Katie Fuller inked to play basketball at Ohio Christian University.

The Chesapeake Panthers claimed another OVC boys’ basketball championship. The Fairland Lady Dragons won the OVC basketball title and completed their first-ever unbeaten regular season.

Coal Grove Hornets linebacker and fullback Greg Bender earned an appointment at West Point to play football.

Ironton Lady Tigers volleyball standout Sarah Linn signed with Kentucky Christian University.

Former South Point All-Ohio wide receiver Rick Marcello was named the Pointers’ new head football coach.

Long-time Ironton booster and Tiger Clan member John Wolfe was honored for more than 40 years of service. It was also announced that a scholarship in his honor would be awarded to a student/athlete beginning in 2012.

The South Point Lady Pointers, Chesapeake Lady Panthers and Fairland Lady Dragons all won sectional titles.

Ironton junior Zac Carter eclipsed the 1,000-point career scoring mark against Chillicothe.

Ironton, Fairland, Chesapeake and Symmes Valley all won boys’ sectional titles.


The Fairland Lady Dragons won the district title only to lose 50-33 to Oak Hill in the regional semifinals.

The Lady Dragons’ Terra Stapleton was the Div. III district Player of the Year and Jon Buchanan the top coach for their 20-0 regular season.

Chesapeake’s Austin McMaster was named the Div. III boys’ district co-Player of the Year.

A 73-57 win by Chesapeake over Peebles in the district finals gave Ryan Davis his 100th career coaching win.

Ironton Elementary student Kendall Dodgion won a gold medal at the Kentucky YMCA state swimming championships.

Chesapeake lost in the regional semifinals and Ironton fell to Portsmouth in the championship game.

Coal Grove Lady Hornets’ volleyball standout Haley Johnson signed to play at Pikeville University.

Brent Wirzfeld won his baseball head coaching debut as the St. Joseph Flyers beat New Boston 4-1 on a six-inning no-hitter by Justin Mahlmeister.

Chesapeake head baseball coach Ray Boster won his debut as the Panthers beat Symmes Valley 9-5.


Former Ironton state shot put champion John Paul Pemberton — now at Tiffin University — had an indoor record throw for the school as he placed third in the NCAA Division II nationals to earn All-American honors. He was also named Academic All-American.

Rock Hill senior Johnathan Schob signed to play baseball at the University of Rio Grande.

Rick McKnight — who has announced Ironton Fighting Tigers’ football and basketball games on the public address system for 25 years — was honored for his service by the Southeast Ohio District Athletic Board.

Ironton High School powerlifters Tommy Saul and Austin Rowe were state champions in their divisions and Drew Wells was third.

Coal Grove named its baseball field for John Jones, the former Hornets’ baseball coach who died last year.

Fairland dedicated its softball field to former coach Jim Bailey who is the school’s all-time win leader in the sport.

Rock Hill won its second straight OVC baseball championship while the Redwomen won the softball crown.


Coal Grove freshman Jacob Pierce threw a six-inning no-hitter against St. Joseph and Green Lady Bobcats’ Micah Lewis no-hit Symmes Valley in five innings.

South Point Lady Pointers’ Callie Taylor signed to play golf at North Greenville (S.C.) University.

Coal Grove won a fourth straight OVC track title and Fairland claimed the girls’ championship.

Green won a sectional baseball title while Fairland won a softball sectional.

South Point Lady Pointers’ Erin Dillow signed to play soccer at Kentucky Christian University.

Rock Hill senior Matt Jenkins signed to play baseball at Ohio Christian University.

Cody Myers fired a five-inning no-hitter as Symmes Valley blanked Eastern 17-0.

Former Ironton distance runner Gary Monroe set the Morehead State University 1,500 meters record. He was sixth in the conference meet and was named the school’s Freshman of the Year.

Former Symmes Valley outfielder Luke Taylor was named to the Mid-South Conference Gold Glove team as a freshman for Rio Grande.

Shawnee State’s softball team got several player awards from area athletes.

Earning Mid-South All-Conference honors in softball were former Green pitcher Ali Thompson (first team) and former South Point infielder Ericka Leighty (second team).

Former Symmes Valley infielder Nikki Nance, former Chesapeake pitcher Allie Chapman, Thompson and Leighty were all named conference scholar-athletes.

Ironton senior golfer Josh Zornes signed to play golf at Shawnee State.

Fairland’s boys won the Division II district track meet while Coal Grove won the boys’ Division III district title.

The Dragons 4×400 relay team of Raine Wireman, Ryan Stewart, Jalen Brooks and Logan Rowe qualified for the state meet along with Tanner Mattie in the 3200 and Amber Pappas in the 300-meter hurdles. Wireman also advanced in the 800 meters.

Coal Grove’s Greg Bender qualified for the state meet in the shot put and Bryan Steele advanced in the high jump. The Lady Hornets 4×100 relay team of Jacy Jones, Kim Short, Bailey Harrison and Leslie Mulkey also qualified.

Chesapeake Panthers’ Brandon Noble signed to play at Alderson-Broaddus and teammate Taylor Banaei inked with Marietta College. South Point’s Josh Payne also signed to play at Marietta.


Fairland’s Raine Wireman placed eighth in the 800 meters at the Division II state track meet.

Former Ironton baseball coach Mike Burcham held a 40-year reunion of the 1972 Class AA state champion team.

The Ironton Little League celebrated its 50th anniversary.

South Point’s Allison Mitchell committed to play basketball at Cleveland State University.

Nathan Kerns — a former Ironton All-Ohio golfer and senior-to-be at Marshall University — won the Mid-Ohio Golf Association Invitational.


Rock Hill senior pitcher Drew Kidd signed to play baseball at Shawnee State.

Kerns, 21, didn’t stop with the MOGA title. He climbed to even greater heights by winning the prestigious Ohio Amateur by two shots over former Ohio State player Alex Redfield.

The Ironton Senior League All-Stars finished as state runners-up.


St. Joseph graduate Mike Sharp wrote a baseball song “Touch ‘Em All” that was made into a video and released.

Former Marshall football coach Jim Donnan and Proctorville man Greg Crabtree were expected to face federal charges for their part in a Ponzi scheme.

Mark Vass won his head football coaching debut at Ironton as the Fighting Tigers beat Wheelersburg 32-27.

Former South Point standout Jeremiah Taylor — a junior defensive lineman — was named one of four captains for the Marshall football team.


The Chesapeake Panthers won the OVC golf championship as well as the Division II sectional title. Coal Grove captured the Division III golf sectional crown.


Chesapeake was the district runner-up to qualify for the state tournament. Individually, Coal Grove’s Brent Morgan qualified for the Division III state golf match.

The Coal Grove Lady Hornets won their second straight OVC volleyball title.

Fairland boys and girls won the OVC cross country championships as well as district titles. The girls won the regional meet and the boys were second as both teams qualified for the state meet.

Chesapeake’s Nick Duffield finished second in the Division II state golf tournament and Coal Grove’s Brent Morgan was eighth in Division III.

Coal Grove claimed the OVC football championship and qualified for the postseason players. Ironton and Symmes Valley also qualified for the playoffs.

Morehead State honored Ironton’s Ernie DeCourley as they inducted the late defensive lineman into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.


Texas A&M upset No. 1-ranked Alabama thanks to an outstanding defensive performance led by defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, the former Ironton All-Ohio and Marshall defensive back and ex-Marshall head coach.

The Associated Press Southeast District honored Ironton’s Aaron Stephens as the top defensive player, running back Patrick Lewis as the co-Offensive Player and Mark Vass as the co-Coach of the Year.

Stephens was also invited to play in the Blue/Grey National All-Star Game.

Fairland Lady Dragons’ junior center Terra Stapleton gave a verbal commitment to play basketball at Minnesota.

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ Rebekkah Potter signed a scholarship to play shortstop for the University of Dayton softball team.


Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior Sean Lawless signed to play baseball at the University of Pikeville.

Fairland Lady Dragons’ cross country runners Megan Ashton and Sydney Pettit both signed with Shawnee State University.

Ironton senior center Trey Fletcher eclipsed 1,000-career points during the team’s Florida trip.