Sheridan was one of the great high school football coaches
Published 3:38 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023
Not long after Ironton won its first state football championship in 1979, a few of the assistant football coaches took some opportunities to snag better jobs.
When I asked head coach Bob Lutz about losing some good assistants he said, “As long as I have Pat and Mike, we’ll be fine.”
That was a reference to Pat Sheridan and Mike Burcham. And yes, they were great coaches and Ironton did just fine.
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Sheridan died this past week at the age of 87. Even in his old age his mind was still sharp and he could dissect a football game or play with the greatest of scrutiny.
Sheridan had a great mind for the game of football and baseball. He played baseball for Bowling Green before heading to the military and then back to his alma mater as the head football coach of the St. Joseph Flyers.
During his 8-year tenure as the head coach of the small private Catholic school, Sheridan was able to post a 50-33-1 record. His 1963 and 1964 teams won Ohio Valley Conference titles and his 1964 team was considered not only the best-ever St. Joseph team but one of the best in this area.
Three players from that team went on to play Division I football and started or lettered. Linemen Pat Myers and Jack Davis — currently an Ironton dentist — signed scholarships with Ohio University while Mike Holtzapfel earned a scholarship with Notre Dame and as a sophomore lettered for the 1966 National Championship team.
There were other players who could have played at small colleges but opted to concentrate on their academics and other interest.
Despite the talent, all of them pointed to Sheridan as the glue that held the team together.
“Coach doesn’t get the credit he should,” said Mike McFann during a team reunion bacon 2010. A guard and linebacker on the team, McFann said “we had a good team but Pat did a great job. Pat made us believe in ourselves.”
Davis — who was a co-captain along with Holtzapfel — agreed with McFann’s assessment.
“Pat put it together,” said Davis. “He never took credit but he deserves a lot of the credit. We were a small school going against much bigger schools. It was a David and Goliath. We didn’t have the coaching staff they have today and he was a step ahead of everyone. He did a great job.”
After 1968, Sheridan resigned as the head coach and became the school principal. He still help the newly hired Lutz and went to Ironton as the offensive line coach when Lutz was hired as the Fighting Tigers head coach.
Sheridan was in the crow’s nest during games on the headsets with Burcham. In one game against Ashland at home, Ironton threw a screen pass to Mark Pierson that he ran more than 50 yards before being brought down inside the 5-yard line.
Ironton scored from that point and rallied to win the game.
When the play came up in the postgame interview, Lutz pointed at Sheridan as he walked by and said, “Scooter called that one.”
It was a great call, but just one of many in Sheridan’s career.
Much acclaim is given to Bob Lutz for his coaching career and rightly so. He was one of the best high school coaches to hang a whistle around his neck.
Burcham was also known as one of the best assistant football coaches and was Lute’s right-hand man.
But Sheridan was an embodiment of both a head coach and an assistant coach who knew how to mount and attack an enemy flank
Besides his great coaching ability, Pat Sheridan was a simply a good person who cared about others beyond them just being good players for him. He was a good husband and a good father as well.
And as far as others including myself are concerned, he was a good friend.
Jim Walker is sports editor emeritus of The Ironton Tribune.