Ferry lays claim to state football title

DURING ST. Clairsville’s spirited march to the Division IV state championship game, it was noted on several occasions that no Belmont County school had ever won a state football championship.

In the realm of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, that is technically correct. But one local school does lay claim to earning a state football championship.

Martins Ferry enjoyed a spectacular 1941 campaign, rolling to a 10-0 regular season. No state playoffs existed back then.

However, the Purple Riders were invited to play Toledo Libbey, which was was also 10-0 and city champions. The Purple Riders, coached by Gomer Jones, and Libbey squared off in the Toledo Bowl game, stamped by many as a game that will establish the “champs of Ohio.”

Martins Ferry jumped out to a 14-0 lead, only to see Libbey rally to for a 14-14 tie. The two teams were subsequently crowned state co-champions.

The Purple Riders were juggernauts in the regular season, tallying 333 points while yielding just 19.

The Riders defeated, in order, St. Clairsville (40-0), Bridgeport (41-0), Wheeling (12-6), Triadelphia (34-0), Moundsville (50-0), Bellaire (9-0), East Liverpool (27-7), Steubenville (54-6), Marietta (39-0) and Alliance (27-0).

It was the Riders first 10-0 season since 1931.

In 1941, Martins Ferry also captured the state OHSAA boys’ basketball championship.


THE BELMONT County Commissioners invited the St. Clairsville High School football team to the courthouse Wednesday, paying tribute to the Red Devils’ special season. The Devils were definitely deserving of such recognition and the ceremony really carries special significance. I was fortunate to take two state championship track teams to similar tributes with the commissioners. The athletes and coaches sincerely relish the honor being bestowed by commissioners. The courthouse visits are the local versions of what the White House does on the national level.

THE NEXT Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting will be Thursday, Dec. 20 at noon at Country Club Retirement Campus. The cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. All local businesses and their employees are welcome to attend. Please make your reservations by Tuesday, Dec. 18.

THE COLLEGE football bowl pairings leave much to be desired. I am a big fan of the Mid-American Conference, but I would never expected the MAC to send seven teams bowling. One of its members, No. Illinois, finds itself overmatched in the Orange Bowl against Florida. The Rose Bowl has one quality team in Stanford, but a five-loss Wisconsin squad brings nothing to the table. Georgia, which came up just a few yards short of playing for a national title, was jettisoned to the Capital One Bowl to play Nebraska. Suffice to say, bowl saturation has arrived.

SPEAKING OF college football, Bret Bielema leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas is nothing short of bizarre. It has to be a matter of just grabbing a boatload of cash, as he is taking over a mediocre program in a conference (SEC) which will see his Razorbacks be bottom feeders. Bielema could be jobless in four years.

THE VILLAGE of Shadyside would like to thank all the entrants who participated in the annual Christmas Parade a week ago. The winners of the plaques were: Take A Bow Dance Studio, Best Overall entry, the Shadyside American Legion Color Guard, Best Business entry and the Jefferson Elementary School children, Best Youth entry.

THE BRIGHTWAY Center is holding a Christmas open house this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. The event will feature hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and prizes. The Brightway Center is located at 2511 County Road, Rayland. All ages are welcome. For more information, call Cathy Takach, project manager, at 740-733-4780.

DAN?MARLING is a good man. He should do well as Bellaire’s new village administrator. We wish him nothing but success. He has an opportunity, with council and mayoral support, to jump start the All-American Town.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com