OVAC continues to honor its past

THE OVAC All-Star Football Game is one of the premier events of the summer season in the Ohio Valley.

Young and old alike look forward to a special night of socializing, while football diehards realize the prep grid season is again on the tee, ready for kickoff.

While the game sheds the spotlight onto contemporary players, coaches, band members and cheerleaders, part of the beauty of the game is honoring its past.

OVAC officials have done a masterful job of not letting stars of bygone days go unnoticed. Each year, the conference now brings back the all-stars from a half century ago.

Such was the case again Monday at WesBanco Arena in?Wheeling.

OVAC Executive Director Tom Rataiczak and Game Director Bob Koch held a luncheon for the players and coaches from the 1961 and 1962 all-star games.

Some 12-15 players from those games were in attendance, packed with many all-star stories in hand, also while packing a few extra pounds. What was nice and new this time around was the first-ever appearance from the games’ coaches. Don Ault, who coached Ohio in 1961, and Bob Sullivan, W.Va. coach in 1962, came back for the luncheon.

Ault is nothing short of a football coaching legend.

He guided Bellaire High in the 1960s to championship heights. His 1966 Big Reds, with Mike Sherwood under center, are still regarded as one of the finest OVAC prep teams ever.

After his ultra-successful career at Nelson Field, Ault traveled many football coaching roads.

He became an assistant at Marshall University and then Bethany. He became the Bison head boss and turned the Green & White into Presidents Athletic Conference champions.

After departing Bethany, Ault eventually coached collegiately at Waynesburg, and Slippery Rock while also enjoying a successful tenure as Barberton High head coach.

Ault is now retired and living in Powhatan Point. Although he is into his 80s, the West Liberty Hall of Famer still exudes the passion that made him one of the best ever in his profession.

Monday’s gathering featured a couple of other familiar faces.

One was longtime friend Joe Smolira from Union Local, who played in the 1962 game. The other was his Ohio teammate, Mike Herrick of Mingo. Herrick went on to become the longtime grid coach of his alma mater before becoming the first head coach in Indian Creek history.


LONGTIME AND talented Times Leader sports writer Rich “Hoot” Gibson is currently a patient at the James Cancer Center in Columbus. He has been at the James Center for several weeks now. Times leader Sports Editor Seth Staskey and sports writer Kim North paid Hoot a visit during Harrison Central’s state baseball tourney appearance. Hoot enjoys receiving mail from his friends and fans. Anyone interested in dropping Hoot a get-well wish may do so by sending it to Rich Gibson, in care of the Ohio State James Cancer Center, Room 735, 300 West 10th St., Columbus, Ohio 43210. Hoot harbors hopes of returning home in the near future.


CANCER CRUSADERS in the Ohio Valley are truly remarkable. That was emphatically reinforced again this weekend in St. Clairsville where the annual Belmont County Relay for Life unfolded at Red Devil Stadium.

The event commenced early Friday night and ended around noontime Saturday. According to organizer Chelsea Edwards, some $88,000 was raised with more donations possible.

That is generosity and compassion off the charts.


A ST. John Central sophomore showed her compassionate side recently. Rachel Porter, a three-sport performer for the Lady Irish, had 16 inches of hair cut off, which she proceeded to donate to Locks of Love. Modern Hair of Flushing did the sheering. Rachel then proceeded to wrap up the hair clippings and mail them to the Florida-based organization. It is the most hair ever cut at Modern Hair at one time.

THE BELLAIRE Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon/meeting will be staged Thursday 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.

FORMER BARNESVILLE High head football coach John Marks has been hired as superintendent for Ridgewood schools in West Lafayette.

THE DEFENSE bill passed by the U.S. House Friday is one that makes sense. The $638 billion package features provisions that crack down on sex-related military crimes. That needs to happen as such occurrences are running rampant, as it is estimated as many as 26,000 service personnel may have been sexually assaulted. That is alarming. The bill also would keep many domestic bases open which the Pentagon targets for closing. Closing bases in the U.S. is not a prudent move.

CONGRATULATIONS GO out to St. John Central track legend April Rotilio. The three-time state champion exchanged wedding vows Saturday afternoon at St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Elm Grove with former Wheeling Central and WVU gridder Tom Contraguerro. April, after winning 12 career state medals, went on to become a two-time track All-American at WVU. She also just recently earned her doctorate’s degree.

I WAS disappointed to hear that Mark Cisar was stepping down as Union Local athletic director. Mark was one of the easiest and enjoyable athletic directors to work with. He will return to the classroom as a special education teacher. Mark previously stepped down as head football coach, which is part of a major facelift playing out at UL. The Jets will feature new head football, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball coaches as well as athletic director and district superintendent in 2013-14.

THE MIAMI Heat will repeat as NBA champions, downing San Antonio in seven games.

TO ALL the dads out there: Happy Father’s Day!

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com