MARTINS FERRY - One of Martins Ferry's most dynamic three-sport athletes has made his college decision.
Robert Vargo, who serves as captain of the Purple Riders' baseball, basketball and football teams, will continue his athletic and football careers at Ohio Dominican University in suburban Columbus.
The 6-6, 250-pounder signed his national letter-of-intent Wednesday morning in the Martins Ferry Schools' Administration Building. Attending the ceremony were his parents, Missy and Robert, along with Martins Ferry Head Football Coach Dave Bruney and Superintendent/Offensive Coordinator Dirk Fitch.
"I visited there a couple of times and I really liked the coaching staff. They were fun and enthusiastic," Vargo said. "They seemed like the kind of people I'd like to be around every day.
"I also liked the size of the school, it's NCAA Division II so it's smaller classes," he continued. "I won't have to sit through big class-size lectures, but it's also close to Columbus."
Vargo, who shined at defensive end and tight end, was named all-Ohio first team as a defensive player. He was also named Eastern District Defensive Player of the Year after helping the Purple Riders to a 9-1 season and berth in the Division V state playoffs.
Vargo utilized his size to alter the passing games of many teams. He batted 11 balls down during the season and was a constant in opposing teams' backfields. He recorded 39 tackles. He was also a standout at tight end. As a blocker, he graded out at 93 percent. He caught 14 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown.
Seven of those bat-downs came in week 10 against arch-rival Bellaire.
"I'll always remember that game and the comeback in the playoffs against Williamsport Westfall," he said.
What side of the football will he play?
"They plan on using me as a tight end," Vargo explained. "But they run a slot-type of tight end. They'll use me to block and go out out for passes."
So, which side of the ball would he like to play on?
"The offensive side," he admitted. "The way they run their offense is really fast paced and quick. They do a lot of finesse plays. I like their style of offense."
He was also recruited for football by Division I schools Ohio, Cincinnati, Toledo and North Carolina State, along with West Liberty, Bethany, Marietta and a few others.
"I would like to thank all of the schools that recruited me," Vargo said. "It shows that all of them were interested in me."
When asked if it was tough choosing between D-I and D-II, he replied, "It was hard not going D-I because I dreamed of playing D-I since I was a child, but I've got (assistant) Coach Zac (Bruney) up there, so I was familiar and comfortable with him.
"They also gave me an offer that I couldn't turn down," he said of the Panthers. "I realized that going D-I wasn't the biggest thing in the world. Ohio Dominican is a good educational institute and it has a good football program."
The Panthers just completed their 10th season of football by going 10-0 and reaching the D-II playoffs. They were eliminated in the regional semifinals by West Texas A&M University.
"We're tickled to death for Robert and his family," Dave Bruney noted. "To me he's the consummate high school athlete. A three-sport captain and terrific student.
"He was truly a selfless player for us," Bruney continued. "There was no job that was too small for him. That's why he's the winner that he is and the reason he's going to get his education paid for. We couldn't be happier."
Bruney thinks Vargo can be productive at ODU.
"They lose a pretty good tight end, but speaking with their coaches, they think he can step in and develop into a pretty good tight end," his high school coach added. "I've also heard that he's already as good, if not better, than the tight ends left on their roster.
"However, he could grow into a 315-pound offensive tackle, which is what a lot of Division I schools were projecting him at," Bruney continued. "He can play a number of positions and could even grow into a defensive tackle, but he has great hands and is a very good blocker."
Vargo, who also averages 20 points and 12 rebounds as a basketball player and plays third base and pitcher for the baseball team, said he plans on majoring in sports management.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org