Bridgeport H.S. Hall/Wall of Fame activities set for Alumni Weekend
Bridgeport High School will once again honor some of its finest athletes during Alumni Weekend Friday and Saturday.
The Wall/Hall of Fame inductees will be presented Friday night at Bill Jobko Stadium when the Bulldogs host Conotton Valley at 7 p.m. on Perkins Field. A pre-game social will take place at the Brookside Firehouse, adjacent to the stadium, starting at 5 p.m. The inductees will be introduced in pre-game festivities.
The induction ceremony and dinner will take place Saturday at 5 p.m. in the high school cafetorium. Tickets are $15 per person and are still available until Wednesday by calling the school at 635-0853.
Three deserving honorees will be inducted into the Wall of Fame, those being Joe Ault, Randy Massey and James (Butch) Thomas. Entering the Hall of Fame will be Art Hehr, Donald Ray Hertler Sr., Gerald Lattocha, Marilyn Primovic, and members of the 1988 state champion wrestling team.
A capsule of each inductee follows:
Wall of Fame
JOE AULT – One of the winningest coaches in Bridgeport football history, Ault recorded a 48-20-1 mark in his seven years at the Bulldogs’ helm from 1965-71.
He also had prep stops at Barnesville (1962-5-3-2); Pataskala Watkins Memorial (1978-86-62-15-1) and Heath (1989-8-2). In between, he coached one year at former NAIA powerhouse Salem College (W.Va.) from 1975-77. He led the Tigers to a 26-5-1 record and a trip to the national championship game in 1975 where they lost to Texas A&I.
For his efforts, he was named the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NAIA North Eastern District Coach of the Year.
He was also named The Times Leader Coach of the Year in 1970 and the Licking County League Coach of the Year from 1980-82.
He has been inducted into the Bellaire High School Hall and Wall of Fames, along with the Ohio High School Athletic Association and Salem College Halls of Fame.
He currently resides in Pataskala.
JAMES “BUTCH” THOMAS – Thomas earned 13 letters at Bridgeport. he started and lettered four years in football, basketball and baseball; and one year in track. He won All-Eastern Ohio honors for three years in football and basketball.
He was a freshman starter on the Bulldogs’ football team that recorded their first victory over rival Martins Ferry in 1956. He also played on the BHS basketball teams in 1958 and 1960 which won Ohio Valley Athletic Conference titles.
After graduating from Bridgeport in 1960, Thomas signed a professional baseball contract with the Cleveland Indians. Following baseball, he moved to California in 1964 and worked 10 years in the aircraft industry. He re-located to Columbus in 1974 and went to work at Rockwell International. He retired in 2007 and resides in Columbus with his wife, Joanne (Burns), and their daughters, Kim and Allison.
He is a member of the Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church, Columbus Order of Masons, Reynoldsburg Eagles Aerie #3261, the Lansing Sportsmans Club, Bridgeport Foresters and volunteers at the Reynoldsburg Food Pantry.
RANDY MASSEY – A 1967 graduate, Massey was a stellar multi-sport athlete at Bridgeport. He played football, basketball, baseball, track and wrestling.
He started his football career with a bang. He began his freshman season playing junior varsity, but on his only play in 1963 against Tiltonsville, he ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
His accomplishments on the gridiron resulted in him being selected to the All-Ohio Class A first team in 1965. He also finished second in voting for Back of the Year honors. He was also named to the OVAC and All-Eastern District squads where he received more votes than anyone else.
Statistically, he rushed for 1,532 yards in his senior season. He scored 116 points.
His career-high rushing effort, a 335-yard effort, came against Barnesville. Another career highlight was a 252-yard output against Martins Ferry, which was more yardage than the Purple Riders could amass.
Following graduation, Massey had numerous scholarship offers, but eventually selected Tennessee A&I University.
Massey retired from Conalco and is currently employed at East Ohio Regional Hospital as a transport driver.
He resides in Bridgeport.
Hall of Fame
ART HEHR – A 1959 graduate, Hehr was a member of the wrestling team that finished first in the OVAC three straight years (1957-59).
He placed third in the state meet in 1957 before winning back-to-back state crowns in his final two scholastic seasons. In fact, he was so prolific, he went undefeated during those two campaigns.
Hehr was also a member of the first undefeated Bridgeport football team in 1958, which was the first team to defeat neighboring rival Martins Ferry.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was discharged in 1962. He then enrolled at West Liberty where he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966. He wrestled for the 1962 and 1963 Hilltoppers conference champions, and later earned a MA degree from the University of Dayton.
He retired after 35 years of teaching and served as wrestling coach at Wheeling College, Skyvue and Martins Ferry high schools. His 1968 Purple Riders won the OVAC championship.
Hehr resides in Woodsfield with his wife, Carol Eddy (BHS Class of 1962). They have three children and five grandchildren.
DONALD RAY HERTLER SR. – A 1946 graduate of BHS, Hertler was a three-sport standout for the Bulldogs.
He was a three-year mainstay in football and basketball, while also earning two letters in baseball, serving as captain of all three teams his senior season. The Bulldogs’ baseball team made it to the state tournament.
After playing baseball (4 years) and football (3 years) at Wittenberg University (1948-51), he embarked upon a coaching career that would conclude with 163 high school football victories against 43 losses and three ties in 21 seasons at North Canton High School (1960-80). He never had a losing season and two of his teams (1972 and 1975) went undefeated. He coached his team to seven Federal League championships and was named Federal League Coach of the Year each of those seasons.
He was also the school’s head baseball coach from 1954-70, winning 220 of his 310 games. He only had one losing season and reached the regional semifinals three times and the regional finals once (1965).
The athletic field at North Canton High School is named in his honor – Don Hertler Sr. Field.
He was a 2011 BHS Hall of Fame inductee.
GERALD LATTOCHA – Bridgeport’s first state championship wrestler, Lattocha in the mid 1950s.
He worked at Continental Can Company on two different occasions before retiring from Consol Energy after 12 years in 1999.
He and his wife, the former Betty Polifka, have three children and six grandchildren.
MARILYN PRIMOVIC – The Lady Bulldogs all-time leading basketball scorer with 1,827 points, Primovic graduated in 1982 after leading her team to a 20-1 record. Along the way the Bulldogs captured the OVAC and sectional titles.
During her senior season, she scored 24.3 points and grabbed 124 rebounds while handing out 81 assists. She was named first team all-state and District Player of the Year.
A four-year all-OVAC selection, she was also second team all-state her junior season when the Bulldogs won their first-ever District tournament title en route to a 23-2 campaign.
She finished her basketball career with 703 rebounds and 264 assists.
Also a stellar track and field performer his freshman and sophomore seasons, she was a state qualifier in the 800-meter run after placing third in the districts.
1988 WRESTLING TEAM – After finishing fourth and second to rival Cadiz in the 1986 and 1987 state meets, respectively, the 1988 Bulldogs climbed to the top of the podium as state champions.
The entered the state meet with six qualifiers, all of whom advanced to the semifinals before suffering a loss. They had the team title clinched at the end of Friday’s action, with an entire day of competition still left to be contested.
Of the six, only Dean Burke (152) and Rick Burlenski (189) were able to bring home gold medals. It was Burlenski’s second straight. Todd Burke placed third at 145; Chick LaMotte fourth at 140; Scott Sears fourth at 160 and Rex Frohnapfel sixth at 112.
Team members to be honored include Burlenski, Dean Burke, Todd Burke, Rich Foston, Orlando Foston, Frohnapfel, LaMotte, Eric Lyle and Sears.
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