Magistro reaches milestone victory

John Magistro’s success as a head football coach has been well documented.

Whether it was at Bellaire or currently at Westerville Central in suburban Columbus, everything Magistro has touched has turned to gold.

He turned the Big Reds’ program into one of the state’s most respected, leading it to six regional championships and two trips to the Division IV State Championship Game.

In just his fourth season with the fairly new Warhawks’ program, Magistro has guided Central to the Division I playoffs and was named Division I State Coach of the Year.

All of that success has added up to 200 career victories for the St. John Central graduate, who matriculated to Central Ohio to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

“I’ve always been blessed to be surrounded by great coaches and great players,” Magistro said during a phone interview Thursday evening. “A lot of people have played a part in this milestone.”

The milestone came last Friday night and early Saturday morning when the Warhawks improved their record to 4-1 with a 29-17 victory against Worthington Kilbourne in a game that started Friday night, but finished the next day because of storms in Central Ohio.

“I had people texting me Friday night congratulations and I had to tell them the game wasn’t over yet,” Magistro laughed.

The teams returned to the field Saturday morning and completed the final few minutes, which officially gave Magistro his 200th career win. Of his wins, 181 came with the Big Reds.

“They’ve done a lot of things to recognize me up here and they’re happy to have been a part of some of these, but obviously the majority came at Bellaire,” Magistro said. “I’ve made a lot of great relationships up here, but it’s never going to be better than coaching in the Ohio Valley. I grew up in Bellaire and it’ll always be my hometown.”

And Magistro’s hometown still supports him, too. Many Big Reds’ fans made the trip to Franklin County to watch the Westerville Central game against Dublin Scioto, which was Magistro’s first crack at the 200-mark.

“It was disappointing that so many people made the trip up and we lost,” Magistro said. “The support I receive from the people back home is amazing. It was back when I was at Bellaire and still today.”

Magistro’s brother-in-law Bruce Young was actually the guy who pointed out that he was so close to the milestone.

“I had no idea of the numbers,” Magistro said. “Bruce pointed it out and then some of the kids found it on the computer. I was just hoping to get our fourth win.”

Magistro wouldn’t go as far as to point what team or player was the best he’s ever coached, but he did have no trouble re-calling his first victory.

Ironically, it came against St. Clairsville, which is the team the current Big Reds’ squad will tangle with this evening.

“I remember that first win better than some of the playoff wins,” Magistro admitted. “We beat St. Clairsville on a field goal by Bryan Ramsey. I remember coaching against George Strager, who is a legend. I can remember that game as well as any game I’ve ever coached in.”

While when people talk about Magistro’s career names like Joey Galloway, Jose Davis, Ben Taylor, Nate Davis and most recently, at Westerville Central, Nick Vannett are names that pop up in conversation. For Magistro, though, it didn’t matter how good you were as an individual or what level of football you made it to.

“I think about all of the role players,” Magistro said. “We took the greatest pride, as a coaching staff, in the guys who weren’t the stars or made us better in practice. I still have guys call me for advice or just to talk and that’s the most satisfying part. The friendships and relationships I’ve made over the years make it worthwhile.”

With the win, Magistro becomes just the 38th coach in Ohio High School history to reach the milestone.

So with 200 under his belt the chance at number 201 tonight when Westerville Central takes on Hilliard Bradley, will Magistro make a run at 300?

“I won’t be around that long, but I still have the desire to coach very much,” Magistro said. “I still enjoy the teaching. I like teaching the kids how to do things. I probably enjoy the teaching aspect more than I actually enjoy the games.”

Magistro has a relatively young coaching staff. He believes that in a handful of years one of those ‘youngsters’ will be ready to take over the reins.

“Those guys have a lot of enthusiasm and are willing to learn and get better,” Magistro said.

“In a few years, I think some of those guys will be ready to step up and take over.”

For now, though, Magistro is focused on teaching, winning, continuing to build those coveted relationships and help his football team get as many victories as possible.

Staskey can be reached at