OVAC Hall of Famer Tonini passes away

Sadly, we must report that long-time baseball umpire and OVAC Hall of Famer Bill Tonini, who resided in Hannibal, died last week just a few days shy of his 90th birthday.

Tonini was inducted to the OVAC Hall in 2012 after serving as an Ohio Valley baseball umpire for 52 years.

Imagine that, umpiring for 52 years? That is simply astonishing.

That’s what you call for the love of the game.

Tonini just didn’t umpire high school games either. He worked college games, American Legion games and he taught umpiring classes. He called balls and strikes for many post-season games, too.

Bill is the uncle of River High head football coach Mike Flannery.


While the high school football season has been only over officially only for just a week, work is well under way toward the 2014 season.

Some teams have resumed off-season lifting programs, but the real work is under way in formulating schedules for the upcoming season.

We’ve learned that Harrison Central has already filled its slate. The Huskies won’t be playing Wheeling Central, Berlin Center Western Reserve or Bellaire this season. The Big Reds will return to the Huskies’ schedule in the near future.

However, for 2014, Harrison Central will meet Plymouth, Independence and open with Buckeye Trail.

As we learn more changes, we’ll certainly keep you updated.



At this summer’s Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic, the 1964 Ohio and West Virginia teams will be recognized. The OVAC is still working to track down some of the members of those teams.

Anyone with information on how to reach any of the following people are encouraged to contact OVAC Executive Secretary Tom Rataiczak via email at tom@ovac.org.

The Ohio stars being sought are: Miles Bell (Cadiz), Jack Bernosky (Adena), Lou Delbet (Bellaire), Mike Koran (Mt. Pleasant), Claude Luke (Shadyside), Charles McCool (Shadyside), Frank Popp (Brilliant), Frank Savarese (Yorkville), Rick Terry (Steubenville), Stewart Tolbert (St. John), Dave Trouten (St. John), Frank West (Martins Ferry), Andy Wiley (Powhatan), John Yarbrough (Powhatan) and Coach Dan McGrew.

The West Virginia players being sought are: Rick Antioch (Linsly), Bill Brookover (Magnolia), Dave Byrd (Weir), Jerry Cappiccie (Wheeling Central), Tim Connell (Weir), Dennis Deegan (Wheeling Central), Charles DiBias (Wheeling Central), Vince DiBias (Warwood), Lynn Dodd (Wellsburg), Rich Dudash (Follansbee St. Anthony), Walter Fitzpatrick (Wellsburg), Harvey Foster (Moundsville), Jim Garback (Wheeling Central), Dave Gilliam (Weir), Paul Goggin (Follansbee), Jim Hull (Union), Bob Hunnell (Moundsville), Mike Ivaun (Madonna), Bill Jeneskee (Follansbee), Bob Lamont (Triadelphia), Steve Myers (Magnolia), Gary Rine (Moundsville), John Sobota (Bishop Donahue), Terry Yeager (Paden City) and assistant coach George Demko.


The Division II track and field championship, which had been held at Byesville and spent the last two years in Athens at The Plains, is moving back to the East District. Muskingum University has been awarded this year’s event, which will bring together two Eastern District district sites and two Southeastern District sites. John Glenn High School will serve as the host school.

The Division III regional for the east district remains the same. The girls will be split into two districts with half going to Navarre Fairless and the other heading to Lancaster Fairfield Union.


The Board of Directors met late last week and made a few interesting moves. Member schools will be voting on several issues again in the spring, but competitive balance isn’t one of them, nor is a possible separation of public and private schools.

Baseball and softball coaches should note that their tournament rosters will expand this season. They’ll be able to carry 22 players on the roster. Starting next season, the number of games an individual can play goes up to 32.

Keep in mind, that 32 games doesn’t expand the varsity schedule beyond 27. However, players will have more freedom if they see time both on varsity and JV.


During the fall sports season, I heard of several youth tackle football teams springing up around the area. I was watching the Division V state football final on television last weekend and heard the Sports Time Ohio announcers comment that Coldwater, which has won two straight state titles and played in five straight title games, doesn’t begin any sort of tackle football until seventh grade.

If it’s worked out OK for them, why is playing tackle football at such a young age so important here in the Ohio Valley?

I don’t understand the need to play tackle football as elementary student, and I don’t think I ever will.