1969 WVU grid squad OV driven
MORGANTOWN – It remains as one of the most impressive seasons in WVU football history.
It was 1969 and the Mountaineers rolled to a 10-1 record. The lone blemish was to rival Penn State.
The exclamation point on that brilliant campaign was a 14-3 Peach Bowl win over ACC champion South Carolina. The Mountaineers were coached by Jim Carlen while a young Bobby Bowden was the offensive coordinator.
Such success could not have come to fruition if not for a Blue & Gold roster that boasted a heavy Ohio Valley flavor.
Four starters were local products. Bellaire’s Mike Sherwood was the quarterback while the starting secondary was manned by Powhatan’s Terry Snively, Dillonvale’s Ron Pobolish and Weir’s Leon Jenkins.
That 1969 team reunited this weekend in Morgantown and was honored during the Mountaineers game with Texas.
Sherwood was a junior and in his second year as the starting quarterback. Freshmen back then were ineligible to play varsity. He completed 151-of-264 passes for 1,998 yards and 12 TDs as a sophomore.
As fate would have it, Bowden opted to change the offense the following season to an option-running game dominated attack. As a result, Sherwood’s passing numbers took a hit. He tossed it just 116 times completing 61 for 773 yards and 7 TDs.
“Our 1969 team was a really good football team. We had some great players and a bunch of good players like Mike Sherwood, Jim Braxton and Carl Crennell,” Pobolish said. “We had a lot of experience. Our only loss was to a very good Penn State team.
“Terry, Leon and myself got along real well. We took a lot of pride in what we did,” he added. “We had a good defense. Terry and I both had interceptions in the Peach Bowl.”
While Pobolish starred in the Mountaineers’ secondary as a junior and senior, his collegiate career started on the other side of the ball.
“I was a running back as a sophomore. After the season, Coach Bowden said they were moving me to defense. He said we have a lot of good running backs,” Pobolish noted in a phone interview Monday. “I wasn’t happy about it but it worked out really well. We were 7-3 my junior year and 10-1 as a senior. I am really looking forward to this reunion.”
Snively scripted an amazing four-sport career at Powhatan before being recruited to WVU by former Martins Ferry head coach Hayden Buckley. Snively was an impact performer in the Mountaineer secondary for three years.
“We really had a good defense. Our offense wasn’t too shabby either with Mike (Sherwood) at quarterback and with two running backs (Jim Braxton and Bob Greshman) who went on to play in the NFL,” Snively said. “Our only loss my senior year was to Penn State. They had the No. 1 offense in the nation but our defense hung tough. They had Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris.
“It was a great honor to get to the Peach Bowl. There were only 11 bowls back then. But it was a mudbath. It started raining the night before the game and never stopped,” he added. “Our defense played well and I was able to pick off a pass inside the five-yard line. I came off the field and Gov. Arch Moore was standing on our sideline. It was a great thrill.”
Snively ended his career with six interceptions. He was selected to the All-Time WVU 1950-69 Era team.
“I was very fortunate. I started every game I played in. It was also great to play with guys from the valley,” he continued. “Pobe and I were the two punt returner guys. He was the call man. So it is safe to say I didn’t get to return many punts.”
Sherwood, a prolific passer for the Mountaineers as a sophomore, made a seamless transition to option quarterback as a junior. It paid huge dividends in the Peach Bowl slop.
Williams set the single game WVU record with 208 rushing yards and was the Peach Bowl’s offensive MVP. It was his first career start.
“After our last regular season game against Syracuse, the coaches decided to go to the wishbone. We were down both of our starting wide receivers. Oscar Patrick was hurt and the other was suspended,” Sherwood said. “We had a bunch of good running backs. We ran the veer all year. So it was an easy transition. It was a good call.
“We worked out in shorts at Grant Field the night before the game. It was a perfect night. We went to the hotel and it started to rain and never quit till we left the locker room after the game,” he added. “It was an absolute quagmire. We only threw the ball two times the entire game. Eddie set the Peach Bowl rushing record. It was also Coach Carlen’s last game at WVU. He left for Texas Tech right after the bowl game.”
Sherwood established a school record in his sophomore season with 416 yards against rival Pitt, completing 27 of 37 passes. He finished that year ranked 11th in the nation, averaging 198 passing yards a game.
Sherwood led the Mountaineers to a 25-7 record in his three years. He still ranks among WVU career leaders in total offense, passing yards, pass completions and attempts, TD passes, passing efficiency and completion percentage. He was selected to play in the 1970 Blue-Gray Game and tabbed All-East by UPI in 1970.
Sherwood is a member of the All-Time WVU 1950-69 Era team and was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Snively and Pobolish returned to Morgantown for the festivities this weekend. Sherwood, however, was unable to because of his duties as Bellaire High athletic director.
WVU finished ranked 17th in the nation in that magical season. Texas was declared national champs while undefeated Penn State was second.
BOB MONTGOMERY is a prep baseball coaching legend. The longtime John Marshall head coach received special recgonition recently when the City of Moundsville named Valley Fork Park Field No. 2 as Robert “Coach” Montgomery Field. Monty coached Monarch baseball for 49 years, 43 as head coach, winning some 900 games and a state title. He is also an OVAC Hall of Famer. If that wasn’t enough, Monty is a longtime umpire and basketball official. The field designation is a most deserved honor to a special individual.
DON’T LOOK now but the prep football regular season has passed its midpoint.
I AM a Clint Hurdle fan but it was time for a new voice in the Pirates’ dugout.
THE STEELERS saved their season Monday night by downing the lowly Bengals. Mason Rudolph handled himself quite well thanks to a creative offensive game plan. The Steelers have a huge opportunity today against the Ravens. A Pittsburgh win makes them division contenders.
THE DENVER Broncos are off to a rough 0-4 start. Beaver Local product Derek Wolfe has recorded 12 tackles with eight solo stops thus far.
FAIRMONT SENIOR is the top-rated Class AA football team in West Virginia. The defending state champions are quarterbacked by Gage Michael. His mother, Melissa Michael, is employed at Wheeling Hospital as an exercise physiologist.
I AM looking forward to attending Thursday’s Marshall County Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at the former state penitentiary. Former West Liberty University and current Nova Southeastern basketball coach Jim Crutchfield is the featured speaker.
THE BROWNS are a much better team when Nick Chubb is the featured offensive threat.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Martins Ferry High product Mike Edwards. He notched his first win Friday night as Worthington Kilbourne’s head football coach.
KUDOS ALSO go out to former St. Clairsville and Muskingum quarterback Ron Balog for guiding Quaker Valley (Pa.) to a 28-13 win over Waynesburg Central Friday night.