Tri-County League Football history

ysuindy

Active member
I remember Poland losing a one point game at EP that year. Mark Blythe scored late and Poland had a past half court shot go in at the buzzer but was ruled no good because it hit the rim, bounced up, hit the guy wire supporting the basket and dropped in. I recall Poland going to the balcony end of the gym.

Blythe, Lester Werner, Greg Lewis, future YSU punter Chris Weber. That was a talented EP team.

Weber was the quarterback at EP, which led to some fake punts at YSU. Including when he would throw a high pass out of punt formation that looked more like a punt. The YSU receiver would often be interfered with by the would be punt returner - who thought he had the protected access to the ball.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
I remember Poland losing a one point game at EP that year. Mark Blythe scored late and Poland had a past half court shot go in at the buzzer but was ruled no good because it hit the rim, bounced up, hit the guy wire supporting the basket and dropped in. I recall Poland going to the balcony end of the gym.

Blythe, Lester Werner, Greg Lewis, future YSU punter Chris Weber. That was a talented EP team.

Weber was the quarterback at EP, which led to some fake punts at YSU. Including when he would throw a high pass out of punt formation that looked more like a punt. The YSU receiver would often be interfered with by the would be punt returner - who thought he had the protected access to the ball.
Weber was the QB when Salem and EP tied in football. Let's see who remembers the Coach then.
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
Weber was the QB when Salem and EP tied in football. Let's see who remembers the Coach then.
Are you asking about the Salem coach, or the East Palestine coach ?

If Salem, I'll guess Bill Bohren...pretty sure he coached there for a few years, among the many other stops in his long career.
For E.P. I want to say Jim Infante. For Salem I think it was Bill Davies but it may have still been Paul Mentis. As I remember it Davies followed Mentis and I think Davies was the HC for the year in question.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
For E.P. I want to say Jim Infante. For Salem I think it was Bill Davies but it may have still been Paul Mentis. As I remember it Davies followed Mentis and I think Davies was the HC for the year in question.
Either Infante or Hartman. Most of the Clontz staff stayed intact for a few seasons afterwards of the 72 season.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
No disrespect intended but are you talking about the tournament only? I know Salem beat EP badly in the 1958-59 regular season when coach Cabas led Salem to the state finals that ysuindy mentioned and again the next season for sure. I'm almost positive that Salem's only regular season loss in 58-59 was to Cleveland E. Tech who also beat the Quakers in the state championship game.
The game I stated was in 69. Tournament time, EP had beaten Woodrow Wilson and then handled Salem 63-52. Cabas was the coach. I do remember the game and some Salem fans getting upset that Cabas admitted to defeat in that game.
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
The game I stated was in 69. Tournament time, EP had beaten Woodrow Wilson and then handled Salem 63-52. Cabas was the coach. I do remember the game and some Salem fans getting upset that Cabas admitted to defeat in that game.
I didn't see the 69 tourney game with Salem but I saw the next game when EP lost to Ursuline. The original post I quoted said that coach Cabas had never beaten EP in basketball while he was at Salem. That's why I asked if you meant tourney only as I knew the Quakers had beaten EP in the regular season when Cabas was there. Do you know how often they were in the same classification for tournaments? I want to say they were usually in different classes for the tournaments but I'm not sure.

As far as the thread topic and TCL football I just thought about Joe Guido from Leetonia. He went to YSU out of HS, it was still Youngstown College then. He did not play in the NFL but he did get drafted by the Colts in the NFL and he played one season in the CFL with Ottawa. I worked with Joe for 10 years and I think he was still playing in those Leetonia alumni football games until he was in his 50s. I may be totally wrong about this but I want to say his son Danny rushed for around 2000 yards in his senior season for the Bears.

I think Tom Smolanovich from Poland may have also played briefly with Ottawa out of YSU.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
I didn't see the 69 tourney game with Salem but I saw the next game when EP lost to Ursuline. The original post I quoted said that coach Cabas had never beaten EP in basketball while he was at Salem. That's why I asked if you meant tourney only as I knew the Quakers had beaten EP in the regular season when Cabas was there. Do you know how often they were in the same classification for tournaments? I want to say they were usually in different classes for the tournaments but I'm not sure.
They were both in the same class for a few years until it went to 3 classes. EP hit Class AA back in the early 60's.

Guido use to coach or play with a semi pro team from the Leetonia area?
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
They were both in the same class for a few years until it went to 3 classes. EP hit Class AA back in the early 60's.

Guido use to coach or play with a semi pro team from the Leetonia area?
You are correct as OHSAA did only have two classes at that time so it makes sense. I just think of EP being a lot smaller than Salem.

I think he did as I do remember him telling me something about Jim Traficant playing for and/or with him. Not sure of the time frame however.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
You are correct as OHSAA did only have two classes at that time so it makes sense. I just think of EP being a lot smaller than Salem.

I think he did as I do remember him telling me something about Jim Traficant playing for and/or with him. Not sure of the time frame however.
Many thought of EP being a small school, fact is they weren't, but sadly they are now. They were knocking on the AAA door several times, made it to D3 in football a few years, Region 7 I believe. There were several classes with 150-180 that went through in the late 60's to 90's.
Looking at the enrollment 78-79, Leetonia had a few classes larger than Columbiana.
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
In keeping with the topic I should mention two D1 guys from EP.

The first is Jim Wisser who I was familiar with as he played at BGSU with Jay Cunningham & Jamie Rivers from Youngstown South. There were a bunch of local guys at BG all through the late 50s to the mid 70s. In his senior season Mr. Wisser was the starting FB and fellow senior Jay Cunningham the starting TB. Jamie Rivers was a soph and a starting TE then but he mainly played defense later. I'm pretty sure all three were named All-MAC that season as BG won the conference title with a 5-1 league mark, 9-1 overall record. Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Rivers went on to NFL careers. Of course Jamie Rivers was a LB in the NFL.

The 2nd guy I was not familiar with at the time I first heard about him, this was several years ago. His name is Chuck Robinson. I don't even remember how I came about finding this but he was a starting OL for Florida St. in the early 60s. He was a teammate of Fred Biletnikoff with the Seminoles. He was an All-TCL OT in 1959. Mr. Hoagland would have been a soph and Mr. Wisser a jr. that season. EP finished 8-1. I think the loss was to Minerva.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
In keeping with the topic I should mention two D1 guys from EP.

The first is Jim Wisser who I was familiar with as he played at BGSU with Jay Cunningham & Jamie Rivers from Youngstown South. There were a bunch of local guys at BG all through the late 50s to the mid 70s. In his senior season Mr. Wisser was the starting FB and fellow senior Jay Cunningham the starting TB. Jamie Rivers was a soph and a starting TE then but he mainly played defense later. I'm pretty sure all three were named All-MAC that season as BG won the conference title with a 5-1 league mark, 9-1 overall record. Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Rivers went on to NFL careers. Of course Jamie Rivers was a LB in the NFL.

The 2nd guy I was not familiar with at the time I first heard about him, this was several years ago. His name is Chuck Robinson. I don't even remember how I came about finding this but he was a starting OL for Florida St. in the early 60s. He was a teammate of Fred Biletnikoff with the Seminoles. He was an All-TCL OT in 1959. Mr. Hoagland would have been a soph and Mr. Wisser a jr. that season. EP finished 8-1. I think the loss was to Minerva.
Robinson was the DC for many years here.

You forgot Tony Conkle, Ohio State, track.
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
Robinson was the DC for many years here.

You forgot Tony Conkle, Ohio State, track.
I'm having enough trouble trying to remember football and hoops D1 guys. I don't need to be adding track. :)

I am a little bit familiar with Mr. Conkle's exploits. When I first learned about him I remember thinking how many guys capable of winning shot put and discus events are also capable of winning in the sprints? Didn't he set a state meet record in the shotput and run 2nd in the 100 yard dash? Second or third in the discus and 220 as well? Very versatile track & field athlete.
 

ysuindy

Active member
I didn't see the 69 tourney game with Salem but I saw the next game when EP lost to Ursuline. The original post I quoted said that coach Cabas had never beaten EP in basketball while he was at Salem. That's why I asked if you meant tourney only as I knew the Quakers had beaten EP in the regular season when Cabas was there. Do you know how often they were in the same classification for tournaments? I want to say they were usually in different classes for the tournaments but I'm not sure.

As far as the thread topic and TCL football I just thought about Joe Guido from Leetonia. He went to YSU out of HS, it was still Youngstown College then. He did not play in the NFL but he did get drafted by the Colts in the NFL and he played one season in the CFL with Ottawa. I worked with Joe for 10 years and I think he was still playing in those Leetonia alumni football games until he was in his 50s. I may be totally wrong about this but I want to say his son Danny rushed for around 2000 yards in his senior season for the Bears.

I think Tom Smolanovich from Poland may have also played briefly with Ottawa out of YSU.
Tom Smolanovich did play part of one season with Ottawa. Here is his biography from the YSU hall of fame


I had the pleasure of meeting Tom at the first Poland Hall of Fame event. He was an easy pick - all time leading scorer in basketball and football and state champion in track.

Tom's brother Pete was the kicker and played end on New Mexico State's undefeated 1960 team.

I found Tony Conkle's web page


In the 1953 Class A state track meet he single handedly finished third in the team standings with a second in the 100, third in the 220, won the shot put with a new state meet record of 54-9 and was second in the discus. He also won the shot put in 1952.
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
ysuindy,

Thanks for the post. You just reminded me of another at least two-sport star for the Bulldogs. As a young kid I remember Bill Zimmer playing football & hoops for Poland. I'm pretty sure he went to Duke and played basketball. I think he was All-TCL in football and might have been All-State in hoops. Is that correct? Can you tell me anything about him at Poland?

Of course the area has always been much stronger for football than basketball but the more I think about it there were several local guys that went D1 in hoops in that class. I may be wrong on this but In addition to Mr. Zimmer I believe Neil Brayton from Liberty went to Maryland, Rich Coppola from Struthers went to Arizona St. and Bob Dove from Canfield went to Ohio St. I'm probably missing some as well. The City Series had its share of D1 hoopsters at that time also. Again, not like football but possibly more than one might think.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
Tough pill to swallow today for some area fans, but the old TCL produced some D1 talent, when most fans from Mahoning and Trumbull seen it as a bush league.

1953, EP was playing in the Class A division with the big boys, they continued to be football D3-4 into the late 80's to early 2000. As I had posted before, EP was one of the bigger area schools in the Columbiana and Mahoning county areas. Hard to believe, isn't it?
 

ThaXFactor

Active member
I know we were in the ICL at the time, but 1968 C-View graduate Randy McBride played D1 football at the University of Cincinnati.
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
ysuindy,

I'm hoping you can confirm or deny something for me. Your post about Pete Smolanovich and New Mexico State triggered my pea-sized brain about a former Poland player and New Mexico State, this is in addition to Pete Smolanovich. I have been racking my brain about it and I'm pretty sure it's Fred Kolesar that I am thinking of. Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I remember seeing or hearing something about him playing DB for the Aggies in the Sun Bowl but I think it was following the 1959 season. I think the two are about the same age. Anyway, can you verify, or refute please?

I also remember Governor Bowers of Youngstown East getting a scholly to New Mexico St.
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
I know we were in the ICL at the time, but 1968 C-View graduate Randy McBride played D1 football at the University of Cincinnati.
You still were a member of the TCL afterwards. Shame, this was becoming a huge rivalry until the Supers decided to boot C-view. I see a few EOAC are now playing C-view again. Be patient, the Rebs will be back. Have to shrug my shoulders, but it was about bringing in larger schools. I never understood why not. EP played larger schools in OOL, some of the same ones Crestview couldn't beat(Salem).
 

111411

Moderator
If you go back to basketball, Greg Wilson of Sebring played at Illinois and if I remember correctly, Jim Knudson from Minerva went to LSU.
 

ThaXFactor

Active member
Zack Williams (Lisbon 96) played QB at Kent State.
Brad Gecina (C-View 95) OLB at Indiana
Vince Browne (Lisbon 06?) DE at Northwestern
 

ysuindy

Active member
Wow - Ytown asking me for information? My day (month/year) is made.

Bill Zimmer did attend Duke and was on the basketball team. I believe he only played in a handful of games. Duke made the Final Four in his senior season, but the box scores do not show him playing the semi-finals (loss to Kentucky) or third place game (win over Utah).

Mr Zimmer was a football and basketball star for Poland. My folder with game by game football scoring is buried somewhere I can't remember :) He was first team all TCL as a senior and honorable mention as a junior. Listed as a "back" I believe he played running back and defensive back. He had a game with two interception returns for touchdowns. Poland was 17-0-1 in his junior and senior seasons. Tying East Palestine 6-6 in 1960 and going undefeated in 1961.

He graduated as the third leading score in school history in basketball, finishing with 954 points. He was three year starter at guard (5-11) with the team going 48-17 during that time. Poland won the TCL his senior year, winning their first 16 games before losing 50-49 at Columbiana in a game where the Clippers won on a basket in the last minute. Poland lost to Niles in the Sectional final that season.

In doing a little research today, I saw that Mr. Zimmer passed away in 2012 in California.

Those 1960 and 1961 Poland teams also had Duncan Ingraham, a second team TCL pick as a junior and a first team pick at a senior. He received an appointment to the Naval Academy where he played defensive back for two years. Ingraham's son played tailback for Navy in the early 1990's.

Frank Kolesar did play football at New Mexico State. He shows in their media guide as having lettered in 1960 through 1962. He was class of 1959 at Poland. First team all TCL as a junior, but did not make all league honors as a senior. Unfortunately I don't have much information on Mr. Kolesar.

I believe all three of these gentlemen also participated in track. More records that are somewhere in a box in my basement.

Needless to say that when I actually do retire in a few years I have a lot of time to be spent finding these records. :)
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
ysuindy,

Thanks for the info. I knew they were both All-TCL and I was pretty sure on the colleges they attended but not any stats while at Poland. I do know that the 1960 football team you mentioned beat Boardman. The Spartans finished 6-4 but they were the SVC champions that year so the co-TCL champ beat the SVC champ. :)

Thanks again.
 

ysuindy

Active member
1960 was the last year of a four year contract between Poland Boardman. Poland won in the even years, Boardman in the odd years. The contract was not renewed for 1961. Would have been interesting to see the result. Both teams finished 9-0. Boardman ended the year ranked 5th in Class AA, Poland was ranked 22nd in Class AA.

Poland ended up moving Canfield from the last week of the season to week 1 and added Girard in week 9. And the Indians proceeded to go 0-8-1 that season. Canfield stayed in week 1 until Poland began playing 10 games, then it was a week 2 game until the MVC was formed.

Ytown - any future college players on that 1961 Boardman team?
 

bulldog1974

Well-known member
ysuindy,

Thanks for the info. I knew they were both All-TCL and I was pretty sure on the colleges they attended but not any stats while at Poland. I do know that the 1960 football team you mentioned beat Boardman. The Spartans finished 6-4 but they were the SVC champions that year so the co-TCL champ beat the SVC champ. :)

Thanks again.
Interesting as this would have been around the time Dempsey was at EP. TCL competing with the SVC, who would have thought?
 

ysuindy

Active member
Interesting as this would have been around the time Dempsey was at EP. TCL competing with the SVC, who would have thought?
I was all of one year old so I certainly can't speak to it from experience, but my guess would be that at that time the City Series was a stronger conference than the Steel Valley.

I think this was the beginning of the run for the SVC, but this was still in the days of Girard and Brookfield in the SVC. Boardman and Fitch were not yet the mega schools they became. Warren Harding was in the AAC, Warren Western Reserve didn't exist. Mooney and Ursuline were in the City.

We were less than 10 years from Boardman still being in the TCL - so not as far fetched as it seems today. That being said, this thread is showing that the TCL had some damn good teams in this era.
 

wack7

Active member
I'm not sure if Minerva was still in the TCL when Rodger Bettis was their QB but he went on to play at itchigan
 

YTOWN

Well-known member
1960 was the last year of a four year contract between Poland Boardman. Poland won in the even years, Boardman in the odd years. The contract was not renewed for 1961. Would have been interesting to see the result. Both teams finished 9-0. Boardman ended the year ranked 5th in Class AA, Poland was ranked 22nd in Class AA.

Poland ended up moving Canfield from the last week of the season to week 1 and added Girard in week 9. And the Indians proceeded to go 0-8-1 that season. Canfield stayed in week 1 until Poland began playing 10 games, then it was a week 2 game until the MVC was formed.

Ytown - any future college players on that 1961 Boardman team?
Mike Shasby for sure. He was a jr. but he was their starting QB. He was a two-time All-SVC 1st team QB, He went to Duke.

Ralph Nespeca was a 1st team All-SVC OT and I think he was 2nd team All-Ohio. He was picked to play in the North-South game, which was coached by Poland's Bill Van Brocklin that year, but he passed to enter Ohio U. I know he went to OU originally but I can't say I remember him playing there.

Nick Nardacci was 1st team All-SVC RB and Jim Houston 1st team All-SVC End. I think they played college ball but I have the same problem with both of them, their names trigger W. Virginia and OSU respectively when I hear them. Nardacci because his father made some All-American teams at W. Va. and played in the early NFL with the Cleveland Bulldogs and Mr. Houston of course conjures up OSU & the Browns. I'll have to think about those two a little bit.

Richard Friend & Mike DelVesco were both All-SVC OL for the Spartans that year. Don't know about college.

Speaking of 1960 Poland however reminds me that Jim Harnish was on that team too. He went to Notre Dame and I know he played freshman ball for the Irish but I can't say I remember him with their varsity later. I also just thought of Richard Wolf from Poland. He was a year or two older but he went to Kent St. where he led the MAC in receiving one year.

Add Ray Bell from EP. He played at BGSU.

Interesting as this would have been around the time Dempsey was at EP. TCL competing with the SVC, who would have thought?
I think Howard Weyers was the HC at EP that year. I think Dempsey followed him the next season. Coach Weyers was instrumental in recruiting Ted Bell to Michigan St.
 
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