The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 6, 2012

A first for area football

Jefferson Football Encyclopedia traces program all the way back to its infancy — the fall of 1900

For the Star Beacon

— Good ideas for fundraisers are hard to find. Some ideas aren’t unique enough and others just don’t sell. The Jefferson girls basketball program hit upon an idea about as unique as possible.

The Falcons will be selling the “Jefferson Football Encyclopedia.”

“A couple years ago, (one of my assistants) put together a history of girls basketball,” Jefferson coach Rod Holmes said. “We sold a few a made a little money. He came up with the idea that we should do the same with football.

“We talked to a few people about it and they seemed to take to it pretty well, so we sent him to it.”

The “Jefferson Football Encyclopedia” will cost $20 per copy and will be available in the school library, at the school’s football banquet and the boys and girls home basketball games throughout the winter.

The encyclopedia is 230 pages long and is about as complete a history of Jefferson football as possible with dates and scores of every game the team has ever played, with highlights of each season and a team picture from every season dating back to 1946, when 11-man football returned to the county seat after a 20-year absence. Also included are the two seasons during World War II Jefferson fielded 6-man football teams.

There is also a section devoted to the earliest days of the program with scores and highlights from 1900-1926, including an amazing 1909 team photograph that is a must-see for any football fan.

There are stories about former Falcons who have made the Ashtabula County Football Hall of Fame and some of the great moments and seasons the team has had. They are located in a “Falcon Tales” section.

The authors took things a step further, though, too. Also included in the book are pictures of the band, cheerleaders, majorettes and homecoming queens from every season, as well.

With all of those names and faces included, selling the book was a no-brainer.

“Football has a lot bigger crowd than any other high school event,” Holmes said. “People seem to be pretty supportive of football.

“Not only is it about football, but there are pictures of the band, the cheerleaders, the majorettes and the homecoming queens. There are a lot of people from each year. There are a lot of stories in the end that pretty interesting.”

In just a glance, there are a few things that caught Holmes’ eye.

“It starts back in the early 1900s and goes right up through more than 100 years of football,” he said. “It’s kind of amazing. I’ve seen some of the records from ’46 on. The first few years they were really successful. Then you see the spell when they were in the Northeastern Conference for the first time and the records dropped.

“It’s all stuff I’ve heard about, but I now get to see it on paper.”

All in all, the book is a nice trip into history and down through memory lane.

“I think (the book is good for) someone who has had any connection at all to a football player or the band or the people in any of the pictures,” Holmes said. “They can see who was there not only in their senior year, but the years before and the years after.

“I think it will appeal to a lot of different people.”  

The money raised from selling the books will all go to help the girls basketball program.

“We’ll use the money for camp and some other things we do,” Holmes said. “The money will go to the girls in some way. Last year, we bought shooting shirts, but mainly it went toward camp.”

The project being so big, among other thing, led to the Falcons waiting until after football season to begin selling the books.

“It took a lot of hours to get together,” he said. “As the (football) season went on, we could have gotten them out to a home game or two, but as the season went on, we thought it would be real nice to include this year’s group.

“We decided to wait to have it at the banquet and sell it from then on.”

The book has already generated some income with sponsorships from Andover Bank, Dr. Elliott Rice, ESPN 970 WFUN (in memory of Joe “Pigskin” Pete), Great Lakes Chevrolet, Glazier Insurance, JCI Contractors, Nassief Automotive, Paul A. Demshar CPA, Inc., Petros Design, Seeds Orthopaedics, the Star Beacon (in memory of Karl Pearson), Tom David Motors and Wild Side Bar and Grill.

“A lot of those guys who took out ads have been part of the football program over the years,” Holmes said. “There are stories in there about some of them, as far as their careers. What it takes to run a program is you have to have support from good people and those are the people who stepped up to help us out.

“It’s always nice to have the alumni support you. A few of them have kids and grandkids in the program and have been involved in many, many different ways through the years.”

Holmes also understands the work that went into the project.

“It’s a nice thing,” Holmes said. “One person put in all of the work so a lot of people can benefit. It was a lot of work one person did.

“I think it will be a great fundraiser. I look for it to do well.”     

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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