The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


March 21, 2014

A Don McCormack column: Heralding another era on gridiron

Paying a visit to the variety store...

Kicking it off

Don’t look now, but there will be a rebirth, of sorts, on an area gridiron by the time next fall arrives.

Need proof?

Here you go — St. John High School is looking for a varsity football coach.

So said always-one-the-go Heralds athletic director Nick Iarocci.

We will be bringing more details of this Phoenix-like story in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, Iarocci — the man who also doubles as the Heralds’ athletic director — wants those interested in the position to contact him.

You can reach Iarocci on his cell at 813-0479 or at the high school at 997-5531.

In mothballs

St. John has not fielded an official varsity football team since the fall of 2008, when then-coach Jim Timonere, now Ashtabula city manager, led his alma mater to a 2-7 finish.

For the past five years, the program that has made more playoff appearances, played in the most postseason games and had by far the greatest playoff success — including back-to-back Class A state runner-up finishes in 1976 and 1977 under the leadership of Hall of Fame coach Paul Kopko — has not played a varsity football game.

The Heralds, with Iarocci leading the way, have played a truncated schedule the past couple of falls, even going against Newbury’s varsity last season.

It’s roots

The St. John football program kicked off in the fall of 1955, with head coach George Patterson at the helm.

Don McGinnis took over before the following season and he guided the Herald gridders through the 1966 campaign.

Gene Pushic led the St. John program from 1967 through 1971. Bert Gallagher coached the 1972 squad, before Kopko took over in 1973 and led the Heralds to gridiron glory, ending his run after the 1983 season.

Lew Lowery was at the fore from 1984 through 1986, Bill Halter coaching in 1987, Hall of Famer Jim Smith in 1988, then Jim Mackey taking over in 1989 and coaching for three seasons.

Dom Iarocci was the Heralds’ main man from 1992 through 1996. After the program did not field a team because of lack of numbers in 1997, Joe Rich led the charges in 1998 and 1999.

Hall of Famer Dave Melaragno came out of coaching retirement for one season at the helm in 2000, then the late John Buskirk and another tenure by Mackey led to Timonere.

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