I enjoyed your Heartbreak Highway column... wish you were still writing.
It brought back memories of the greatest Class A team I ever saw in this area. I was junior-varsity coach at Badger in the early 1980s. The 1980-81 varsity won 26 in a row before losing in Columbus by two points to Columbus Academy.
We had common opponents with you. We destroyed PV, 80-41, and St. John, 79-45. But yes, Newton Falls was a challenge. They were in our league and we won both times by six points. We also snapped Indian Valley South’s 52-game home winning streak in December 1980 (coached by Charlie Huggins, Bob Huggins’ dad).
Dale Blaney made first-team All-Ohio two years in a row — 1981 and 1982. He made the final 14 of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1986 before walking off. They kept 12 for their roster. Bill Bogan is currently head coach for the Howland Tigers. Dale’s brother, Dave Blaney, has been on the NASCAR circuit for many years.
Getting back to your story, yes, it is devastating when you lose your final high school game. It was for me in 1967 when Pymatuning Valley lost... was destroyed, by Gilmour Academy in the sectionals at Fairport.
Don, I know exactly what the Heartbreak Highway feels like. I have experienced it more than once.
Sid, I remember that Badger team very well! In fact, I saw the game you referenced against PV and all of us who went to watch sat there and thought the same things — who the heck are these guys (the Braves) ? And, who the heck is that guy (Dale Blaney)?! — DM
On John Bowler
Great article, Don. Hope you keep writing them.
A lot of readers will be happy to see this as they have been asking about you and missing your articles.