Editor’s note: The following article is the first of a series of Logan High School football history stories LHS sports historian Spencer Waugh is writing for The Logan Daily News this season to commemorate the anniversaries of the greatest Chieftain football teams of all time. This story covers the 1934 and 1939 Chieftain teams. Waugh is continuing the process of speaking with LHS athletes and coaches from all eras and can be contacted either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 740-974-4531.
Although Logan High School claimed the “championship” of the Hocking Valley in 1915, it wasn’t until the 1930s that the program’s championship tradition was established.
Logan’s 1934 champions finished with an unblemished 10-0 mark. As one of only eight unbeaten and untied teams in Class A (the largest half of all high schools), the Chieftains scored 304 points which was the fourth-highest total in the entire state.
Despite all that, the team was relegated to “co-champion” status because Middleport, the league’s powerhouse at the time, backed out of a “championship” game which was to have been played at Ohio University in the first weekend of December.
The Chieftains returned to the top of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League mountain again in 1939, proving that their ’34 win wasn’t a flash in the pan. For the first time that season, the SEOAL played a “round-robin” schedule and Notre Dame-bound fullback Bob McBride led Logan to a 6-1 league record and a co-championship.
But that success didn’t come out of nowhere.
Founding members of the old SEOAL, the “Purple and White Warriors” (as Logan was known until approximately 1933) sniffed a championship in the league’s first season (1925) but finished tied for third place losing to larger schools in champion Athens and Portsmouth.
Despite the early success, it was downhill from there, with LHS bottoming out with a 1-8 record in both 1929 and 1930. The 1930 season was the only winless league season in history and saw Logan alone in the basement of the league.
Fortunes for the football program turned around with the hiring of John “Red” Longley before the 1931-32 school year. A Nelsonville native, Longley starred at Ohio University and featured for the Masts Restaurant semi-pro team that represented Logan in the late 1920s. Longley had been an assistant to Coach Sawyer in ’29 and ’30.
Longley was barrel-chested and had red hair — and the occasional temper to go with it.
“A lot of us gray hairs feel Red was the father of the winning tradition at Logan High School,” said Marion Allen during Longley’s induction to the LHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985. Allen, who played for Longley as a fullback and who coached many Chieftains as an assistant football and head baseball coach, was named in the Hall’s inaugural class in 1976.
Dick Brandt, who played for Longley, recalled when joining the Athletic Hall in 1986 that “Coach Longley had as much to do or more to do with us in our later lives than most anybody here in our school terms. He insisted on us doing our best and he expected it. He was the hardest on those who had ability and he had a way to get the best out of everybody.”
Longley switched his Nelsonville scarlet for Logan purple during one of the most heated times during the rivalry between the two schools. Nelsonville defeated Logan in 1929 and ’30, the only time in the 55-game series that the Greyhounds won back-to-back games. Starting with a win in Longley’s first season, Logan wouldn’t lose to the ‘Hounds again until 1956.
Longley’s father was a barber and his shop was a local hangout for sports fans. One can only imagine what the shop must have been like in the week leading up to the big game.
Longley was known as a fierce competitor. Allen recalled that “he’d go to any extreme to motivate you. If you needed a good kick in the seat, he’d do that and if a pat on the back was needed he’d go that direction also.”
The Chieftains improved under their new coach, winning four games each in 1931 and ’32 before a remarkable season in 1933. That year the Chieftains recorded nine shutouts in ten games played, but won only six games. Three scoreless ties held down the Chieftain win total. Their only loss came to Middleport by a 12-8 scoreline.
The Middleport Yellow Jackets were in the beginning stages of what would become a 28-game winning streak. The Jackets finished 10-0 in ’33, 11-0 in ’34, and 9-1 in ’35 losing a single non-league game with Ironton. Their SEOAL win streak would reach 18 games before a loss at Gallipolis in 1936.
Coming off that season, for the first time Logan and its fans felt ready for a title push. A strong returning backfield that featured halfback Vaughn “Bus” Hansel, quarterback Ned Gabriel, and fullback Dick Brandt would be paired with a talented but inexperienced group of linemen. Gabriel, a halfback in 1933, moved to quarterback to replace one of the finest in school history, Clarence Krumlauf.
That inexperienced group of linemen would take a hit during the pre-season. Brandt broke his collarbone early in the preseason, forcing Longley to move captain Pearl Derr from tackle to fullback.
Derr, the lone returning starter on the line, would be remembered as “one of the finest football players, according to his opponents, in SE Ohio. He was a triple threat man and kept his adversaries guessing as to what he was going to do,” according to the 1935 Aerial. At the team banquet, Coach Longley called Derr “the best all-around fullback I ever saw in high school” football.
But Longley still put together an excellent line.
On the ends were Waldo Terrell and sophomore Bob Ralston. Terrell was a late bloomer who grew into the best pass receiver on the squad with the ability to seemingly grab passes out of his reach. On defense he took away half the field with his quickness and fierce tackling ability. He would go on to earn a starting berth at Ohio University.
The tackles were junior Floyd Mason and Dick Price. Mason made a timely move to Logan with his family over the summer while Price was called the “Rock of Gibraltar” by the Aerial.
At guard, undersized junior Jack Ucker held down one post while Allen McMillen, junior John Halby, and Bill “Pealie” Shaw all played at the other spot. According to Longley, Ucker had a “willingness to do anything just so he played” while the other three were praised for their defensive work. Shaw was the “best forward pass defense man we ever had,” according to the coach.
At center was Harold R. “Big Smitty” Smith. The largest boy on the team, “Big Smitty” went on to be one of Logan High School’s biggest boosters and a teacher, coach, and administrator in the Starr-Washington (Union Furnace) and Logan school districts. Longley credited “Smitty” with “intestinal fortitude.”
Logan opened the campaign with a pair of “preseason” games, which is how the non-league portion of the schedule was viewed. Logan defeated Buchtel 12-9 and McArthur 25-8. Both games were used to experiment with the lineup in hopes of finding the winning formula.
The game with Buchtel was organized by the “Downtown Coaches,” a predecessor to the Athletic Boosters, to raise money for new uniforms and equipment for the school’s football and basketball teams.
The new uniforms arrived in time for the league opener with Athens.
According to the Logan Republican, the new uniforms consisted of pants that were “brownish grey in color with purple stripes running along the legs. The jerseys (were) white with purple sleeves and large purple numerals. Headgear (were) painted white and black stripes while socks are purple with three white stripes circling the legs. Along with uniforms came modern shoulder and hip pads which were of the latest design and as near shock proof as possible.”
The Athens game turned out to be a breeze — the first sign that Logan had real championship material. The Bulldogs, who wore red and black in those days, were held to a single first down and only 12 net rushing yards in a 32-0 Chieftain victory. Murray City next went down by a 35-0 score.
The win over the Miners set up a matchup of the unbeatens. Logan was 4-0 and set to host Pomeroy, which was 3-0. The Panthers had outscored three opponents 97-0, including a 45-0 win over Athens. By season’s end, Pomeroy would be 7-2 with seven shutouts. Only Logan and Middleport would score against Pomeroy.
The Logan Republican wrote that the “Logan Chieftains won a scintillating 12-0 victory Friday from the Pomeroy Panthers through one series of accurate passes and by a perfect demonstration of blocking.” After taking a two-score lead Logan elected to punt the ball away on early downs. Logan scored on a run by Brandt and on a 52-yard punt return by Gabriel that included “perfect interference” from his teammates.
Lancaster St. Marys (today known as Fisher Catholic) was overwhelmed by a 60-6 the next week. Logan’s regulars played sparingly and Coach Longley cleared the bench.
The purple and white took a 13-0 lead against New Boston (Glenwood), a former member of the SEOAL located just outside of Portsmouth. The Tigers fought back from a 13-0 deficit and Logan had to hold New Boston to within one foot of the goal line in the final period to win 13-7. Hansel score both Chieftain touchdowns.
The next game brought the first of only two games away from home. Logan visited Lancaster’s old North Field for a game under the lights — at the time still a relatively new phenomenon. Logan wouldn’t install lights until 1935.
The Chieftains hadn’t defeated Lancaster since 1921, losing five times and tying twice in that span. But this group of Chieftains would not be denied. The Logan Republican ran the headline “Chieftain scalp Lancaster Hi 30-0” and declared “Jinx buried as Logan scores in each period.”
After Gabriel’s 65-yard punt return opened the scoring, Logan’s second touchdown was nearly beyond description. A 17-yard pass to Terrel gave Logan a first down, but Terrel, believing he had scored, stood still just past the five-yard line. Halby recognized Terrel’s mistake and grabbed the ball and just as he was about to be met at the goal line he lateraled to Gabriel, who crossed the goal line. Derr and Hansel closed the scoring.
Longley said of that win over Lancaster that, “I have always wondered how it would feel to coach a perfect football team, and I came as near as I’ll ever come.”
Logan closed the season by routing Gallipolis (36-7) and Nelsonville (49-6). The Nelsonville game, played on Thanksgiving Day, was a fitting finale. The purple and white scored at will, including plays with multiple backward throws before one back launched the ball downfield to a receiver and an interception and return for touchdown by Ramon “Big Smitty” Smith.
“Nelsonville was on the East end, around the 20 or 30 yard line, they threw a ball which was blocked at the line of scrimmage — it went up in the air — and our big tackle intercepted it and waddled into the endzone. He was a big man (about 230 pounds, which was 100 pounds heavier than most of his teammates). He didn’t run fast at all. You didn’t think he was going to get there!” Dr. Jack Rauch, then an eight-year-old, recalled watching the play.
It would prove to be the culmination of Longley’s tenure as Chieftain coach. He would leave at the end of the school year for Ashland, but not before winning the school’s first basketball championship as well. From that team, Coach Longley, Brandt, Derr, Gabriel, Hansel, and Terrel would all end up in the LHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Longley’s departure could have stifled Logan’s new-found championship culture, but the arrival a new legend in 1936 dispelled those notions. In fact, Logan’s new grid boss would later be hailed as the “Builder of Champions.”
The Chieftains had followed up their ’34 championship season with a 7-2-1 season under Carl “Ducky” Schroeder, but the Massillon native didn’t stay in Hocking County for long. His departure opened the door for the arrival of Tommy Bender from Mt. Gilead.
Bender had won over 80 percent of his games at the Morrow County school. During his six years in purple and white, Bender would coach five championship teams — two in football and three in basketball. He also coached the 1938 baseball Chiefs to the state tournament, which at the time was the top 16 teams or the equivalent of the regional level today.
Bender, a native of Loudonville, had been a standout at Ashland College where he was a three-sport athlete. His .600 batting average as a senior was believed to be the best in the country.
Dr. Jack Rauch, who played for Bender as a sophomore before going to be the team physician for over 25 years, recently remembered that “Bender was one of those coaches that if he said ‘jump over that cliff’ you would have — and not even worried about what was below you, you would have just jumped. A man you totally respected as a coach. You almost felt like he was walking on water. Everyone who played for him respected him entirely.”
Tracy Conrad, a teammate of Rauch and a fellow Hall of Famer, said of his coach that “he was one of the best. You’d either listen, or you didn’t play.”
Bender’s first team struggled to a 2-7 record in the last season played in front of the old wooden bleachers on the Hilltop. His ’37 Chiefs rebounded to a 7-3 season, losing to Lancaster, Columbus South, and Gallipolis. The Gallipolis game was by a heartbreaking 20-19 score and cost the team a co-SEOAL championship.
The Bendermen were 6-3-1 in 1938, a season which set the stage for a championship season.
The 1939 Chieftains were described by The Aerial as “a skyrocket” and that on a team made of stars, “Captain Bob McBride was the brightest.” Of note, 1939 was the first time that the SEOAL required round-robin scheduling for all members.
The 1939 Chiefs shut out their first six opponents.
McBride may be the greatest football player produced by Logan High School. But relegating him to “just” a football star would sell him short. He went on to play and coach at Notre Dame under Frank Leahy, winning a national championship.
He may be most famous for his activity during the European Campaign during World War II. McBride was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and made to march across northern Europe, losing over 100 pounds in the process. He returned to Notre Dame, rebuilt himself physically, and served as the team captain during the Game of the Century against Army in 1946 as the Irish marched to a National Championship.
But while McBride, who moved to fullback after playing tackle the previous two seasons, provided the senior leadership; it was a group of sophomores who pushed the Chieftains into championship contention.
That group of sophomores included Louis Casto and Bill Johnston on the ends along with Tracy Conrad and Jake Ervin, who split time at one of the guard posts. Additionally, back Morris Hummel and tackle Roy Kelch would play a part in the championship run.
Casto and Kelch both earned All-SEOAL berths while Johnston and Conrad would both become LHS Athletic Hall of Famers. Johnston would replace McBride at fullback in 1940 and ’41.
Not to be forgotten is junior Bill “Mutt” Bryan, an outstanding halfback. Not only was he an excellent runner, but he was also considered the best blocker on the team. The team’s “sparkplug,” he also was a tenacious tackler on defense.
Logan opened the season by outscoring its first two opponents 120-0. McArthur went down 59-0 in “oppressive heat.” McBride and Bryan both averaged over 10 yards per attempt and combined for four touchdown runs. Glouster followed with Logan scoring 61 points, the highlight being Bill Shaw’s 95-yard kickoff return.
League play opened with a modest 12-0 road win over Nelsonville on a slick, muddy field. Bryan ran for a pair of scores for the visitors. Logan hosted Athens the next week, and while the Bulldogs held off the Chieftains for a half, Logan won 13-0 on a pair of McBride touchdowns.
Logan then went to Pomeroy and outclassed the Panthers 32-0, with McBride and Bryan again leading the way. Gallipolis went down next by a 20-0 score with Shaw, Bryan, and Peck Mowery crossing the Blue Devil goal line.
Logan hosted Wellston at the end of October entering as one of only two teams in Ohio who were unscored upon. The Chiefs led 7-0 at halftime thanks to a Shaw scoring run, but the Rockets stormed back to take a 12-7 lead in the fourth quarter. McBride, held to just 23 net rushing yards, scored the game-winning TD on a three-yard power drive.
The Logan Daily News described the drive as “one of the most amazing scoring drives in Logan’s football annals. It was one of those determined, murderous assaults that the British blockade couldn’t have stopped, and when McBride smacked the center of the Wellston line for that second touchdown, he carried enough momentum to move a house.”
McBride’s heroics were just getting started.
In what has become perhaps the most memorable performance by any Chieftain gridder, Logan’s come-from-behind, 21-20 win over Middleport is the stuff of legend.
Logan traveled to Meigs County along with over 1,000 rooters via the special passenger train. Harley Meyer recalled relaying the play-by-play via telephone line back to those fans left back in Logan.
The two teams were unbeaten — two of only 20 teams left in the state of Ohio with unblemished records. A record crowd saw Middleport take a 13-7 lead into halftime despite a heroic touchdown run by Bryan that saw “Mutt” break multiple tackles over the 32-yard trek.
When the Yellow Jackets scored with just six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, stretching their lead to 20-7, it appeared that all hope was lost. But McBride and his teammates weren’t ready to give up.
The penultimate drive began with a 44-yard pass completion from McBride to Casto and culminated with McBride’s five-yard plunge. McBride kicked the extra point.
But that only cut the Middleport lead to six points, and after forcing a quick kick, Logan began its winning march on the Jacket 36. McBride plunged for four and then dropped back and fired a long, looping aerial to Johnston, who hauled in the pass in the end zone.
The Logan crowd erupted, but soon and eerie silence set in on both sidelines with the realization that McBride would soon attempt the game-winning kick. His kick split the uprights and all those in purple erupted in pandemonium.
It would be the pinnacle of the season. The following week Logan, one of just 10 teams left in the state with a perfect record, would finally fall. Jackson scored in the final minute to break a scoreless tie, costing the Chiefs an outright title. Jackson, Logan, and Middleport would all finish with 6-1 league slates.
Eight seniors then finished their careers with a 26-12 loss against a heavier Lancaster team. McBride scored his final prep touchdown, getting Logan to with a single touchdown in the third quarter.
Bender coached Logan for two more seasons, winning a second title in 1941 (Logan’s first outright crown) when this talented group of sophomores were seniors. He left Logan in 1942, first migrating to Shelby High School for one season before spending most of his career as a coach, administrator, and highly respected basketball official at Fostoria High School.
Both Bender and McBride were among the inaugural inductees to the LHS Athletic shrine in 1976.