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Gene Reed takes reins at HHS football

Bob Patton-
Coach Bill Atsalis departed following the 1965 football season.  He was employed as head football coach at Reading High School, near Cincinnati. After some searching and interviewing candidates, and after two candidates had been offered contracts and declined, Hillsboro High School named Gene Reed head football coach. Reed, 26, was assistant coach at Lancaster High School. He was a native of Wellston, where he graduated from high school. He attended two years at Wisconsin State College and completed his degree at Ohio University. In three and a half years, he had coached at Wellston, Coshocton and Lancaster.
    Coach Bill Damron had resigned from McClain, where his teams had won three SCOL games in three seasons. He was replaced by Paul Orr, who had been a successful coach at McClain in the 1950s. As the teams opened fall practice sessions, Hillsboro showed some promise, but had almost no varsity experience.
    McClain had a little experience, but their line would be one of the smaller lines in the SCOL. Their backs did show some speed, however, and 1966 promised to be an interesting season. In contrast, though, Wilmington High School was returning 19 lettermen from last season, and they were big. Coach Dean Waddell had said, “This is the best team that I have ever had my hands on.”
    Circleville also had a lot of returning lettermen, but they had been beset with injuries, and it was hard to tell just how good they would be.
    Coach Moe Pfeifer at Washington had the smallest team in the SCOL, but they did have some speed. They could be a handful on a given night.
    John Beckley, the Miami Trace coach, had lost 19 seniors from last year’s squad. He did have some talented athletes, but it would take time to see just how good they would be. McClain opened their season at London, where they were beaten by a score of 35-14. Hillsboro played Lebanon at home and lost, 12-8.
    On the next two Friday nights, Hillsboro was thoroughly overscheduled. The Indians were pummeled by Kettering Fairmont, 65-0, then walloped by Bishop Hartley of Columbus, 63-0. The Tigers of McClain, however, got to ring the victory bell in the F.R. Harris Memorial Tower after defeating Jackson, 21- 8. Springfield South downed Wilmington, 38-16, Circleville tromped Teays Valley, 34-0, and Miami Trace topped Lucasville, 24-8. McClain took the measure of Chillicothe on the third week, 20-6. At Miami Trace, quarterback Ed Summers hit end Mike Hall with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining, to edge Hillsboro, 8-0.
    On Oct. 7, 1966, the Indians gave league-leading Wilmington a tough game at Richards Memorial Field; but the Hurricane came out on top, 38-12. Meanwhile, at Washington C.H., the Blue Lions scored twice in the second quarter and went on to edge the McClain Tigers, 18-7; Circleville beat Miami Trace, 22-12, after the Panthers had stormed to a 12-0 halftime lead.
    It looked more and more like the eventual SCOL champion would be the winner of the Circleville vs. Wilmington game.
    On Oct. 14, Hillsboro journeyed across the county to take on McClain. It was Homecoming at McClain. Pretty, blond Susan Robinson was crowned 1966 Homecoming queen in pre-game ceremonies. Her attendants were Diane Miller, Karen Blake, Marsha Smalley, Anita Gillespie, and Carol Shoemaker.
    After the opening kickoff, it was all McClain. The Tigers scored early and often as they trounced the Tribe, 39-8. Also on Oct. 14, Circleville edged Washington, 14-6, and Wilmington downed Trace, 28-0.
    The key game of the SCOL season was the Wilmington at Circleville game on Oct. 21. A win for either team would assure them no less than a co-championship. Wilmington had the edge in overall size, but Circleville had a definite advantage in team speed. Wilmington had won 13 consecutive league games. But that streak was ended by Coach Paul Starr’s Circleville Tigers, as they defeated Wilmington, 14-6.  Washington blitzed Hillsboro the same night, 45-6, and McClain won a squeaker over Miami Trace, 17-14.
    The following week, Circleville hosted the Hillsboro Indians. The Tigers were not very good hosts, as they clobbered the Indians, 36-0, sewing up the 1966 SCOL football championships in the process.  In Wilmington, the Hurricane beat McClain, 48-25 and Washington hammered Miami Trace, 34-0.
    The final SCOL standings for 1966 were:
    Circleville     5-0
    Wilmington    4-1
    Washington    3-2
    McClain    2-3
    Miami Trace    1-4
    Hillsboro    0-5
    Wilmington was the league’s best offensive team and Washington C.H. the best defensive squad. The Hurricane gained 1,531 total yards, while the Blue Lions allowed only 790 yards. Wilmington scored the most points (134) and allowed 51. Hillsboro scored only five touchdowns in ten games (including non-league games) and gained only 658 yards.
    Circleville’s scooting halfback, Steve Dade, was the league’s leading rusher and scorer, carrying the ball 121 times for 612 yards, nine touchdowns and eight conversions for a total of 62 points. His average per carry was 5.1. The All-SCOL selections were: Ron Bryant, Circleville; Bill Gates, Circleville; Bill Peele, Wilmington; Ron Reiber, Miami Trace; Steve Heath, Washington; Jim Taylor, McClain; Joe Mulford, Wilmington; Jim Noel, Circleville; Doug Smith, Circleville; Greg Tyree, Washington; Dave Cornelius, Hillsboro; Karl Rosenburg, Wilmington; Rodger Stanforth, Wilmington; Herbie Jones, Washington; Neal Smith, McClain; Tom Fletcher, Circleville; Gary Scott, Wilmington; Bill Heniz, Washington; Steve Dade, Circleville; Steve Dawson, Washington; Lowell Harper, Washington; Ed Summers, Miami Trace; Skip Davis, Wilmington; Sam Daugherty, McClain; Jim Kensinger, McClain; Tom Wright, Circleville; and John Petty, Wilmington.
    Bob Patton is a Highland County sports historian and a contributing writer to The Highland County Press.[[In-content Ad]]

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