Skip to main content

The 1959 Hillsboro football squad: Mighty McClain comes to town

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, homecoming night in 1959 was a memorable one for the Hillsboro varsity football team as the Indians took down Pleasant View, 20-6.

Roger Mullenix, who had been alternating as a quarterback and running back, had an outstanding night for the Tribe as he ran for touchdowns of 54, 8 and 28 yards as Hillsboro improved to 2-4 under first-year head coach Bill Atsalis.

The following week, Hillsboro was defeated 41-6 by Wilmington, as the Indians “picked up a crop of injuries” during the contest. Atsalis “took 24 men to Wilmington,” and before the game was over, “all 24 men had played.”

Mullenix scored Hillsboro’s lone touchdown in the game, which saw standout Bob Storer fracture a finger, and Jim Keith, Phil Stout, Floyd Kessler, Mullenix and others get banged up at the hands of Wilmington. Atsalis praised center Bob Hottle, who made his first start of the season as the regular center missed the contest with a sprained ankle.

To make matters worse, Hillsboro was slated to play undefeated Greenfield McClain the following week. The Tigers were described as a “powerhouse” and “the giant of the league, and fans are forecasting a slaughter at Hillsboro field Friday evening.”

McClain had won seven tilts against Jackson, Chillicothe, Pleasant View, Circleville, Washington C.H., Wilmington and Franklin Heights and would “outweigh Hillsboro at least 15 pounds per man up front” and “also boast a strong backfield.”

McClain did come to Hillsboro as scheduled, but the forecasted “slaughter” did not play out on the field as the headline in the local newspaper would read, “Tigers do not run wild against Indians; win by only 28-0 count.”

The Tigers scored all of their touchdowns in the first half, one of which was set up by a Hillsboro fumble and another on an interception that was taken back for a score. Coach Paul Orr’s Greenfield team got a rushing touchdown from Petey Coleman and another score on a quarterback sneak by Dick Craft. Coleman intercepted a Mullenix pass and took it back 70 yards for the Tiger’s third TD, and Kraft threw a touchdown to Dick Harvey to round out the scoring.

Atsalis said that the Indians played what he thought was their best game of the season.

“They played their hearts out,” he said. “They don’t have to take a back seat to anybody. I couldn’t ask any more than they did. Everybody tried his best.”

Atsalis said he started a freshman against McClain, and while the player did a fine job, “it’s an example of what has hurt us all season – depth.”

He said that teams like McClain can go to the bench and pick out seniors and juniors, and that “there’s something wrong when a town like Greenfield, not as big as Hillsboro, can put three teams on the field while we have to put freshmen out there against seniors.”

As Hillsboro gets set to finish its 1959 football season against Franklin Heights, let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

Add new comment

This is not for publication.
This is not for publication.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it. Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.