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The 1959 Hillsboro football squad: The season kicks off

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in 1959, the Hillsboro varsity football team headed into summer camp with a young, new coach and just 17 Indians.

First-year head coach Bill Atsalis and two assistants hit the recruiting trail and built up that number up to 33 players during the month of August.

Hillsboro opened the season Sept. 18, 1959 with a home game against “newcomer” to the schedule Paint Valley, followed by eight more games: at Logan, at Washington C.H., vs. Circleville, at New Boston, vs. Pleasant View, at Wilmington, vs. Greenfield McClain, then at Franklin Heights to round out the season on Nov. 13.

Paint Valley, as many will recall, had been the season-opening opponent for the Tribe on many occasions but was just in its second season of playing football back in 1959. When the Indians lifted the curtain on the season, they showed some promise of ground power as Hillsboro High scored two touchdowns during the first quarter and a TD in each of the third and fourth stanzas to throttle the visitors, 26-12.

In the first drive of the game for Hillsboro, Mike Collins did most of the ball lugging and scored on a 3-yard run. Dave Cole tried to run in the conversion but fumbled at the goal line.

Paint Valley drove the ball to midfield, but the Indians held on downs and took over at the PV 45. On the next play, Wayne Murphy took the handoff and took it the distance as Cole ran in the conversion to make the score 14-0.

Paint Valley cut the lead to 14-6 as a Hillsboro fumble gave the visitors at the HHS 21 and were able to score three plays later on a touchdown run by Roger Williams. In the same period, Hillsboro fumbled the ball away again at the Indians’ 26, but Atsalis’ squad was able to hold on downs. Hillsboro moved the ball to midfield but fumbled the pigskin away yet again, but Don Jones picked off a Paint Valley pass and returned the ball 37 yards just before halftime.

In the third quarter, a punt by Paint Valley actually rolled backward for lost yardage and the Tribe ended up with the ball on the PV 14, and Jones scored a touchdown three plays later but came up short on the conversion attempt as Hillsboro was in front 20-6.

Paint Valley cut the score to 20-13 with a deep touchdown pass from Mike Vore to Bob Cooper, but Hillsboro answered with a 62-yard run by Murphy for what would be the game’s final score as Hillsboro prevailed 26-12.

After the game, Atsalis said his team performed commendably but was inconsistent at times, and was generally pleased with the backfield performance, singling out the play of Murphy, a converted lineman, and Jones. He also deemed the performance of linemen Harry Glaze, Perin Johnson, Jim Keith and Dan Kelley most satisfactory.

While the Indians celebrate their 1959 season-opening victory, 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

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