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Fremont Ross Class of 1985

Fremont Ross Class of 1985
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November 2nd, 1895. Who knew that 110 years later that date would mean so much. It was on that date what would become Ohios second oldest high school football rivalry would see its first game. Fremont High and Sandusky High took the field against each other with Sandusky winning 6-0. So many years, so many memories, all to be renewed this Friday night. I'll let the folks from Sandy talk about there side somewhere else. Let's talk about our side of this rivalry. Great players, coaches and games. Ever hear of Willard Peach? He was a member of the 1913 team that tied Sandusky 6-6. Willard went on to play at the University of Michigan, the first of several Little Giants who went north to Ann Arbor . Of course Mr. Peach was followed by Rob Lytle, Tony Gant and our Heisman Trophy winner, Charles Woodson. All did well for the Wolverines. Then there was John"Big Thunder" Lewis. Big Thunder played for the 1949-1951 teams that beat Sandusky twice. Big Thunder went on to Michigan State to star for the Spartans. He still lives in Lansing and actually is quite a celebrity there. I've been told "Big Thunder" monitors the Forum to see how The Little Giants do.
Of course we've had some great players head south to play in the Horseshoe in Columbus as well. Bob Heid, a member of the 1948 Ross team that beat Sandusky 20-7 went on to be one of Woody Hayes first captains. Bob Brudzinski was a great for the Buckeyes and then the Miami Dolphins. Derek Isaman followed both Heid and Brudzinski to Columbus.
We've seen memorable coaches as well. Head coach Warren Vannardsoll was on the job when the first great Ross team dominated Sandusky in 1920 by a 42-0 score. William "Bunk" Ross was head coach in 1925 when The Little Giants knocked off highly touted Sandusky 8-6 in a game that saw our teams forever named "The Little Giants", ironically by the head coach of the defeated Sandusky team. Many remember Robert Oldfather, Les Binkley and of course Mal Mackey who prowled the sidelines from 1950-1966. Chuck Shuff was head coach of that 1969 team that upset Sandusky 28-27. No one gave The Little Giants a chance in heck of defeating Sandusky that year. The Ross players had other ideas and came back to Fremont that night as winners. Many people point to that game as the turning point for Ross football and also credit that win for passing a crucial school levy. Pete Moore and Rex Radeloff have their share of big wins over Sandusky as well. Who could forget the twin 7-0 wins over Sandusky in 1983?


The players, coaches and fans from the past have given you the great Little Giant tradition to uphold. Forget what has happened in the past 9 games. Think about one thing...winning THIS GAME. Remember that all Little Giant fans all over the country are behind you. Thousands will be in the stands yelling themselves hoarse Friday night. Many others will be with you in spirit. Many of the greats who have passed, names like Tiller, Mackey, Moore, Ross, Pettiford, and nameless others will be pulling for you from beyond. You have the chance to do what no other Little Giant team has done or can the 100th game. Go out, play hard, play with heart and don't give up. Remember the Fremont community is behind you all the way. We're proud of you and believe in you.

Lets GO Little Giants!

cretid for this goes to Ksm624 @

Like wine, rivalries get better with age

A friend of mine is now in trouble with the radio station where he co-hosts a sports show.

He used one of the words you’re not supposed to use on the radio, but it was in a good cause.


My friend’s co-host said not only was Southern Cal-Notre Dame the biggest rivalry in college football, but Ohio State-Michigan didn’t even make the top five.

My friend is not one to be argued with. He’s three inches and 100 pounds heavier than I am, and he was so loud and obnoxious in rooting for Bowling Green at the 2003 Motor City Bowl, three Northwestern fans sitting behind us had to move.

When faced with this heresy, my friend responded with a word that was described as a “barnyard epithet” during the Chicago Seven trial. As I said, it was a good cause.

What makes a good rivalry? The history? The stakes? The talent that passes through?

In a word, yes.

Ohio State-Michigan started in 1897, 29 years before the Irish and Trojans met for the first time, and two years after the first meeting between Fremont Ross and Sandusky high schools.

Ross-Sandusky is the second oldest high school matchup in Ohio. Canton McKinley and Massillon Washington played for the first time in 1894. Piqua and Troy high schools have the most meetings, 121, but they started playing each other in 1898.

The 100th meeting of the Blue Streaks and the Little Giants will be Oct. 28, and although Ross coach Derek Kidwell isn’t looking beyond the Presidents of Marion Harding, he knows how big the game is.

Kidwell, who played football at Fostoria, said he’d never seen a rivalry like it.

“There were schools we didn’t like, but nothing with that rich history,” he said.

In 110 years, the games could be epic as the fortunes of both programs rose and fell. Sandusky owned the rivalry through the 1960s, but a 1969 upset by Ross, who went on to go 2-7-1, led to a Ross dominance through the next decade, going 6-3-1 against the Streaks. It’s a cliche to say that when two rivals meet, records go out the window, but things become cliches because they have some basis in fact.

The teams even played on Thanksgiving, the time for many big high school rivalries in the 1920s and 1930s. Canton McKinley used to play Massillon on Turkey Day, as did Rayen and South, the big high-school rivalry for many years in my hometown of Youngstown.

One of the keys to an enduring rivalry is hatred mixed in with respect. In my time in Pittsburgh, hawkers around Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field sold shirts that said, “Cleveland: Welcome back to the league. You still suck.”

But there has to be more than simple distaste for the opposition.
“Wherever you’re at, you’re going to have schools that don’t like each other, and call that a rivalry,” Kidwell said.

Former athletic director and 1950 Ross graduate Dick Sherman said the players had seen each other since junior high school.
“We seemed to build up a lot of friendships between Sandusky and Ross,” he said.

Many of the games had conference titles riding on the line, be it the old Buckeye Conference or the Greater Buckeye Conference. Last year’s loss to the Streaks denied the Little Giants, with a 4-6 finish but a 3-2 mark in the conference, a share of a GBC title.

Ohio State-Michigan usually had the Big Ten title on the line, if not a national championship berth, but my friend’s issue with Notre Dame-USC is that with only a couple exceptions, it was a midseason non-conference game with very little at stake for either team.

One year, a trip to the playoffs was on the line for the Little Giants, but I’ll tell that story next week, as part of a five-day series covering the 100th meeting of the teams.

Great athletes and coaches were part of the game as well. As recently as 1994, two NFL players took the field in the matchup: Charles Woodson, who won a Heisman Trophy for Michigan and now plays for the Oakland Raiders; and Orlando Pace, who went on to Ohio State and now plays for the St. Louis Rams.

Earle Bruce, former coach for the Buckeyes, Iowa State and Massillon High School, patrolled the sidelines for the Blue Streaks in the 1960s, and went 3-1 in the series against the Little Giants.

Massillon could also claim Paul Brown as a coach. South, at one point, was coached by Bob Stoops, the Youngstown native who’s gone on to bigger and better things at Oklahoma — part of one of college football’s biggest rivalries, against Texas.

The Ross teams of the early 1970s featured running back Rob Lytle and tight end Bob Brudzinski. They went on to Michigan and Ohio State, respectively, and know a little bit about rivalries.

“It was like Michigan-Ohio State,” said Brudzinski, who went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins in the NFL. “It was huge for us.”

Lytle, in addition to participating in the Buckeyes-Wolverines rivalry, also took the field for the Denver Broncos when they took o

Giants rule Sandusky in '70s

As the 1970s dawned, fortunes started to change for Fremont Ross football.

Sandusky had ruled the rivalry between the two schools throughout the 1960s, but a 1969 upset by the Little Giants marked a turning point for the program. The team went 2-7-1 that year and 5-4-1 in 1970, but after that, put together a 36-3-1 run, including three Buckeye Conference titles — two outright.

“We had some really good athletes,” said tight end/defensive end Bob Brudzinski. “A lot of them went on to play college ball.”

Chief among them would be Brudzinski and running back Rob Lytle, both 1973 graduates. Brudzinski was the Northwest district lineman of the year for the Associated Press, and the lineman of the year for United Press International. He was named to all-Ohio teams for both wire services.

Lytle ran for 2,593 yards in his career, averaging 8.4 yards a carry.
Brudzinski and Lytle would meet again in college, as Brudzinski was an All-American for Ohio State in 1976, and Lytle got similar honors at Michigan the same year. Lytle finished third in Heisman Trophy voting. And both went on to NFL careers, Lytle with the Denver Broncos and Brudzinski with the Los Angeles Rams and the Miami Dolphins. Brudzinski was the third overall pick — by the Rams — in 1977.

Brudzinski’s college roomate, Bob Gentry, came from Sandusky. Brudzinski, who now owns a chain of sports bars in south Florida, wasn’t afraid to remind him how the series turned in the 1970s.
“I wouldn’t rub it in too much,” Brudzinski said, afraid of short-sheeting. “He was my roommate. I wasn’t sure what he’d do.”
In 1974, Ross hired what turned out to be its next three coaches. Coach Chuck Shuff left for Massillon, and in came Tom Hollman from Greenville. Hollman brought with him assistants Pete Moore and Rex Radeloff.

“I got real lucky with some of the coaches I hired,” former Ross Athletic Director Dick Sherman said.

Hollman only coached two years before going into the college ranks, but Ross beat Sandusky 33-0 in 1974, his first year as coach. The whitewashing was a measure of revenge for the Little Giants, who had lost 54-0 and 74-0 against Sandusky in 1965-66.

“Those years of getting waxed by Sandusky were over,” Radeloff said.

The next year, Ross lost a heartbreaker to the Streaks, 7-6.

“We had our opportunities to win, but it just didn’t happen for us,” Hollman said.

Hollman returned to the college ranks, coaching at his and Radeloff’s alma mater of Ohio Northern, as well as Ball State, Ohio University and Edinboro, in Pennsylvania.
By the end of the 1970s, the team was getting as many as 120 players in grades 10-12 coming out for the football team.

“I felt we were developing good athletes and good citizens,” Sherman said.

In 1979, Ross and Sandusky battled to a 14-14 tie, the first tie between the teams in 27 years.
Offensive lineman Scott Manahan recalled being sidelined with mono, the low point of his high school playing career.

“Nobody got any bragging rights,” Manahan said. “But it made it that much better the next year.”

In 1980, Ross brought an 8-1 record to the last game, its lone loss coming against Cleveland Benedictine. Ross won, 7-0, to finish 9-1 that season. It was their first Buckeye Conference title since 1976, but they failed to make it into the playoffs.

“It was pretty frustrating,” said Manahan, now the athletic director for Columbus Bishop Watterson.

It was even more frustrating because Sandusky got in with an 8-2 record, on a stronger non-conference schedule. The Associated Press initially reported that Ross was in.

In 1983, Ross came into the Sandusky game 8-0-1. The Streaks, playing at home, were 9-0 and almost assured of a playoff spot, if not a home game. The Little Giants, who hadn’t ever been to the playoffs, were second-ranked in the region in computer points, but fighting to get in, in the days when only the top two teams from each region went to the playoffs.

"If we lost, we probably wouldn't make it into the playoffs," said Jerry Manahan, a defensive end/tight end and Scott's younger brother.

The Little Giants were 3-7 in 1982, but Jerry Manahan said the team returned about 25 lettermen for the 1983 season.

Ross beat Sandusky, 7-0, on a Kevin Wilhelm touchdown and an extra point by Shawn McCarthy, to leapfrog the Streaks in the computer rankings and host a home rematch.
Manahan said the team returned to Harmon Stadium, greeted by thousands of the Little Giants' faithful as speakers blared "We Are the Champions" by Queen.

The next week, Harmon Stadium hosted its first home playoff game. It was cold, snowy and icy.

"The only thing you could see was where they shoveled the yard markers," Manahan said.

The game was scoreless through three quarters, but with 7:26 left to play, fullback Todd Beatty scored, and Ross beat Sandusky for the 10th time in 14 meetings.

In the state semifinals

Fremont wins 42-20