ELYRIA SPORTS HALL OF FAME
The Elyria Sports Hall of Fame proudly announces its 44th Class to be honored Saturday evening May 2, 2015 at the Spitzer Center on the campus at Lorain County Community College. After careful study and deliberation of more than 100 worthy nominations, the Validation Committee of the ESHOF presented 15 finalists to the Board of Trustees. In what was a very close selection process, six individuals and the 2002 State Champion softball team from Elyria High were selected to be inducted at this year’s banquet. The individuals include former Elyria High football and baseball star Jon Burger, long-time Elyria West football and track coach Billy Joe Hewitt, the legendary EHS “Gold Dust Twins” — Donald and Doug Jones, Elyria track great Rodney Moore, and two-sport-star University of Cincinnati and Elyria Catholic graduate Brent Petrus. The ESHOF will also honor Ken Kaiser with its Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding service in managing the State Tennis tournament for 61 events, officiating and instructing in both football and basketball, being the official timer for both Ohio State football and basketball for many years and volunteering his time and efforts for the annual Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games. Tickets for the event are $35.00. Additional information will be available shortly on our web site at elyriasportshalloffame.org.
Not only did Jon Burger excel on both the baseball and football fields but in the classroom as well. Burger, the Lorain County Golden Helmet winner in 1979, carried a 3.8 GPA and was ranked 25th in a class of 625 students. He was president of his class and a member of the National Honor Society. His versatility was apparent in both sports that he participated. On the football field, Burger was an outstanding linebacker on Elyria’s undefeated 10-0 team that allowed only 15 points all season. He also handled a lot of the kicking chores for the Pioneers and calmly booted the winning point against Lorain to cap the undefeated year with a 9-8 victory over Elyria’s biggest rival. In fact, Burger’s 37-yard field goal earlier in the year was instrumental in Elyria’s win over Sandusky and his 25-yard field goal against Fremont in his junior season also won the game. Against Sandusky, Burger accounted for 11 of Elyria’s 17 points with a touchdown, a field goal and two extra points. He was also used on occasion at fullback. After winning the Golden Helmet Award, Berger took the time to thank those responsible by writing a letter to the Chronicle Telegram — thanking coaches, teammates, fans and family. He was selected All-Buckeye Conference, All-Lorain County and All-District and third team All-Ohio. In baseball, Burger was a pitcher, catcher and infielder in leading the Pioneers to a Sweet 16 berth.
BILLY JOE HEWITT
A long-time junior high coach at Franklin, Billy Joe Hewitt moved on to take over the fledging football fortunes at Elyria West High School for the 1976 school year. West was in just its fourth year. Playing an independent schedule, Hewitt directed the Wolverines to its first winning season in 1977 with a 7-3 mark that included a dramatic 14-12 win over Midview to close out the year. In 1978, Hewitt’s team finished 8-1-1 including a memorable 0-0 tie with Elyria Catholic. The team scored 225 points and allowed only 61 and finished just three points shy in the computer rankings of qualifying for a playoff spot. In track, Hewitt coached state qualifying athletes from 1983 through 1990. Hewitt was the Chairman of the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
DONALD AND DOUG JONES
Long-time Chronicle Telegram Russ Davies first penned the nickname “Gold Dust Twins” back in the early 1950s when Elyria High’s football team was blessed with the presence of twins Donald and Doug Jones. Davies was the C-T’s sports editor for more than 50 years and covered thousands of athletes and he put the “Gold Dust Twins” right up with the best to ever wear the Pioneers colors. Don, who wore No. 23, was supposed to be a half-step faster than Doug, who wore No. 24, but both could run the 100-yard dash in close to 10 seconds in full football gear. They both earned three letters for football at EHS. As juniors, the two were key members of Elyria’s 1951 Lake Erie League champions. Don scored 144 career points and Doug 132 — both still listed among the best in EHS history. Against arch-rival Lorain in 1951, Don rushed for 129 yards and Doug 109. Both scored twice as the Pioneers clinched the league title with a 32-12 pounding of the Steelmen. They both went on to play at Philander Smith College in Arkansas before joining the Air Force where they continued to play football from 1955 through 1959 with just NFL stars as quarterback Zeke Bratkowski and receiver Max McGee. They returned to Elyria to own and operate a cement business. Doug’s son Greg Jones was enshrined in 1985 after a great career at Elyria West and Miami of Ohio.
Rodney Moore literally exploded on the local track scene for Elyria High starting in 1985. He was a six-time All-Ohio Division I sprinter in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, where he specialized. In 1986 and 1988, Moore was second in the 400 and finished third in 1987. He helped the Pioneers to a fourth place finish in both the 400 and 1600 meter relay and was a two-time state qualifier in both the 100 and 200 meter dash events. He was a part of eight Buckeye Conference and four Erie Shore conference titles and he was the 400 meter record holder in Lorain County with a time of 47.19. At Lincoln University was a 17-time Division III All-American and won six national titles. He was inducted into the Lorain County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2014. He graduated from Elyria High in 1988, Lincoln University in 1996 and got his master’s degree from Bowie State University in 2001.
It’s not often a high school athlete has the credentials to play at a Division I program but Elyria Catholic’s Brent Petrus was talented enough to play at the University of Cincinnati in both football and basketball. At Elyria Catholic, Petrus was one of most versatile athletes. He lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was the offensive MVP in football his senior year and was the baseball team’s MVP his sophomore and junior years but as a senior he ran track instead and qualified for the regional in the 400-meter. He earned a scholarship in football to Cincinnati and wound up being the sixth man on Bob Huggins’ nationally ranked basketball team. Near the end of the 1997 football season, Petrus practiced with both squads — participating in three hour workouts for both teams. On December 27, 1997, he practiced with the football team as it prepared for the Boise, Idaho Humanitarian Bowl and then flew back to Cleveland for a basketball game against Massachusetts. He was recruited as a quarterback for the Bearcats and wound up playing wide receiver as well. As a back-up, he rallied Cincinnati in a couple games — throwing four career touchdowns and catching one. He signed a professional contract with the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League and played three seasons for the Dragons.
2002 ELYRIA HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
Midway through the spring of 2002, not many, including coach Ken Fenik, gave Elyria High’s softball team much of a chance of going very far in the annual state tournament let alone winning the whole thing. A disappointing 8-0 loss to North Olmsted at its own Pioneer Invitational turned out to be the turning point for the Pioneers and their dominate right-handed All-Ohio pitcher Aubrey Oliver. However, Elyria started winning from that point of the season — winning 16 of its next 17 games including six straight to close the season. The Pioneers marched through the tournament including a 1-0 win over the very same North Olmsted team that it lost to earlier. The Pioneers wound up 27-4 and clinched the state title with a pair of come-from-behind wins at the Ashland finals — beating both Cincinnati Sycamore and Hamilton by identical 2-1 scores to bring home Elyria High’s first team state title in its history. The tournament run included seven one-run victories including as 5-4 win over Midview where the Pioneers scored three runs in the seventh inning to win. Oliver logged 163 innings, striking out 218 hitters in winning 23 games and losing only twice. Batters hit just .191 against her and her ERA was a sparkling 0.69. Elyria’s hitting was led by Calli Ryan’s .394 average and 28 RBI. Freshman Alex Boros hit .385 with 21 RBI and Amy Mazur drove home 19. Ryan, Boros and Amy Koutsopoulos each had better than 30 hits on the season. Boros, Koutsopoulos, Ryan and Mazur all scored more than 20 runs and Koutsopoulos and Boros combined to steal 27 bases in 28 attempts. Other members of the team included Megan Anderson, Danielle Cross, Julie Sito, twins Elizabeth and Lisa Nunn, Jessica Lorbach, Samantha White and Molly Curtis. Assisting Fenik were Gordie Cohagan, John Srnis, Jen Plas, Joclyn Noe and Michelle Kirsch.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE: KEN KAISER
Few people have had the opportunity to serve in so many ways as Ken Kaiser, a 1967 Elyria High graduate. Kaiser was considered a good athlete in his days — including being No. 1 singles and doubles at Lorain County Community College. He earned his basketball officiating certificate in 1972 and has been an active football official for 27 seasons with 21 post season assignments including 14 state semi-final or state final games. Ken has also officiated softball for 15 years. At Ohio State, Kaiser has been the official scoreboard operator/official timer for 25 years and the official scorer/timer for the men’s basketball team for 35 years. He’s also been the public address announcer for both OSU’s women’s basketball and volleyball teams. Kaiser has been the state tennis tournament manager for both girls and boys — managing both for better than 30 years. He’s also been the University’s liaison to the Special Olympics summer games. He has been honored by a number of organizations for his service. Kaiser has never forgotten his roots and often wears proudly the colors and logo of his high school.
Please note: Nominations for consideration for our next banquet closed will close on December 31. Applications for our annual scholarship awards can be obtained at either the athletic office or from your guidance counselor. Those applications must be in by January 31.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014.
The Class of 2014 was inducted on May 3, 2014 at the Spitzer Center at Lorain County Community College. Congratulations to the 1964 EHS Football team along with (Left to right) TJ Staton, Mike Kozma, Jessy Verhoff-Bendik, Dr. David Krol and Tim Sweigard.
At a young age it was apparent that Mike Kozma was a champion in both track and field. Kozma won many AAU Junior Olympic events including the shot put, high jump and the long jump but it was in the 100- and 220-yard dash that Kozma really made some noise. At Elyria Catholic, Kozma’s name was always listed among the area’s track honor roll — running the 100-yard dash in a state-fastest 9.62 and the 220 in a school record 21.6. A 1979 EC grad, Kozma finished seventh at the state meet as a sophomore in both the 100- and 220-yard dash. As a junior, Kozma was third in the 100 and second in the 220. He finished third at the AAU National Championships. After establishing the fastest 100 time in the state, an injury prevented Kozma from competing at the state meet. Kozma earned a scholarship to Indiana earning four varsity letters and was a member of the Big Ten champion 4 X 100 relay team.
DR. DAVID KROL
Elyria Catholic has had many great pitchers in its baseball history but one of the best was righthander Dave Krol, who led the Panthers to a berth at the state tournament in 1986. At one point in the season, Krol had won eight games without defeat with a 1.02 ERA. He struck out 84 hitters and walked only 14. As a hitter, Krol batted .481 with 20 RBI and two homers. Krol was EC’s quarterback for the 1985 season but his pitching earned him a scholarship to Toledo where he’s already been enshrined in the Toledo Hall of Fame. He was All-MAC in 1988 and 1989 and was the first Toledo baseball player to be named Academic All-American. In 1987, Krol was 6-3 with a 3.13 ERA. In ’88, he was 6-7 with a 2.19 ERA in 119 innings pitched and led the MAC in strikeouts with 90. As a senior in 1989, Krol was 7-3 and again led the team in strikeouts and innings pitched. He ranked among the top 10 in seven pitching categories at UT. He graduated magna cum laude and played in the Minnesota Twins organization for three years. He later earned a medical degree from Yale and is now the Senior Program Officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
The only Lorain County team to ever bring home a state baseball title was the Elyria West Wolverine’s in 1992. Usually there’s one standout hitter and one standout pitcher on a champion but Staton was both for West. He won four of six decisions for the Wolverines and batted .392 with six home runs and 29 RBI. Staton had a 10 year minor league career in the Pirates and Expos organizations. Today, he runs Staton Sports in Lorain, Ohio helping the area’s youth become better baseball players.
To be a champion in the sport of wrestling takes a lot of desire, fortitude, strength and agility. Tim Sweigard proved to have all those qualities in winning the 175 pound state title in 1972. Sweigard was also a prominent member of Elyria High’s undefeated 1971 football team.
It’s one thing to be named Miss Volleyball or Miss Basketball but for one individual to win both is simply amazing. Jessy Verhoff claimed both those glamorous titles her senior year at Elyria High in 1999 for volleyball and 2000 in basketball. Jessy went on to play at Indiana State on the basketball team with her sister Lisa. She was special mention All-Ohio in Basketball and first team All-Ohio in Volleyball. She won four letters in both sports.
1964 ELYRIA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Yes, the team lost a game — 6-0 to Barberton to open the season, but after that upset loss, it went on to win the next nine games including a decisive 32-6 win at Strobel Field over the vaunted Sandusky Blue Streaks in front of a standing room only crowd.
Sandusky had won 28 straight football games to that point. Elyria’s long-time and winningest coach — Bill Barton — called it his best win ever.
At Ely Stadium against rival Lorain for the final game of the season, the Pioneers overcame a 14-0 first quarter deficit to beat the Steelmen, 23-14, and wrap up the 9-1 season and 7-0 Buckeye Conference title. Elyria averaged 29 points a game while giving up less than four.
It was Elyria’s first out-right Buckeye Conference championship and the highest state ranking attained since the legendary 1947 team finished runner-up to Barberton. The Pioneers finished third in the final poll of the year behind unbeaten Massillon and once-beaten Canton McKinley. Sandusky wound up 7th, Barberton 14th, Lorain 19th with Admiral King and Findlay each getting votes.
Because the state playoffs wouldn’t start until 1972, neither the ’64 or the ’47 teams had the opportunity to play for the state championship on the field.
Halfback Al Campbell and defensive middle guard Jim Westbrook were named All-Ohio and Elyria placed 15 players on the All-Buckeye Conference first or second team including eight on the first team offense or defense. Campbell, tackle Dan Andrick and end Al Fields were named to the offensive first team. Westbrook, end Ray Rounds, linebacker Randy Stevenson and defensive backs Fields and Gary Krone were named on the first team defensive unit. Center Geza Kozmits, guard Walt Fabian and tackle Tom Bolinski along with backs Bill Alley and Houston Love were picked for the second team offense. End Bill Humphrey, linebackers Pete Christensen and Merle Wilford were chosen on the defensive second team. Honorable mention went to Lowell Cavin, Dick Glover, Dave Strickler and Krone on offense. Lewis “Buster” Edwards, Duane White, Bill Corder and Mike Aquilino were named on defense.
1964 W-9, L-1
at Barberton 0-6
Cleveland West Tech 33-0
Cuyahoga Falls 20-0
at Admiral King 37-6
at Sandusky 32-6
at Fremont 30-0
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE: JIM TOMSIC
The groundwork for the state championship teams at Elyria Catholic was set up to a great extent by the work of the CYO coaches at the elementary and junior high levels. One of the best was Jim Tomsic. Tomsic is now working at Cleveland State University as a Career Coordinator.