1979 EHS Football

Imagine giving up just 15 points in a 10-game season. That best describes the undefeated, Buckeye Conference Champion Elyria Pioneers in 1979. Coach Terry Doan’s team shut out eight teams on its schedule — a record that still stands today. Only the 1925 Elyria High football team did better – shutting out eight opponents and allowing just 13 points in an 8-1-1 season. The 1979 Pioneers shut out its first seven opponents before Findlay broke the streak. It started with an 8-0 win over Toledo Scott where Darnell Glover’s blocked punt provided a safety and an interception by Brent Binkley set up the only scoring drive. The Pioneers then shut down North Ridgeville, 10-0. Aaron Swan’s 22 yard field goal and his 55 yard interception return provided the scoring. Against East Tech, sophomore Brad Dill got the start at tailback, rushed for 120 yards and scored once for a 21-0 win. Damon Tillman and quarterback Mike Appleby got the other scores. Unfortunately, the Scarabs became the reason the team didn’t qualify for the playoffs. A Cleveland teacher’s strike halted East Tech’s season at just five games – all losses – and the result didn’t help Elyria’s playoff points. The Pioneers began Buckeye Conference play at Marion Harding. Elyria won, 6-0, after it appeared the Presidents were trying to get a scoreless tie. A key pick by Binkley set up the Pioneers only score at the M-18. Al Akers’ five-yard run sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter. Next was Admiral King where the defense provided a fumble recovery and four interceptions for a 14-0 win. Roger Balser’s 23 yard touchdown reception from Appleby and Ken Mitchell’s 49 yard run getting the scores. Swan kicked both extra points but it was his 22-yard field goal the next week against Fremont Ross to keep the streak alive. Jon Burger’s interception midway through the second quarter provided the possession. Against Sandusky, and in front of an estimated 6,000 fans, the Pioneers won rather easily, 17-0, over the Blue Streaks. Burger had a 37-yard field goal and ran in another score. Appleby’s pass to Glover got the other score. Elyria had to scramble to win against Findlay. The Trojans stunned the Pioneers’ vaunted defense with an 81-yard drive to open the game and led 7-0 but Elyria answered in the second quarter on Appleby’s one-yard touchdown and won the game on Steve Bush’s two-point conversion. The final shut-out of the season came at Mansfield where Elyria won, 21-0. Mitchell and two Appleby touchdown passes provided the scoring – one to Balser (40 yards) and the second to Glover (22).  Burger successfully kicked all three extra points. Its final game of the year against its biggest rival — Lorain –ended with Elyria on top, 9-8, with a late score with under five minutes to play. After a scoreless first half, Elyria’s special teams provided the first points on a safety when Lorain snapped a punt attempt out of the end zone. Lorain took the lead in the fourth quarter, 7-2, but Elyria managed to score on a rain-drenched field on Appleby’s quarterback sneak at the one. Swan’s clutch extra point conversion gave the Pioneers the winning margin and the undefeated season. Elyria, in spite of the unbeaten season, finished second in the region to Padua and did not qualify for the post-season. The Pioneers were led by Golden Helmet winner Burger. Defensive linemen Dennis and Dan Carpenter were leaders on defense. Dennis was named to the All-Ohio team along with defensive back and quarterback Appleby. Elyria’s defense finished with 22 interceptions led by Appleby and Binkley with five each. Elyria also forced 24 fumbles, recovering 13. The Pioneers needed the defense to do what they did. They scored only 117 points for the season.