Fifty years ago Marietta High's football team carved out a record which still stands alone in Tiger gridiron history.
It was Nov. 13, 1959, a Friday the 13th when the Tigers put an exclamation point on a perfect season, a 9-0 record, beating Newark 14-0 at Don Drumm Stadium for a Central Ohio League championship and earning a No. 6 state ranking.
Coached by the late Scotty Hamilton, a bold, gambling, sharp offensive strategist and master psychologist, the '59 Tigers featured a tremendous blend of speed, power, and versatility on offense and fearless, swarming, and intense defense.
The Tigers scored a school-record 314 points (35 average) and gave up only 79 (9 average). They outrushed opponents 2,550 yards to 881 yards and racked up four shutouts, all in the the COL, with Lancaster, Chillicothe, and Coshocton the victims along with Newark.
Linemen Jim Farley and Neil Gregory, linebacker Phil Offenberger, and quarterback Frank Christie were first team All-Ohio athletes and there were several more who were All-Ohio caliber.
The Tigers could crunch it out on offense, hit the big play run or pass, and even their own 20 yard line for them was good field position.
Dick Wendelken, swift and elusive, was the leading rusher, rolling up 818 yards in 95 shots, an amazing 8.6 average. Galloping-bull fullback Dick Croy overcame a knee injury to rack up 476 yards in 67 tries (7.1 average) ans powerful halfback John Huston ran for 431 yards in 58 cracks (7.4 average).
How about three backs averaging more than seven yards per carry? And Coach Hamilton and his staff of Bill Bonar, Chuck Stocker, the late Paul Casto, and Ron Corey could call on several others for potent running work, including Billy Forte, the Miner twins, Phil and Bill, Frank Spriggs, and defensive specialist John Hadley. Phil Miner set the school 100-yard dash record.
The trigger man on offense was Christie who had a howitzer for an arm and could create havoc just by his slick ball-handling. He could bulls-eye a 20-yarder or toss a 60-yarder with the flick of the wrist.
If the Tigers had been a passing team, Christie would have posted astronomical figures, far above his mere 820 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged only eight passes per game but 30 yards per pass.
Bob Fogle, who the next year was state high hurdles champ, was top receiver with 12 catches for 473 yards, an amazing 40-yard average. Half of his receptions went for touchdowns. Butch Wigton, the other starting end, was capable, too.
Blocking, of course, was superior up-front as well as in the backfield. The front was small by today's standards but mobile and quick and included Jim Farley and Bob Beaver at tackle, Steve Robinson, Bob Warden, and Steve Miner at guard, and Fred Farley, Jim's older brother, at center.
Several on offense also played defense and Jim Farley at tackle,
Offenberger at linebacker, and Gregory at guard were the leaders on a quick and swift group which seemed to surround the ball like a bunch of killer bees.
Rounding out the regular defensive force were Hadley and Wigton at end, Warden, Larry Slack, and Jon Schafer at tackle, Steve Miner at guard, twins Bill and Phil Miner, and Spriggs at halfback, and Bart Simon at safety. Schafer was the biggest Tiger at only 220 pounds.
A crowd estimated at 5,000 watched the finale against Newark, a massive team which brought a 6-2 record to town.
The Tigers' production on offense in the game was totally ground-bound, producing 207 yards. They were only 0-for-3 passing. Newark was held to 105 rushing and 64 passing (8-13).
Marietta scored in the first three minutes of the game on a 11-yard keeper by Christie following Bill Miner's fumble recovery while Croy tallied the other TD in the second quarter on a 15-yard smash after Offenberger's pass interception. Wendelken recovered a fumble after the first score for a two-point conversion.
Newark drove it deep several times, once to the MHS three yard line, but the Tiger defense made big play after big play.
Hard to believe, Marietta finished the game without a penalty, published statistics say.
Newark had only one violation, too many men on the field. To the Wildcats, it must have seemed the Tigers had too many on the field all the time, offensively and defensively, such was the MHS prowess.
Bill Robinson is a former Marietta Times sports editor.