Marietta High will be in for a special treat Friday night.
The Tiger cagers, who are scheduled to host Coshocton High in an East Central Ohio League boys' basketball game at Sutton Gym at 7:30 p.m., will get an opportunity to rub elbows, so to speak, with the 1978-1979 MHS league championship squad.
"This is perhaps the best Tiger basketball team in the history of the program," said first-year Marietta High head coach Mark Duckworth. "They won the very tough Central Ohio League, were state ranked (eighth or ninth) in (Division I), but got upset in the district final at Marietta College against. New Philly."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta High’s Jon Wood is surrounded by Warren players as he and his Tiger teammates battle for the ball during non-conference boys’ basketball action in Vincent Jan. 7. MHS hosts Coshocton Friday night, and on hand will be the 1978-79 league title team.
That season, Marietta High was 16-2 during the regular season, and finished with a 17-3 overall record.
"The Central Ohio League was the best league in Ohio at the time," said 71-year-old Ed Paxton, who guided the Tigers back then. "We played schools like Newark, Upper Arlington, Lancaster, and Grove City. One of the negatives was the travel, but it was worth it, because the competition was so good."
Paxton said the team was nine or 10 players deep, but the starters were usually Bill Ross, Jeff Stafford, Charlie Spindler, Tom Modie, and Tom Weihl.
"I have very vivid memories of that team," Paxton said. "We really had eight or nine starters, and the chemistry was super.
"We were a fairly small team with Stafford and Modie are two biggest guys."
Stafford was 6-foot-3, and Modie "a strong 6-2," Paxton said.
"We played schools which had players 6-7 and 6-8," the former MHS boss continued. "So, we had to get up and down the court quick."
The 1978-79 MHS roster also included Terry Wallis, Sam Miracle, Jon Shuler, Jim Knellinger, Dave Lenington, Bill McCracken, Rich Stewart, Jeff Ullman, and Joe Zide.
Paxton's assistants were Bob Burton, Kirk Hardman, and the late Jerry Neader.
Marietta's athletic director was Bill Bonar. The trainer was Tom Gruber, and the managers were Tony Satterfield and Mike Hayes.
Later, Ross and Stafford played basketball and starred at the next level at Marietta College.
Currently, Paxton and Wallis are Duckworth's assistants.
"This is a special group of people and I am very honored to be a small part of this on Friday night," said Duckworth of the squad.
"I plan to have all of them (the 1978-89 team) in the locker room before the game, and will let the captains talk to our team about what it means to be a Marietta Tiger basketball player.
"We will have all our junior high kids and all of our grade school kids form a tunnel out of the locker room and introduce all of them one by one. Coach Paxton will say a few words and then we will get a picture and let the band play the old song "Long Train" for them one more time."
Said Paxton, "This will be a very emotional evening for me. As to what I will say, it'll be something on the spur of the moment. I'm looking forward to a fun evening."
The Tigers (4-6) then will tip off against the Redskins (2-10, 0-7).
"Hopefully we can get a Tiger victory for them (1978-79 team)," Duckworth said.
Marietta High, which has dropped four in a row, is coming off a 52-20 setback at Claymont (11-2) Tuesday night. The Tigers were without Duckworth, who had eye surgery that day. Paxton filled in for him at the helm.
"We just ran into a buzz saw," Paxton said, "and shot poorly, and didn't get to the foul line. That's basketball."
MHS, which had no scorer in double digits, was led by Braden Riley and Corey Hill, who each had nine points.
Coshocton has also been struggling on the hardwood with no league wins thus far this winter. The Tom Hilgenberg-coached Redskins are led by Connor Roahrig, Sam Magness, and Dylan Brown.