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Post Game Interviews:

This closing is a series of interviews with athletes, who played in the NCO League. They were asked, "What they remembered about their NCO days."

Robert Castor (Ashland 1937) "It wasn't much of a golf league. Basketball was OK, but it was the days of the center jump, and we had Virg Scobey, who was 6 foot 4, and he was a real advantage."

Herb W. Carr Sr (Ashland 1937). He remembered the "red lantern" between Ashland and Mansfield, and he said, "We looked forward to eating at Carmel's in Galion as much as the games."
The popular restaurant was on the Northeast corner of the square from 1918-1945.

Johnny Hallabrin (Mansfield 1937). "It was a real balanced league and anyone in the league could beat you." He, also, remembered a long touchdown run that was called back for clipping.

Bud Plank (Ashland 1936) remembered, "that Mansfield invited Coach Red Longley and myself to be guests at their football banquet."

Jim Gebhardt (Bucyrus 1942) "Our junior year we only had a couple of seniors and everyone beat us, but we got experience. Our senior year we won the league in football and basketball. Marion was the team to beat. They had guys with whiskers. We had a sucker play where we let No. 66 come through and I blocked him out. (trap play) We made several long runs off the play."

Gerald Lindecamp (Ashland 1941) "We always ran the NCO track meet on the day of the Kentucky Derby, so we listened to it on the bus going home." At the new Galion track, "It was only 400 yards and it cut behind the football stands, some funny things went on back there." He ran in all four NCO meets. Also, as a basketball manager, he said, "When we played at the Marion Steam Shovel gym, the Erie railroad ran by it and the lights would go out when a train went by."

"Bud" Owen Creasap (Marion 1941) "I remember we started a string of six straight championships and that busted up the NCO. We had two coaches and the biggest player was 180 pounds. My junior year against Ashland was the hottest day I ever played, and I was the only player to play every play. The NCO was a very good league."

Harold Jenkins (Marion 1943) " I remember the players and the coaches. Ashland was the team to beat. They had Leo Strang and Bob Dove. We had them beat 14-0 and they came back, but they missed the kick. It ended 14-13." He also said, "It was a great league with alot of good ball players."

S.R. "Pete" Risser (Ashland 1941) could not play sports until his junior year because of The Depression. He said, "Our big win was the non-league game against Mansfield 7-6. In the league Bucyrus had speed and they ran a double wing which was hard to figure out who had the ball. In basketball we finished 4th but we had two players on first-team NCO Bob Howell and myself. Then we went to the State Tournament." Pete, also, remembered the games in Marion's Steam Shovel gym.

Mrs. Dan (Evelyn) Benham, Dan's widow, was a cheerleader for Bucyrus when he played. They both graduated in 1945. She remembered, "Dan ruined his knees in basketball. Also, we only had three feet of sidelines to cheer from, and one game was stopped when I yelled about a referee's call. They threatened to penalize our team if I didn't stay off the floor."

Glen Hartman (Shelby 1937) remembered the Marion Steam Shovel gym, "It was long and narrow and the seats were so close to the sidelines that you could hardly take the ball out-of-bounds.
We, also, played Mansfield to a double-overtime, one-point loss in a memorable game." Glen said, "I was 6-2 and the tallest other player I remembered was Reese from Bucyrus, who was 6-3."

Spiv Harris (Mt. Vernon News, Mar 6, 1945) wrote, "In football the Jackets ran into a long string of tough luck..An injury to Dwight Bumpus cost the 1937 Jackets the circuit title... Poor officiating and mud kept light Mt. Vernon teams from winning title games in 1936 and 1941."

David L. Lace (Galion Sports Historian) said, "Galion's first league was the North Central Ohio League. I graduated in 1953 and the league had ended in 1945. For years I've had coffee with 4 or 5 guys who played on the great 1937-38 championship teams. They still remembered the great competition and friendships they formed in those years. Like Larry Maidens, Gene Jacks, Bill Durtschi..Bill came back to coach Galion to NOL football championships in 1957 & 58. He also coached at Mansfield on Earl Bruce's staff before Bruce went to Ohio State."

Bill Dodge (Shelby 1944) said, "It was a good league. The War (WWII) shortened our schedule. We had an all-senior line that played together every year. One back was a senior, but all but five have died since, and we have sent flowers to every funeral. We remained close friends."

Vince Barr (Ashland 1940) when asked what he remembered about the NCO said, "Eddie Lore of Mt. Vernon. He was the greatest." Incidently, Vince broke Eddie's NCO scoring record.

Gary Lore, son of Eddie Lore (Mt. Vernon 1938), related that, "His Dad had died Feb 22, 2003. His Dad was offered a scholarship to Ohio State, but he wanted to go out of the state. He went to Southwest Missouri State Teachers College in Springfield, Missouri with his best friend Dwight Bumpus. They led the NCO in scoring their seniors years in basketball and football.

His Dad served in the Second World War and went into a coaching career. He ended up in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 22 years." His Dad said, "that he had two loves in sports: basketball and golf. In high school Eddie chose basketball because Gary's Grandpa had cancer and he could attend the basketball games, but he could not follow him on a golf course." When this author told Gary about the NCO Reunion on May 31st, Gary laughed and said, "My Dad was cremated and on that Sat. I am fufilling his last request to scatter his ashes on Twin Oaks Golf Course in Springfield, Missouri." Jim Spicer, a retired Mt. Vernon coach, mentioned that a string of Mt. Vernon athletes went on to SWM including Eddie's brother Peachy (Mt. Vernon 1945). A twist of fate was that Eddie Lore died on the day of Bob Castor's funeral (Ashland's greatest golfer).

Larry Maidens (Galion 1939) said, "The league changed when I was in school. We played Mansfield but they left the league. The Shelby game (38) is still the biggest attendance in Galion history. That game (plus a guy from Mansfield named Hoffman) was instrumental in getting me an All-Ohio recognition and a scholarship to Baldwin Wallace. Dave Lace is the guy to talked about that history stuff. He knows it.

More NCO Interviews:

Arthur Gorsuch (Ashland Principal and NCO Officer) said, "Jules Bohn and Bill McKee did more than anyone from Ashland to hold the league together. In fact Bill McKee was powerful enough to do it by himself."

Bob Dove (Ashland 1944) said. "It was a pretty good league for its time. Marion and Shelby were always tough for us. We had one of the best backfields with Bob Puglisi, who played at Great Lakes; Jim Shull, who played on that Lou Groza Ohio State freshman team; and Leo Strang, who coached at Kent State." John Longley, who was no longer coaching but refereeing at the time said, "It was one of the best high school backfields that he had seen in a while." Mr. Dove, also, said, "Marion had speed with Harold Jenkins and Belknap. There were plenty of good players in that league like Bumpus and Wright from Mt. Vernon, too."

Robert M. Baum (Ashland 1944) said, "The NCO was a good league for its time. It had a lot of competition especially Marion. I missed my senior year because of the service, but I never regretted that. Warren Strine and Bob Puglisi, also, went in the Armed Forces. We would have been tough our senior year. My junior year we scored two touchdowns in five minutes to tie Marion, but for some reason a referee called me for holding on the second extra point. That was sad remembrance."

Stan Kemery (Bucyrus 1941) said, "Winning the NCO in basketball was a big event. Mike Michael's Dad owned the Ohio Locomotive Crane, and he gave us a banquet at the hotel in Bucyrus. He gave each of us a trophy at the banquet. He, also, bought a big trophy for the high school with our names on it, but someone stole it and threw it in the dump. In those days it was different because for away games at Mt. Vernon or Ashland we rented a Greyhound bus, and we always stopped someplace to eat on the way home."

Paul Chorpening (Ashland 1939) reminisced, "Oh, I remember the players: Hockensmith in the Mansfield game, and Bliss from Shelby, Maidens from Galion, and Johnny Hallabrin and the Dials brothers from Mansfield - all outstanding. I still see Johnny occasionally. The friendships were long term in fact I'm just getting ready to go out and play golf with Bob Semler. We'll try and make this NCO Reunion."

Dick Denbow (Ashland 1946) said, "The league was very competitive except the last year when we ran away with it in basketball winning all ten games. They gave us a small, gold basketball with NCO Champs on it. Some of the guys gave it to their girlfriends to wear on a chain around their neck."

Paul "Jim" Midlam (Marion 1943) said, "I didn't remember the name of the league just the teams and the players. Ashland and Shelby were the tough teams. My senior year we were all going into the service and that was a major concern. The undefeated-unscored upon team my sophomore year was memorable. We ran the single-wing and Jenkins was an honest 10-flat in the hundred. Lawrence Daley was just a step behind him. Martin Lewis and Don Kay were really tough linemen. Kay coached at Marion Pleasant and had four state championship teams in a row. But, many of the guys from that era are now dead."

Jim Shull (Ashland 1942) said, "Ashland won the most basketball championships because of the YMCA. They had kids playing at all ages. The only schools that could compete with us had YCMA programs, too."

Ed Snook (Ashland 1938) remembered, "Vince Barr and I shot baskets year around at a Crisco can on a pole off 13th Street when we were young. I played at Y until I was 82, and I always thought that early training helped me maintain good health. Also, we shot one handers before we ever heard of Hank Luisetti because we didn't have a regulation ball."

Ted Jacobs (Ashland 1944) enthusiastically said, "That Reunion was great. The four guys that I sat with felt the same way. You know we learned exercise from our days as athletes, and I played basketball at the Y until I was 67. It was too bad we couldn't have had this sooner for all the guys who have passed away."

Other comments at the NCO Reunion: the Ashland and Marion alums, while discussing why they won championships, agreed that their hometown schoolboy leagues made them the best. Ashland had a "Kids League" with the four elementarys (grades 1-8) feeding the high school teams. Marion had a similar training ground for their athletes which was called the "Gray Y League."

Jeff Alan, WMFD's Sports Director interviewed Paul Dienstberger, who organized the NCO Reunion and wrote this NCO history, and asked him, "Didn't the NCO have some successful athletes?" He replied, "Yes! some first-team All-Ohioans were Earl Thomas, John Depler, and Leo Strang from Ashland, Johnny Hallabrin from Mansfield, and Larry Maidens from Galion. At least three guys made first-team All-American that I know of: Ashland's Paul "Beany" Johnson at Army, Bucyrus' Bob Monnett at Michigan State, and Mansfield's Inwood Smith at Ohio State. Plus Bob Monnett made the Green Bay Packer's Hall of Fame." (a connecting incident to the NCO Reunion was that Bob Monnett's widow Dorothy died the next day June 1st in Galion. She was 90.)

Guy Van Nostrand (Mt. Vernon assistant football coach - line in 1943) remembered, " I was an assistant at Mansfield for Paul Snyder (State Champs in 1941). The best back at Mt. Vernon was Bernard Lanning. My best lineman was Jim Beckholt. The Wright brothers were good backs too."

The NCO Reunion May 31, 2003:

In attendance from Ashland: Bud Plank, Vince Barr, Herb W. Carr Sr, Jim Shull, Bob Puglisi, Bob Dove, Ted Jacobs, and Ed Snook; from Bucyrus: Jim Gebhardt and Stan Kemery: from Shelby: Herb Hart, and from Marion: Owen Creasap and Harold Jenkins: and from Galion Larry Maidens.
Maidens, Creasap, and Gebhardt spoke about the NCO championship years during their playing days.

Sports historians, who helped on this history and were in attendance, included: Keith Kohler from Marion, Dan Messersmith from Bucyrus, and David Lace and Merl Kleinknecht from Galion. Also, Andrew Ebbeskotte, who was woring on the Crawford County basketball history, showed up.

Jim Ruth, Galion Athletic Director, who did a wonderful job of hosting the NCO Reunion, wrote, "Elaine and I had a great time. I was glad we were able to help in any way. It was exciting to see and hear all of the stories they shared throughout the day. I was truly blessed."

The former NCO players at The NCO Reunion

The former NCO players at The NCO Reunion

In the back row, from the left: Ed Snook (Ashland), Owen Creasap (Marion), Jim Shull (Ashland), Herb Hart (Shelby), Larry Maidens (Galion), Bob Dove (Ashland), Vince Barr (Ashland), and Bud Plank (Ashland).

The front row, from the left: Herb Carr Sr. (Ashland), Harold Jenkins (Marion), Jim Gebhardt (Bucyrus), Ted Jacobs (Ashland), Bob Puglisi (Ashland), and Stan Kemmery (Bucyrus)

The 2nd NCO Reunion June 4, 2005

The 2nd NCO Reunion was held at Galion High School June 4, 2005. It was again hosted by Galion AD Jim Ruth and his wife Elaine. David L. Lace of Galion spoke on the post NCO careers of six famous Bucyrus athletes: Bob Monnett, who is in the Green Bay Packer’s HOF; Carl Kaplanoff, who had a distinguished military spy career; Harry Linn Martin, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor; Dr. Edward Kenney, who was the US Navy Surgeon General at the autopsy of JFK’s assassination; Alex Kish, who was a player, coach, and administrator for which the BHS gym was named; and Walter (Wig) Pfeifer, who had a great career at Galion, Bucyrus, and Ashland College.

The second speaker was the NCO historian Paul R. Dienstberger, who reported on the updates to the league’s history since the 2003 Reunion. He announced the entire history was now on the Lincoln Highway web site, which included the Cardinal Conference and the Ohio Heartland Conference, too. He, also, pointed out that dedicatee Bill McKee had been elected to the Ashland County Hall of Fame and that the football scoring leaders were now complete. Finally, he gave a summary of his newest research which has the post season successes of the players and teams during the 26-year history of the NCO. The new section includes: OHSAA tournament achievements and the wire service All-Ohio selections and their statewide polls.

The former NCO athletes, who attended the Reunion are pictured below. Back row: left to right: Ed Snook (Ashland-38), Larry Maidens (Galion-39), Bob Fisher (Shelby-35), and Vince Barr (Ashland-40).

Front row l-r: Herb Carr (Ashland-37), Bud Plank (Ashland-36), Owen “Bud” Creasap (Marion-41), and Martin Lewis (Marion-42).