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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2005

Sidelines: Knights Cromwell to enter Ohio football coaches hall of fame

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

St. Francis de Sales head football coach Dick Cromwell, who guided the Knights to two state championships 17 years apart, will be inducted into the Ohio High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 22 at the Ohio State University coaches clinic at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

I guess this is something that you don t really strive for, Cromwell said, but something you look at when you re a young coach and say, That would be nice to be a part of someday.

It s a great honor, and it s nice to be recognized by your peers and be a part of a great group of high school football coaches in the state.

Cromwell, 57, who starred in three sports at Medina High School, began his teaching and coaching career after quarterbacking Ohio Wesleyan University to conference championships in 1967 and 68.

He was an assistant at OWU and then at Kettering Fairmont before taking the head coaching job at Olmsted Falls (26-11-1 record, 1975-78). He will take a 220-96-2 career record (at three schools) into his 30th season as a head coach next fall.

His first stint at St. Francis (1979-1984) was capped with a Division I state championship, with the 12-1 Knights beating North Canton Hoover 17-14 on a late field goal in the title game at Ohio Stadium.

After a sub-par stay at Findlay High School (17-23 record, 1985-88), Cromwell returned to St. Francis in 1990. His Knight teams are 177-62-1 over his 21 total seasons at the school, have won 11 City League championships and have earned 12 state playoff berths, posting a 15-10 playoff record.

Fittingly, Cromwell will be presented at the induction by Craig Schaefer, the defensive coordinator for 17 of Cromwell s 21 seasons at St. Francis.

Craig s been a big part of a lot of those victories, and one of the main reasons the head coach gets recognized, said Cromwell, who was nominated by Waite High School coach John Johnson.

I told J.J. I didn t want to be nominated until after I retired, but he went against my wishes, Cromwell said. But my wife [Kathy] said that was good because Now I don t have to wheel you up there in a wheelchair, or accept it for you after you re dead.

Cromwell guided St. Francis to its second state title in 2001, with the 13-1 Knights beating Columbus Bishop Watterson 28-14 in the Division II state final in Massillon. His 1982 Knight squad was a D-II state runner-up, and his 12-2 team of 2002 lost in the D-II state semifinals to eventual champion Dayton Chaminade-Julienne.

Cromwell is one of five coaches to be inducted into the OHSFCA Hall this year, including former Lima Senior coach Leonard Rush.

Rogers senior lineman Steve Gawronski will be the lone Toledo representative for the Ohio all-stars against the Pennsylvania squad in the 48th annual Big 33 Football Classic July 23 at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa.

The 6-3, 295-pound Gawronski, an offensive and defensive lineman the past three years for Rams head coach Rick Rios, will play at the University of Cincinnati.

Jared Martin, a speedy 6-1, 175-pound quarterback/defensive back from Clyde, is the only other Big 33 Ohio all-star from northwest Ohio. Martin has also signed to play at Cincinnati.

The annual Big 33 game pits some of the top graduated seniors from Ohio and Pennsylvania high schools against each other each July.

Last summer, the Ohio squad coached by St. John s Jesuit head coach Doug Pearson, topped their border rivals at Hershey with current Ohio State standout Ted Ginn Jr. (Cleveland Glenville) playing a pivotal role.

This year s head coach for the Ohio all-stars is Steve Channell of Trenton Edgewood. Ed Nasonti of Bellevue will serve as one of Channell s five assistants.

Nine of the 33 Ohio all stars are headed for Ohio State, and the team includes Northwestern-bound Tyrell Sutton, the record-setting a 5-9, 195-pound running back from Akron Hoban, who was named 2004 Mr. Football in Ohio by the Associated Press.

Sutton, the state s all-time leading rusher with 9,426 yards on 1,090 carries, scored 117 touchdowns during his four-year career.

He had 3,232 yards on 354 carries and scored 38 TDs as a senior, including games of 505 and 406 yards, respectively, against state powers Youngstown Ursuline and Warren Harding.

Sutton s coach at Hoban was former Cardinal Stritch coach Ralph Orsini.

Former longtime Delta wrestling coach Robin Rayfield was recently inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame, receiving that prestigious honor on Feb. 26 in a ceremony that preceded the finals of the state wrestling tournament.

It s very satisfying to get in because it s picked by your peers, Rayfield said. I look at the guys I went in with and they re all great coaches, so that s great to be included in that group.

Rayfield, 48, currently the superintendent of Swanton schools, had an outstanding run while coaching at Delta from 1985 through 2002, leading the Panthers to four state team championships, five district crowns and eight Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles.

Including a state runner-up finish in 1997, the Panthers had eight top-10 team finishes at state under Rayfield.

He guided Delta to its first state title in Division III in 1989, then led the Panthers to three more state championships, winning in 1996, 1998 and 1999. In his 18 seasons as Delta coach, Rayfield posted a 203-34 dual-meetrecord, and coached 11 individual state champions.

Rayfield also served as athletic director and then principal at Delta, and was a member of the Pike-Delta-York school board for one year.

After he earned his doctorate in educational administration from the University of Toledo in 2000, Rayfield worked as a UT professor for four years before taking the Swanton post last August.

The Perrysburg graduate won an individual state wrestling championship at 112 pounds in 1974. He later wrestled at UT, where he earned his undergradute degree in education in 1978.

I was fortunate at Delta to have the time to build the program, and to get cooperation from a lot of people who helped build it, Rayfield said. Once we built it, we were always able to stay near the top at the state tournament.

Central Catholic s JessicaMinnfield has been named Division I player of the year by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association.

Minnfield, a 5-6 senior, averaged 14.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 4.5 steals per game for the 18-4 Irish, capping her four-year career.

She was named All-Ohio, All-City and All-Blade first team, Associated Press district co-player of the year and District 7 Coaches Association player of the year.

Minnfield will play at the University of Michigan next season, joining 2003 Central Catholic graduade Kelly Helvey.



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