Thursday, September 18, 2008
Prep Football: Undefeated, untied and unscored upon
By MARK HEIMAN
The banging drum with the slow cadence shattered the deafening silence.
The date was Nov. 1, 1968 and a wake was being held at Cory-Rawson High School.
As the students filed out of the classroom to follow the beating drum, they continued the
silence that had been prevalent in the school throughout the afternoon.
"Nobody talked in the classes, not even the teachers. They wrote assignments and work
on the board," said Bob Abbey, who was a teacher and assistant football coach at the
school back then.
Of course, the silent afternoon had been approved by the school's principal.
"It was a big deal and it was pretty neat," said Jim "Spike" Berry, Cory-Rawson's football
coach, and principal, at the time.
"Fortunately, the football coach and the principal got along pretty well," Spike added
with a chuckle.
The quiet students slowly followed the beating drum to the gym, which then "exploded
into a huge pep assembly," according to Mike Inniger, a captain on Cory-Rawson's
football team, which was undefeated, untied and unscored upon that season in earning the
top state ranking in the United Press International poll.
That 1968 team will be honored Friday on its 40th anniversary with a halftime ceremony
at the Hornets' game with Vanlue.
As the students filed into the gymnasium tombstones with scores of each team that Cory-
Rawson had beaten to that point of the season were sitting in the gym.
But one score which stood out was from the 1967 season when McComb beat Cory-
Rawson 12-0 on C-R's home turf to stop an unbeaten season.
"We went out to the practice field and buried the score from the McComb game," Abbey
said. "One of the students was dressed like a preacher and we had a funeral for it."
That loss to McComb, which came in a driving rainstorm, was what propelled Cory-
Rawson into the 1968 season.
"The key to the season was the loss to McComb," Inniger said. "That loss gave us the
incentive to work harder in the off season.
"It was a combination of having good athletes and a coaching staff that was way ahead of
Berry had turned Cory-Rawson into a powerhouse and was assisted by Abbey, Lowell
Rossman and Jim Hammond. Abbey and Hammond had come on board in 1967, while
Rossman had been with Berry for a number of years.
After the raucous pep rally, Cory-Rawson drove over to McComb that evening to try to
complete the perfect season.
"McComb had on their scoreboard, 12-0, when we got over there," said Tom Meyer,
currently a teacher at Cory-Rawson and a junior defensive end/fullback on the '68 team.
"When we left it was 50-0 in our favor..."
The Hornets had completed the unscored upon streak to match the 1952 Cory-Rawson
team, which had pulled off the same feat.
"It kind of made you feel like a hero," Meyer said. "Here we were 17-, 18-year-old kids
and the adults would talk to you. It made you proud to represent them."
Berry would go on to win 212 games in his illustrious career, but obviously holds that
"That was a special group of kids. They were great people and very coachable," Berry
said. "They had fun and a great work ethic.
"Those seniors only lost one game in four years and the next year's group only lost one
game also. Winning was rather contagious for those kids."
Berry and Abbey, who remains as an assistant coach at Cory-Rawson, still refer to the 90
players from the team as "kids", although those players are in their late 50s.
To go undefeated in a football season is tough enough, but to keep the opponent out of
the end zone is almost unheard of.
"There is luck involved when you look at the quirks of fate that can happen — weather, a
safety, playing young kids on kickoff teams, a fumble, an interception," Berry said.
"But we, the coaches, did not feel pressure to keep the scoreless streak alive. The kids
Winning was the most important thing to the players, but the streak still lingered.
"(Shutting out teams) was a goal in the back of our minds," said Inniger, who is in his
first year of retirement after being in education for 35 years.
"We knew as the season progressed that we wanted to accomplish it.
"One time, I think the Hardin Northern game, Spike took out the starters. They completed
a pass out in the flat and the safety tackled the guy at about the 20. The starters just ran
back out on the field."
It worked as Hardin Northern obviously didn't score, which will allow Friday to be a
special time for that '68 team.
"Friday is going to be like Christmas," Berry said. "We'll get to listen and exchange war
"They have a lot to be proud of, going through four years of school and losing only one
"Every now and then I'll see one or two of them. I don't think we've all been together
since about the 15th or 20th reunion. So it will be really neat."
Saturday, September 20, 2008
C-R names field for 'Spike' Berry
By MARK HEIMAN
RAWSON — For 31 years Jim "Spike" Berry ran the show at Cory-Rawson High
From 1960-90, the legendary coach cranked out a 212-81-6 record on the gridiron.
In that span, which included 26 Blanchard Valley Conference seasons, Berry led the
Hornets to 10 BVC championships. Seven of those titles came in the BVC's first seven.
Cory-Rawson went on to win eight of the first nine BVC titles as the Hornets cranked out
a 76-4-1 record in those nine years.
Friday night Cory-Rawson honored its 1968 undefeated, untied and unscored team.
But there was a little more to the ceremony that Spike didn't know about.
At the conclusion of recognizing the 1968 squad, Cory-Rawson's football field was
named Spike Berry Field.
"I've been trying to do this for a while and it progressed slowly," said longtime and
current C-R assistant coach Bob Abbey, who coached with Spike from 1967-1990.
"But now it has worked out well. We had a good excuse (to get him here) with the '68
team and the fact that he's not coaching this year."
In addition to roaming the sidelines at Cory-Rawson, Berry had a huge part in building
the current field.
"We practiced on that field. It was full of stones and rocks, so we still played at Rawson,"
Abbey said. "But he started the boosters club and he got them to build the field."
The Hornets moved to the current field during the 1966 season in a game against Liberty-
Benton and have used it since.
"I want to name the field for Spike. He had his feet on the turf and not the stands, so we
wanted the field named for him," Abbey said.
In addition to serving as coach at Cory-Rawson, Spike was the school's longtime
principal and was heavily involved in the Ohio High School Football Coaches
Association, including two stints as president of the organization.
Tuesday, Sept 23.
A fitting tribute to Spike Berry
It may not be true, but it seems as if Jim “Spike” Berry knows everyone and everyone
knows Spike.So it's not hard for the former Cory-Rawson coach, principal and teacher to
strike up a conversation. That is what made last Friday a different day in Spike's life.
“I'm not often at a loss for words, but that time I certainly was,” Spike said Sunday. “I
really appreciate what they all did.
“It was a neat thing.”
What Spike was referring to is Cory-Rawson named its football field in his honor at
halftime of Friday night's game.
“It was .... awesome,” Spike said as he paused thinking of the right words. “It was ...
something that takes you and grabs you.
“I did not expect it. Half the state knew, but I didn't.”
The surprise dedication was built around the fact that Cory-Rawson's 1968 undefeated,
untied and unscored upon team, named the United Press International state Class A
champions, was being honored at halftime.
After the members of that team were announced, Spike was asked to step forward.
Spike's contributions to not only Cory-Rawson football, but to football in Ohio were read
before a canvas was pulled off the scoreboard. There at the top of the board were the
words “Spike Berry Field”.
“I was all excited because they were honoring the 1968 guys. Then I got bombarded,”
Spike said. “It was an emotional thing to be able to do it with the 1968 team there. Plus,
the fact (C-R coach) Andy Schafer and the kids got their first win.”
While Spike's family and a number of friends showed up, the crowd was made even
larger in that two of Cory-Rawson's classes had reunions over the weekend. The class of
1968 had a tailgate party, which Spike attended.
“I was totally in the dark. I was going to go to the game and then back home,” Spike said.
Going home after a football game is a tradition for Spike, who coached the Hornets for
31 years. He then was an assistant coach, most recently at Bluffton.
But he is obviously most well known for leading the Hornets to a 212-81-6 record over
31 seasons from 1960-90. In that time his teams won 10 Blanchard Valley Conference
championships, including the first seven and eight of the first nine. The league started in
“I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it, but I didn't miss two-a-days and some of the things
that you have to do now that you didn't back then,” Spike said. “But I certainly miss
“I do go to a game where ever I want to go. But a couple of weeks ago I did not go to a
game on Friday night for the first time I bet since fourth grade. Of course, I listened to
about three on the radio.”
But one of the more special Friday nights that Spike has attended, at least recently, was
last Friday at his old stomping grounds.
“It was a dream evening. It went well and too fast because there was not enough time to
visit with the guys that played back then. It did not seem like 40 years went by,” Spike
“Bob (Abbey) did a great job putting this together and a great number of people helped
Just like Spike has helped out many people in his years of association with football.