By Dean Eversole
Sitting near the Indiana border tucked in between rolling fields of wheat and silos is St. Henry, Ohio. A town of just over 2,000 people, it is the perfect representation of America's heartland.
At first glimpse there isn't much to separate it from other towns found up and down Ohio, that is, until you take notice of the two giant signs standing guard on the outskirts of town.
Glowing like billboards on Times Square, the signs mark the state team titles, 18 in total, won by the St. Henry Redskins prep sporting teams.
Often mistaken for a parochial school, St. Henry is a public facility and they have become one of the premier small-school powers in Ohio prep sports. Since winning its first team title in boys basketball in 1979, the Redskins have added 17 more titles.
Since that first title the Redskins have won three more basketball titles, ranking them among the leaders for most won in OHSAA history. The trophy gathering may have started on the hardcourt, but it quickly expanded to other sports.
The girls volleyball team followed suit with a string of titles in the late 1980's and early 1990's. In total the Lady Skins have captured six titles. They have also captured 25 conference titles, making them the New York Yankees of Ohio volleyball.
Yet for St. Henry, members of the Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC), and their fans, the crown jewels are the schools' five football titles. The Redskins took their first title in 1990 and repeated the feat in 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2004. The boys baseball team has chipped in with three titles in 1998, 1999 and 2003, rounding out the eighteen titles.
Looking at it from afar, one surely wonders how a town of this size has been able to dominate the Ohio sports world. The answer may lie with a gentleman by the name of Wally Post.
Post was a native of St. Henry and a major league baseball player, but perhaps more important he was the first in a long line of professional and collegiate athletes to emerge from this tiny town.
Following Post, who spent his retirement in St. Henry, was Jim Lachey who played at Ohio State and eventually the NFL. Lachey was a crucial piece of Joe Gibbs' bruising attack at Washington, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1990. He now works as the color analyst for the Buckeyes.
After Lachey, the flood gates opened and the Division I athletes poured out of St. Henry. Bobby Hoying won Ohio's 1990 Mr. Football and was the starting quarterback for Ohio State. His brother Tommy Hoying followed him, also donning the famed, sticker-covered Buckeye helmet.
Jeff Hartings, who played with the elder Hoying at St. Henry, chose Penn State and was a starter on the 1994 Rose Bowl championship team. Hartings is currently the starting center for the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
The list continues today as Todd Boeckman waits his turn to become the Buckeye signal caller spot. Steve Sutter will likely be the starting defensive end for the Miami, Ohio Redhawks. Kris Moorman is a member of the Ohio State baseball team and Kurt Huelsman is headed to the University of Dayton to play for the Flyers' basketball squad.
There is no end in sight to the crop of elite athletes coming out of St. Henry. Even today, somewhere a future Redskin's face gleams with every passing glimpse of the championship banners, hoping someday their team will be added to that list.