As rivalries go, Springfield North and South had it going on as good as any in the state for its time in the spotlight. Football games at Evans Stadium on Clifton Avenue were a must-see event. Growing up to be a celebrated Panther or Wildcat was a handed-down and expected tradition.
North always seemed to be in catch-up mode to South in football, especially during the Panthers’ early years. North head coaches Ron Deem, Mickey Hannon, Mike Larsen, Rick Robertson and many more oversaw the Panthers’ program, first in the Western Ohio League, then in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.
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Making that happen were some of the best athletes in Springfield city history. Robertson was in charge when North earned its first postseason spot following an 8-2 season in 1988. Unable to land the South head coach position, Robertson instead flourished at North, posting the program’s best record of 44-27-1 from 1984-90. Jim Dimitroff guided North to its first WOL title in 1992.
But in the end, North and South would join the ranks of Fairborn Park Hills and Baker, Fairmont East and West, Piqua Catholic and all the Dayton City League members that were afflicted with suburban flight: Kiser, Patterson Co-op, Fairview, Roosevelt, Roth and Wilbur Wright.
Opened in 1960, North football players were unmistakable in their scarlet and navy on white colors. North and South merged back into the second version of Springfield High School in 2008. The original North school was leveled and replaced by a new building, still anchored at the Home Road site.
Here’s who we consider the all-time seven best football players at Springfield North High School, the 17th in a continuing series. Have something to say about this alphabetical list? Email your comments and photos of these players to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: Springfield, Clark County.
Affiliation: None; merged with South in 2008 to become Springfield High School.
1. Myron Bacon, WR, Class of 1989: An original speedy and game-changing Smurf. Listed at a generous 5-feet-7 and maybe 135 pounds, Bacon was a big-time reason why North went 8-2 in 1988 and qualified for the postseason for the first time. Robertson and teammates pleaded with Bacon’s mother to let her beloved but slight burner play football. Once she relented, the program experienced a major hike in quick-strike ability.
North couldn’t prevent Wayne from winning the second of four straight WOL titles in 1988. North (8-2) also was a heavy underdog in a first-round game at Lima Senior. Bacon returned a kickoff for a TD and had several key catches in a 17-13 upset of the Spartans.
Bacon still ranks among Ohio’s all-time best sprinters, having run the 100 meters in 10.63 seconds. That landed him a track and field scholarship at Cincinnati, where he had planned to also walk on to the football team but couldn’t without it costing the Bearcats an athletic scholarship. Instead he stuck with track, going 10.40 in the 100 and 24-1 in the long jump.
2. Derrick Buford, RB/LB, 1988: Among Springfield’s finest athletes in any era, which is saying a lot. If Bacon was the Smurf, Buford was an original and goggled man/child, standing 6-3 and about 215 pounds as a sculpted sophomore. Also deceptively fast and had tremendous hops. Provided another option in a loaded backfield and especially excelled defensively. First team All-Ohio as a senior linebacker.
Also a three-year starter in basketball for coach Don Henderson as a proven scorer and rugged rebounder. Set a North record in the high jump (6-7). Lettered in football for four seasons at Eastern Michigan.
3. Rick Chamberlin, RB/LB, 1975: Most people know Rick as the guy who succeeded Mike Kelly as the University of Dayton head football coach. But long before that he stuffed an abundance of blond curls into a Panthers helmet. A three-time All-City selection and the Springfield player of the year as a senior.
Took his game to a new level at UD. A four-year letterman at LB (1975-78), he was a first team All-American as a senior, the first Flyer defensive player to be so honored. Finished with 385 total tackles and led UD in stops as a junior (115) and senior (121). A key reason for UD qualifying for its first NCAA D-III postseason in 1978. Inducted into the UD athletic hall of fame in 1989.
In his 10th season as the Flyers’ head coach. In all, he’s been with the UD program as a player, assistant coach and head coach for 42 years.
4. Ty Myers, QB/RB/DB, 1999: A multi-talented threat who accounted for eight TDs in one game, running and throwing for four each. Two-time All-WOL selection. As a senior defensive back was All-City, All-Area, All-Southwest District and All-Ohio.
Grew into a 6-4, 237-pound linebacker at Illinois, where he played in 43 career games with 123 tackles. As an Illini sophomore he had two picks against Ohio State, returning one for a TD.
Signed with San Diego as a free agent LB in 2004. That all-around ability would serve him well with the Rock River Raptors in Rockford, Illinois, and their first season in the United Indoor Football Association in 2006.
5. Larry Nickels, WR/DB, 1969: A shining star during the Panthers’ early years in the WOL. Also a champion sprinter. Elevated his game to the next level at Dayton from 1970-72, an era when the Flyers regularly sent RB Gary Kosins off tackle with NCAA record carries.
Playing for future 49ers GM John McVay, Nickels was the Flyers’ MVP as a senior in 1972 with a then-school record 44 catches for 706 yards, the team’s first WR to be so honored. Ended career as UD’s all-time leader in catches (99) and receiving yards (1,376). Final UD game had 10 catches – still tied for the program’s best – and 186 yards vs. East Carolina.
Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1972. Longtime North High School principal.
6. Eddie Stinnett, RB/LB, 1980: The first of many great runners in the Panthers’ backfield and one of many Stinnetts who have excelled in sports in the Springfield area. All-Ohio as a 6-foot, 211-pound senior for coach Mike Larsen.
An honorable mention All-American at Snow junior college in Utah. That got the attention of BYU, where he was a fixture in the backfield from 1982-83. Hampered by a knee injury as a Cougars junior, but still managed four catches from QB Steve Young vs. Ohio State in a 47-17 Holiday Bowl loss.
As a senior averaged 8.6 yards per carry and tallied eight TDs. More of a threat out of the backfield with 50 catches for 458 yards and another score. In two BYU seasons rushed for 742 yards and nine TDs and added 64 catches for 585 yards and two more scores.
Final BYU game was a 21-17 defeat of Missouri in the 1983 Holiday Bowl in which he scored on a 33-yard TD strike from Young. Besides throwing for that score, Young also ran for a TD and had a TD catch, a rare and significant feat.
7. Jabbar Threats, OL/DL, 1993: At 6-6 and 245 pounds, a long and devastating run blocker and shutdown defender. Initially attended Garden City JC in Kansas, then landed at Michigan State for then-coach Nick Saban. Anchored at defensive end with the Spartans.
Signed as a free agent with Jacksonville and played with the Jaguars for the 1997-98 seasons.
Mike Davis, RB/DB, 1990: Another power back with speed. Suffered a split kneecap in the first quarter of his first game as a senior. Still impressed enough for Tim Murphy to lure him to UC. It was as a Bearcat that Davis excelled as a corner. Still ranks among UC’s all-time best sprinters in the indoor 55 meters (6.10), outdoor 100 (10.57) and 4x100 relay (40.81).
Taken in the fourth round by Houston in 1994. Played in all 16 games with the Oilers that season and three more with the Browns in 1995. Employed in security by Springfield City Schools and also is the Wildcats boys track and field coach.
Will Castleberry, RB/DB, 1997; Vince Corner, RB/DB, 2007; Joey Howard, OL/DL, 1984; C.J. McDavid, WR/DB, 1993; Nick Myers, OL/DL, 1997; Shannon Ragland, RB/DB, 1991; Daniel Smith, OL/DL, 2004; Ralph Stanley, OL/DL, 1986; Jeff Stockdale, RB/LB, 1986; Steve Victoria, OL/DE, 1989; John Wagner, OL/LB, 1991; Chris Wallace, QB (played at North in 1990 and South in 1991-93); Jim West, RB/DB, 1972.
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