Tony Godbolt Sr. always remembered the promise his son made as a youngster. “When he was 10 years old, he wore glasses and was a real skinny kid,” Tony Sr. said.
“He said he was going to play football and win the Golden Helmet. I didn’t think so but the night they presented him with the Golden Helmet, he called me up on the stage and said, ‘Dad, this is for you.’ I was so speechless. He leaned over and said ‘I told you so.’”
The award goes to the top senior football player in Lorain County.
“I still have the trophy he won,” Godbolt Sr. said.
Tony Godbolt Jr. will join his father as part of an exclusive fraternity of father-son combinations to be honored with induction into the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame. Frank and Bill Mrukowski and Doug and Greg Jones are the others.
Godbolt Jr. will join wrestling state champion Dan Mitcheff, track state champion Tammy Derrico Porter, soccer professional Dasan Robinson, All-Ohio volleyball player Kelly Ruth Mahon and the unbeaten 1979 EHS football team as members of the class of 2019 which will be enshrined May 4 at the Spitzer Center at Lorain County Community College.
Jo Jo Guyeska will be honored with the Distinguished Service Award.
“I’m really proud,” Tony Sr. said. “Not only because of his sports ability, but he’s a good son, an excellent son. He takes care of his parents. He’s very thoughtful.”
As a football player at Elyria High School, Godbolt Jr. set a record that will never be broken, although it has been tied many times. He scored on a 99-yard run at Vermilion on his way to a record-setting 303 yards rushing in 1989.
Mark Montoya intercepted a pass to stop a Vermilion drive at the 1-yard line, Godbolt Jr. recalled, with Elyria clinging to a 21-19 lead.
“We all thought it was a touchback but the referee put the ball on the 1,” Godbolt Jr. said. “Once I hit the line of scrimmage, I was never touched on that play.”
Godbolt Jr. praised Ralph Yarber and Aaron Coates for clearing the path for him.
“Those guys opened that hole up and that was it,” he said. “It was just a track meet and I felt I was going to win.”
“He broke through and that safety didn’t have an angle and he went right in front of Ralph (Mayer, Vermilion’s longtime coach),” said Jeff Riesen, Elyria’s coach at the time. “That’s a helpless feeling for a coach. I’m sure Ralph wanted to jump out and trip him. He went 99 yards — unbelievable. Once he cleared the first 10 yards, it was a no-doubter — gone — because everybody was so bunched up.”
Mayer still remembers the play.
“We were going to try and stop them and make them punt from there and get good field position,” said Mayer, now retired and living in Florida. “He was an amazing back, one of the best backs we faced in my career and we played against some good ones.”
Godbolt Jr. also had a 54-yard TD run to give the Pioneers the lead in the fourth quarter.
“It was a third-down play,” Godbolt Jr. said. “I didn’t want to lose to Vermilion. There was something about that school that I really got up for them. I wanted to win and we were down at the time. They called the play over the left tackle, the guys up front made some great blocks and I think (Vermilion) had an all-out blitz on the play. They couldn’t block everybody but they did their job so I had to do my job and break some tackles and score.”
“I think I called a sweep to the left and he went all the way to the sideline and probably had a minimal gain at best,” Riesen said. “There were two or three Vermilion kids and at least two had a hold of him.
“He would always pump his knees — I mean really high — and he was able to shake loose from those kids and then went right down the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown. It really ignited our bench. Anytime you played Ralph, you knew you were really going to have to beat them on their own field. He wasn’t going to give it away.”
“He was not only fast, but he was powerful,” Mayer said of Godbolt Jr.
But it was the 99-yarder that sealed the 28-19 victory.
“He was gone by the time he hit the 10-yard line,” said Tim Alcorn, WEOL’s longtime play-by-play announcer. “It was incredible to watch him pull away from everybody. It was kind of like Secretariat at the Belmont. When he hit the goal line, I don’t know if there was a guy within 40 yards of him.”
That highlight isn’t Godbolt’s favorite high school memory, however. That one was more personal.
“To cap off my career at Elyria, I got to be on the field with my brother,” he said.
It came against Lorain in the 1989 season finale. He lined up in the backfield with his younger brother Steve, a sophomore. Elyria beat its biggest rival 40-7 to wrap up an 8-2 season.
“We went about 50 yards in about four or five plays and he led the blocking on my last touchdown, which was pretty special,” Godbolt Jr. said of Steve, who died in March of 2017. “I was always grateful to Coach Riesen for making that happen.”
Elyria finished second to Sandusky in the Erie Shore Conference in 1988 and tied the Blue Streaks for the championship in 1989.
Godbolt Jr. finished with 1,472 yards and scored 96 points in 1989 and won the Golden Helmet. His 2,879 career rushing yards ranked second all time at Elyria when he graduated and is sixth now. He also played some defense, returning an interception 78 yards against North Ridgeville for his third touchdown of the game. He also had two long kick returns for touchdowns.
But with all the glory and the great games, Godbolt Jr. always took time to praise his teammates.
“That was the nice thing about Tony,” Riesen said. “He was a humble young man. We see it with the pros how they react when they score a touchdown but Tony was always one that would hand the ball to the official … the old thing that I probably got from my father, ‘Act like you’ve been there.’ Tony always did that. Never showed the other team up.
“He always congratulated the kids and I do remember him complimenting the O-line, and rightfully so, saying ‘Without them, I wouldn’t be getting this award.’ I was pleased with Tony and I was pleased with everyone in that room.”
Godbolt Jr. hopes he gets a chance to see and thank his many teammates from his days at Elyria High.
“There wasn’t one teammate — I loved everybody,” he said. “Those are my guys and we tried to go to battle and win football games on Friday night. Playing football at Elyria is something special.”
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