It’s been nearly 70 years since Vic Janowicz carried a football at Ely Stadium for the Pioneers but the former Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State will have his story told again, thanks to Larry Phillips.
“Vic’s story is so interesting,” said Phillips, whose recent book “Ohio’s Autumn Legends” has a chapter on Janowicz. “I’m sure a lot of Ohio State fans see his number up at the Horseshoe but don’t really know about him.”
Phillips’ book includes written mini-biographies of legendary players from all over the state while taking a look at Ohio football from a historical and national perspective.
“One of the highlights for me was talking to Vic’s brother Hank about his days at Elyria,” Phillips said. “Hank talked about Ohio State using Bing Crosby to call … during his recruitment. It was fascinating stuff.”
Hank is a legend in his own right. He has also been enshrined in the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame for his long officiating career in football and basketball. Hank helped donate and install the bust of his famous brother that stands outside the main entrance to the Elyria High’s new gymnasium. Vic won the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1950.
Vic led the Pioneers to an unbeaten season in 1947. The Pioneers were loaded. Not only did Vic star on that team but it also included Tony Curcillo, Don Gleisner and Ollie Glass — all Division I recruits. Curcillo joined Vic at Ohio State and became Woody Hayes’ first quarterback.
The highlight of Elyria’s season came in the final two games. The Pioneers smashed state-ranked and unbeaten Fremont Ross 39-7 before finishing the year by beating its heated rival, Lorain, 7-6 to win the prestigious Lake Erie League championship.
There were no playoffs in 1947 but Elyria was ranked second in the state behind only unbeaten Barberton.
Vic’s Ohio State career is legendary. Included in his exploits was the famous “Snow Bowl” against Michigan to close out the 1950 season. Although the Buckeyes lost 9-3 to finish second to the Wolverines in the Western Conference or Big Nine as it was called in those days, Vic played both ways, averaging 50 minutes a game. In the single-wing offense, he ran, passed, blocked, punted and kicked. Against Michigan, he kicked a 38-yard field goal in blizzard-type conditions.
Earlier in the season, he nearly single-handedly (and by foot) destroyed Iowa 83-21, being responsible for 46 points. He ran for one touchdown, returned a punt 61 yards for another, passed for four more and kicked 10 extra points. Many felt that game and the fact he managed to kick a field goal under horrendous weather conditions against Michigan earned him the Heisman.
Phillips brings to life many more legendary Ohio football heroes including Roger Staubach — better known for his exploits with Navy and later the Dallas Cowboys. Staubach was born in Cincinnati and played high school ball at Cincinnati Purcell.
Phillips also tells the story of Pete Henry. Many longtime fans of the old Buckeye Conference surely remember Pete Henry Gym at Mansfield Senior High. It’s named after Henry, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who played both offensive tackle and defensive end for the Canton Bulldogs. Phillips points out that Henry, a native of Mansfield, was supposed to have kicked two 50-yard field goals from a drop-kick formation in the 1920s for the Bulldogs.
There are many more stories and characters that Phillips sheds new light on in his book, including Paul Brown, Paul Warfield, Archie Griffin, Chic Harley, Marion Motley and Chris Spielman among others. He’s bringing out a second edition later this year.
Included in the book are many outstanding color illustrations by renowned illustrator Oscar Hinojosa.
“Frankly, Oscar’s original artwork of the Legends is worth the price of the book alone,” Phillips said. “Seeing these guys in color from their high school days, there simply isn’t color art available of many of them, until now.”
Keith Publications has printed the book in hardback and paperback and it is available at Amazon.com.
“It’s a wonderful read, bringing these Legends of the game to stirring life,” said Ray Dyson, veteran editor for Keith Publications. “Football fan or not, you’re going to enjoy this.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.