Tag: <span>John McVay</span>


John McVay, Wall of Champions

John McVay always wanted to be a football coach.  You see, he was drawn to the profession when he saw first-hand the stability provided by some great leaders in the sport, specifically Massillon head coach Chuck Mather and Miami of Ohio coaches Woody Hayes and Ara Parseghian.  But eventually he would become much more than that.  Not only did McVay coach in the high school, college and professional arenas, he also served as general manager at the highest level, enjoying tremendous success in the process.  Here is his story.

John McVay was born on January 5, 1951, in Bellaire, Ohio, and moved shortly afterward to Massillon.  It was there in Tigertown that he received his first exposure to organized football.  His first two years of varsity play were under Coach Bud Houghton.  But his senior season saw a change in leadership when Chuck Mather arrived in town.  Mather’s tutelage provided the spark that would eventually launch McVay’s long career in football.

During McVay’s first season, which was his final year in high school, Mather fashioned a 9-1 record and a first place finish in the Associated Press state poll, ahead of Canton McKinley, which also finished 9-1.  John McVay was instrumental in this success and was named for his efforts as 2nd Team All-Ohio at the center position.  But McVay was also a good student at Massillon, as he was accepted into the National Honor Society.

College found him at Miami of Ohio, where he played his first two years under Woody Hayes.  Hayes finished 9-1 during his second year and then departed for Ohio State.  In came Ara Parseghian who, during McVay’s final two years there, recorded 15 wins in 19 starts.  Again McVay was right in the mix.  A 2-time MVP for Miami, McVay was also selected as All-Mid-American Conference center and served during his senior year as team captain.  With an education degree under his belt, he would later earn a Master’s Degree in School Administration at Kent State.

Now it was time for his dream job; i.e., coaching football.  After serving as an assistant at Lancaster High School for three years, McVay landed his first head coaching assignment at Franklin High School in 1956.  Although his team struggled during his only year there, he was able to return home the following year to assume the head reigns at Canton Central Catholic, a position he held for five years.  While there, McVay fashioned a fine record of 41-7, including a 9-1 mark in 1959, when his team finished 7th in the state.  When he departed, he was the winningest coach ever at Central.  Today, McVay is honored with a scholarship in his name.

McVay’s success at Central was notable and he was able to jump then to college.  His first stop was Michigan State University, where he served under legendary coach Duffy Daugherty.  Three years later, in 1965, he was hired as head coach at the University of Dayton.  During his eight years there, he recorded a record of 37-41-3, finishing 8-2 in 1962, which was one of the best marks in the Flyers’ history.

The World Football League, a short-lived venture started in 1974, called on McVay to coach Memphis.  He immediately signed three standout athletes from the Miami Dolphins that were nearing the ends of their playing careers in order to bolster attendance.  They included Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick (two are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame).  At Memphis, McVay finished a respectable 24-7, good enough to be named head coach of the New York Giants the following year.  He coached there for three seasons, which were his final years as a coach.  Following a 20-year span of head coaching assignments, McVay had won 117 games against 85 losses and 6 ties.

But he wasn’t done with football just yet.  In 1979, McVay was hired by the San Francisco 49ers to become Vice President and General Manager, a position he held for 18 years.  Under his leadership, McVay stocked the team with some outstanding players, including Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley and Fred Dean.  In all, he brought in some 50 players who were later selected as All-Pro.  But his crowning achievement was the five Super Bowl Championships captured by the 49ers during his tenure.  Coach Bill Walsh once said, “It’s quite possible that the 49ers would not have won five Super Bowls had it not been for John McVay.”

And the beat goes on.  His grandson, Sean McVay, is the current head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

McVay has been inducted into the following halls of fame:

  • Massillon High School Wall of Champions, 1963 (charter member)
  • Massillon High School Distinguished Citizen, 1996
  • Massillon High School Tiger Football  Hall of Fame, 2016
  • Stark County, Ohio, High School Hall of Fame, 2005
  • Miami of Ohio University Football Red Hawks, 1977
  • San Francisco 49ers, 2013
  • San Francisco Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, 2018

John died on November 1, 2022, in Granite Bay, California.

Can the Pro Football Hall of Fame be far off for John McVay?

Mike Riordan provided the materials for this story.

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1996: Massillon 20, Cincinnati Moeller 15

Tigers are too legit to quit

Repository sports writer

MASSILLON ‑ The Game lived up to its hype.

So did the Massillon Tigers.

When it was gut‑check time, the Tigers laid it on the line against Cincinnati Moeller Saturday night in The Repos­itory Game of the Week.

The unlikeliest of heros ‑ a second‑string fullback ‑ led the top‑ranked Tigers to a 20‑15 win over perennial pain‑in‑the‑neck Moeller.

Program Cover

Junior fullback Dave Hodg­son broke a 74‑yard trap play that hit Moeller like a sledge­hammer as the Tigers defeated the Crusaders for the second year in a row in front of 13,102.

“I never would have expected (Hodgson) would be the guy that decided this game,” Massillon head coach Jack Rose said. “Dave has some speed. It was an unbelievable run.”

Beating Moeller finally gave Massillon the “L” it has been searching for: Legitimacy.

“It seems like we haven’t got­ten a lot of respect lately,” said Rose, whose players noticed they were 6‑3 underdogs in The Repository.

“I think they deserve it,” Moeller head coach Steve Klonne said. “Rankings are rankings and they don’t mean a thing unless you play like the No. 1 team in the state come the playoffs.”

The win against No. 7 Moeller will assure Massillon of keeping its No. 1 ranking by the Assoc­iated Press. Depending how Massillon’s opponents did over the weekend, the win should help the Tigers in their quest to break Cleveland St. Ignatius’ computer‑point record of 450.45 last year. The Tigers should have close to 300 with two weeks left to play.

The victory all but assures Massillon of a playoff spot, too. It didn’t come easy, though.

It was a game of momentum swings and emotional highs and lows.

When it looked like Massillon fans would have to sit through the final two minutes of torture and possibly watch one of those famous Moeller comebacks, the Crusaders ended that night­mare.

Massillon’s Eric Lightfoot punted to the Crusaders with less than three minutes to play. However, Moeller’s Tony Ham­ilton had already fumbled away one punt in the first half.

He did it again when the gamer mattered most.

“I really feel sorry for the play,” Klonne said. “It happen­ed to him twice. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We had a lot of mistakes.”

Moeller fumbled the ball five times and lost three of those. The two teams combined for eight fumbles in a constant mist.

Not rain, snow, nor a brick wall could have brought down the 5‑foot‑8, 180‑pound Hodg­son.

Hodgson took the trap hand­off, which had been very suc­cessful against Moeller all night, broke three tackles near line of scrimmage, and out­ran Moeller to the end zone.

“I’m the second‑string full­back,” Hodgson said, “there wasn’t anything or anyone that was going to stop me once I got going. I really had myself be­lieving I could run through a brick wall.”

Massillon didn’t do itself any favors as soon as the game started. On the first play from scrimmage, Tigers’ tailback Christian Morgan fumbled at the Massillon 14.

Moeller took a 6‑0 lead when Tom Pucke scored from a yard out. The PAT was blocked.

“That’s not the kind of start we had in mind,” Rose said.

Massillon then put together an 11~play‑drive that stalled at the Moeller 49. After a Massil­lon punt, the Crusaders had the ball in their own 5. Three plays later, Massillon defensive back Josh Kreider picked off a Ryan Cooper pass at the. seven and took it in for the first Massillon score. Josh Hose’s PAT gave Massillon a 7‑6 lead.

Massillon took a 13‑9 lead when the Tigers silenced a gambling Moeller defense that sent defensive ends almost every play. Massillon quarter­back Ben Hymes, sprinted to his left, and handed off to tail­back Elijah Blake, who took the sprint draw play 35 yards for the Tigers’ TD. That drive took Massillon all of 28 seconds to go 73 yards.

Moeller’s Pucke also had field goals of 32 and 45 yards that made the score 13‑12 Mas­sillon at halftime. He nailed a 46 yarder that had plenty of dis­tance in the fourth.

“I have to give our defense a lot of credit,” Rose said. “They won this one.”

The Massillon defense held Moeller to 240 total yards, 96 in the second half.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Klonne said. “Massillon deserves credit. They were opportunistic.”

at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Cincinnati Moeller 6 6 0 3 15
Massillon 7 6 0 7 20

Mo ‑ Price 1 run (kick failed)
Ma ‑ Kreider 10 interception return (Hose kick)
Mo ‑ FG Pucke 32
Ma ‑ Blake 35 run (run failed)
Mo ‑ FG Pucke 45
Ma ‑ Hodgson 74 run (Hose kick)
Mo ‑ FG Pucke 46

Team statistics

Massillon 40‑208,
Moeller 39‑147.

Massillon 4‑10‑0,26 yards;
Moeller 8‑20‑1, 93 yards.

First downs:
Massillon 10,
Moeller 14.

Massillon 3,1;
Moeller 5‑3.

Massillon 8‑0;
Cincinnati Moeller 6‑2.

Paul Salvino