Barberton can lay claim to the title of “Quarterback High” among Summit County high school football programs. The tradition started in the early part of the twentieth century when Lew Sickler played the position of Quarterback for Akron University. Since then, many more have added to Sickler’s legacy of quarterback greatness for the Magics.
There were Mark Scarr and Scot Loeffler. Scarr quarterbacked the Magics to the 1947 state championship and Loeffler is the current head football coach at Bowling Green. After graduation, both took their talents to the Big Ten Conference to play for the Michigan Wolverines. There were Bob Stimac and Ron Mollric who both played for Kent State. Stimac quarterbacked the Golden Flashes to their very first bowl game, The Refrigerator Bowl, in 1954. There were Dick Hunter and Tom Dimitroff who both played for Miami Ohio. Hunter was named All Mid American Conference in 1954 and Dimitroff earned that honor in both 1955 and 1956. The First Team All-MAC Quarterback was a Barberton graduate for those three consecutive years. Hunter would later be the head football coach at Wadsworth High and would serve as an assistant coach to Bo Schembechler at both Miami and Michigan. Dimitroff held numerous coaching positions including head coaching jobs in both the Canadian Football League and at Guelph University in Canada. He also played professionally as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League and in the old AFL with the New York Titans(Jets) and the Boston Patriots, now known as the New England Patriots.
George Izo was an All-American at Notre Dame, made the cover of Sports Illustrated, was the second overall pick in the 1960 National Football League Draft and was the first overall pick in the 1960 AFL Draft he also threw a 99 yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns in 1963. Izo played seven seasons in the NFL.
Ken Sennett was the quarterback who never lost; Barberton never lost a game that Sennett played in. Among his greatest triumphs were the 14-14 tie with the unbeatable Garfield Rams in 1963; the 7-6 victory over the unbeatable Garfield Rams in 1964; and the 6-0 victory over Elyria in 1964, the top ranked team in the state. Sennett’s pre-mature death during the 1964 football season is possibly the greatest tragedy that has ever befallen our city. Every year, starting in 1964, The Ken Sennett Award is given to a deserving Barberton Football Player.
John Mackovic took his talents to Wake Forest University and started there for two seasons. He then embarked on a sensational coaching career that landed him head coaching positions with Wake Forest, Illinois University, University of Texas, Arizona University and the Kansas City Chiefs. He also held many assistant coaching positions in college and also with the Dallas Cowboys.
Many others have filled the position of quarterback such as: Doug Huffman(Youngstown State), Joe Underation(Akron), Marco Burnette(Akron), Matt Jensen(Walsh), Archie Strimel(Miami-Oh),Donny Joe McKewon(Sterling College), Colton Choma(Ohio Northern), Bob Mobley(Denison), Jim Stewart(CW Post), and Art Wright(Mercer). Wright was also inducted in the first class of the Barberton Sports Hall of Fame in 1979 and is the namesake of Wadsworth High Schools Football Stadium.
Others changed positions or sports in college. The multi talented Ken Rector was Barberton’s Quarterback in 1982-83 and showed his athleticism at Mount Union. Dave Mattle played Baseball at Kent State and then played several years of minor league baseball in the Detroit Tigers organization. Garrett Banks earned the offensive player of the year award for the Western Reserve Conference in 2004. That year he eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark both rushing and passing. He became a running back at Marietta. Kevin Murphy was the quarterback on the powerhouse 1973 team. He switched to running back at the Univeristy of Toledo. Jeff Finley, the quarterback on the powerful 1977 and 1978 teams, switched to defensive back at Akron University. John Cominsky grew into a defensive end at the University of Charleston and currently plays in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.
Kyle Snyder set every school passing record as a four year starter between 2006 and 2009. He played for Ohio University then transferred to Southeast Missouri State where he had a strong career. Snyders records were broken in less than a decade by Zane Ries. Ries lead the Magics to a twelve win season, the most in school history, in 2017. After high school, Zane played at Ashland University and now plays at Ohio Wesleyan where he recently completed a fine 2019 season.
A name familiar to the fifty and over Barberton crowd is that of longtime police officer Eddie Janiga. What may not be familiar is that Officer Janiga was the quarterback for Barberton on those powerful 1940 and 1941 teams coached by the legendary Karl Harter.
For the past two seasons, the quarterback position was manned by Chase Haywood. Chase lead the Magics to a glittering 17-4 record, a Suburban League Championship and an appearance in the state playoffs. Haywood’s passing yardage and touchdown passes have earned him a high spot in the Barberton record books. No doubt young Mr. Haywood will find himself on a college roster for 2020 season.
There is a Barberton High School student currently waiting to assume the reigns of the quarterback position for the fall of 2020. A young man who will perform his own style of Magic and lead Barberton Football to much success. A young man who will add his own chapter to the history of “Quarterback High”.