Former Football Head Coach Magistro to be Honored

Magistro to take rightful spot in Ohio coaches HOF

John Magistro has long been categorized as a hall of fame person.

His coaching resume is also highly impressive.

Regardless if it was at Bellaire High School or now at Westerville Central in suburban Columbus, Magistro has won and won a lot.

Conference titles, undefeated seasons, playoff berths, regional championships and two trips to the Ohio State Championship game can be found on Magistro's resume.

He's making room for another honor.

It was recently announced that Magistro will be inducted to the Ohio State High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015.

"It a great honor and it makes me think of how fortunate I've been to be around so many good players and good coaches over the years," Magistro said during a recent phone interview.

Though Magistro has taken Westerville Central to its first playoff appearance and victory last season, his hall of fame resume was built during his 23-year career at Bellaire, which spanned from 1984 until 2006.

During that span, the Big Reds won nine OVAC championships, six regional titles and played in the 1995 and 1996 Division IV state championship games.

Those were all great teams that featured great players. But, they aren't the only good teams that Magistro coached during his career in the All-American Town.

"There were a couple of seasons when we were really good, but they only took four teams (to the playoffs) and we didn't get in, despite an 8-2 or 9-1 record," Magistro recalled.

One of the teams that jumped out at him was the 1987 team that featured Joey Galloway as a sophomore. It finished 8-2, losing in double overtime to Wheeling Park and 10-7 to River.

"That team really started a nice little streak there," Magistro said.

The 1988 team finished 9-1 and still couldn't get in the playoffs.

"I think we won 14 straight games (until losing to Cambridge) and were really playing well both on offense and defense," Magistro explained. "But, that team never got the chance to go (to the playoffs), and I always wondered how well it could have done."

After a 4-6 campaign in 1990, the Big Reds reeled off 10 consecutive non-losing seasons and didn't lose a regular season game from 1995-1997. The regular-season winning streak reached 37 before 38-28 loss to Wheeling Park in 1998.

The 1995 Big Reds will go down as arguably the premier team in Belmont County history and certainly in Bellaire history. With Jose Davis, Richie Mamie, Bobby Roth, Matt Adams, Josh Weber and a host of others leading the way, the Big Reds were a juggernaut.

"The 1995 team was such a determined and special group," Magistro said. "If you go down the list of those seniors and look at those kids, they're all successful now in life. They were good football players and kids. Plus, they had a great chemistry and really willed themselves to wins."

The 1996 team had basically the same mantra and with future NFL linebacker Ben Taylor leading the way, the Big Reds got back to Massillon before losing to Germantown Valley View in the state title game.

"We called that senior group 'the mighty 10,'" Magistro said. "When the 1995 team went out the door, many thought we were doomed, but those seniors just kept it going."

Bellaire was regional champions again in 1997 with guys like Ty Masciarelli, Richie Materkoski, Aaron Chirpas and Clint Lekandous leading the way.

The Big Reds won the regional in 2003 and lost in the state semifinals to Cleveland VASJ. After an 8-4 campaign in 2004, the Magistro's team got back into the mode of winning regional titles in 2005 and 2006. The Big Reds lost to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in both seasons after getting to that point with a 13-0 record.

"We were fortunate to have some outstanding teams," Magistro said. "The great teams we had deservingly get all of the credit, but there were some 7-3 teams that deserved a lot of credit, too."

Magistro was fortunate to coach four players - Galloway, Taylor, Jose Davis and Nate Davis - who played professionally and numerous others who went on for solid collegiate careers.

Still, though, Magistro didn't hesitate when asked who the best was.

"It's a no brainer when you consider that Joey (Galloway) played 16 seasons in the NFL," Magistro said. "We had some really good quarterbacks, too. Obviously, Jose and Nate jump out, but Scott Woods was no slouch either. The toughest guy I coached was Benny Taylor, who just willed himself to be the player he became."

Magistro was also proud of the schedules his teams played at Bellaire. Along with lining up in some classic games with Martins Ferry and the other area opponents, the Big Reds battled Ironton, Cardinal Mooney and numerous others.

"We took on some challenges," Magistro said. "The OVAC schedule is tough enough, but we stepped outside (of the conference) and played some other teams because we thought if we wanted to be good, we had to go out and beat some of these teams."

Magistro's run of success has continued at Westerville Central where he's been in charge for now five years. All told, he's been roaming the sidelines each of the last 42 seasons.

"I am still enjoying it," Magistro said.

Since he's still coaching and actually has his Warhawks' team at 3-0 this season, Magistro admitted that he hadn't really had time to sit back and think too much about the idea of 'being a hall of famer.'

"I just don't have time," Magistro said. "I am worried about the next game. When you're coaching and receive this kind of award, you just don't have the chance to sit back and really enjoy it much."

Magistro learned of his selection to the hall of fame from current Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka.

"I think Justin was more excited than I was," Magistro joked. "I know some of Justin's relatives from the time I was at Martins Ferry, so it was great hearing (the news) from him."

So just how many more years does Magistro have in him?

"I am not burnt out or anything, but I am thinking about winding it down after next season," Magistro admitted. "I still enjoy the coaching and teaching part of it, but I think it's time to turn it over to someone else."

Though that's how he's leaning right now, Magistro did leave the door cracked to continuing to coach.

"Who knows what will happen?" Magistro said.

A coach with Magistro's resume has certainly earned the right to leave the profession when he chooses.

It's probably a safe bet that this is just the first hall of fame induction for Magistro. Whenever he decides to call it a career, it shouldn't take long for Magistro to get the call that he's headed for the OVAC Hall of Fame.

From Times Leader