Rocky Fork Enterprise

All-Time ThisWeek Football Team

Best of the Best: Top coach, players honored

By

The players and coaches honored throughout the "All-Time ThisWeek Football Team" summer series were known for their ability to find the end zone, their propensity for delivering crushing hits or for their ability to win the big game.

The greatest offensive player, defensive player and coach of the ThisWeek era stand a cut above the rest in part because they reached or surpassed their potential for success.

Jack Rafferty, who earns the distinction of greatest offensive player, passed for 27 touchdowns and ran for 20 as a senior quarterback at Dublin Coffman High School in 2003. His dual-threat ability that season was brought on in part because of injuries to two of the Shamrocks' key players.

Andy Katzenmoyer, a 1995 Westerville South graduate who has been named the greatest defensive player, said in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch shortly after his senior season that during his freshman year: "I was fat. I just ate a lot, didn't lift weights much or condition." Things changed enough for him over the next three years that he was named Ohio's Mr. Football as a senior.

The greatest coach of the "All-Time ThisWeek Football Team" is Brian White, who is the only central Ohio coach to have won two state championships in Division I. Since his tenure at Hilliard Davidson began in 1999, a simple philosophy centered on strong defense and special teams and a ground-churning option offense has helped the program succeed unlike any other over the past 23 seasons.

*GREATEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER -- Jack Rafferty (St. Charles 2000-02, Dublin Coffman 2003).

When Rafferty was a freshman at St. Charles, he recalls getting three snaps at quarterback under then-coach Mark Crabtree.

They weren't exactly memorable.

"I think I had one incompletion and fumbled the other two snaps," Rafferty said.

That wasn't representative of what would occur over his next three seasons, which cemented Rafferty as the greatest offensive player of the ThisWeek era.

Jeff Liebert took over as coach the next season, and Rafferty completed 188 of 394 passes for 2,489 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2001. He was 153-for-322 for 2,419 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2002, and was named second-team all-state and the district's Offensive Player of the Year in Division II.

The Cardinals went 5-5 in 2001 and 6-5 in 2002, when they made the playoffs for just the third time in program history.

St. Charles lost to DeSales 33-0 in a Division II, Region 6 first-round playoff game in 2002, and Rafferty transferred to Coffman about three weeks later.

At Coffman, Rafferty was reunited with Crabtree, who has been at the school since leaving St. Charles after the 2000 season.

During Rafferty's final season, he completed 215 of 366 passes for 3,227 yards and 27 touchdowns with four interceptions and rushed for 1,378 yards and 20 touchdowns on 243 carries as the Shamrocks went 10-3. Rafferty suffered a separated shoulder in the third quarter of Coffman's 24-14 loss to Dublin Scioto in the Division I, Region 3 final.

He was a finalist for Mr. Football.

"We had an awesome group at Coffman my senior year," Rafferty said. "(Running back) Kyle Ruhl got banged up and (wide receiver) Pat LaMonica broke his hand. I had already run the ball a decent amount and then almost by necessity I ran the ball a lot after that. If you can't run the ball in Ohio, you can't win."

Rafferty spent two years as a backup quarterback at Western Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky for a short time as a student before landing at Otterbein.

He was Otterbein's quarterback in 2007 and 2008 and in his final season was a semifinalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, which is the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in NCAA Division III. Rafferty threw for 1,990 yards and 22 touchdowns that season.

Rafferty, who is married to former Ready soccer player Kate Rowlands and has one child and one on the way, works in information technology sales.

"I've never seen a high school football player do the things Jack could do," Crabtree said. "His ability was just unmatched. Without him we were very average and with him we were a very good team."

*GREATEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER -- Andy Katzenmoyer (Westerville South, 1992-95).

During a prep career in which he helped South reach the 1994 Division I state championship game, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound linebacker, who could run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, learned from one of his earliest disappointments.

"My sophomore year I played defensive tackle, so (1994) was my first year playing linebacker and everything came together for us," Katzenmoyer said. "We lost to Dublin, which had Nick Goings and Rolland Steele, (27-22) during the regular season and that was the only game I didn't do my assignments. After that we came back and beat them (16-7 in a regional final) and got to the state championship game."

South lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 20-3 in the state final, but Katzenmoyer already was on his way to establishing himself as the greatest defensive player of the ThisWeek era.

As a senior, he recorded 126 tackles, including 53 solos and eight sacks with six forced fumbles.

Also used at times at fullback, Katzenmoyer is one of just three players from central Ohio to be named Mr. Football. He also was named the ThisWeek Super 25 co-captain in 1995 with Goings.

Katzenmoyer went on to a career at Ohio State that included winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and being named a second-team All-American in 1996 and the Butkus Award winner as a sophomore in 1997. As a junior he was a finalist for the Butkus, Lombardi and Maxwell Football Club's Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Katzenmoyer started all 37 games of his college career and was ranked fifth on Ohio State's all-time list in solo tackles (197) and sacks (18) when he left for the NFL after his junior year.

Katzenmoyer, who played two seasons with the New England Patriots before a neck injury ended his career, is in his second year as strength and conditioning coach at his high school alma mater. He also owns Katzenmoyer Performance, a gym in Westerville that specializes in reaching fitness goals.

Katzenmoyer previously served as defensive coordinator for three seasons at South.

"He was faster than most running backs," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "You weren't going to run away from him. Eventually he was going to run you over, and that's why we put him right in the middle of our defense."

*GREATEST COACH -- Brian White (Dublin Scioto, 1997; Groveport, 1998; Hilliard Davidson, 1999-present).

During his 14 seasons as Davidson's coach, White never has made it a habit to talk about the end result of a season.

What's in between, he says, will pay off in the long run.

"We talk about reaching our potential," White said. "Certainly being a state champion is not something we talk about."

The Wildcats have accomplished that feat -- and much more -- during White's tenure, making him the all-time greatest coach of the ThisWeek era.

White didn't break through with a playoff appearance until his fourth season as a head coach, but his knowledge base had been growing well before that.

White joined DeSales' coaching staff in 1990, and that season the Stallions were Division II state runners-up. He stayed on staff through the 1996 season, serving as defensive coordinator his last three years. In White's final season with the Stallions, they were Division III state runners-up.

White's first head coaching job came in 1997 when he led Scioto to a 7-3 finish to just miss the playoffs, but he was a staff reduction casualty following the failure of a school levy. He spent the next year at Groveport, where his Cruisers went 3-7, before landing the coaching job at Davidson in 1999.

After the Wildcats went 3-7 in his first season, they improved to 7-4 in 2000 and to 12-1 with a regional runner-up finish in 2001.

Davidson was a regional runner-up in 2004 and a state semifinalist in 2005.

Then in 2006, the Wildcats beat Mentor 36-35 in two overtimes to capture the Division I state title. Davidson went for two on the game's final play, with Bo Delande scoring on a pitch sweep for the winning points.

Davidson beat Cleveland Glenville 16-15 to win the 2009 state title, again using a two-point conversion to win the game. Quarterback Jake Trubiano lined up at running back and ran in a pitch from Jimmy Curtis for the winning points with 1 minute, 4 seconds left.

Davidson, which was a state semifinalist in 2010 and a regional runner-up each of the last two seasons, has gone 138-36 overall under White and 27-9 in the playoffs, with 11 postseason appearances.

"He doesn't have an empty cupboard (at Davidson), but with the players he's had I think he's done a great job," said former DeSales and Hamilton Township coach Bob Jacoby, who was named the second-greatest coach of the ThisWeek era.

Comments