Chaminade/CJ football: Top 7 players in Eagles history

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Chaminade/CJ football: Top 7 players in Eagles history

When a Faust is connected to your football program, you know it’s a good thing. And so it was with Chaminade High School football. That was where Gerard “Fuzzy” Faust first built an inner-city power from 1933-52 along Ludlow Street in downtown Dayton. Among his best players was his son, Gerry, who would establish his own coaching legacy.

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Those Chaminade teams, also under the likes of Bob Juron (1953), Ed Regan (1957-63) and Hank Schneider (1964-68), built their legacies mostly against Dayton City League competition, the area’s top-flight competition back then. Later, as Chaminade Julienne, coaches such as Ken Amlin (1980-87), Jim Place (1991-2005), Andy Helms (2006-10) and now Marcus Colvin (2011-present) would uphold that strong tradition.

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Wearing the Eagles’ green and white have been scores of outstanding players who have continued their playing careers at the next level or in coaching.

Here’s who we consider the all-time seven best football players at Chaminade/CJ High School, the 13th in a continuing series. Did we miss someone? Have something to say about this alphabetical list? Email your comments to sports@coxohio.com.

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Location: Dayton, Montgomery County.

Type: Private, co-educational, owned and operated by the Society of Mary and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (Roman Catholic).

Affiliation: Greater Catholic League Co-Ed, North Division.

Division: D-III, Region 12.

Coach: Marcus Colvin.

2017 season opener: At Marion Local, Friday, Aug. 25.

Tony Furst purchased this cowboy hat out west when he went with the UD football Flyers took the train to California to play St Mary's College at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. The trip was in 1939 and this weekend the Flyers will play St. Mary's again (2001). BILL REINKE / STAFF

1. Tony Furst, DB/OL/DL, 1936: A salute to the dawning of a great Eagles era of football. A senior on coach Gerry “Fuzzy” Faust’s first great team that was 6-1-1. A three-year starter as a DB at the University of Dayton for coach Harry Baujan. Inducted into the UD athletic hall of fame.

Shifted to OL with the Detroit Lions in the 1940-41 seasons. Blocked for Lions RB Byron “Whizzer” White, who led the NFL in rushing for two seasons and would spread that fame as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Furst enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Pacific during World War II. He played one more season with the Lions in 1945 after returning from the war. Retired to help run the family florist business, which still operates on Troy Street as Furst Florist and Greenhouses.

Remained active with the Lions, making alumni guest appearances. Saluted by the Lions as their oldest player when he died in 2009. “Tony was an amazing man,” said Lions’ senior director of community affairs Tim Pendell in a 2009 posting to the team’s website. “He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed.”

Alter senior Tim Cableck (3) goes after the Eagles Quarterback Kurt Hess (6) behind the line of scrimmage as the Chaminade-Julienne Eagles play the Alter High School Knights, Friday, October 26, 2007. PETER WINE / CONTRIBUTED

2. Kurt Hess, QB, 2009: Had prolific careers, first at CJ and then at Youngstown State. At 6-3, 210 pounds, threw for 1,824 yards and 12 TDs as an Eagles senior. A three-year starter at QB, surpassed 5,000 career passing yards and had 40 career TD passes.

Even more productive with the Penguins, where he made 45 career starts and became Youngstown’s all-time career leader in completions (706), attempts (1,135), yards (8,925), TD passes (75), 200-yard passing games (24), passer rating (144.96) and total offensive yards (9,459). Three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection.

Chaminade Julienne football players (left to right) Darian Reynolds, Sam Spees, Marco Gresham, head coach Marcus Colvin, Brandon Payne, Christopher Darden and Darrien Howard, October, 2011. TEESHA MCCLAM / STAFF

3. Darrien Howard, FB/LB, 2013: The most decorated player during Colvin’s era as CJ’s coach. A four-year starter, All-Ohio first team D-IV as a junior and senior. Toggled between fullback, linebacker and tight end. Collected more than 300 career tackles. As a highly recruited junior, was a key player in a 10-4 season that ended with a last-second loss to unbeaten Clinton-Massie in the state semifinals.

Shot up to 6-1 and 300 pounds at West Virginia, where he was shifted to the defensive line from LB. Found his place at nose guard, helping the Mountaineers post a 10-3 season as a senior last fall. Undrafted, signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals for this coming season.

4. Gary Kosins, RB, 1968: “Kos” was the one that slipped away from Woody at OSU. Instead, the 6-1, 215-pound hammer joined a stable of outstanding area players who stayed home and excelled for the Dayton Flyers in their final seasons as an NCAA D-I program.

Kosins brought with him to UD a go-to reputation that initially evolved in the Eagles’ backfield for then-coach Hank Schneider. He would be a Flyers’ fan favorite. Playing at Baujan Field on campus, he set a then all-time NCAA record in the 1970 season, averaging an astonishing 38.2 carries and 12 points per game, which tied for No. 1 in the nation that year.

Missing just one game with injury that season, he set a then-UD record of 236 yards rushing against Akron and had 51 carries vs. Louisville. He also put five TDs on then-rival Xavier – yes, the Musketeers played football back then – and had 1,172 yards rushing in nine games.

He would end his UD career with then-records of 2,812 yards rushing, 779 carriers and 41 TDs. Backed that up as the MVP of the Blue-Gray All-Star Game in 1971. Drafted by the Dolphins in the third round in the 1972 draft, but couldn’t crack one of the best backfields in NFL history that featured Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris. Instead, played three seasons as a backup with the Bears (1972-74).

Brandon McKinney defensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts with children at the BJ 91 Kids 6th Annual Football Camp held Saturday June 29, 2013 at Trotwood-Madison High School. / CHARLES CAPERTON PHOTO

5. Brandon McKinney, DL, 2001: A massive presence at 6-2 and well over 300 pounds for then-coach Jim Place and a surprise transfer from Trotwood-Madison for his junior season at CJ. A two-time All-Ohioan for the Eagles. It was a toss-up who most to avoid in the 2000 season, McKinney or Dunbar DL Na’Shon Goddard.

Took his considerable game to Michigan State, where CJ grad Paul “Big Country” Harker was entrenched as a Spartans offensive lineman. Would be key in helping future CJ running back standout Javon Ringer sign with the Spartans.

Undrafted, spent seven seasons as a nose guard for the Chargers (2006-08), Ravens (2008-11) and Colts (2012, ’14). Had six career NFL starts and played in 60 games. Currently listed as a free agent. Founded the BJ Kids 91 Foundation, which benefits local families in need.

Michigan State running back Javon Ringer (23) hugs team mascot Sparty after their 24-12 loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl NCAA college football game on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Rashaun Rucker) 

6. Javon Ringer, RB, 2005: Initially was a sophomore backup on the 2002 D-II state title team, but destiny was just a few carries away. Ended that season with 2,038 yards rushing and 30 TDs. Set a D-II state title game record with four TDs and 251 yards rushing in a 41-26 defeat of Nacedonia Nordonia at Massillon that capped a 14-1 season with the Eagles’ first and only state championship.

Followed that with 2,356 yards rushing and 30 TDs as a junior. Appeared to be a cinch for a record-breaking senior season. A pre-season Mr. Football favorite, he was unstoppable with nearly 1,800 yards rushing and 21 TDs through seven games, including 372 yards rushing and five TDs vs. Purcell Marian. But he blew an ACL for then-unbeaten CJ, which appeared headed to another state title until then.

That knee injury and low test scores scared off OSU in offering Ringer. MSU was only too glad to sign the 5-9, 213-pound weight room fanatic. Ringer responded by ranking among the Spartans’ all-time greats. He was a freshman sensation, but a recurring knee injury would dog him. He had a breakout season as a junior with 1,447 yards rushing and was just as effective as a senior, when he was in the running for most national RB awards and was named a consensus All-American. Led the nation with 370 carries and 21 TDs as a senior. His 1,590 yards rushing were second best.

Taken in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Titans, who he played for from 2009-12. Mostly a backup to then-Titans RB Chris Johnson, Ringer couldn’t shake recurring knee injuries and retired. Returned to MSU as an assistant coach and was named the Spartans’ recruiting intern in 2016. Should be considered among the best RBs in area history.

7. Don Unverferth, QB, 1962: A standout for coach Ed Regan, played on teams that posted seven wins his junior and senior Eagles seasons. In 1961 Chaminade was 7-2-1, the first season as an independent after it left the Dayton City League as a charter member in 1927. Succeeded Joe Sparma, soon to be in the Detroit Tigers’ starting rotation, as Ohio State’s starting QB for the 1963-65 seasons.

Passed for 2,518 yards and 12 TDs in those three Buckeyes seasons that resulted in a combined 19-7-1 record, including consecutive marks of 7-2 in 1964-65. Speared Paul Warfield with a long TD pass and ran for the game winner in a 14-10 defeat of Michigan as a sophomore in 1963. Succeeded by Stebbins grad Bill Long as the Buckeyes’ QB.

Then Unverferth’s career took off, not as a QB, but as a cardiologist, specializing in cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. He supervised the first heart transplant at the OSU University Medical Center. Tragically, he died of a brain tumor in 1988. He was 43.

As a tribute to her husband, Dr. Barbara Unverferth (pathology) started the Unverferth House near the OSU Medical Center. Supported solely by private funds, it’s a multi-room living facility where families can stay for free while a relative undergoes treatment at the nearby Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

Special mention

Dr. Al Bok, 1945: An outstanding running back, played on one of only two unbeaten Chaminade teams for Faust during the 8-0 season as a senior in 1945. Took that talent to Dayton, where he was inducted into the Flyers athletic hall of fame. Signed to play in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts, but instead enrolled at the Chicago School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Returned to UD and started its sports medicine program and was the Flyers team physician for 23 years. Also Dayton Gems hockey team physician as well as Meadowdale and Fairview high schools and the Troy Skating Club. Died in 2014 at age 86.

Steve Gemza, OL, 1979: Starred on Eagles teams that were coached by Pat Connor and Rick Hoffman. Possessed a massive stature that would come in handy during a career at UCLA when he was matched against Meadowdale grad and Bruins defensive lineman - and future NFL All-Pro with the Chiefs - Irv Eatman in practice.

A three-year starter at offensive tackle for coach Terry Donahue at UCLA. Gemza was taken in the 11th round of the 1984 NFL draft by the Seahawks.

Chris Vangas, OL, 2003: A three-year starter at center for the Eagles, was a massive 6-2, 300-pound reason for the much of Ringer’s success at CJ. First team D-II All-Ohio on the state title team and played on teams that made three straight postseason appearances. Played in the North-South All-Star Classic. Highly recruited, signed with Pitt. Mostly a backup guard/center, emerged as the starting center as a senior

Chaminade Julienne honorable mention: Chris Anderson, 1995; Frankie Ambrose, 1989; Mike Coleman, 1988; Andre Chattams, 2002; Angelo Chattams, 2001; Trey Coleman, 1983; Timmy Crouch, 2002; Chad Diggs, 2001; Alonzo Edmunds, 1993; Paul “Big Country” Harker, 1998; Brandon Harrison, 2005; Andy Jomantas, 2010;

Tommy MacLeod, 1993; Travis Mikalaukas, 2001; Jim Mullins, 1987; Jimmy Place, 1996; John Puckett, 1995; Barrett Robinson, 1995; Vernon Saine III, 1977; Justin “JoJo” Smith, 2004; Kelly Spiker, 1999; John Szabo, 2000; Anthony Turner, 2004; Matt Walker, 1995; Jermaine Wilkinson, 1996; Julius Williams, 1993.

Chaminade honorable mention: Gary Arthur, 1966; Francis “Moose” Ambrose, 1957; David Blake, 1970; Mike Clark, 1965; Fred Ehrensberger, 1958; Lee Falke, 1948; Gerry Faust, 1953; Tom Flohre, 1970; Bobby Koepnick, 1949;

Dan Kosak, 1959; Tony Kramer, 1948; Bobby “Truck” Madden, 1942; Stan Pfander, 1970; Len Pytel, 1954; Herman Raiff, 1950; Jerry Raiff, 1955; Jim Siewe, 1964; Steve Siewe, 1970; Don “Butch” Zimmerman, 1955; Charlie Zwiesler, 1937.

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Darrien Howard, junior linebacker and fullback for Chaminade-Julienne High School, practices with the team in August, 2011. JAN UNDERWOOD / STAFF
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