John Downey, former Archbold High School head football coach, is headed for the Hall of Fame.
Downeyhas been selected for induction into the High School Football Hall of Fame by the board of directors of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
Downey was nominated by Bryan Miller, current AHS head football coach.
Downey is one of six coaches who will be inducted at a banquet in June 2014 in Columbus.
“Well, it was a pretty easy decision,” said Miller.
“His success on the field speaks for itself, and more importantly, his leadership and the life lessons he taught his players over the years have made a huge difference in countless lives.
“He has been a great mentor to me, and I am very excited that he was chosen.”
Downey guided the AHS football program from 1979- 2008, compiling a record of 222-99 with eight Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles, nine playoff appearances, and two trips to the state finals.
The Blue Streaks were a Division IV state runner-up in 1982, and won a Division V state championship in 1988.
Downey is the all-time winningest coach in the NWOAL with 166 wins.
Receiving the honor is special to Downey.
“You kind of dream that when you become a head coach you will have a Hall of Fame career,” he said.
“I wanted to be like Charles Buckenmeyer, my head coach at Napoleon. I wanted to have a program similar to the program he had. That was my goal.
“I guess being nominated for the Ohio High School Hall of Fame means that I was successful in emulating his program, because he is in the Hall of Fame.”
Downey’s road to coaching was paved by four former mentors with sparkling credentials.
“Buck (Charles Buckenmeyer) had probably the most influence, but I was real fortunate to grow up in Napoleon in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” said Downey.
“There were four Hall of Fame coaches in Napoleon athletics: Buckenmeyer; Bud Schie, who coached football, wrestling and track; Fred Church, who coached football and basketball; and Bill Mossing, though he never coached.
“Bud is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame, Fred is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Buck is in the Football Hall of Fame, and Bill is in the Athletic Directors Hall of Fame.
“Those four gentlemen had a tremendous influence on me.”
After three years as an assistant at Napoleon and a year coaching for the University of Toledo, an opportunity to become a head coach presented itself to Downey, one that he could not pass up.
“The first job I applied for was Napoleon, but I didn’t get that job,” he said.
“I left for a leave of absence to go to the University of Toledo, and I was gonna go back to Napoleon.
“Keith Short and Butch Crossgrove came up to me at a junior high track meet in Napoleon and told me that the Archbold job was open.
“I was real fortunate that Gene Rupp, Richard Harris and Roger Farlee, who were on the committee to find a coach, hired me.
“I was really, really fortunate to get the job.”
When speaking about his time at Archbold, Downey has high praise for the school and the community.
“It is a wonderful school district and a tremendous town. We have wonderful athletes and parents.”
Spreading the Wealth
When Downey is inducted, he goes with the help of those who were part of his successful program.
“They bestow the honor on the head coach, but really, all the players that played for me, all the coaches that coached for me, are all a part of this,” Downey said.
“They all represent the Archbold football program.”
A John Downey football story cannot be complete without mention of the famous suit he styled while roaming the sidelines.
After the Streaks won the school’s first state football championship in 1988, Downey retired the suit.
“I did wear it to school about six or seven years ago,” he said.
Will he wear it to the banquet?
“I’m losing weight. I still have to lose another 10 pounds if I want to fit into it.”