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Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Work and Mo play.....


The article below was originally published in 2009.  Coach Tipton passed away in November of 2011 and is greatly missed by his family, fellow coaches, the hundreds of players he coached and all of Red Rider nation.
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Now that I'm through the 1987 season in my playoff lookback series, I thought it would be a good time to sum up the accomplishments by former Coach Morris Madison Tipton, more affectionately known (and easier to type) as "Mo." He was the head coach at Orrville from 1965 through the 1987 season.

Mo continued the winning tradition established by his predecessor, Bill Shunkwiler, and established Orrville football as one of the most respected public football schools in the state. He compiled an impressive 168-69-6 record in his 23 seasons at the helm, an average of 7+ wins per season, had only 3 losing seasons over that span, and ended his tenure at Orrville with 13 straight seasons of at least 5 wins or more.

Regular Season. Mo's teams went undefeated in the regular seasons seven times, won or shared 13 league titles (9 AOC/AOL titles and 4 Chippewa Conference titles). His overall regular season record was 160-61-6 (70%). His regular season record in the 1980's was an amazing 67-12 (85%).

Postseason. 6 playoff appearances, 8 playoff wins, 4 regional championships and 2 state runner-up finishes. Four of the six playoff losses were to the eventual state champions. I'll go out on a limb and say that had it not been for the unfair advantage that parochial schools had (and still have to some extent), Orrville would have won at least 1 state title in the 80's.

Individual Accomplishments. Coached 31 All-Ohioans (including all 3 sons, Scot, Eric and Clay), 4 multiple year All-Ohioans (Scot Tipton, Mark Griggs, Tom Bolyard and James Bradley) and 1 Parade Magazine All-American (Tom Bolyard).

He was named Class AA Coach of the Year in 1980 (AP) & 1984 (UPI) and is a member of the Akron Ellet, Orrville and Wayne County Sports Halls of Fame. He was named the Wayne County Coach of the Year three times by the Akron Beacon Journal (1969, 1980, 1984)

He coached several players who made it to the NFL, including Tom Bolyard (punted for the Browns in a preseason game), James Bradley (7th round pick by the Colts in 1991), and current Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Defensive MVP James Harrison (when Mo coached at Coventry).

He also coached Bob Houmard, who went to star at Ohio U. (still has some all-time scoring records), was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970 NFL Draft (1969, 342nd pick overall) and spent a few seasons in the Canadian Football League.

Glaring Omission. Other than a state title, one accolade that has not yet been bestowed on Coach Mo is that of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association's (OHSFCA) Hall of Fame. Here's their current list of enshrinees, and I dare say that Mo has just as good of a resume as any coach currently in the Hall. A nomination form is here. I'm curious as to if he's already been nominated and turned down, or if the step to even nominate him have ever been taken. Someone needs to take up the cause. Anyone? 200+ career wins and a coach in 4 different decades should be enough to get him in. UPDATE:  As of June 2010, Mo is a member of the OHSFCA.  Read here.

Other Interests. Mo seemed to enjoy life's finer things, or at least the finer things that come from being a high school football coach in a small town.

Everything from enjoying the "bird under glass" with the team at The Silver Pheasant (more on that later) to taking charter buses (instead of school buses) to playoff games....it was carte blanche.

Joking aside, Mo was first and foremost a dedicated family man, coach and educator.

Mo dabbled in politics, once running for County Commissioner in the 80's. I'd like to assume that Mo wanted to blaze the trail for future athletes & coaches wishing to make the jump from the sideline into politics (it worked for Tom Osborne, JC Watts, Steve Largent and someday Jim Tressel). Add pioneer to Mo's biography. I'm guessing the silent majority (read: Wooster fans) was the only roadblock that prevented him from political stardom.

He is also a fan of country and bluegrass music....as anyone that played under Mo can attest.

Through the Years. Like a dominant running game and a stalwart defense, Mo stuck with what worked. Cowboy Hat, Facial Hair (mustache in the early days, goatee or full-on beard in the latter days) & coach-issued shirt (like this beaut) usually did the trick....but sometimes he'd get a little frisky and sport a big collar (see above) and even model an XPresley jacket from time to time (can't refuse those freebies). Tried and True.

Of all the pictures of Mo, this one simply DEFINES Orrville football....am I right, people?

He was not only a great coach, but also a walking caricature. Similar to how Steve Smith defined Orrville basketball, Mo Tipton defined Orrville football.

Other Quick Facts....

First Win - 1965 vs Northwest, 58-0
First Playoff Win - 1980 vs. Fostoria 27-0
First Wooster Win - 1972, 13-0 (Mo was 0-4-3 in his first 7 Wooster games, amazingly.)
Last Orrville Win - 1987 vs Wooster, 21-10
Longest Unbeaten Streak - 23 games (1975-77)
Longest Losing Streak - 10 games (1965-66)
Consecutive Winning Seasons - 8 (1980-87)
Consecutive Wins over Wooster - 4 (twice, 1975-78 & 1982-85)
Shutouts @ Orrville - 85 (over half of his wins at Orrville were shutouts...that's dominance)

After Orrville. Mo took a few years off after stepping down at Orrville, but took the head coach job at Archbishop Hoban in June of 1992 (if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess), replacing Mike Schmitz. He posted a 10-10 record in 2 seasons with the Knights (identical 5-5 seasons). He then ended his coaching career at Akron Coventry, coaching the Comets from 1992-94. Here's a team picture from 1996, Mo is easy to spot, James Harrison is #16, top row.
His teams went 8-2 in 1994 and 1995, and 9-1 in 1996, but never made the playoffs. The 1994 season record of 8-2 was Coventry's first winning season in nearlly a quarter century.

His 3 year record at Coventry was 25-5, and that puts him first in all-time wins by a Coventry coach....simply amazing. Not too many coaches currently hold all-time wins record at 2 schools at the same time. In the 2 years after Mo left Coventry, they went 1-9 and 0-10.

In 28 seasons, Mo's final coaching record was 203-84-6 (71%).

The BB Gun Incident. This may have been the low point of Mo's coaching career, and eventually it would mark the end of an otherwise respectful coaching career.

An allegation surfaced after the 1996 season that a coach and Coventry player shot two other players with a BB gun after practice. After an investigation by the Coventry board and Summit County Sheriff, it was determined that Assistant coach Leon Hartman and two-way standout (and current Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Defensive Player of the Year) James Harrison committed the act.

Harrison had a rocky tenure at Coventry, getting suspended on 3 separate occasions, one for team rules violations, once for making an obscene gesture and once for an in-game ejection that resulted in a suspension. Harrison was clearly THE reason for the Comets success after transferring from Hoban, but in the end, his actions may have led to the resignation of 3 Coventry coaches, including Mo Tipton.

Harrison and Hartman were charged at the end of February 1997 (read more here), and by mid March, Tipton and coordinators Leonard Hartman (brother of Leon Hartman) and Mike Hallet (another Orrville alum) resigned (read more here).

Mo contested his resignation as a teacher, and wanted to settle for a cash sum and a golf cart (I'm totally serious, here's the article). The article mentions that the cart was a donation from Turkeyfoot Golf Course. I'm very curious as to whether it was painted in a Coventry Comet scheme.

I'm not sure how this turned out, if it fell on deaf ears or was settled quietly, but I am curious as to the status of the golf cart.

Not that Mo had any direct involvement in the BB gun incident, but the fact that it happened under his watch probably  reflected poorly. Coupled with issues on and off the field by his players (namely Harrison), and it just seemed like chaos ruled the Coventry football program during the Mo years. It still reads like a bad novel, over a decade later.  The Mo years were some of the most successful in Coventry history so it wasn't all bad.

After Coaching. Mo has worked for the past decade as a real estate and land developer. He returned to the Orrville sidelines to help mark the 100 year anniversary of the first Orrville and Wooster game, but other than that, has enjoyed his retirement away from the spotlight.

His mark on Orrville football is still felt, and no matter the successes of current or future coaches, Red Rider Football will be known as the program that Mo built.

...............and I'm spent. A lot of meat on this one.

Comment section is wide open for anyone wanting to make a comment or share a favorite "Mo Story." There's probably a million of them out there....a few have been discussed on this site already, and I know there are plenty of readers of this site that played for Mo...so let's hear it.

Also, if anyone has any more info on the Hall of Fame issue, BB-Gate, or anything else please contact me.

4 comments:

Matthew said...

i remember having a t-shirt when i was a kid that said "i got my MOtivation" and had a caricature of o on it

Anonymous said...

The skull and crossbones on the helmets is CLASSIC. It's so Al Davis and Oakland Raiders-like. Don't ever get away from that, Orrville. It's great stuff!

Cyber Sleuth said...

Nice write up. As a member of the teams of 2 of his 3 losing seasons in the mid 70's, he wasn't uncontroversial as a coach at Orrville either. One of the years a bunch of Seniors walked off the team in the middle of the season cause they thought he worked them too hard. He was usually fair if tough.

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

Sleuth,
I imagine that no coach is without controversy at times, especially when your career spans 4 different decades. I'd also imagine that his practices would be viewed VERY differently by today's standards.