Dec. 12, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Every day for several years when he walked into the Moeller High School football locker room that’s been recently remodeled, Spencer Iacovone could see photos of three Crusaders players from the late ‘60s.
The photos are of quarterback Bob Harris, lineman Mark Andrews and wide receiver Jack Repasy. They went from the Cincinnati high school with the storied football program to Marshall University, where they were three of the 75 people who died in the November 1970 Thundering Herd team plane crash.
“There’s a memorial to the three of them in the main hallway of the school, too,” Iacovone said. “We take a lot of pride in the fact that they were part of Moeller, and they’ll always be remembered here.”
Iacovone will have a greater bond with those three late Crusader and Thundering Herd athletes, too, since he signed last month to play baseball for Marshall. With his partial scholarship in Coach Jeff Waggoner’s program, he also will get financial help from the proceeds from the annual Moeller/Marshall Memorial Golf Outing played in Cincinnati -- help – about $2,000 for his freshman year, outing chairman John Widmeyer said. The fifth outing will be played next summer.
The concept behind the golf day was to honor the three young men who died in the plane crash, while also providing support for an MHS graduate who headed to Marshall. The only one of those in recent years was left-handed pitcher Greg Williams, who finished at MU in 2011 and now is in the Texas Rangers’ farm system.
The first Moeller grad to come to Marshall as a student-athlete following the three deaths was wide receiver Tom Schroeder, who lettered two seasons (1978 and ’79) before transferring to Cincinnati.
Schroder, who owns Trinity Printing Co. in Cincinnati, said recently that when he was playing for Marshall, he “wanted to do a good job for Moeller. Sure, I was aware of those three alums, and because of those guys, I wanted to carry the torch for Moeller at Marshall.”
Iacovone (pronounced ike-uh-VONE) will do that now, but his connection to Marshall has other roots besides his high school and a memorial to three fallen Crusaders. He’s also heading to the Herd after helping Moeller to a pair of Ohio Division I state titles (baseball, football) in a six-month span.
Iacovone was the starting quarterback for the eighth Moeller state football title team (12-3), but the first since 1985. He was 15-for-19 passing for 161 yards in the 20-12 Division I title game victory over Toledo Whitmer two weeks ago at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
He was a designated hitter last baseball season, after undergoing Tommy John surgery right after his junior football season. The surgery limited his ability to throw. He expects to return to first base this spring, and figures to be a corner infielder and outfielder for the Herd.
“We lived in Hurricane, W.Va., for a while (two years) and my dad used to take me to Marshall football games,” Iacovone said. “I’d watch games on TV, too. It was when Randy Moss and Chad Pennington were there.”
Dom Iacovone worked for Bandag Inc., a tire retreading company, when the family lived in Hurricane. They moved to the Liberty Township suburb north of Cincinnati when Spencer was 5, after Dom got a job with PPG. Their connection to the Mountain State remained, however.
Spencer’s oldest brother, Dom, was a defensive line starter at the University of Charleston for former coach Tony DeMeo. Another of Spencer’s older brothers, Sage, is the senior starting catcher at UC.
“We’ve gone back to big games at Marshall over the years,” the elder Iacovone said. “We’ve been back to about 10 games, and we’ve been to the bowl games, the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, GMAC. There’s been a connection there.”
Spencer grasps the Moeller/Marshall ties through a tragedy 42 years ago, but although he went to Herd games when he was 3 and 4 years old and others more recently, something else opened his eyes about the college he will call home after his Moeller graduation.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about the plane crash until I saw the ‘We Are … Marshall’ movie,” Iacovone said. “I guess I was in about the sixth grade then. After I got to Moeller, I found out about those three guys who died.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize they were all from Moeller, but we honor them. And for me, after they told me about the support from the golf (outing), it’s a real privilege for me to receive that in their names.
“I have a real appreciation for what both schools have in common.”
Iacovone was recruited in both of his sports. Besides Marshall, he had baseball suitors in Xavier, Northern Kentucky and Dayton and was offered by Ohio State as a “preferred walk-on who could have gone on scholarship after the first year,” he said.
Most of his football offers were from Mid-American Conference schools – “Toledo, Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, mainly,” he said -- but Iacovone had been injured in football during his sophomore (AC joint surgery) and junior (Tommy John) years.
“That’s why I chose baseball,” he said. “If it would be football, I wanted to still play baseball in the spring, too.”
Herd associate head coach Joe Renner, who recruited Iacovone and has strong ties to Cincinnati area baseball in the past, said Iacovone “comes from one of the most elite high school programs, which has produced many Major League players and some Hall of Famers. He’s a physical athlete that is versatile enough to play different positions on the diamond. He has plus power to all fields and set the Moeller High School baseball record for OPS in a single season last year.”
Iacovone said he seemed “kind of lost” the last two weeks with no football or baseball practice – yet – to attend after school. But he does plan to attend the Moeller/Marshall Memorial golf day unless he’s involved with Herd Baseball in some fashion.
“I don’t know if I’ll play, my swing’s not very good,” Iacovone said, chuckling. “That could be kind of a problem. If I’m there, my swing will be the one kind of like a baseball swing.”
That’s OK. Those Moeller men will still want to meet their state championship quarterback, the guy who knows even more about Marshall than the tragic story of three young men who lost their lives playing in the name of those two schools.