The 47th annual Vince Lombardi Down Lineman of the Year Award banquet is set for Dec. 9 at the Clinton County Fairgrounds Expo Center.
Greg Oliver, a former Wilmington College assistant football coach under legendary head coach Bill Ramseyer and a long-time administrator in the Great Oaks system, will be the speaker for this year’s event.
The event begins 6:30 p.m. with dinner followed by the keynote speaker and presentation of awards.
Football has its roots in the Oliver family, Lombardi event chairman Bill Liermann said. Both of Greg’s sons are involved in the game. Todd is president and CEO of Ohio Football.com and sponsors the National Guard Senior All-Star Classic. It annually draws players from more than 40 colleges in the Buckeye State.
Chris Oliver is the highly-successful head football coach of Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. Chris was a recent speaker for the Lombardi event.
In recent years, the event has been able to continue locally with financial assistance from the athletic booster clubs of the four Clinton County high schools, Liermann said. Major participating sponsors include Beacon Orthopedics and Drayer Physical Therapy. CMH Regional Health Systems also assists with helping underwriting the cost of securing the Expo Center, Liermann added.
“We appreciate the support of the local business groups and the Clinton County Agricultural Society for making the Expo Center available for the event,” Liermann said.
The award is named after the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who died from cancer in 1970. Clinton County started its version of the event in 1974. Spearheaded by former Wilmington News-Journal sports editor Clarence Graham and local businessman the late Harold Losey, this event began at the old Bengal room at the former location of Duff’s Smorgasbord, according to Liermann. In later years it moved to the Elks 797 to Roberts Arena on SR 730 and in more recent years, the Expo Center.
A buffet-style meal is provided by McCoy’s Catering and the public is welcome to attend. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $15.
Each of Clinton County’s head football coaches have been informed of the date and will be submitting their nominees soon. The eight nominees — two from each school — will compete for the coveted block of granite award.
The award is made possible by Wilmington Auto Center, along with NAPA Auto Parts, and assistance from Red Dot Trophy in New Vienna, who secures the block of granite each year, Liermann said.
Oliver has had a long connection with football, particularly in Clinton County.
“Greg has always had a passion for the game of football. We worked together for a few years on the air covering high school football for then local radio station WSWO-FM,” said Liermann. “Many times when Wilmington College was on the road, we would cover the high school game Friday night, then meet up with Roger Barber at the (radio) station to drive to where the Quakers were staying overnight so Roger and I could announce the WC game Saturday afternoon and Greg perform his duties as an assistant coach. He has seen a lot of football during his career. Greg will also share his experiences as the president of the National Football Foundation in Virginia. It should be very informative talk.”