Weir High’s Jenkins makes way to OVAC Hall of Fame class
Two outstanding run-pass football quarterbacks and multi-sport athletes who competed at higher levels will be inducted at the 16th-annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame banquet on August 17 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
Selected from the 1960’s decade are Bob DiStefano of Martins Ferry High School and Leon Jenkins from Weir High.
The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Robinson Automotive Group, and the OVAC Sports Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena.
Previously announced inductees include Fort Frye’s Tyler Engle and Steubenville’s Liz Repella for the 2000’s decade; Linsly’s Jamie Adams and Bellaire’s Scott Coyne for the 1990’s; Martins Ferry’s Shelly Carroll and Catholic Central’s Mike Gulan for the 1980’s; and Brooke’s Jeff Patterson and Mingo’s Ron Sismondo for the 1970’s.
The selections from the decades of the 1950’s and 1940’s will be announced on March 17.
Capsule summaries of the 1960’s honorees follow:
BOB DiSTEFANO (Martins Ferry, 1964 Class) — A four-sport performer, this Purple Rider is best known for three starting years in football plus baseball and track as well as four years of basketball.
He was the starting quarterback as a junior and senior after starting at halfback on a 10-0 record, state-ranked and OVAC Class AAA champion as a sophomore. It was Ferry’s third straight unbeaten season.
As a senior, the Riders wet 9-0-1 to win the OVAC Class AAA crown and was ranked No. 5 in the Ohio largest Class AA Poll. The team co-captain, who was also a standout defensive back, earned first-team All-Ohio Associated Press and United Press International at quarterback, as well as All-OVAC Class 3A and All-Eastern Ohio. He was selected Ohio Back of the Year and also gained national attention on the Scholastic Coach All-America selection. In the opening game of the season, Ferry defeated Canton McKinley, 20-8. The only blemish was a 14-14 tie at New Philadelphia.
The 6-foot-0, 180-pounder, who earned first-team All-Valley “Big School” as a senior, passed for 1,240 yards and rushed for 500 yards, while scoring 66 points. He also landed four passes for 41 yards.
Ferry went 7-3-1 in his junior season, as he earned second-team All-Valley “Big School” and first-team All-Eastern Ohio.
In basketball, the guard was the team’s second leading scorer..
He earned a football scholarship to Purdue University where he was the starting quarterback on the freshman team in an era of three-year varsity teams.
He is deceased.
LEON JENKINS (Weir, 1968 Class) — A three-sport Red Rider letterman in football, baseball and basketball, the quarterback led football teams to 8-2 and 7-3 records his last two years. As a senior, he recorded nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards in 10 games — rushing 109 times for 825 yards and 15 TDs, scored 103 points and completed 27 of 65 passes for 525 yards and four TDs. He also played defensive back and returned kicks. In a season-opening 26-19 win over Follansbee, he tied a school record with four TDs, including runs of 86 and 75 yards, while rushing for 225 yards. He rushed for 154 yards in a loss to Steubenville, then ranked No. 1 in Ohio polls.
Career-wise, he scored 182 points (28 TDs), which was then second in the Weir record books. He also rushed for 1,436 yards, possibly the Ohio Valley record for a quarterback at the time.
As a senior, he earned first-team All-Valley “Big School”, All-OVAC Class AAA, All-Mountaineer League and third-team All-State.
He was a standout baseball outfielder and was a first-team, 20-player all-class All-Valley choice in the first selections by The Intelligencer. He batted over .300 and was cited as top defensive player.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder earned a football scholarship to West Virginia, where he was four-year starter at cornerback — three on the varsity team after one on the freshman team. He was the only sophomore on a 10-1 record in 1969, which won the Peach Bowl, 14-3, versus South Carolina. He started on three varsity teams with a combined 25-8 record. Jenkins was team co-captain as a senior.
Career-wise, he intercepted 10 passes with one TD. He also was a regular punt returner three seasons including two TD returns.
He was drafted in the 16th round by the Detroit Lions and played four games in 1972. He also played one season (1975) for the Shreveport (La.) Steamers in the new World Football League. In 12 games, he had six pass interceptions and returned punts and kickoffs.
Jenkins resides in Columbus.