By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
At 91 years old, Bill Wise’s life has been filled with amazing experiences, and he has met incredible people.
He has traveled around the United States, with permanent stops in Arkansas, Oklahoma and New York for either military or professional purposes.
No matter where he has gone, what he has seen or who has met, he has always been a Mogadore Wildcat.
“I have always been in love with Mogadore football,” said Wise, who now lives in Central Ohio, but still manages to try to get to at least one game each year.
This season, Wise and his daughter Cathy watched the Wildcats play at Lucas in Week 5 — an 18-14 victory for Mogadore.
Interestingly, Wise was part of the Cats’ football program before it was known as the small-school powerhouse that it is today, which is all most people know.
For the first 36 years of the program, Mogadore’s composite record was 116-99-14. Far from terrible, but also distant to the school’s 594-187-8 record since Ned Novell took over as head coach in 1951.
“Ned really was the one that started to change things at Mogadore,” said Wise, who was Novell’s running backs coach. “Ned really loved his linemen, but he used to always say that high-school kids have no idea how strong they really are. He coached his players to be exceptionally tough, and he begam to really endear the spirit that tradition never graduates.”
Before Wise coached for Novell, though, he was a versatile player.
He did not start playing until he was 16-year-old sophomore and “120 pounds soaking wet.”
After his teammate Ken Murphy got injured in the second game of Wise’s 1946 sophomore season, he was thrown in to be the quarterback. As a senior, Wise played in the first-ever game at what is now called Memorial Stadium. At the time, it was the only stadium in Portage County to have lights.
No matter what field he was on, though, Wise only knew one thing: “Mogadore was just a wonderful place to play football. The town supported the program now just the same way it supports it now,” he said.
And the fact the Wildcats keep winning is something Wise can’t believe.
“It amazes me, to be honest. Year after year, they just win. To this day, I have no idea how they do it,” Wise said.
Much of the league has been searching for the same answer for decades.
After high school, Wise, a member of Mogadore’s Class of 1949, attended Kent State University and majored in business accounting. He graduated on a Saturday and on the following Monday he began working at Shell Oil in downtown Cleveland, where he worked until December of that year when he was drafted into the Army in 1953, while the United States was involved with the Korean War.
Wise was sent to artillery training as part of a regimen that included 250 men that were stationed at Camp Chaffee in western Arkansas. From his unit, 248 are sent to Korea and Wise was one of the two men that stayed stateside for reasons “that were never told to me, and I still wonder about that.”
He remained in the training division as an artillery supply sergeant before he was discharged for the opportunity to attend graduate school before he began an accounting career with National Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, then was promoted and moved to Tulsa, then was promoted again and moved to downtown New York City as the Chief Fiscal Officer. Wise’s family includes his wife Nancy and three daughters Catherine, Patricia and Laura.
Through it all, Mogadore football has remained a constant for Wise.
He has seen many games, but easily picks the 1996 state championship game as the best game he has ever seen.
“It has to be the greatest game ever played,” Wise said, referencing the Wildcats’ stunning comeback from a 35-3 deficit to defeat St. Henry for the Division VI state title in triple-overtime.
Just one of Wise’s amazing life experiences filled from a lifetime of loving Mogadore football.
Tom, What a lovely article about my dad and his lifelong love of Mogadore and Mogadore football. Thank you!
Great article, love the legacy of people like Bill Wise. Thanks, Mark Novell
Great article, my mother always spoke highly of Mr.Wise, tradition continues, what a legacy!!