Football life was special for Charles Chancey

Mark Martin
Charles Chancey (center) duirng his Meigs County football coaching days.

Residing on a 60-plus acre farm in Meigs County is one of Southeastern Ohio’s most successful football coaches.

A coach who cut his teeth on the sport at Ripley High School.

Charles Chancey graduated in 1956. He started playing football when he was in eighth grade.

A good athlete, he was used in a variety of ways by head coach Ron Deem and assistant Paul Lanham, who would go on to coach in a couple of Super Bowls.

“I kind of had an odd career. As a junior I was a quarterback, when I was a senior I was a tackle. That’s kind of a shock to your system,” Chancey said with a broad smile and laugh. “They were two enjoyable coaches.”

As he headed off to Marshall University, the thought of coaching one day himself was racing inside his mind.

Becoming a coach happened sooner than he ever could have imagined.

Chancey’s hopes of playing as an offensive end for the Thundering Herd were dashed with back-to-back injuries. “I broke my left leg in October of my freshman year during the season. During spring practice I had a career-ending knee injury.

“I tried to come back as a sophomore, but I didn’t make it through one practice. I was down and they told me I was done.”

He turned his focus to coaching. “I was a graduate assistant at Marshall. I ended up helping coach the freshmen team.”

Before long, Chancey would find himself running his own program along the banks of the Ohio River in Pomeroy.

“Coach Snyder, who was our head coach at Marshall at that time, recommended me to the superintendent at Pomeroy (to be the head coach of the Purple Panthers).”

Chancey was 23 years old when he embarked on his new assignment in 1961.

“You go from a graduate assistant to a head coach, it’s kind of a shock as a young coach. It’s a lot of responsibility to jump into,” he said.

The former Viking handled things flawlessly. Over a four-year stretch his Panthers won 26 games.

He left Pomeroy for a chance to work full-time at the collegiate level. But after two seasons with Marshall, the Meigs County area came calling again.

This time it was to lead the football program of a new high school merging Pomeroy, Middleport and Rutland into one.

Meigs Local was set to open in the 1967-68 school year and Chancey was the man they wanted to head up Marauder football.

His first Meigs team finished 9-1 with the only blemish coming against perennial power Ironton, 8-0.

“We won a league championship (Southeastern Ohio Athletic League) that year. Everything just went together. Bunch of rivals going to be a team. The kids were great,” said Chancey.

What makes the success in that first season of Meigs football truly amazing is the fact the students ended up not going to the new school right away. Construction of the facility, located on the outskirts of Pomeroy, was delayed.

“They just went to their own school (Pomeroy, Middleport and Rutland) and they bused them into Middleport for practice. We played (games) at Pomeroy (on the grounds of historic Bob Roberts Field). We were on the move all the time,” Chancey said with a smile.

He would coach Meigs from 1967-1986. His final two teams were 19-1, including a perfect 10-0 season in ’86.

After retiring, he was lured back to coach the program again in 1988 and led the Marauders to a 7-3 mark before calling it quits for good.

When Chancey was coaching, the mammoth state of Ohio had but three classification which made the road to the playoffs extremely difficult. These days, there are seven football-playing divisions in the Buckeye State. Many of the teams Chancey coached (12 winning seasons and one .500 mark) would have reached the postseason if they had been playing in the present time.

He guided Meigs to 117 wins during his career.

Among those he coached were his two sons, Rick and Mike. Both were quarterbacks while at Meigs.

Mike Chancey was All-Ohio and earned a football scholarship to Ohio State. He would later become the Meigs head football coach and won 103 games in 19 seasons.

“It worked out pretty well,” said Chancey of coaching his two sons, who both still live in the area. “The kids (Rick and Mike) had good attitudes and that helped a lot. They both were able to play.”

One of his outstanding players at Meigs was Mike Bartrum, who moved on to a great career at Marshall before spending 13 seasons in the National Football League.

“That’s an honor to have someone play in the NFL,” said Chancey of Bartrum, who was the Meigs head coach for seven seasons before returning to the NFL, where he is an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Speaking of honors, Chancey will be inducted into the Ripley High School Viking Football Hall of Fame this coming season. “I never anticipated anything like this because they’ve had a lot of good football players go through there,” said Chancey, who was 3-1 against his alma mater during his coaching days in the seasons of 1974-77.

The former Viking has been recognized several times through the years for his work as a coach in Meigs County. One of those was having the road in front of Meigs Local named in his honor. Charles Chancey Drive takes one to the MLHS campus.

“It’s named for me, but it should have a hundred names on it,” said the humble Chancey.

When it comes to coaching football, the name Charles Chancey is one that resonates far and wide in the circles of both Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia.

He knew the game and brought a likeable demeanor to the table when it came to guiding young men on the football field.

Which are two reasons why he will always be remembered as one of the very best.

Charles Chancey