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ST. MARYS — There is a new group in town that is focusing its efforts on football.
The Roughrider Touchdown Club Inc. is a nonprofit, 501c3 organization that has been in the works for approximately a year, President Tom Knous said, and the club recently has headquartered itself in the former Hans and Fritz Restaurant building in the South Street parking lot.
“Kalvin (Schanz) has let us use this place, and we’ve started building some stuff up,” Knous said, noting the various collections of Roughrider football memorabilia that lines the front room in the building. “We have programs and books from back in the mid-to-late 70s to today.”
There is also a collection of books left behind by former St. Marys football coach Skip Baughman, which former football coach and former St. Marys mayor Greg Freewalt gave to the club. There is also a collection of “State of Roughrider Football” — booklets of press clippings from that football season — from 1898 to the mid-1980s.
“We have jerseys, helmets, old pictures,” Knous said. “We have stuff from the old weight room.”
The building also houses football magnets and the youth football trophy.
“We are a football organization,” Knous said. “We represent the youth all the way up to the high school programs.”
He noted the group started forming approximately a year ago.
“We just were talking about it,” he said.
“We started getting together, and we found out a lot of people were interested. Who better to take care of the football program than ex-football players?”
In the back of the building, the club has designated a youth room, which is painted in blue and gold.
“Our plan for this room is the youth teams will have their own key and they can run film in here,” Knous said, noting one of the walls is washable and the coaches can use it to write plays on. “We want to have youth parties — we want to keep the kids close to football and around it.”
Recently, the club invited youth players into the building off South Street.
“We had a youth day, where we had a Madden football tournament,” Knous said. “We had 40-plus kids here that day, and Reid Lininger won that.”
The back of the building also boasts a college room, where Knous said they hope to feature names and helmets from where St. Marys football alumni have gone and played after high school.
Knous noted the club is a way to get St. Marys football alumni involved with the program — whether they’re in town or not.
“Our main objective would be to raise funds for the youth to the high school and not meddling our community for money,” he said. “Eventually we want to evolve into reconnecting with our football alumni all over the U.S.”
Knous said the club is working on developing a website to help with membership and networking with former players.
“We wanted an organization that would take care of the football program through ex-football players who may not even be around here,” he said. “Maybe once we’re doing well, we could find one or two people who have the money to fund a new stadium — if and when we get a new stadium — if we stay here, maybe we could refurbish that. We still would like to see Skip Baughman stay in the hopes that we could keep it as a football facility in some respect.”
Knous stressed the club is not in competition with Rider Rooters and has worked with Rider Rooters in the past.
“We’re working on buying a trailer to haul the equipment for the football team, and we’ve collaborated with Rider Rooters to get headsets for the football team last year,” he said.
One of the items the club has discussed, Knous noted, is a youth football area.
“Youth football has been around since 1969 and we don’t have a practice facility anywhere,” he said.
The club, Knous said, was involved in the Relay for Life in Minster last summer, where it sponsored a team in former Coach Rob Deubler, who passed away from cancer.
“We’ll be helping out with Relay for Life again this year,” Knous said, noting their team in Deubler’s honor will be participating in the Relay for Life at Skip Baughman Stadium in June.
The membership for the club is a $20 one time, lifetime fee.
“We don’t charge annually, they only pay once,” Knous said. “With their membership, they get to come to our banquet, which will be July 21 at the Eagles this year, featuring Head Coach Greg Phillips and Floyd Keith, and we’ll be auctioning off a lot of items.”
During football season, Knous noted the club will be holding tailgates before and after all the home games.
The Roughrider Touchdown Club will be holding a fundraiser this week, as they will be holding a Chicken Dinner sale on Thursday.
“If anyone has questions about the club, or if they’re interested in tickets, they can call me at 419-733-2171,” Knous said.
The Roughrider Touchdown Club meets at 7 p.m. every Thursday at the building off South Street.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Knous said. “You can’t get anything done unless you take the first step, and that’s what we’ve done.”