Mike May, Hayden Buhro honored for their contributions

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

For their efforts this past season, Oak Harbor coach Mike May and WR/DB Hayden Buhro were recognized by the Toledo/Wistert Chapter of the National Football Foundation at the 61st Annual Scholar Athlete Banquet held March 20 at Glass City Center in Toledo.
The duo oversaw a season in which the Rockets won the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division and a playoff game before putting up a great fight in a loss to Eastwood in the second round of the playoffs.
For a player to be recognized as a scholar-athlete, he must be a senior; have at least a 3.2 GPA; earn all-league (or greater) status; and have a record of community, school or church service.
Buhro, who is also an all-Ohio wrestler and sprinter, said his experience playing for Oak Harbor has been the greatest time of his life.
“The lights and the full stadium every Friday are what I looked forward to every week,” he said. “The bonds I built playing football will last forever because of the things we went through,” he said.
May talked about Buhro.
“I think for Northwest Ohio football players, it’s about the best honor you can get. Academics are part of the award,” May said. “Hayden was very deserving, he’s one of the best all-around athletes that’s come out of Oak Harbor in a while.
“He’s the complete package and has had so much success in all three sports, and gets it done in the classroom. He’s that rare combination of strength and speed, and he has a good head on his shoulders – and a good work ethic; he’s been a pleasure to coach, and we’re going to miss him.”
May deflected praise and credit to his assistants, a loyal group that includes Scott Schulte, Dave Thiel, Renel Thompson, Doug Slagle, Eric Dusseau, Rob Rakay, Jason Overmyer and Andy Augsburger.
“It’s very humbling and a high honor. I look at it as a staff award. Our staff did a really good job this season. We had some injuries; we had to shuffle some guys around. Our assistant coaches did a phenomenal job,” said May, who had been recognized twice by the NFF.
“I’m kind of embarrassed that it has my name on it. I see it as a staff honor, I wish it had the name of (our entire) staff because it’s our honor,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized for our hard work.”
The banquet included a star-studded list of speakers, including Toledo Rocket legend Chuck Ealey and former Rocket Coach Gary Pinkel, who were recognized for their recent admission into the College Football Hall of Fame. From 1969-71, Easley quarterbacked his team to a record of 35-0. Pinkel holds the most wins in school history with 73. USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, a Toledo native was also a speaker.
Past speakers at the annual banquet have included Ryan Day, Luke Fickell, Jason Candle, Pat Fitzgerald, Jim Harbaugh, Matt Campbell, Brady Hoke, Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly, Jim Tressel, Rich Rodriguez and Nick Saban.
Ealey, who did not suffer a loss in his high school or collegiate career, was the first African American quarterback to lead a team to a Grey Cup championship (in the Canadian Football League) when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won it in 1972, defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 13–10. Ealey was the MVP of the game after throwing for 291 yards and a touchdown.
He later played for Winnipeg and Toronto and retired in 1978, throwing for 13,326 yards and 82 touchdowns in his career.
Pinkel is a coaching legend. Recently retired, he has a career record of 191-110-3 and 7-4 in bowl games. While coaching the Rockets, he went 73-37-3 in 10 years, finishing the 1995 season 11-0-1, one of just two undefeated teams in the country with the other being Nebraska, which won the national championship. Pinkel won one Mid-American Conference title.
He left UT for the University of Missouri in 2001, coaching in Columbia for 15 seasons. For 10 years, from 2005 to 2014, the Tigers had one losing season and won the Cotton Bowl twice. The best season came in 2007 when UM won 12 games and finished fourth in the final AP Poll.
Brennan grew up watching Ealey and the Rockets play, and the two have since become friends. A graduate of Northwestern University and its prestigious Medill School of Journalism, she has won a bevy of awards and written seven books. She worked for The Miami Herald, The Washington Post and has been with The USA Today for 26 years.
“The speakers were outstanding. Coach Pinkel is someone, when I started coaching, was someone I looked up to,” May said. “I listened to him speak; he was a hero of mine for coaching.
“Chuck Ealey had a great message for the kids. He talked about some things that helped him back then and today to get things done. Christine Brennan talked about Chuck when he played, and she shared some stories about them being good friends. It was phenomenal,” he said.
May added that he followed Pinkel as a young coach moving up through the ranks.
“It was the defense that he ran, a 4-4 defense, which now has evolved. Tom Amstutz, too, I followed guys that ran that defense,” he said. “I’d listen to Pinkel and Amstutz – that’s how I learned about our defense in those early years. I kept tabs on how Pinkel was doing.”


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