When Oxford decided to refurbish its football stadium’s scoreboard, it was a no-brainer to dedicate it to retired Oxford Academy teacher and coach, John Curtis.
For over three decades, Curtis coached football for the Blackhawks, the last 11 as the head varsity coach. “Oxford athletics was his whole life,” said Oxford football coach Mike Chrystie, who played four years for Curtis, a span that included three Section IV, Class D titles “Rarely did you ever drive by the field, and Mr. Curtis wasn’t doing something to the field.”
Not only was Curtis spending many hours coaching the Blackhawks, he was also the football field’s chief groundskeeper mowing it, painting the yard lines, and even reseeding the grass. Chiefly, though, Curtis was leading his team to winning season after winning season to expand on his predecessor Tony Abbott’s tradition of winning football games at Oxford.
Curtis coached Oxford to a .500 or better record 10 times, and finished with a 73-35 career record, a nifty .678 winning percentage. “My first year as a coach, we opened up the season and beat them,” said Greene coach Tim Paske. “That was a big win for us. Just (John’s) record alone...he was a heck of a football mind and a respected coach. To beat him my first game was an eye opener. The next year, he came right back and beat us.”
Oxford put up some mind boggling statistical numbers during Curtis’ tenure, and some of those school marks may stand for a long, long time. Receiver Ronny Smith caught 125 passes, second all-time in the state at the time of his graduation; Jeremy Tompkins threw for over 1,700 yards in Curtis’ second season, and Chrystie set local marks with over 3,000 career yards passing and receiving – not to mention his illustrious career as a place-kicker in which he finished among the all-time greats in New York State scholastic history.
Curtis will be recognized and honored prior to Oxford’s 7 p.m. game tonight against Delhi. Longtime Oxford assistant football coach, Don Cooper, will give the opening speech. “Having played for him and seen the time he put into the athletic program, no one deserves this honor more than Mr. Curtis,” Chrystie said.