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Richard G. Fortner

Back in the 1950s Dick Fortner sang a sweet tune as a baritone in his Wilmington College fraternity quartet, but it turns out that it played second fiddle to a sterling high school coaching career. At Wilmington Fortner lettered for three years in football and still holds the single-game record of four interceptions. Fortner started his coaching career in Portage County at Randolph, leading the Tigers to the Portage County League championship in 1959, and claiming the state Class A title for his team that scored more than 200 points and gave up only one touchdown. From Randolph it was a hop over to Stow where the Bulldogs had won only three games in four years. Fortner suffered through a losing season then went 5-4 and won the Metro League title and Summit County Coach of the Year with a 9-1 record in 1962. One of the Fortner’s players at Stow was Larry Csonka who went on to fame at Syracuse and into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton after a great career with the Miami Dolphins. But it was at Kenmore where he had his biggest successes. His first year, 1963, the Cardinals were 6-3-2, for their first winning season in 16 years. In his nine years at Kenmore, Fortner had eight winning teams that made the City Series playoffs and six of them played in the Thanksgiving Day championship. The Cardinals won before crowds of 17,129 in 1969 and 16,240 in 1970. Fortner was a proponent of the “run and shoot” offense. He had three quarterbacks who could work the offense, Don Plusquellic, the Mayor of Akron, and SCSHOF inductees Eric Schoch and Dave Buckey. “It was an exciting time,” says Fortner, who is Kenmore’s all-time winningest football coach with a record of 58-25-4. Later, he would guide North High to a four year mark of 28-17-1, including a 9-1 record in 1976. Fortner resides in Norton.

Inducted 2004 | Football, Coach