Local superfans are devoted to teams 24/7March 3, 2020
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
For the most part, everyone enjoys a sporting event, at least every now and then. Some games are memorable, so not so much. Then there are those who live and breathe their team’s colors. You’ve undoubtedly seen them. They are often a bit more rabid than your garden-variety fans. They eat, sleep and spend their leisure time studying statistics and exuding team spirit. They are superfans.
Probably every team has at least one superfan. Dubois County and area teams are among them, so we couldn’t resist finding out more, finding out why they are who they are and how they became a superfan. Uberfans from four of the five area schools shared their devotion, although some declined to label themselves a superfan.
Editor's note: There’s also a superfan for Northeast Dubois, but when contacted for this story, the Jeeps superfan declined to be included.
Jarboe is a Jasper junkie
Byron Jarboe, 64, downplayed being called a superfan. The 1974 Jasper graduate insists he’s just a fan, but decades of attending events, preserving items and even attending practices might suggest otherwise. The former offensive tackle and special teamer for Jasper football still has his name strap from his old No. 71 uniform. Jarboe has remained involved with Jasper athletics for many years.
Jarboe showed some old articles, but the collection he trotted out was only a tip of the iceberg of the stuff he has saved.
“Here’s something you don’t see too much,” Jarboe said, pulling out a baseball bat from the couch where he displayed his stuff in in his office.
“To Byron — Thanks,” it reads, with Scott Rolen’s signature on it. It’s a Louisville Slugger he has that also has the 1993 Jasper graduate’s name engraved on it dating back to when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Son Luke Jarboe graduated from Jasper in 2018. Byron remembers when Luke was the placeholder for Corbin Kaiser as he kicked the game-winning field goal in double overtime on Sept. 16, 2016 — his junior year — for a 45-42 win against Vincennes Lincoln.
His fandom stems from the enjoyment he gets from watching Jasper athletics and makes sure to attend as many different events as possible. Jarboe is also a regular attendee of baseball and basketball practices, which the Jasper coaches don’t mind.
“Coach (John) Goebel and Coach (Terry) Gobert, they’ve both been really good to me,” he said.
He now works at the Jasper Youth Sports Complex, but was the groundskeeper at Ruxer Field for many years, site of the Jasper baseball teams from 1996-1998 that won three straight state titles.
“They were hard-nosed workers,” he said.
He supervised Jasper basketball practice Jan. 20, and credited the players for working hard that day in practice. They’ll look to repeat as sectional champions beginning today, but Jarboe knows it won’t be easy.
“When you play Jasper, I don’t care what sport it is — if it’s tiddlywinks or anything — they want to beat you, it’s as simple as that,” Jarboe said.
Ohanian bleeds red, white and black
Phil Ohanian didn’t graduate from Southridge, but make no mistake about it, Ohanian bleeds the red, white and black.
He graduated from the now-defunct Owensville High School in 1973. Wife Debi graduated from Southridge the same year. Phil remembered the first time he saw a Southridge basketball game in the 1970s. It was against Evansville Central and he was hooked.
“I couldn’t believe the fans,” Phil said. “They’re nuts. What are they so excited about? It’s just a basketball game. We weren’t very successful where I was at. I had no idea what it was like. It got in the blood.”
It’s almost like Christmas for him every time he goes to Huntingburg Memorial Gym. He remembers the whole town shutting down in 1998 when Southridge won its first state championship in girls basketball.
He’ll never forget the 2002 football semistate, when he was both a fan and a dad. His son, Brad, starred on that team. Brad and Southridge trailed, 17-14, after three quarters, when Brad intercepted a pass and went all the way, putting the Raiders over the top against Indianapolis Scecina, 28-17.
“I think if I’d have been on the field, I could’ve outraced him down to the end zone,” he said. “I was so excited.”
Brad is now the offensive coordinator for his alma mater, and the Raiders returned to state once more in 2017 after another semistate win against Scecina. Phil proudly owns a Southridge helmet that he’s not shy about showing off, as well as other mementos. He went to the 2017 state championship game wearing that helmet, and he wore the Southridge Raiders flag as a cape.
“That’s what I wore to the state finals in 2017,” he said, tapping the helmet. “[People] thought I was nuts.”
He only wears his helmet and cape on special occasions. The last time he wore it was when Southridge lost to Heritage Hills in the sectional championship.
He’s also been on the other side of that as a fan, including the Raiders losing in the state baseball championship game in back-to-back years in 2018-19. The freshest one in his memory is last year, when they could not complete the dropped third strike for the final out.
Phil insists it’s a game the Raiders should’ve won, and could’ve won that game again and again. They graduated Tucker Schank, who is now playing baseball at Indiana University, but the loss of personnel from last year doesn’t worry him.
“You reload,” he said. “We got some good, younger players. We got great pitching coming back. We got (junior) Colson (Montgomery, an IU commit) out there. We’ll be fine. I don’t know if we can repeat going back to state, but I know one thing is that if they think they can do it, I think they can do it.
Kempf knows miracles happen
Ryan Kempf, 39, graduated from Forest Park in 2000, and began going to his team’s games when he was a senior. The passion radiates from him at Buechler Arena as he watches his alma mater play basketball. That was evident when he described his emotions from being present on Feb. 18 when the Rangers came back from a 16-point deficit to edge Boonville, 61-57, in double overtime.
“During that game, I was just super frustrated because we weren’t getting things going,” Kempf said. “Boonville was getting the best of us. I’m like, ‘Come on, you guys, let’s go!’” Kempf recalls not being irate, but frustrated, in that sequence.
“Dear God, we need a miracle,” he thought to himself during the second half.
To his delight, the Rangers slowly chipped away at Boonville’s advantage, picking up their second win in their last three outings.
“They’re not a sectional opponent, but that was almost sectional atmosphere,” Kempf said.
Kempf has a choice of hats — “Ranger football” with dark green words, while the other has “FP Rangers” in the same shade of color. The Rangers have had a rich tradition with their basketball program. Kempf has memories of being ecstatic to see them win back-to-back state championships in 2005-06. He’s also the owner of a basketball signed by the 2017-18 team that was the Class 2A state runner-up.
His favorite memory as a Forest Park fan came the season before the first state championship. Kempf was in the gym when his Rangers took on Heritage Hills on Feb. 12, 2004. They were facing a 50-21 halftime deficit, trailed by 29 points twice, yet came back to stun the Patriots, 81-77, in overtime on their home floor. That was even more memorable to him than the state championships were.
“Is this real?” Kempf thought. “Did we just win?”
Kempf also has a binder of articles and rosters of the entire 2016-17 sectional championship season. The Rangers finished with an 18-10 record, and bested Evansville Mater Dei, 44-43, to win. The binder has articles from The Herald and The Ferdinand News. Typed statistics on the season are at the end of the white-colored binder with a picture on the front of the team posing with its championship trophy at Memorial Gym.
He’ll be cheering for Forest Park to win its third sectional championship in the past four years, a quest that begins tonight.
“It would be amazing,” he said.
Mosbey is dedicated to the Patriots
Dave Mosbey didn’t play prep sports, but the Heritage Hills Patriots make up a big part of who Mosbey is. He grew up listening to them on the radio, and went to his first sporting event as a high school freshman in 1979 — a football game against Jasper. That was the Pats’ last game of the season. In a time when not every team made the playoffs, Jasper won, 19-0, handing Heritage Hills its only loss of the year, and both teams missed out on postseason football.
Mosbey joined brother Dan and his brother’s then-girlfriend, Jackie Gentry, that night. It was raining, but rather than join them when they headed for the car when Heritage Hills got behind, he decided to stay put in the stadium.
“Even though they were down a couple touchdowns, I just kept hoping they would come back,” Mosbey said.
HHqbclub.com/history is his portion of a website. There, he keeps track of records, both school and head-to-head, history of games, schedules, honors and more, making a goal to update it every night. He still does basketball boxscores, but now just links football boxscores to the main website.
Heritage Hills has produced a few players who have gone on to play in the NFL. Mosbey has their football cards on display in his living room. He has some of Jay Cutler, who is forever immortalized in the area for quarterbacking the 2000 Heritage Hills team to an undefeated state championship season. Cutler caught the championship-winning touchdown pass in overtime from Cole Seifrig. Mosbey has that game, and some others, on VHS tapes.
The Pats have gone back to state twice since the 2000 win, both times resulting in a runner-up finish in 2004 and 2019, the latter a loss to Bishop Chatard.
“I thought we had a chance, but I thought this was one of the best teams they’ve ever had,” he said. “I knew it was a tall task going in.”
He said he might get to the age where he doesn’t do it anymore, but had no clue for how long he thinks he will keep doing it. Updating the website can be work when coming home from games, but he enjoys it.
“If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t keep doing it,” Mosbey said.
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Heritage Hills hopes to win its second straight sectional next week.
Heritage Hills capped off the regular season on a high note Friday night.
Southridge clinched a winning record for the season on Thursday.
Forest Park went undefeated in February, and looks to keep the hot stretch going into March.