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Steubenville football legend set to be honored in documentary Friday

April 25, 2012
By MARK J. MILLER - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Patti West, niece of city and Canadian Football League football legend Calvin Jones, said shooting of a documentary honoring Jones will go on at 8 p.m. Friday at Harding Stadium, "rain, sleet or snow."

A film crew from Infield Fly Productions of Canada will arrive in the city this week to shoot film for a documentary to include Jones' roots in the Ohio Valley, culminating in a simulation crowds cheering on the Big Red football team at 8 p.m. Friday at Harding Stadium, according to West.

"I talk to the (film company) every day about it," said West, adding the filming is for a documentary on the 100th anniversary of Canadian football to be broadcast on the TSN Canadian sports network. "The film crew will be here on Wednesday. They are also coming to shoot around Steubenville. People will see them around the city, I'm sure."

Article Photos

FILM TO BE SHOT — Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey on Tuesday looked out at the bleachers that at 8 p.m. on Friday will be filled with local residents during a re-creation of a Steubenville Big Red football game. It is part of a documentary on city football legend Calvin Jones being done by a film crew from Infield Fly Productions of Canada. Gates will open for residents to attend at 5 p.m. -- Jeremy Kins

West said the re-creation at Harding Stadium - named the Calvin Jones Memorial Football Game - is open to the public, and admission is free. "They will set up at about 4 p.m. The gates will open at 5 p.m., and (the re-creation) will begin at 8 p.m.

"Everybody's invited, and everyone is welcome," continued West, adding students from other high schools are invited to attend. "We want the public to come on down and have a good time. It's going to be football weather Friday."

Paul Cowan, the director of the film, said the audience, "will play a key part in this re-creation of Calvin Jones playing football in Steubenville."

"We want to show how Calvin Jones came out of the town that was and still is football crazy," said Cowan.

"We won't be able to use Steubenville High School football players, because of Ohio rules governing high school football practices. So, we will be using some footage of the team in action and Coach Reno Saccoccia on the sidelines from last year to create a game. But it is very important to get as many people as possible to be in the stands at Harding Stadium for the crowd shots," said Cowan.

"We are looking forward to being in Steubenville and seeing a traditional Big Red crowd at the filming. The band will be there, the cheerleaders will be there and we need the fans as well," stressed Cowan.

Jones was a 1952 graduate of Steubenville High School and played for Big Red before moving onto Iowa and then the CFL. He was a Big Red basketball star as well, leading the team to a state title game. Jones also has been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Jones wasn't alone in reviving the University of Iowa football program between 1952-55, where he was an defensive and offensive guard. He joined two other Steubenville High School alumni - end Frank Gilliam and halfback Eddie Vincent - and Jones was elected team captain his senior year. He also was awarded the Outland Trophy as the nation's top college lineman, the first time an African-American had won that award.

He also became the first African-American to be pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, appearing on the front on the Sept. 27, 1954, edition. In addition, he was named as one of the 50 Greatest Sports Figures from Ohio by that magazine in its Dec. 27, 1999, edition.

In 1956 Jones, like many African-American football players at the time, declined offers to play in the NFL because of institutionalized racism in the U.S., and he instead joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, thus beginning his football career in the CFL, according to literature provided by West. Jones quickly made a name for himself in the league, and he was chosen to play in the Canadian League All-Star game in Vancouver B.C., Dec. 8, 1956.

The next day the plane carrying Jones and 61 others crashed in the Canadian Rockies.

West said the re-creation will include stops and starts and eventually will be digitally aged. She added Edwin "Boomer" Harrison II, grandson of Jones and a current player for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, also will be in the city.

"(Harrison) is following in his grandfather's footsteps," said Jones, adding Harrison will be attending with his father, Edwin Harrison I.

Harrison also will be attending a press conference at the Steubenville High School commons set for 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday.

West said anyone with questions or information on Jones that could be used in the documentary should call her, at (740) 282-5234.

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