6-19-03, 3:45 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Pro Football Hall of Fame checked it out , and Pete Fierle's crack staff believes this is a first.
When the Bengals travel to San Diego for their Nov. 23 game, it's the first time two NFL head coaches who played at the same high school for the same coach face off against each other.
It almost certainly has to be the first time that both coaches were born on the same day (Sept. 23) 15 years apart with San Diego's Marty Schottenheimer of 1943 going against Marvin Lewis of 1958.
So it's somehow fitting that Jim Garry of Fort Cherry High School is inducted into the Washington-Greene chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame this weekend as the school prepares for its first football season ever without him as the head coach.
But he'll still be working because he's going to assist the new head coach, his son Tim, and it's just one of the reasons he probably wants to stick around and not travel to watch Lewis and Schottenheimer.
"I've been to California once before," said Garry Thursday from his suburban Pittsburgh home. "I didn't care all that much about it. I'd just as soon stay here in little old McDonald, Pa. If someone wants me to go to Pittsburgh and give me a ticket, I'll do that."
And Lewis will probably do that. He said as much Wednesday when he stopped by Garry's house for a visit that broke up his drive from Baltimore to Cincinnati.
"Marvin is still the same. He never changes," Garry said. "You won't find anybody nicer than Marvin Lewis."
Lewis has a lot of fond memories about a guy who had a huge presence. Garry started coaching Lewis when he was in second grade and didn't stop until he went both ways for him at Fort Cherry as a quarterback and safety.
"A smart fella," is how Garry remembers him, although Lewis, a future Division 1-AA linebacker, downplays the QB role.
"My longest passes," he said, "were screens."
But Lewis said he still carries some of Garry's style with him.
"I remember just being in awe of this guy with all this presence," Lewis said. "Never cursed. He was an example of how you could do it without doing it like that. He taught us the fundamentals and he made his point."
Schottenheimer helped Lewis along the way. In 1991, when Lewis was coaching at the University of Pittsburgh and Schottenheimer was the head coach of the Chiefs, Lewis did a minority coaching internship in Kansas City.
"I wouldn't be where I am without Marty," Lewis said.
Both may not be here without Garry. But he'll have to end up hearing about it.
"If I went, I wouldn't root for either team," Garry said. "But I'd be pulling for both."
By the way, that Bengals' game in Pittsburgh that Garry most likely attends is the next Sunday, Nov. 30.
ALL ARMOUR:** Bengals safety JoJuan Armour, he of the musical web page and charity foundation, is doing it again this Saturday when he hosts his second annual free football camp for children ages 9-15 at his alma mater of Central Catholic High School, 2550 Cherry St., Toledo, Ohio. The camp is from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with registration at the school the day of the camp starting at 8 a.m. Or forms are available at jojuan-armour.com. The only cost is two canned goods to be donated to a local food shelter.
But Armour, who turns 27 next month, isn't stopping there. The plan is for his Caring for Kids
Foundation to take over one of Toledo's youth football leagues by 2004. About 400 children are involved in the Mid-City league, where Armour played and where he hopes to build on his Knights in Armour program that honors academic achievement. The idea is not only to supply solid equipment and coaching, but instill values.
Armour wants to focus on youth in grades six through eight in an effort to better prepare them for high school.
"The league is a way to reach kids more directly and have an impact on their hearts and minds," said Vince Wiggins of Instant Replay Sports. "The focus is on mentoring and grades."
Armour wanted to open up his camp to children who may not be involved directly in the sports scene because they aren't aware of the opportunities. So in the past few months he has sent word of the camp via local youth organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Waymon Palmer YMCA, the Frederick Douglass Center, the Lucas Metro Housing Authority,, and the House of Emmanuel. Wiggins now expects last year's attendance of 60 to double and maybe reach 150.
On Saturday, campers are to be separated by age and positions and go through several drills and contests. They will be treated to a Subway lunch while current NFL players and some former college teammates of Armour at Miami of Ohio share their life experiences. At the end of the day, a handful of campers are to receive Best Attitude awards and a jersey signed by Armour and other players at the camp.
Armour expects former Miami teammates and NFL players Trevor Gaylor and Alex Sulfsted, as well as several Bengals' rookies such as fourth-round pick Jeremi Johnson and fifth-rounder Khalid Abdullah. Bengals linebacker Dwayne Levels, just back from NFL Europe, as well as wide receiver Kwazeon Leverette are also making the trip.
The contact number is 419-255-2280, but they will direct you to the web site or Saturday morning's registration.