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Athlete John Zontini (February 28, 1909-June 20, 1981) was nicknamed the ‘‘Sheik of Seth’’ because of his outstanding football career as a running back at Sherman High School, which is located at Seth in Boone County. His rushing average per carry of 27 yards in 1929 remains a state high school record. As a junior, Zontini ran for 2,135 yards on 79 carries. He also set the state javelin record in 1931 with a throw of 172 feet, one inch.

Zontini rushed for 865 yards in 1931 as a freshman at Marshall College (now University), including 200 yards in a 60-0 win over Fairmont State. His season record of most yards per rush at 9.5 still stands at Marshall. Choosing a professional baseball career, Zontini played outfield for the Charleston Senators of the Mid-Atlantic League. He was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Writers’ Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Marshall University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984.

Sherman High School named its football facility Zontini Field in honor of John Zontini and his brothers, Lou and Lawrence “Red” Zontini, all of whom were star athletes at Sherman and played football in college. John Zontini moved to eastern Virginia and lived there for about 40 years until his death.

Last Revised on November 21, 2023

Related Articles


Hardman, A. L.. The Fabulous Record of John Zontini: The Sheik of Seth. Sunday Gazette-Mail, November 22, 1959.

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "John Zontini." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 November 2023. Web. 29 May 2024.


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