JOSEPH ‘JO-JO’ BLAHA (CLASS OF 1983)
A starting guard on Wheeling Central Catholic’s 1982 West Virginia Class AA championship basketball team, ‘Jo-Jo’ Blaha finished his career as one of the Maroon Knight’s all-time athletic greats. He was a first-team all-state honoree in three sports, football, basketball and baseball. He earned back-to-back all-state tournament laurels (1982 and 1983), averaging double-figures during both his junior and senior seasons. He capped off his senior year with berths on the All-State, All-OVAC and All-Valley squads. He was a four-year performer for legendary Wheeling Central coach Skip Prosser, a 2016 Central Hall of Fame honoree.
The 1982 state championship basketball team was Central’s first in the hoop sport as a member of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission. Central finished that winter campaign with 25 victories against just two defeats, setting a school record for wins in a single season. Blaha was voted to the All-Tournament squad in both 1982 and 1983 as the Maroon Knights again advanced to the state tournament but fell to a talented Williamson club led by another all-state standout, Mark Cline.
In baseball, Blaha twice was selected to the All-State team (1981 and 1983) and earned All-OVAC and All-Valley laurels as he batted over .400 his last two years. Blaha’s baseball achievements included playing on two Post 1 American Legion West Virginia title-winning teams that advanced to regional tournaments. He was selected in 1983 as the West Virginia American Legion Player of the Year.
The talented running back led the Maroon Knights in rushing two years in a row and his senior year saw him selected to the All-State, All-OVAC and All-Valley squads. Blaha rushed for over 1,000 yards as a senior.
‘Jo-Jo’ was recruited to play baseball at Valdosta State University in Georgia where he lettered four years. Twice he was named to the all-conference squad. The two-time All-American was inducted into the Valdosta State Hall of Fame in 2001.
He was a fixture at third base at Valdosta, setting eight school records five of which still stood after the 2017 season. Blaha’s records included 39 extra base hits and 76 RBI in a single-season and career records in doubles (52), total bases (445) and RBIs (209). The career .339 hitter also was a threat on the bases, stealing 27 of 29 base attempts and scoring 178 runs. Blaha crushed 43 home runs while helping VSU to 157 victories during his four-year career.