James V. Lash II made a name for himself as a football player in high school, in college and in the NFL during the 1960s and 1970s.
Lash’s development on the gridiron started in Akron at Garfield High School under former Golden Rams coach Dan “Babe” Flossie. His career took him to Northwestern University, and to the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers.
Lash passed away on May 31 at age 67. He is survived by his children, Lachelle R. Lash of Sacramento, Calif., Devonte Lash of St. Louis, Mo., and Demetrius Lash, Charisma Lash and Diamond Lash of Akron; and his siblings, Malcolm Cranston Lash Sr. of Akron, Daryl Vincent Lash of Capitol Heights, Md., and Dr. Sharon Cecile Lash of Moline, Ill.
Jim Lash was born on Nov. 12, 1951, and graduated from Garfield in 1969.
Bill McGee, a 1960 Garfield graduate, was an assistant on Flossie’s staff from 1966-1975 and coached Lash. McGee then served as Garfield’s head coach from 1976-2001.
“Jim was a very good athlete,” McGee said. “I was the defensive coordinator from 1967-1975 and Jim was a wide receiver. He was a very good one with good hands, and he could run. He didn’t play much defense though. He was tall and thin, although when he was a senior I believe I am right in saying that he was put on an all-state team as a defensive back. It was one of those things where they had a lot of wide receivers and they thought he should be on there so they put him on defense.”
Indeed, McGee was accurate as Lash was selected as a defensive back on the 1968 Class AA Associated Press All-Ohio Football Team.
Lash played in 32 games for Northwestern from 1970-72, totaling 86 receptions for 1,479 yards and six touchdowns, and six rushes for 11 yards and two touchdowns.
Minnesota selected Lash with the 65th overall selection in the 1973 NFL Draft and he helped the Vikings reach the Super Bowl in 1974 and 1975.
Lash played in playoff wins over the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in December 1973 before losing to the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII, and then contributed to playoff wins over the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams in December 1974 before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl IX.
Lash played with the Vikings in 1973, 1974 and 1975, split the 1976 season between the Vikings and San Francisco 49ers, and spent the 1977 season with the Niners.
In 60 NFL regular-season games, Lash had 91 receptions for 1,464 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, and returned one fumble for a score. He also had six catches for 92 yards and one touchdown in seven NFL playoff games.
Lash played alongside classmate Steve Craig at Garfield, Northwestern and in the NFL with the Vikings. Friends Dave Brown and Larry Poole, both 1971 Garfield graduates, also went on to NFL careers.
Bob Sax, a 1988 Garfield graduate, got to know Lash earlier this decade when he coached one of his kids.
“His son, Devonte Lash, graduated from Garfield in 2015,” said Sax, who led the Golden Rams from 2002-2016. “... It was an amazing time at Garfield when Jim was playing high school football.”
Visitation is noon Monday at Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home, 529 W. Thornton St., Akron, Ohio 44307 with Pastor Derwood Lockett officiating. Services will begin at 1 p.m.
Michael Beaven can be reached at email@example.com.