Chuck Correal (2013)

When opportunity knocks you’ve got to take advantage of it.

That's exactly what former Laurel Highlands High School star Chuck Correal did.He parlayed a late scholarship into a good education and a solid football career.

Chuck Muncie  

Correal excelled at football and basketball for the Mustangs in the early 1970's.

"When I look back I remember the people and some of the memorable characters that helped shape my football career," Correal recalled. "I'd have to start with John Trivonovich the "Big T". He was the line coach who took me under his wing and kind of convinced me that I could be a football player.

“I was mainly a basketball player early on. I focused on football around the middle of my junior year when I started to have some success with it. I started to see I was potentially good sized for football, but undersized for playing under the basket in basketball."

Correal was a tight end and linebacker on the LH football team. In his sophomore year the Mustangs were 3-6. In his junior season they posted a 3-3-1 record on the field and picked up three forfeit wins because of schoolteacher’s strikes against Charleroi, Clairton and South Allegheny. In Correal's senior season the Mustangs finished with a 4-6 mark.

"My junior year was George Link's senior season and we had a real good bunch of seniors mixed in with our junior class. We were competitive."

Correal played for two head coaches in football at LH - Fred Botti and Bill Elias.

"They were just real different," Correal offered. "They were different personalities. Fred had been there a long time when I came in and he was a little more laid back except when he'd see red and then he could explode.

“When Bill Elias came in he had more of a hair trigger temper and he was really an emotional coach, and I always felt if that transition had gone smoother we could have had a big senior year. I had respect for both of them and I think they both really loved the game and really wanted to do the best for the team."

Correal also was a key figure on the Laurel Highlands basketball teams. In his sophomore season the Mustangs were 18-4 and lost to Farrell 70-50 in the WPIAL finals. His junior season LH was 18-4 and lost to eventual State Champion General Braddock 59-56. In Correal's senior season the Mustangs finished with a 13-4 record.

"I have great basketball memories," Correal explained. "I remember our coach Harold "Horse" Taylor - he was totally dedicated to the basketball program. He crossed so many T's and dotted so many I's as far as getting the program strong.

“The summer leagues were so big and so well participated in. Horse really utilized a connection with the University of Virginia and he would identify his players that had potential early on and I can remember as far back as seventh and eighth grade that he hand picked seven to ten players and he would raise money to send us to summer basketball camps.

“He left no stone unturned. He lived and died by that program and you knew if he was talking to you he was interested in you helping the program and there was never any question his total focus was on Laurel Highlands basketball."

When he graduated in 1974 Correal received offers from the service academies for football and basketball and was recruited by Pitt, West Virginia and Penn State for football.

"You talk about the 'A' list and the 'B' list - I was somewhere at the bottom of the 'C' list," Correal explained. "I was a late developer and I was 6 foot 4 and about 195 and I got a lot of letters, but no real offers were coming through. Jerry Sandusky from Penn State wrote me and said I didn't figure in their plans.

"I was at a student exchange program at Clairton High School and John Trivonovich was one of the sponsors who went with us. It just so happened that Jerry Sandusky was down there talking to a recruit and Mr. T gave him the sign to come here and they went into a janitorial cloak room and I just heard shouting and I guess he read him the riot act saying you are making a mistake and this kid is going to develop.

“A week later I got a letter offering me a scholarship and there was another factor too when Randy Holloway from Sharon turned down Penn State and went to Pitt and that opened up that last scholarship."

Correal went on to play a major role on some great Penn State teams.

"It was a long-range project," Correal said. "I got up there my freshman year and I was still undersized and had to develop. Coach Paterno called me into his office after the freshman year and said you can be either a slower linebacker/tightend or you can be a real quick center - what's it going to be? We'd like to move you to center - and I red shirted my sophomore year to gain weight and ended up my senior year at about 250 pounds and I started my junior and senior years."

The Nittany Lions were 11-1 both years. His junior year the only loss was to Kentucky and then the Lions defeated Arizona State in the Fiesta Bowl. In Correal's senior year the Lions were number one all season and undefeated before falling to Alabama with the famous goal line stand by the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.

Correal has fond memories of Coach Joe Paterno.

"There are guys that are Joe guys and guys that are anti Joe," Correal explained. "Put me in the Joe camp. First of all I was just in awe being a lower recruit, I looked at him with real awe and respect and I ended up having a great relationship with him and I had all the respect in the world for him."

Correal was drafted in the 1979 NFL draft in the eighth round by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was released in training camp and picked up by the Atlanta Falcons and spent two and a half years with the Falcons. He retired from football in 1984.

As soon as Correal retired he got into the investment business with Janney Montgomery Scott, and is a vice president with Morgan Stanley.

Correal,57, has been married to his high school sweetheart the former Debbie Roth for 36 years and they have three daughters.


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