As a sophomore at Notre Dame in 1943, Lujack started at halfback but was moved to quarterback when starter Angelo Bertelli was called into service. In his first game at that position, he completed 8 of 15 passes for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns and scored a touchdown rushing in a 26-0 upset of Army.
Over the years Fayette County has been blessed with many athletes who excelled at more than one sport. One of the best, who played three sports, was former South Union High School star Robert “Rip” Haley.
Former Connellsville High School star athlete John “Wally” Schroyer was a part of the great generation – he starred on the football field and the basketball court and in track – but answered the call when duty called.
Welcome to Sports Challenge, your toss up question for 10 points is - In 1940; the Chicago Bears routed the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL championship game. Name the only Bear player to score two touchdowns in that game? Tick........Tick........Tick........Beep! The answer - Harry Clarke, who scored on a 44 yard run and a 1 yard run.
During the 1940’s, 1950’s and into the 1960’s Fayette County was a fertile recruiting ground for college football and basketball. Henry“Hank”Oppermann is just one in a long list of players who went on to play college football during this era.
In a column about former German Township High School star Robert "Buddy" Ward, I wrote that in sports sometimes two players become forever linked to each other; for instance, Davis and Blanchard in football and Mantle and Maris in baseball. Former German Township High School football standouts Robert "Buddy" Ward and James "Happy" Ford will always be linked by their exploits together on the gridiron.
Read Jim "Happy" Ford's full biography
Robert "Buddy" Ward (2017)
In sports, sometimes two players become forever linked to each other, for instance, Davis and Blanchard in football and Mantle and Maris in baseball. Former German Township High School football standouts Robert "Buddy" Ward and James "Happy" Ford will always be linked by their exploits together on the gridiron.
Playing sports at any level is a difficult task, but playing sports with a disability makes that challenge even more daunting. Former Brownsville High School football and baseball star Gary Klingensmith never let the fact that he was deaf deter him.
When basketball fans debate who was the best player to come out of Fayette County it can be a heated discussion. The usual list includes the likes of Don Yates, Stu Lantz, Ron Sepic and Wil Robinson. Another name that is often thrown in the mix is that of former South Union star Chuck Davis.
Lawrence Donald "Bobby" Locke fashioned a nine-year career in major league baseball. The former Redstone High School star still wonders if he could have had a better career if he was not plagued by injuries.
Former Uniontown High School quarterback Sandy Stephens was a sports hero of mythic proportions; he was a legend on the playgrounds in Uniontown. Sadly Stephens succumbed to heart failure on June 6, 2000.
Stephens starred on some great Uniontown teams in the late 1950s.
In today’s world of football with offensive lineman weighing in at over 300 pounds it is hard to imagine an offensive tackle at 210 pounds, but that is what Francis “Moose” Machinsky weighed when he manned a tackle spot for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better in the world of sports. Sometimes it is the size of an athlete’s heart that matters most - not his physical stature. Former South Union High School star Rich Novak is a perfect example.
Larry Vignali, who graduated from Masontown High School in 1958, was a member of the Pennsylvania All-Stars in the very first Big 33 Classic against the United States All-Stars, and was one of the alumni who came to Hershey, PA for a week of events.
The Bowl Championship Series has drawn its share of criticism in recent years as college football fans clamor for a true playoff system that would determine a champion on the field, but controversy concerning bowl games and bowl matchups is nothing new. We should remember a team that finished the season 9-1 and was ranked third in the nation did not go to a bowl game.
Fred Mazurek was the quarterback of that 1963 University of Pittsburgh football squad.
Allison native Don Croftcheck fashioned a nice high school and college football career, but he often wonders if his pro football career would have been more productive had he been used on defense instead of offense?
During the 1950’s and 1960’s Fayette County produced some outstanding athletic talents. One of the best basketball players of that period hailed from Point Marion. His name is Jules “Buddy” Quertinmont.
During the late 1950’s the University of Maryland had a pipeline for talent out of Fayette County. Five former football players from county schools were all at Maryland during the same period – including former South Union standout Tom Rae.
Life has come full circle for former Laurel Highlands standout Jim Hobgood. Back to his roots in Fayette County as he joins former teammate Wil Robinson and the 1968 Laurel Highlands state championship basketball team in the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame.
In the 1960’s “Pistol” Pete Maravich was lighting up scoreboards with his prodigious scoring feats at LSU, while at the same time another Marovich from Fayette County was putting up “Pistol Pete” like numbers on the hardwood.
Uniontown High School was a football powerhouse through the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, and one of the toughest Red Raiders to grace the gridiron during that period was the man they called “Hook” - big John Hull.
Ray Yauger hasn’t played football since 1970, so the former North Union and Laurel Highlands star was surprised to learn that after all these years he still ranks number 11 on Clemson University’s All-Time rushing list with a total of 2,439 yards.
Former Laurel Highlands High School basketball star Gus Gerard has taken a long and winding road - experiencing the euphoria of success as a high school, college and pro basketball star and the depths of despair associated with drug and alcohol addiction.
For years German Township wrestling was the gold standard in Fayette County wrestling. The Uhlans were built on tradition and family. Several families were the bedrock of German Township wrestling, creating a bloodline of father and son and brother and nephew combinations. The Uhlans were blessed with wrestling clans like the Dugans, the Laverys and the Simons. The Stalnaker brothers added to the German tradition.
Rod Wheeler was a budding star who was on Laurel Highlands basketball Coach Harold “Horse” Taylor’s radar at a young age, especially after setting the Junior High scoring record at South Laurel in 1972-73 when Wheeler tallied 336 points for an average of 17 a game.
Over the years Fayette County has been blessed with some very athletic families, the McLeeís, the Yatesí, the Sepicís, and one of the most athletic was the Hardy family from Connellsville. Big Mike Hardy might have been the brightest star from that family tree.
The McLee family has to be considered athletic royalty in Uniontown High School sportsí history. Brad, Billy, Reggie and Kevin ìBooî McLee are part of that great bloodline, but the crown jewel of the bloodline might be Kevin ìAgeî McLee.
The father of ìBooî McLee, Kevin cut a wide swath on the gridiron, the hardwood, and in track for the Uniontown Red Raiders in the early 1970ís.
During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Connellsville American Legion baseball team was a powerhouse. They had a run of three successive County and District championships and produced some top notch players.
Former Connellsville High School star Beth Swink has already been honored with induction into three Halls of Fame, and now she gets the honor of being inducted into the Fayette County Sports Hall
He was known as the “Old Fox” and Gene Franks was sly as a fox compiling a coaching football record at Masontown High School that is on par with some of coaching giants throughout the state
Harold “Horse” Taylor guided Laurel Highlands, a merger of bitter rivals North Union and South Union. The Mustangs had a storybook beginning posting a record of 50-3 in the first two seasons with two section titles, a WPIAL championship and a PIAA title.
The Franks family ranks as coaching royalty in Fayette County athletic lore.
Gene Franks known as the “Old Fox”, during a 17-year reign at Masontown, piloted his Gunners to four WPIAL Class B football championships and compiled a record of 128-40-11. Following in his fathers footsteps Donald “Doc” Franks put together an outstanding coaching resume at Albert Gallatin High School.
They called George Bortz “The General”, maybe it was because of his presence on the basketball court when he played or his demeanor when he coached or because he was an officer in the United States Army.
Mention the sport of track and field in Fayette County and the name of Jack Henck towers above everyone else connected with the sport.
Henck who passed away in 2003 at the age of 76, produced some powerhouse track and field teams at Brownsville High School for over three decades.
Read Jack Henck's full biography
Tom Holliday (2017)
Some families own a grocery store and that is the family business, others own a garage or auto dealership, but with the Holliday family - baseball is the family business.
Former Uniontown High School football, basketball and baseball player Tom Holliday was the longtime baseball coach at Oklahoma State, the pitching coach at the University of Texas, the associate head coach at North Carolina State and an assistant coach at Auburn. Tom's son Matt Holliday, 37, was an All-Star outfielder with the Colorado Rockies and currently is the designated hitter for the New York Yankees.
Read Tom Holliday's full biography
Henry DiVirgillio (2018)
Winning 457 games as a basketball coach is quite an accomplishment. Former The late Frazier High School basketball coach Henry DiVirgilio was proud of his coaching record, but he took even more pride in his resume as a teacher and educator.
“I really enjoyed coaching,” Dave Shuck stated in a 2011 interview. “Whether it was game night or just walking out on the floor for a practice. I enjoyed working with the kids and trying to develop a team.”
Shuck developed some outstanding basketball teams at Uniontown High School.
From 1951 until he retired in 1991 Tod Trent was a friend to Fayette County athletes and chronicled some of the greatest moments in Fayette County sports history as a writer for the Uniontown Evening Standard and Morning Herald.
The "Big 3" were former Uniontown Herald Standard sports editor Tod Trent, former Brownsville Telegraph sports editor Bob Petriello and the late Jim Kriek who was the sports editor of the Connellsville Courier for many years and later worked for the Herald Standard.
Lets go back in time to the first Super Bowl in 1967. It wasn’t called the Super Bowl – it was the AFL-NFL World Championship Game and it was played on Jan.15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Green Bay Packers represented the National Football League and the Kansas City Chiefs carried the standard of the American Football League.
During the heyday of Uniontown High School athletics from the 1960’s through the 1970’s, the Red Raiders had a feeder system from their two Junior High Schools, Ben Franklin and Lafayette, second to none.
The architects of those great junior high programs were Bill Barron and Bill Broda at Ben Franklin and Bob Fee at Lafayette.
Being an official is a tough and thankless job. For 46 years, Don ìWoodyî Woodward did it at a high level and with class.
Originally from Masontown, PA, Woodward was part of Albert Gallatin High Schoolís first graduating class in 1961. He was also a standout end/defensive back on the football team and was elected to the All-County and All-State teams.
1962 Uniontown High School
State Basketball Champions
Uniontown High School athletics accomplished something that hasn't occurred to often in the state of Pennsylvania - capturing a WPIAL football title and a PIAA basketball championship in the same calendar year. The Red Raiders turned that trick in 1962.
1978 Geibel Catholic High School
State Basketball Champions
The 1976-77 season couldn’t have ended on a more disappointing note than it did for Geibel’s boy’s basketball team. A four-overtime loss to Shanksville-Stonycreek in the PIAA Class A semifinals was followed by a loss in the consolation final, last year the game was played.
Looking back, veteran coach Ken Misiak saw something in the players returning from the disappointing losses that gave him a good feeling about the 1977-78 season
1965 St. John's Basketball Team State Champions (2010)
The 1960’s were the glory years for basketball in Fayette County. The Uniontown Red Raiders won State titles in 1962 and 1964. Laurel Highlands won a state championship in 1969 and tiny Uniontown St. John’s captured a PCIAA Class C State championship in 1965.
1961 Albert Gallatin High School Football WPIAL Champions (2011)
The Albert Gallatin Colonials were on quite a roll in the late 1950's and early 1960's and were the Kings of the gridiron. AG in the first year of the merger between Masontown and Point Marion in 1960 posted a 9-0-1 mark; the lone blemish was a 7-7 tie with North Union. They missed the playoffs because of Gardner Points.
The year 1969 was a banner one for the German Township football team, but coming into the season signs of a championship run did not abound. The Uhlans were coming off an extremely disappointing 3-7 season in 1968.
Brownsville High School was a football powerhouse back in the 1930's and 1940's. Coach Carl Aschman turned the Brownies into a force to be reckoned with. Brownsville’s 1938-39-40 football teams earned permanent possession of the Monongahela Valley Big Six Championship trophy by recording a 27-0-3 record, shutting out 21 of their 30 opponents, and yielding only 58 points in 30 games.
The battle cry “LH State in 68” still rings loud and clear to this day.
On March 23, 1968 the Mustangs downed Cheltenham at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena 63-56 in overtime to capture the PIAA Class A state championship in a contest that was first overtime game in state finals history.
It was quite a year for Uniontown High School athletics in 1962. In March Abe Everhart’s Red Raider basketball squad captured the state championship and in November Bill Power’s football team won the WPIAL Class AA
1993-96 Geibel High School Girls' Basketball (2015)
The Geibel High School Lady Gators joined a short list of great WPIAL teams with their run of four WPIAL Class AA titles from 1993-1996.
They were among squads who dominated WPIAL Girls basketball. The list includes Penn Hills which strung together seven consecutive WPIAL AAAA titles from 1986-1992, Oakland Catholic with four consecutive AAAA championships from 1999-2002 and Aliquippa who captured four straight AA championships from 1987-1990.
1974 turned out to be a dream season for the Albert Gallatin football team, but coming into the season not much was expected from the Colonials who had some great skill players returning, but only two starters returning on the offensive line.
Masontown High School had some outstanding football teams under the guidance of Gene Franks, the Gunners were a perennial power in Fayette County Football.
Coming into the 1950 campaign, the Gunners had to replace five regulars and three top reserves from the 1949 squad that went 8-0-2. The two ties were against Carmichaels and German. Still the standard at Masontown was win, win, win.
Wearing a Uniontown basketball uniform carries with it a lot of pride and tradition. The Red Raiders have won 47 section titles, eight WPIAL titles and four state titles.
Uniontown had a 52-game winning streak, which is still tied with Washington for the longest in WPIAL history. Uniontown is one of only 11 teams in more than 100 years of WPIAL basketball to make it through an entire season with a perfect record; that happened in 1964.
t might be a little known fact, but one of the greatest baseball teams in WPIAL history came from Fayette County. Back in the day, area newspapers gave that distinction to the 1952 WPIAL champion Redstone Blackhawks.