By George Von Benko
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.
Dave Marovich was a three-sport star in football, basketball and track at South Union High School in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Marovich played on Blue Devil football squads that posted records of 7-2, 4-4 and 4-5 during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
“I played varsity football for four years,” Marovich remembered. “Park Glass was the coach my freshman and sophomore years and then John Pringle was the coach my junior and senior seasons. We had a fair team; we had some pretty good ball players like Vince Petno, Harry Haught, Fran Novak and Phil Varnak. We were competitive.”
The North Union – South Union rivalry was hot and heavy in those days.
“That was always a very competitive contest,” Marovich said. “The North Union – South Union rivalry in basketball and football was always tremendous.”
Marovich as a sophomore lost to North Union 25-6, his junior season the Blue Devils defeated the Rams 19-15, and as a senior Marovich and SU fell 21-7.
Marovich enjoyed playing football for Coach Glass.
“Coach Glass was very involved,” Marovich offered. “He was a ball players’ coach. He took an interest in everybody and we had some great ball players at that time. My freshman year of course we had Rich Novak and Tom Rae who went on to Maryland and did very well.”
“Coach Pringle was very different from Coach Glass and his won and loss record dictated his style of coaching, which wasn’t really that good. But I enjoyed playing football – in fact I had a scholarship from Arizona State my senior year, Frank Kush was the coach at that time, but it didn’t work out.”
Basketball was the sport that helped Marovich attract
a lot of attention.
“Marty Fagler was the head coach and Ron Fudala was his assistant,” Marovich stated. “They both were good men and the high point in basketball was my junior year when we won the Section Title and beat Donora 47-46 in the WPIAL playoffs and then lost to Midland 62-38.
We played at the Pitt Field House and that was a great experience – going down there and seeing that big floor.”
Marovich has fond memories of the old band box gym that South Union played in.
“I played all four years there,” Marovich recalled. “We had some good games there and my junior year we won the section and came in second my senior year to Buddy Quertinmont’s Albert Gallatin team – we tied for second with Redstone.
“Coach Fagler liked the up tempo game and we always ran. We had some good players – in my junior year we had Jim Stone.”
The Uniontown Adult Summer League was in full flower during this era.
“What I remember most about basketball was the summer leagues,” Marovich said. “We played in championship when I was in college and I was on a team called the Kelgins that beat the Lakers 68-66 at Berkeley playground. We had John Unice and Miles Cohen and the Lakers had Joe Craig, Pat Yates, Kenny Goldsmith and Allyn Curry. There was a crowd of 800 there for the game and I had 26 points.
“The following year I played for the Hustlers with Ron Sepic, Paul Mickey, Yates and Jerry Meadows and we lost the championship to the Downtowners with George Bortz, Stu Lantz, Curry and Ben Gregory.”
Marovich also made his mark on the South Union track team. He set a school record in the javelin as a senior at 156’.4” and was on Coach Ringy Stefancin’s team that tied for the WPIAL Class B Championship.
“I started with the shot put and nobody knew how to throw that when we were coming up in the 1960’s,” Marovich explained. “Coach Stefancin was really a good guy, in fact I was fortunate to have good track coaches. In track after you are coming out of football and basketball and going into track you didn’t have that hard nosed training – you kind of trained and did the things that you needed to do for your special event. Coach Stefancin tied that together and he let you perform and you got to try different events. At that time I did the shot put, javelin and discus.”
Marovich garnered all sorts of honors during his high school career. He was All County in football, All Section 10 in basketball and medaled in the shot put and discus at the WPIAL meet.
When Marovich graduated from South Union in 1961 he entertained offers from Arizona State and some of the state colleges.
Marovich also wanted to thank a couple of area basketball coaches for helping him.
“The number one coach that helped me was Rudy Marisa from Albert Gallatin,” Marovich opined. “He coached Buddy Quertinmont and he had recommended Grove City College to me and that was because they wanted Quertinmont and of course he wound up going to West Virginia and Marisa got me involved with Grove City. St. John’s coach Lash Nesser was also a big supporter of mine when I was in high school. Those two guys really helped me.”
At Grove City Marovich had an outstanding basketball career and was a one man wrecking crew for the track squad. He led the Wolverines in scoring in hoops for three straight seasons and tallied 1,072 points good for 16th place on the All-Time scoring list. He was the leading point getter in track all four years in the shot put, discus, triple jump, long jump and javelin. He was selected as “Sportsman of the Year” at Grove City in 1965 and was a West Penn Conference All-Star in basketball.
Marovich had high praise for his Grove City basketball mentor Cliff Wettig and his Wolverine track coach Jim Longnecker.
“What a super guy Coach Longnecker was,” Marovich opined. “He was in the same mold as Ringy Stefancin – where they kind of let you do your thing. Coach Wettig was my hoops coach and we were very competitive.”
Marovich lost a year in hoops and didn’t play his senior season.
“I was looking forward to my senior season,” Marovich recalled. “We had brought in an outstanding player in Jeff Claypool. But Westminster Coach Buzz Ridl saw me in the lobby my junior right before the game and I said I’ll see you next year and he said you’re a senior – you played JV ball and I said yes, but that doesn’t count and he said yes it does and the West Penn Conference had a vote on me and it was 4 to 3 and it cost me my senior year of eligibility for basketball. It was a big disappointment.”
He graduated in 1966 and then was drafted into the Army and served from 1966 to 1968. While in the service Marovich played inter-service basketball while in Europe and put up some impressive numbers.
“I played service basketball and really started to score some points,” he explained. “Pistol Pete Maravich was playing for LSU and he was averaging 43 point per at LSU and I was averaging 43 points for my service team, which prompted some newspaper comparisons. I did score 62 points in a service game.”
Marovich was named to the All-Service team and also participated in track and learned to compete in the hammer throw. He had a pro try out after playing in the service with the ABA New York Nets. He made it to the cut at 14, but they only kept 12 players on the squad. He had a chance to play with the Scranton Miners in the old Eastern Basketball League, but decided against playing in that league.
When he left the service, Marovich went to work for JC Penney and had a 39 year career with them before retiring in 2005. Marovich remains active in sports and is involved with Senior Track and Field and holds several records in his age group in the decathlon as well as first in the shot put, discus, triple jump, long jump, javelin and hammer throw. He still plays basketball and softball in several leagues.
Marovich was named to Grove City Hall of Fame in 2010. From 2007-2019 in USATF Masters Senior Track/Field Events he has 1,041 medals, and holds PA decathlon and hurdle records. He was named All American in 11 events.
Marovich, 76, has been married to his wife Donna for 49 years and they have two sons Dave and Dan, and they have three grandchildren. Marovich resides in Chalfont, PA.