It's not often that you see a lineman getting a "Player of the Year" award -- it's like a lineman winning the Heisman -- but Oil City's Mario Fontanazza did just that. Rival coaches voted him the "Player of the Year" honor for Region 8 in District 10.

The region champion Oilers dominated the all-star team announced early Thanksgiving Day by the Erie Times News. 

Dakota Cole, J.T. Stahlman, Holden Stahl, Cam Russell, A.J. Angros, Brayden Crocker were all named to the first team -- along with Franklin's only selection -- Cade Adams.

Oilers Sean Stack, Justin Fagley and Zac Kiefer were named to the second team. Click HERE for more.


Mario Fontanazza chases down a Juniata ball-carrier in a PIAA interdistrict playoff game. (Richard Sayer/Eight & 322.)

Player of the Year!

Pride of Oil City!
These seniors played on three straight District 10 title teams! (Scott Stahl)

Memories are made of these plays


Cam Russell led the Oilers with 1,483 yards rushing before being sidelined with a wrist injury. His 2,480 career yards ranks No. 5 all-time. He made first team all-state on defense last season and is the Oilers' all-time sack leader. (Richard Sayer/ 8 and322.)

(Richard Sayer/8& 322)

They set records, they set records, they set lots and lots of records.

J.T. Stahlman was one of six Oil City seniors to rewrite the record book this season. Read about it HERE. Final stats from the historic 10-1 season in which the OIlers advanced to the state Final Four can be found HERE.

2020 Oil City schedule
Oil Field getting makeover

The Oil Field is getting a makeover. Shaw Sports Turf 

began cutting and removing some 200,000 pounds of turf a week ago Tuesday. This is what the field looks like as of the morning of Nov. 25. (Oil City Athletics)

Oil City, Franklin had their moments during the 1920 season. Read about them here.

Pictured is the 1920 edition of the Oil City Oilers, who ended the season with four wins after an 0-3 start. The team was coached by Bill Fountain, who was also at the helm in 1918 -- the first pandemic season. The "H" on the football stood for "High" -- as in Oil City High School.

1920 Oilers.jpg


Wait til next year!

Franklin finished with a 1-8 record under first-year coach Matt Turk, but with a team of plenty of sophomores and freshmen. The weight room awaits! FINAL STATS

2020 Franklin schedule
Adams I think.jpeg

Cade Adams finished third on Franklin's all-time receiving list in both catches (133) and yards (2,183). His 17 TDs tied Nate Byham for fifth on Franklin's all-time list. (Richard Sayer/Eight&322) 

60ish years ago: 1960 Franklin Knights

Linemen on the 1960 team were (from left): John McMichael, Vince Witherup, Paul Beals, Chuck Slagle, Tom Sloss, Ron Baughman, Bill Beebe, Jim Brown, Art White, Larry Baker

Jack Schosser (left) averaged 120 yards per game rushing and Fred Yetka scored 13 touchdowns behind the Knights' powerful line in 1960.

Franklin enjoyed a sort of "golden age" in football from 1958-92 , posting a 194-116-4 record. It all began when Jim McCullough became coach in the late 1950s. His 1959 team was the first in Franklin history to go unbeaten. The Knights followed up with a 7-1 record and produced the program's first first-team all-stater in guard Paul Beals, a violinist and pianist when he wasn't knocking people around on the gridiron. 

Read about the 1959 team here.

And enjoy the exploits of the 1960 squad by clicking on that link.

Ends -- Kirk Kressler (6-2, 179) Berwick and Tom Krzemienski (6-2, 195)  Beaver Falls


Tackles -- Rich Arrington (6-0, 210) Erie East and Ray Rissmilller (6-4, 218) Easton


Guards -- Don Croftcheck (6-2, 215), Redstone and PAUL BEALS  (5-10, 170) FRANKLIN


Center -- Joe Demelfi (5-11, 204) Berwick


Quarterbacks -- Joe Namath (6-1, 170) Beaver Falls and Fred Mazurek (5-11, 195) Redstone


Running backs -- Hal Yost (6-1, 185) Lock Haven, Cosmo Iacavazzi (5-11, 185) West Scranton and Jeff Marsh (5-8, 160) Nazareth

1960 AP all-state team

108-0 revisted

Nov. 17, 1928.

Oil City hit the road and lost 108-0 to the mighty Sharon Tigers. Sounds terrible, but scores like that weren't uncommon in the early part of the 20th century. The rules were different back then, making for some lopsidedness. In fact, Franklin lost to Punsutawney, 73-6, that same weekend.

So here's what happened

1928 Oilers.jpg

The 1928 Oilers line up for their team picture, taken on their home field at the West End Grounds.

Felt bad about not having a really old photo of Franklin, but FHS yearbooks on only go back to 1930.

Although neither team had a spectacular season, 1933 seemed pretty interesting. OK, the Nursery did come close to winning the Skillen Cup while the Oilers were hounded by injuries. 

Read on.

1933 Nursery

Other games in the region were postponed/canceled, but Franklin and Oil City plowed on at Miller-Sibley on Nov. 11, 1933. There was a cold wind in the first half and sleet and snow in the second. Fun times.

4 District 10 titles

It's easy to overlook, but Oil City coach Dan York actually has four District 10 titles -- the last three with the Oilers and in 2013 with Lakeview.

First district title

Franklin grad Blane Gold guided Redbank Valley to the District 9 Class A title this season. He is 14-5 in his first two years as coach.

Six state crowns

Tiger LaVerde' s Kirtland, Ohio, team won the Class V

state championship, 38-0, over Ironton on Nov. 21. 


It is the sixth state crown -- and third in a row -- for Kirtland under LaVerde, 

a 1991 OCHS grad and a former Franklin coach.


He now has 205 career coaching victories.

The Hornets finished the season with an 11-0 record and have won 41 straight games.

Mario Fontanazza graced the cover of this year's football tab published Sept. 11 by The Derrick/The News-Herald. Fontanazza anchored an offensive line -- the Oilers' bread and butter -- that this year included Jayson Weilacher, Seth Yeager, Lucas DeGroat, soph Cam Crocker and A.J. Angros. Fontanazza was a four-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines.

Front Page News

Ashlee Douglass was the subject of a front page feature by Judy Etzel that appeared in the Oct. 2, 2020, edition of The Derrick and The News-Herald. Douglass, listed as a senior tackle for Oil City, has played football since her Little Driller days. She performed on the scout and special teams for the Oilers. The story can be found under the Stuff That Was in the Paper link.

venangoFooTBALL.COM covers the Grid Doings of Oil City and Franklin High Schools in Venango County, Pa. It also includes the football histories of the two schools along with that of venango catholic (nee Christian), which dropped the sport in the 1990s.
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