Updated: May 21
This story first appeared in The Derrick/The News-Herald on May 4, 2020.
Pictured: Bill Hager
Nine thought-provoking questions for trivia buffs:
1. What school board is undoubtedly kicking itself for not hiring Bill Hager, who instead won scads of games at Franklin, including a state championship?
2. What former radio broadcaster starred for Clarion County’s winningest basketball coach in high school. Name the coach and school, too.
3. Greg Heath of Keystone is the tri-county area’s current winningest coach and his son, Garrett, is the area’s all-time leading scorer. But name the Division I basketball player who also received football accolades at the start of his career.
4. What Oil City grad/former VC coach pined for a football coaching job, but instead won more than 400 games in basketball?
5. Name the former Oil City basketball player who stood 6-11 and once played for Clair Bee at Long Island University? And who was his coach in high school? And what other sport did said coach guide to the state finals.?
6. Byron Johnston won 429 games at Cranberry, but name the “sport” he was possibly more famous for after winning multi state and national championships.
7. Name two other area coaches – one boys and one girls – who won more than 400 games, all at one school.
8. What school featured players with the following nicknames? Corky, Sonny, Dutch, Hootch and Dirt?
9. And, finally, which 1,000-point scorer from District 10 became a decent major league putcher?
1. Corry. After being turned down for the job in Beaverland, Franklin snapped Hager up with no regrets. Hager won 677 games for Maplewood, Jamestown, N.Y. and Franklin (both boys and girls).
2. Larry Holly used to do color for games on WFRA. He played under Don Stemmerich, who posted a 638-288 record during a 38-year career (all at Union in Rimersburg) that ended in 1993. His record includes 12 league and nine District 9 titles.
3. Jeremy McCool played basketball at Vermont and also received football interest from Tennessee. McCool played quarterback on the football team that was in the Class A state title game in 1989. Greg Heath is 600-277 and still counting in his career at Keystone, which began in 1983-84.
4. Dean Henderson coached Venango Christian to D-10 Class A titles in 1976 (when Mark “Skip” Homan was listed as a 5-10 sophomore) and 1978. But he always wanted to be just a football coach. That didn’t happen, and he ended up with a pile of coaching victories at VC, Cambridge Springs, Saegertown and Meadville (girls).
5. Rich Ahrens played a year at LIU in Brooklyn under Bee, a Hall-of-Famer who led the Blackbirds to two unbeaten seasons and two NIT titles and had a hand in founding the 1-3-1 zone and the three-second rule. Ahrens played for Hud Wells during Oil City’s first big heyday in the 1930s. Wells coached four sports at OCHS, including volleyball, with 488 victories. His spikers reached the state finals several times during the early ‘40s.
6. Johnston won 429 games for the Berries, coached five sports, including bowling, but by the end of his career had his boys in before school prepping for the U.S. Marine Corps Physical Fitness meets. They ruled in western Pa. and many times nationally.
7. Ron Botz, A-C Valley, 409-286 in 29 seasons for the boys and Bob Wachob, West Forest, 483-234 in 31 for the girls. In case you’re wondering: Franklin’s Bill Mook was 357-169 in 29 years with the Lady Knights; Todd Wetjen (265 wins) is flirting with the 300 Club; and the late Father John Weibel had more than 200 and a state crown for VC.
8. Rocky Grove in the late 1940s with Howard “Corky” Hunter, Ron “Sonny” Buck, Harry “Dutch” Shuffstall, Earl “Hootch” Hood and James “Dirt” Porter.
9. Gary Peters, a 1955 grad, scored 1,093 points for Mercer. The left-hander hurled 2,081 innings for the White Sox and Red Sox between 1959-72, compiling a 124-103 record with 1,420 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA. Rookie of the Year for the Chisox in ’63. Also hit 19 homers with 102 RBI.