100 Years of Coaldale Sports Legends

100 Years of Coaldale Sports Legends

When Coaldale’s Rich Miller, Bob Scutta and Coach Frank DeFebo are inducted into the Carbon County Area Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame at 1:00pm on May 29, 2011, they will take their place alongside an esteemed group of legends that have graced the Coaldale sports scene over a 100-year period.

Starting with the members of the Coaldale Big Green football team in 1912, Coaldale has produced some of the greatest athletes, coaches, and sportswriters in our country. As Miller, Scutta, and DeFebo are about to be honored, this seems like a good time to remember them and the other 44 Coaldale sports legends who have preceded them into this hall of fame.

Without further ado, here they are in alphabetical order:

Gene Ambrose – All-around athlete at Coaldale High…excelled in football and track…member of Coaldale’s 880-yard relay team that won gold medal and the championship at the state meet in 1948.

Robert Barry – All-around athlete and hard-running halfback for the Coaldale High Tigers winning teams in the late 1940s under Coach Andy Kalen.

Charlie Berry – Football and track star at Coaldale High…excelled in middle-distance races…won the 880-yard race for Coaldale’s 1947 district XI championship team…graduated in 1947…played semi-pro football for Navy Corpus Christi team…played college football at Kutztown State Teachers College…coached track for 25 years at Livingston High in New Jersey.

Donald “Dinty” Butts – Four-year star lineman and two-way performer for the Coaldale High football team…weightman on the Tiger track squad…captain of the football squad at Seton Hall Prep School…named to All-Metropolitan Prep Team and the New Jersey All-Prep team in 1944…helped form the Tamaqua Indians, a semi-pro team.

Frank DeFebo – Assistant football coach at Coaldale High under Geno Poli in 1963…Head football coach with 9-1 record in 1966 at Panther Valley High…coached football at Cardinal Brennan High and track at Panther Valley and Marian High.

Bill “Honeyboy” Evans - All-league end for the Coaldale Big Green…member of the Anthracite football league champion Coaldale Big Green of 1921, 1922 and 1923…Superb middleweight boxer who fought 148 bouts in his boxing career.

Jack “Honeyboy” Evans – All-League star Center for the Coaldale Big Green…called “the greatest Big Green” by head coach Casey Gildea…leader, ball hawk and fearless tackler for the Anthracite Coal Region champion Big Green teams in 1921, 1922 and 1923.

Tom “Dukes” Flyzik – All-around athlete at Coaldale High…member of the 1947 Coaldale track team that won the District 11 track meet title in May 1947…won gold medal in shot put.

James “Casey” Gildea – Founder and Head Coach of the Coaldale Big Green, the most consistently successful professional football club in the anthracite coal region from 1912 through the 1930’s…Won the coal region's Curran Cup, emblematic of football supremacy, in 1921, 1922 and 1923.

John “Gid” Gildea – Outstanding football player and punter at Coaldale High in late 1920’s/early 1930’s…starred at St. Bonaventure College as a punter in 1933…played with the Shenandoah Presidents semi-pro team…number one punter in the National Football League in 1936 for the Pittsburgh Pirates (forerunners of the Steelers)…played with New York Giants.

Charlie Hontz – All-around athlete at Coaldale High…excelled in football and track…member of the 1947 Coaldale track team that won the District 11 track meet title in May 1947…won gold medal in 220-yard dash… member of Coaldale’s 880-yard relay team that won gold medal at the state meet in 1948.

John “Teeler” Jabbo – Great open-field runner as halfback for Coaldale gridders 1938-40… earned a berth as a Halfback on the 1940 Schuylkill County South Dream Game Team…fleet track star who was unbeatable in the 100-yard dash…set a 100 yard dash record (10.1 seconds) for Coaldale in 1941…star halfback with the “latter-day” Panther Valley Big Green and the Lansford Blue Devils in the late 1940’s.

Pete Julo – Excelled in football/basketball/track…speedy Quarterback who returned two punts for touchdowns versus West Hazleton in his senior season of 1953…achieved many victories in the 100-, 220-, and 440-yard dashes…Outstanding Athlete of the Year at Valley Forge Military Academy in 1954.

Andy Kalen – Three-sport performer on the first Coaldale High football, basketball and track teams…at St. Joseph¹s College in Philadelphia in 1926, he set an intercollegiate record by returning a punt 105 yards for a touchdown…head basketball coach 1940-43 and head track coach 1940-45 at Coaldale…head football coach at CHS 1948-56…backfield coach at George Washington University in late 1950’s.

Ed Kassak – All-State Halfback and co-Captain of the 1962 undefeated, untied (11-0) Coaldale Tigers football team…starred in basketball from CYO League through high school…speedy trackster and talented baseball catcher, pitcher and infielder…starred in the 1960’s on the football teams of the University of Rhode Island Rams and the semi-pro Pensacola Goshawks.

Joe “Lily” Kerak – All-around athlete in football, track, basketball…starting running back for the undefeated, once-tied (9-0-1) 1949 Coaldale Tigers football team…played with The Shack Gang, a crack softball team of his era.

John Kuzman - Star Tackle for the undefeated, untied (9-0-0) 1934 Coaldale gridders..All-American Tackle at Fordham University in 1940…drafted by the NFL’s Chicago Bears and named to All-Rookie Team in 1941…while serving in U.S. Navy named to the 1943 New York Daily News' All-American Service Team…played with the San Francisco Forty Niners in the All-America Football League in 1946.

Joe Lopez – Schuylkill County All-Star in football and basketball for the Coaldale Tigers in the late 1940’s…played Legion baseball…lettered as a catcher for the Temple University baseball team…received a contract offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Walt Macenka – Star football player at Coaldale High in late 1930’s…earned a berth as a Guard on the 1940 Schuylkill County South Dream Game Team.

Steve Martinec – Star all-around athlete at Coaldale High…halfback and punter for the 1932 Susquehanna University football team…lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track…named outstanding athlete in his senior season 1935…coached football, basketball and track at Coaldale…inducted into Susquehanna Sports Hall of Fame in 1967.

Charlie Melley - Excelled in football, basketball and Track for the Tigers through 1938-1940…best remembered for scoring all the points in the 6-2 Coaldale victory over Lansford in the 1939 Thanksgiving Day Classic…Received the Pottsville Republican Trophy for the highest point scorer in 1940 in the area…played football at University of Pennsylvania in 1941-42.

Rich Miller – Four-sport athlete…co-Captain of 1962 undefeated, untied (11-0) Coaldale Tigers football team…leading receiver in the Panther Valley in 1962…co-Captain of Lehigh University football team in 1967…Academic All-Amercian and All-Middle Atlantic Conference Team in 1967…star baseball pitcher…later volunteered services as team doctor for Marian High.

Danny O’Donnell – Great running back and punter at Coaldale High and St. Bonaventure College in 1930’s…kicked an 82-yard punt against St. Thomas College.

Bob Parfitt – Three-sport letter-winner at Coaldale High in the mid-1950’s…two-way starter for the Tigers gridders at Quarterback and Safety…scored the 39th point in 1956 victory over Lansford…All-Schuylkill County team in basketball…as sports editor of the Lansford Evening Record in the 1960’s was instrumental in helping athletes gain statewide recognition and scholarships.

Geno Poli – Fullback for Coaldale High in late 1940’s…played college football at New York University and East Stroudsburg…head football coach at Coaldale High 1960-63…led Coaldale to its fourth undefeated, untied (11-0) season in 1962…coached football at Ashland High and Marian High…helped Marian High gain two Eastern Conference championships and one State Championship.

Frank Priggins - Standout in all sports while performing for Coaldale High from 1937 to 1941… quarterback in one of the most famous Coaldale backfields which also featured "Teeler" Jabbo, Charlie Melley, and Dolph Tokarczyk…earned a berth as a Fullback on the 1940 Schuylkill County South Dream Game Team…lettered in basketball and track…excelled in high jump and pole vault…played football with “latter-day” Big Green and Nesquehoning Hurricanes.

Tom Raymer – Played on Coaldale Big Green in 1930’s…as head football coach at Coaldale his record was a sensational 162-60-17 from 1924 until 1948…assistant football coach and track coach at Coaldale 1949-1963…main contributor to three of Coaldale’s four undefeated, untied football seasons in 1931, 1934, and 1962.

Joe Rilo – Co-Captain 1947 Coaldale Tigers football team…member of the 1947 Coaldale track team that won the District 11 track meet title in May 1947…won the gold medal in the broad jump with a leap of 19 feet, 6 inches, a meet record and a gold in the 440-yard dash, which he ran in 59.3 seconds… member of Coaldale’s 880-yard relay team that won gold medal at the state meet in 1948…star football player at Villanova University.

Charlie Ruslavage – Football great at Coaldale and for The Penn State University Nittany Lions.

Pete Sachon – Football and basketball star at Coaldale High…starred on undefeated, untied (9-0-0) 1934 Tigers grid squad…quarterback and kicker for Catholic University in Washington, DC…head football coach at Newport News, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach high schools where his teams won two State Championships and tied for a third.

Bob Scutta - Starting Quarterback for the 1954 and 1955 Coaldale Tigers football team…United Press and Associated Press All-State Honorable Mention…gold medal winner in pole vault, 440-yard dash and mile relay.

Joe Shanosky – Star athlete at Coaldale High…star Tackle at Muhlenberg University and with the “latter-day” Panther Valley Big Green in the late 1940’s and Lansford Blue Devils.

Leo Shanosky – Star athlete at Coaldale High…member of the 1947 Coaldale track team that won the District 11 track meet title in May 1947…won gold medal in discus.

Joe “Chappy” Sharpe – Played football, baseball and basketball at St. Mary’s High in Coaldale…Student-athlete-graduate Mt. St. Mary’s College in 1920s…Founded Coaldale’s C.H.O.S.E. (Church. Home. Organization. School. Environment) sports and community programs…spearheaded Coaldale church baseball leagues in 1950s/1960s.

Bob Shubeck – All-around athlete at Coaldale High.

Ed “Finky” Shubeck – Four-year gridiron performer for the Coaldale Tigers 1947-50…scored four touchdowns against Lansford in the 1950 game and won the Panther Valley area scoring title…lettered in basketball and track and played Legion baseball…star performer for four years on the gridiron team at George Washington University.

Dan Sneddon – Called the “Red Grange of high school football” when he starred as a halfback for the Coaldale High gridders in the 1920’s.

Bill Sproule – Co-Captain 1954 Coaldale Tigers football team…starred also in basketball/ track/baseball…member of 1959 National Championship football team at Syracuse University in 1959…earned Outstanding Scholar-Athlete award his senior year…head football coach at Bloomsburg University…coached golf and wrestling.

John “Swede” Swenson – Speedy, bruising running back who lettered and starred in football for the Coaldale Tigers during the four years of 1928 thru 1932…once returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown versus Nesquehoning…lettered in basketball and track…played some college football at both Temple and Muhlenberg.

Dolph Tokarczyk – Star blocking back, fullback and linebacker at Coaldale High in early 1940s…scored two touchdowns in the 1941 Schuylkill County Dream Game… played three positions for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers in the mid and late 1940s, as an offensive guard, a defensive linebacker, and the long snapper in kicking situations…named to the Big East team and was drafted by the Chicago Bears.

Frank “Amos” Trimmel – Three-sport athlete…Co-Captain 1948 Coaldale Tigers football team…considered by Tom Raymer one of the finest Centers in Coaldale history…played basketball 4 years…In track, he anchored the half-mile and mile relay teams, with the 880-yard squad copping first place in the state finals and second place at the Penn Relays with Coaldale's team finishing third.

Eddie Urban – Sports Editor of the Lansford Evening Record…one of the premier sports writers in the Panther Valley area during the 1930’s and 1940’s…public address announcer for all football games at Lansford Stadium and popular master of ceremonies at area sports banquets…lifelong board member who contributed to the vast success of the Big 33 Football Classic held annually in Hershey, PA.

John “Jack” Welsh – Outstanding basketball player at St. Mary’s High in Coaldale…scored all 42 points for St. Mary's in a 42-39 win over St. Stephen’s of Port Carbon…played college basketball at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia.

George Welsh – Star Quarterback for 1949/1950 Coaldale Tigers football team…All-around athlete…All-American Quarterback of the “Team Named Desire” at the U.S. Naval Academy…Winningest head football coach in history at both the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia.

Andy Yarosky – All-around athlete in basketball, football, track…played minor league baseball on teams associated with the professional Philadelphia A’s…played with various baseball teams into his 40’s and was known for swatting some of the longest home runs ever seen.

Joe Zenko – Starred in football, basketball and track at Coaldale High in the 1940s…as a tailback his powerful running, quick moves and breakaway speed made him one of the finest running backs to ever grace the hard coal fields…MVP in North-South Dream Game…anchored the Tiger’s half-mile and mile relay teams…member of the 1947 Coaldale track team that won the District 11 track meet title in May 1947…won gold medal in 100-yard dash.

Evan Zlock - Football and basketball star at Coaldale High in 1941…starting Quarterback and middle linebacker at Susquehanna University…ranked in Top 10 in nation in passing…received Jack Dempsey Award as the Outstanding Student-Athlete in 1949…leading basketball scorer with 27-points per game average for all Pennsylvania colleges in 1948-48.

To be continued over the next 100 years.

Short biographies/facts compiled by M. Panchura. Send any obvious corrections or additions needed to: nickber12@comcast.net

Full biographies for many of these Coaldale sports legends may be found at http://coaldalehighalumni.homestead.com/files/history.html