Oakmont High School's John Briscoe Enters the 'Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame

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The 49th annual Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame inductees pose for a group photo during the banquet on Saturday May 19, 2018 in the ballroom at the Quality Inn hotel in New Kensington (back tow from left) Chad Hanna, Lewis Lawhorn, Patrick McHenry (seated from left) Gus Frerrotte, Ed Houston 9accepting for John Briscoe), Charles 'Chip' Young, Dana Petruska, Jody Mattioli Chcikowski (accepting for Dr. Rudy Mattioli).

The 49th annual Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame inductees pose for a group photo during the banquet on Saturday May 19, 2018 in the ballroom at the Quality Inn hotel in New Kensington (back tow from left) Chad Hanna, Lewis Lawhorn, Patrick McHenry (seated from left) Gus Frerrotte, Ed Houston 9accepting for John Briscoe), Charles 'Chip' Young, Dana Petruska, Jody Mattioli Chcikowski (accepting for Dr. Rudy Mattioli).

(Story written by William Whalen)

 

Even with his salt-and-pepper hair and a few extra pounds, 1998 Ford City grad and former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte still looks like he could throw for a couple hundred yards and a few touchdowns. Instead, he threw out plenty of thanks to friends, family and former coaches as Frerotte and seven other Alle-Kiski Valley sports standouts were welcomed into the 49th class of the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night at New Kensington's Quality Inn. “We kind of all have the same story, and when it comes down to it, it takes a village,” Frerotte said. Frerotte was drafted in the seventh round in 1994 by the Washington Redskins. He went on to play for seven teams during his 15 seasons and earned a spot in the 1996 Pro Bowl. He finished his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, passing for a career total of 21,291 yards and 114 touchdowns. “(Ford City coach) Harry Beckwith was a big part of my life,” Frerotte said. “I never really thought that I'd be drafted (into the NFL).”

Oakmont grad and Arizona football standout John Briscoe was the first of two posthumous inductees Saturday. Briscoe died in mid-January just weeks after learning that he was going to be a part of the hall of fame's 49th class. Ed Houston made sure that his longtime friend would not be forgotten and reflected on Briscoe's athletic career. Briscoe was drafted in 1964 by the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and the AFL's Buffalo Bills. Briscoe chose to sign with the Browns, but a serious neck injury during training camp in 1965 cut his career short.

When she first received word that she was selected into the hall of fame, 1975 Deer Lakes grad Dana Petruska figured she wasn't worthy of the honor. So the former Pitt basketball standout and current Mars girls basketball coach decided it was time to go out and win a PIAA Class 5A title. Petruska, who holds a career record of 440-286, led Mars to a dramatic 36-33 win over Archbishop Wood in the state title game to notch her first championship as a coach. “I was very surprised when I got the phone call about being inducted into the AK Hall of Fame,” said Petruska, the 2018 PIAA Class 5A girls coach of the year. “I just can't believe that I'm standing up here just like I can't believe that we won a state title.”

Former Valley wrestling coach and 1965 New Kensington grad Chad Hanna always used sports to teach life lessons. He was one of the Red Raiders' first wrestlers and also excelled in football. He earned a scholarship to Clarion, where he wrestled and played football before his career was cut short by a car accident. Hanna retuned to the area and had stints as the Valley wrestling coach from 1971-75 and 1984-2002. Hanna racked up more than 250 wins during his coaching career. “Kids in my neighborhood taught other kids,” said Hanna. “The intangibles were taught by the professors, which were the older kids. I was a graduate of ‘Two St.' ”

Known as the “skinny” kid from Kiski Area during his time in high school, Lewis Lawhorn captured two WPIAL gold medals in the 400-meter dash and won the 1991 PIAA 400 gold. Lawhorn went on to play three seasons at Temple, earning All-Big East honors at receiver, before transferring to Akron as a senior to close out his college playing days. “I'd like to thank my mom and dad for their wisdom and, especially, my dad for his athletic ability,” said Lawhorn, who lives with his wife and daughter in Atlanta, Ga.

Former Valley and Wake Forest baseball and football standout Patrick McHenry stood humbled before those in attendance. McHenry holds the distinction of hitting the first home run and scoring the first run in Valley baseball history. “It's not so much brains but heart, and that's what it takes, boys and girls,” McHenry said to the high school athletes in attendance. “The best is yet to come.”

The second posthumous inductee was Dr. Rudy Mattioli. A first-team all state quarterback in 1950 for Har-Brack, Mattioli went on to play football at Pitt, earn a degree in dentistry, and then served two years in the Navy before returning home to open his dental practice. “While my sisters were growing up, we knew that he played football but we never really knew his athletic accomplishments,” said Mattioli's daughter, Jody Chickowski. “Dad was a really good athlete, but what struck me most was (his friends') reflections of him as a person. He's probably looking down and doing his favorite dance, ‘the Har-Brack shuffle.' ”

During his time as a Yellowjacket, Charles “Chip” Young was one of the most dominant running backs of the 1960s. A 1963 Freeport grad, he earned All-WPIAL and All-Allegheny Interscholastic Conference football honors. Young moved on to play football at William & Mary for former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy. “I feel privileged and honored and thank the hall of fame committee for recognizing my ancient athletic accomplishments,” Young said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

Link to the Tribune-Review article on the Alle-Kiski Sports Hall of Fame 2018 Class.

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The Oakmont Historical Society

The Oakmont Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of Oakmont, Pennsylvania. We are located at 628 Allegheny River Blvd. Oakmont, PA 15139. Our Curator/Archivist, Colleen McGuigan may be reached at: (412) 828-3022, (412) 607-4782,  mcpedder@hotmail.comoakmonthistory@gmail.com 

 

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