Published Sunday, Dec. 15, 1996
MERCER COUNTY AREA
Herald names local all-star football team
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FARRELL'S FALCONI IS FIRST PEPE AWARD HONOREE
By Jeff Greenburg
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
In conjunction with the first Heralded 22 all-star football team, The Herald sports staff has also elected to honor area players, coaches and teams in several other categories.
Among the awards are what The Herald staff hopes becomes its most prestigious: The Johnny Pepe Award, named in honor of the long-time, late Herald sports editor who was noted for his outstanding efforts when it came to coverage of high school and youth sports. Players, coaches and even fans are eligible.
The award winners and nominees in each category:
Johnny Pepe Memorial Award: Farrell coach Lou Falconi. While Falconi certainly did a more than laudable job with the Xs and Os on the field, it was perhaps his ability to serve as the glue of the team off the field that was the difference in the championship season. His team was dealt severe injury blows several times and had the added pressure of being ranked No. 1 most of the season, yet, somehow, Falconi was able to keep his kids focused on the ultimate goal _ a state championship.
Also nominated: South Side Beaver player Mike Kavals, although not local, his near-fatal injury suffered in the Farrell game and subsequent battle back had an impact on all area football fans; Sharpsville coach Paul Piccirilli, who revitalized a passion and interest in football in the community that hadn't been seen in a decade; the Hickory Hornets football team, coaches and fans, who were forced to muddle through an entire season on the road because of construction of a new stadium; Farrell player Willie Evans, who showed his heart with the miraculous 2-point conversion catch in the WPIAL semifinals and also had an all-star season despite suffering what could have been a fatal gunshot wound a year ago.
Team of the Year: Farrell Steelers. The Steelers were a unanimous selection after capping a 13-1 season with their second straight PIAA Class A state title (full story).
Also nominated: Greenville (13-1, PIAA Class AAA Final Four); Wilmington (12-1, PIAA Class AA quarterfinalist); Sharon (8-1, ranked No. 1 in state in Class AA by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Harrisburg Patriot-News through first nine weeks of season); Hubbard (9-1 and TAC-8 runner-up).
Player of the Year: Joe Korcinsky, Greenville. Korcinsky's marks of 2,330 yards rushing (3rd-best in county annals) and 41 TDs (2nd-best in county history) made him a unanimous selection (full story).
Also nominated: Todd Smargiasso, Wilmington; Steve Byerly, Sharon; Jon Tekac, Wilmington; Fred Sloan, Sharpsville.
Coach of the Year: Paul Piccirilli, Sharpsville. Piccirilli inherited a team that had won only five games in two seasons and hadn't posted a winning mark in a decade. He led them to the MCAC Class A title and the District 10 finals. The team was also an honorable mention most of the season in state rankings (full story).
Also nominated: Lou Falconi, Farrell; Terry Verrelli, Wilmington; Bob Stone, Greenville; Jim Wildman, Sharon.
Newcomer of the Year: Justin Napotnik, Sharpsville. The Blue Devil freshman exploded onto the scene as one of the most promising young players in recent years. He starred on both sides of the ball for the MCAC Class A champions.
Also nominated: Ralph Odem, Sharon sophomore; Lamar Claiborne, Farrell sophomore; Jason Cecil, Kennedy sophomore; Brad Allen, Hickory freshman.
Game of the Year: Sharon-Wilmington regular season finale. Will anyone who was there forget the 8,000-plus, standing-room-only crowd and electric atmosphere for what most football pundits dubbed as the ``True District 10 AA Championship Game?'' (links to game photos and stories in our archives)
Also nominated: Farrell-Riverview WPIAL A final; Greenville-Blackhawk PIAA AAA semifinal; Wilmington-Tyrone PIAA AA quarterfinal; Sharpsville-Cambridge Springs D-10 A final.
Unit of the Year: Wilmington defense. The unit, dubbed The 'Hounds Hammer, opened the season with a remarkable eight consecutive shutouts, something that hadn't been accomplished in Pennsylvania in this decade and allowed only 35 points in 13 games the entire season.
Also nominated: Greenville offensive line; Sharon offensive line; Farrell defensive line; Wilmington backfield.
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Player of the year story //
Team of the year story //
Coach of the year story
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Updated Dec. 17, 1996.