Former Centerville football star Worrell to be honored by WPIAL
Celebrating the short life of Denbo native Robert “Red” Worrell will be one of many intriguing storylines when the sixth annual WPIAL Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony take place on June1 at the Greentree Doubletree Hotel.Worrell is one of nine athletes to be inducted along with Uniontown Area High School’s Ron Sepic (basketball), Mapletown’s Derek Bochna (football, baseball, basketball), Fox Chapel’s Frank Fuhrer III (golf), Baldwin’s Kelly Kovach (softball, basketball, volleyball, Blackhawk’s Sean Miller (basketball), Gateway’s Mel Nash (swimming) Steel Valley’s Jess Strom (basketball, soccer), and Pine-Richland’s Neil Walker (baseball, football, basketball).Worrell was chosen for the Heritage Award, which is given to an individual who made an impact many years ago.Three retired coaches will be inducted and they are basketball coach John Miller (Blackhawk) and football coaches Chuck Wagner (Oakmont, Riverview, Fox Chapel, Springdale) and Andy Urbanic (Penn Hills).Bob Bleggi will be inducted as a contributor for his tireless work in enhancing WPIAL cross country and track and field. The contest official inductee is Zigmund “Red” Mihalik (basketball, football) who is also a 1986 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. HHonored teams include Upper St. Clair’s 1989 undefeated WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA championship football team and Farrell’s 1960 WPIAL and PIAA title wining basketball team. Hampton High School’s basketball playing siblings Mark and Sara Pilarski will receive the Courage award. Both have grade-point averages over 4.0 and suffer from serious medical problems.A 1957 graduate of Centerville High School, Worrell was the only player from Pennsylvania to be named first team on the tenth annual Wigwam Wisemen National High School All-American football team his senior season. The 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pounder excelled at fullback and linebacker.Charleroi’s Myron Pottios, also a fullback-linebacker, and tackle Nick Maravich of Clark High (Scott Township) were second team selections. The first Mon Valley area player to receive this first-team honor was California’s John Konek in 1949.He rushed for nearly 3,000 yards his final two seasons and scored 18 touchdowns with 17 extra-points in just seven games his senior season. Worrell, Pottios and Charleroi guard Fred Yuss, were the only area players, and three of only five WPIAL players, selected to the initial Pennsylvania Big 33 all-star team chosen in balloting by sportswriters from across the state.As a junior in the spring of 1956 Worrell established a new shot put record in the PIAA track and field championships with a toss of 55 feet, 5 inches to win the shot put crown for the second straight year. He also had won the discus title as a sophomore but finished second in the 1956 competition. In the 1956 WPIAL Class B championships, Worrell was the individual champion with 14 points after he set records in the shot put (53 feet, 6 inches) and discuss (145 feet, three inches) and finished second in the javelin.In addition to football and track Worrell also was a four-year starter in basketball and baseball.As a result of being named to the Wisemen All-American team, Worrell became the first high school player in Pennsylvania ever to be recognized by a resolution in the state House of Representatives.Rep. C.O. Williams presented the award to Worrell along with a congratulatory letter from Gov. George M. Leader. In his personal note, Leader congratulated Worrell for his record in both sports and the classroom (he was an honors student) and encouraged him to select a college in the state to continue his education and football career.Recruited by 135 colleges, he initially chose the University of North Carolina in the summer of 1957 but transferred to Penn State.He broke all of the Penn State freshman rushing records and helped the Nittany Lion Cubs achieve a perfect 6-0 overall record. In the muddy, rain-soaked 23-13 season finale win against Navy, Worrell gained 236 yards.That December just three days before Christmas, Worrell tragically died at the home of his father in Denbo as he was holding a metal pipe attached to a TV antenna and it came in contact with a high tension wire.Not long after Worrell’ death, Penn State introduced the Red Worrell Memorial Award that is given to an offensive player for “exemplary conduct, loyalty, interest, attitude and improvement” during spring practice.”Red Worrell was truly a phenomenal player and the Valley sports aficionados realized the impact he had as athlete when he died still in his teens,” said Steve Russell, local sports author and educator. “As an athlete he could outrun, outlast and outsmart the fiercest competition. The Penn State freshman award in his honor is certainly exemplary of the Mon Valley virtues of good sportsmanship and humility.”Sepic was an all-state member of Uniontown’s 1962 WPIAL champion football team and 1962 WPIAL and state champion basketball team. He played college basketball at Ohio State University and was the Buckeye’s team captain in 1967. Sepic was drafted by both the Washington Redskins of the NFL and Cincinnati Royals of the NBA. He was part of the first Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame Class in 2009.Cost for the 2012 WPIAL Hall of Fame Banquet is $40 and registration outside the hotel ballroom begins at 5:30 p.m. with a 6 p.m. reception followed by the 7 p.m. dinner. Reservations forms and contact information can be found at the Hall of Fame section of the WPIAL website (www.wpial.org).Deadline for reservation is May 24.