P-T’s Tragesser to be inducted into Clarion Hall of Fame
Penn-Trafford football coach Art Tragesser can’t believe that nearly 40 years have passed since he chased down running backs as a linebacker for the Clarion University Golden Eagles.
“I talked to (former Clarion coach) Al Jacks a little bit ago and reminisced about old memories,” Tragesser said. “It seemed just like yesterday I was playing for Clarion.”
Tragesser returns to Clarion in a few weeks to be inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Tragesser will be honored for his consistent defensive play that helped Clarion earn its first PSAC championship with a 28-26 victory over West Chester in 1966.
“The championship game against West Chester was a great back-and-forth game,” Tragesser said. “The win capped off a great season and a great team effort.”
Clarion also won a PSAC West title in ’67 and finished 30-7-1 under Jacks during Tragesser’s collegiate career.
Tragesser played on the PSAC championship team with quarterback Jim Alcorn, who was drafted in the 11th round by the Cleveland Browns in 1968. Tragesser also played against former Steelers and Indiana (Pa.) wide receiver Dave Smith, an eighth-round pick in 1970.
After graduating in 1969 with a degree in Education, Tragesser decided to keep football a part of his life. He took on a coaching position with Jeannette’s junior high team.
While with the Jayhawks, Tragesser learned from the coach who would have a profound impact on his coaching style — Joe Mucci.
“Joe was a great guy to work with and was a big part of my success,” Tragesser said.
Mucci said he knew after Tragesser’s initial interview that he would become part of Jeannette’s staff.
“You won’t find a better man in the profession of football, and this (Hall of Fame) honor is something he truly deserves,” Mucci said.
After 17 seasons as a Jeannette assistant, Tragesser took his shot as the school’s head coach in 1986.
“It was definitely a change for me being head coach,” Tragesser said.
In his first year, he was 5-4 and has led the Jayhawks to a 73-33-3 record in 10 seasons, winning conference titles in ’89 and ’91 while leading Jeannette to its first WPIAL championship game since 1983. He also guided the Jayhawks to their 500th victory in 1993.
But Tragesser wanted to coach a Class AAAA team and got the chance with Penn-Trafford in 1996. The following season, he led the Warriors to the WPIAL championship game.
“We scored on the last play of the game, and I wanted to go for two (to win the game),” Tragesser said. “But the kids were excited, and it was hard to get them under control to go for two.”
Penn-Trafford went for the extra point (to tie) and missed to give Upper St. Clair the 28-27 victory.
“If we had any timeouts left, I would have gone for two, but who knows what would have happened in overtime?” Tragesser said. “We actually got letters from Upper St. Clair congratulating us for playing a great game.”
Tragesser plans to continue coaching. He said the chance to have a positive influence on the players is the most important aspect of his job.
“It’s important to motivate the kids to achieve things they didn’t think they could,” he said. “When a player comes back after a long time with his family and talks about the good times he had as a player, it gives you a really good feeling.”
Tragesser looks forward to meeting old teammates at the Clarion induction banquet.
“When you get inducted into the hall of fame, it’s very satisfying when people who know your faults and good points have the final say,” Tragesser said. “I can’t wait to see my old teammates and relive some old memories.”
Clarion Sports Hall of Fame ceremony
When: 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 29
Where: Chandler Dining Hall, Clarion University