Monday, September 22, 2008
Town of Champions, Part VII
After an absence due to hectic schedules, the Varsity Letters returns with another installment of Town of Champions, a quick look at a local community within our tradition-rich sports region.
With the dedication of Jim Garry Stadium on Friday, and the Rangers football team sporting a 4-0 record, it seemed appropriate to look at the communities making up
Fort Cherry is known for producing great football players and NFL coaches. None proved as successful as Marty Schottenheimer (pictured), who nearly led the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl.
Current Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis is a proud FC alum.
On Nov. 23, 2003 in San Diego, Schottenheimer's Chargers hosted Lewis' Bengals. It is believed to be the only time in NFL history where two opposing head coaches were from the same high school.
For the record, Cincinnati won, 34-27.
Both men, along with the Schottenheimer brothers, NFL receiver Perry Kemp and the WPIAL's all-time rushing leader Mike Vernillo were coached by the same man – Jim Garry.
For 43 years, 44 counting the year he coached at McDonald High School, Garry was head football coach at Fort Cherry. He won 265 games and led two teams (1997 and 2001) to appearances in the WPIAL Class A championship.
Fort Cherry has won some championships along the way as well.
Its 1961 boys basketball team, which Schottenheimer started on, won the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA championship. It was the first basketball team from Washington County to win a state title.
The 1986 baseball team claimed the WPIAL Class AA crown, while the wrestling team won WPIAL Class AA titles in 1985, 2000 and 2002.
In addition, old McDonald High School won back-to-back WPIAL Class C titles in 1951 and 52. The 1956 Midway football team, led by Dick Haley, won the WPIAL. Hickory High won the 1955 WPIAL boys cross country championship.