Curry makes impressive return at Berwick
Time never stands still. Neither, it turns out, does George Curry.
Curry, the state's leader in career high school football coaching victories, has made his return to sidelines at Berwick Area High School a spectacular one: At 8-1, Berwick has qualified for the upcoming District 2 Class AAA playoff and burnished Curry's extraordinary credentials.
Curry's decision to come out of retirement three years after saying his departure from coaching was permanent was by far the biggest off-season news in Pennsylvania high school football in 2012. Curry agreed to become Berwick's head coach again after the June departure of Gary Campbell, who returned to Massachusetts after succeeding Curry in 2006.
Curry had left Berwick, where won the bulk of his 421 coaching victories that included six PIAA Class AAA championships, after the 2005 season, only to immediately take the job at Wyoming Valley West. He coached there for three years before retiring, claiming health issues.
Curry kept busy as a local radio and television analyst at high school football games and continued to run his nationally famous quarterback camp. He claimed that he had no intention to return to coaching until Campbell's late departure left Berwick "in a pickle."
"I was a media guy. I loved it. There was no pressure," Curry recently told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. But Berwick's assistant coaches, many of whom coached with Curry, asked their former boss to come back.
"What was I supposed to say? No?'' he told the Sun-Gazette. "I said if you really want an old man to do it, I'll do it."
Curry had lost more than 50 pounds since leaving the sidelines, and when a physical showed he was in good health, he was back on the sidelines at Berwick coaching, among others, his grandson C.J. Curry, the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs.
The seasons has not been perfect - the Bulldogs' lone loss came, ironically, to Wyoming Valley West - and the defense has had a few hiccups, but the offense has been outstanding, averaging nearly 37 points per game.
Berwick concludes its regular season on Friday, weather permitting, against a 1-8 Hazleton team before the Bulldogs leap into playoffs, where he plans to keep applying the same philosophy and principles he always has.
"You're not going to change an old guy. I coach the way I always do," Curry said. "My ways are going to be difficult and it's not for everybody. Either go to war with us and buy into it, or not. It's not for the meek."
What if the PIAA Board of Directors held a meeting and nobody noticed? That's pretty much what happened in early October.
By all accounts, the Board of Directors' most recent gathering was one of the most uneventful in quite some time, a rare event considering the many big-issue meeting the organization has had in recent years.
That doesn't bother new executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi, who has used the lull in hot-button issues to not just reorganize the staff and Board agendas, but to help re-shape PIAA's image through a weekly website message posted on the PIAA website.
Called "From The End of The Bench," Lombardi's weekly notes are designed to keep PIAA member schools and fans informed about PIAA positions, policies and championships with a more personal approach written in his voice, not PIAA-ese.
For instance, in his update following the recent PIAA Golf Championships (to be detailed momentarily), Lombardi enthusiastically wrote, "C'mon, man! It was great theatre. You can't make this stuff up."
That alone should indicate Lombardi's attempts to make PIAA a more people-friendly and less buttoned-down organization.
Speaking of the PIAA Golf Championships, it was great theatre, especially in the first Class AA boys team championship at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.
Improbably, Wyomissing of District 3 and Wilkes-Barre Holy Redeemer of District 2 both completed the 18-hole event with a total of 321 strokes. The top four scores among five players are used unless that score is tied, then it goes to the scores of the fifth team member. But both Wyomissing's Will Gentry and Holy Redeemer's Ryan Crossin were tied at 101
That necessitated the first playoff in the PIAA's brief team championship history, sending four golfers from each school to the No. 18 tee.
Wyomissing's Sam Gallen was in the first foursome to tee off, and after a layup short of the water, Gallen dunked his wedge from 97 yards for a birdie that resulted in a huge roar from the crowd gathered around the 18th green.
That birdie, combined with bogeys from his playing partner and two Redeemer players, forced Redeemer to outscore the two remaining Wyomissing golfers by three strokes to win. But Gallen's younger brother Sam and Evan Kovach made bogey and par, respectively, to secure the win.
Class AAA champion Craig Hornberger of Manheim Twp. made a late charge on the second day of the individual championships to shoot a 1-under 70 to become his school's first state golf champion since 1987.
And it was an email from that champion - PGA Tour star Jim Furyk - that helped to inspire Hornberger.
Furyk sent Hornberger an email congratulating the Manheim Twp. senior on becoming the first male golfer to win three District 3 golf titles, a note Hornberger received just before the start of the state championships.
Peters Township (District 7) won its second straight PIAA Class AAA girls team tennis championship, defeating Unionville (District 1) in the finals at Hershey Racquet Club last Saturday.
That triumph gave the WPIAL its seventh straight Class AAA team tennis state championship. District 7 schools have won 11 of the 13 PIAA Class AAA titles since the PIAA launched team tennis championships in 2000.
Mercyhurst Prep became the first District 10 team to win a state team tennis title when it defeated Moravian Academy 4-0 in the Class AA final.
NOTES ... State College has played its home games in the second half of the season in a stadium partially closed due to a sinkhole. The sinkhole on the east side of Memorial Field, one of the oldest football stadiums in use in the state, closed an entire section of stands and the press box, forcing all fans to one side of the stone stadium. The stadium will be renovated next year as part of a 2.7 million project ... Former Altoona Mirror sportswriter Frank Polito, who covered scholastic sports extensively in Blair County, passed away on Oct. 7 at the age of 69 following an extended illness. He was one of the most pleasant writers in the business.