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Four from Palmerton to be inducted

  • Four from Palmerton to be inducted
    Copyright 2013
Published April 13. 2013 09:03AM

The Carbon County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its 2013 class on Sunday, May 26 at Memorial Hall in Jim Thorpe.

The doors will open at 12:45 with cocktail hour from 1-2 p.m. Dinner will be at 2 p.m. with the induction ceremony to follow.

Anyone looking for tickets to the banquet can contact any of the following people: Art George 610-826-2830; Jake Boyer 610-751-6634; Danny McGinley 570-325-3550; Tom Wehr 570-366-2694; Trevor Lawrence 570-645-4722; Ted Bortnick 570-645-9575; Emmett McCall 570-645-2093; Bob Gelatko 570-645-8652; Tom McGrath 570-668-2237; Gary Clemson 570-668-1066; Tom Pilla 570-669-6666; Bill Gardiner 570-669-6564.

This year's class includes the follow members:

TAMAQUA - Mike Hromyak Sr., Robert "Bob" Clemson, Sean Love.

JIM THORPE - Peggy Sue O'Donnell, Joe Morgan, Jack Morgan.

NESQUEHONING - Joe Ligenza, Bill Morgan, Charles Zabroski, Tom Pilla.

LEHIGHTON - Jim Tkach, Larry Mertz, Jennifer (Harleman) Lopata.

SUMMIT HILL - Joe Leonzi, Ed Kusko, Frank Santo.

PALMERTON - Billy Heydt, Bruce Kocher, Steve Kocher, Steve Barilla.

LANSFORD - Caszy Kosciolek, Roberta (Spezialetti) Porambo, Bill Maynard.

COALDALE - Pete Radocha, Diana Demianenko, Joseph Ozefovich, John Posta.

Over the next several Saturdays, the TIMES NEWS will run brief biographies of this year's class.

Following are the inductees from Palmerton:

Steve Barilla

Steve is a 1960 graduate of Palmerton Area High School where he was a standout tackle is generally regarded as one of the all-time greats in program history.

At the conclusion of his senior season, Steve was invited to play in the Unico All Star Game in Hazleton. It was there that the Wichita State University coaches noticed his aggressive play, which prompted them to offer him a four-year scholarship to the school's football program.

This was an opportunity for a young man that didn't know what he wanted to do with his life to get a college education and further his football career.

Steve played on Missouri Conference Championship teams at Wichita State in 1961 and 1963, and was also a part of the 1961 Sun Bowl, which saw Barilla's Shockers take on Villanova.

Barilla was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1963 and made it to the final cut. While with the Lions, Steve had a chance to play alongside Alex Karras, who was one of the most feared players in the league and a first round pick of the Lions in 1958.

Barilla's stint with the Lions ended his playing career. However, he later took to teaching youngsters how to play the game in both Wichita and the Lehighton area.

Steve particularly enjoyed his experience in Wichita and the many loyal lifelong friends he made along the way. Barilla was always proud of his close friendship with Bill Parcells (head coach of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys) and the fact that he was the best man in Bill and Judy's wedding. Steve also had great respect for college coaches Chelo Huerta and Hank Folberg.

Barilla used the experience he gained working for a plastics plant in Wichita to help him start Techna Plastics in Lehighton.

Steve is survived by his wife Barbara and their children, Terri Ann, Richard, Robert and Steve.

Bill Heydt

Heydt, a 1963 graduate of Palmerton Area High School, won four letters in both track and football, and another three in basketball. He certainly ranks as one of the most productive three-sport athletes in Palmerton history.

In football as a sophomore, Heydt was an All-Lehigh Valley League Honorable Mention choice after setting an area record with 21 PAT placements. As a senior, he was named to the league's First Team and was also chosen by United Press International as an All-Star Honorable Mention.

Bill blocked a punt in the end zone for the only score, as Palmerton beat Slatington 6-0 on Thanksgiving Day in 1962. It was his last game for the Bombers after starting every varsity contest for four years.

Heydt was co-captain of the football and basketball teams that year. He showed a lot of early promise in basketball, as he scored 50 points in a league game at Stroudsburg as a sophmore. That accomplishment earned him all-league first team honors.

In track, he won the discus and shot put events at the district and league meets during his junior and senior seasons. Heydt went on to win the gold in discus at the PIAA state meet as a senior. Overall, Bill was undefeated in discus competition during his senior year.

After graduation, he first attended Wenatchee Valley Jr. College and later accepted a full football scholarship to the University of Colorado where he was a defensive end for three years. During his senior season in 1967, the Buffaloes went 8-2, were ranked as high as third in the country and defeated Miami (FL) in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

Bill graduated in 1969 and stayed an extra year to earn his master's degree. After receiving his degree, Heydt joined the Franklin, New Hampshire High School Faculty where he was a teacher, coach and administrator for 38 years. He coached football for 19 years and track for 37 years, producing a New England state champion in discus along the way.

Bill married his high school sweetheart, Carol Marques, with whom he has three children: Bill, Tammy and Krista.

Bill retired in 2008 and now enjoys traveling and visiting his children and grandchildren along with volunteering at a local food pantry.

Bruce Kocher

Bruce is a 1970 graduate of Palmerton Area High School where in his athletic career he was most outstanding in both basketball and track and field.

In his senior year, he helped the Bombers basketball team to a 20-4 record. After finishing second in the Lehigh Valley League to Catasauqua in the first half of league play, the team battled back to win the second half championship. Palmerton faced Catasauqua in the title game, but lost 50-48. The strong season led to the best record at the school in 10-plus years and brought pride back to Palmerton basketball.

Even at 6-1, he never backed down and always guarded the big man. His rebounding skills were among the best, and his strong hands and uncanny leaping ability allowed him to pull down 14 rebounds per game. He pulled down 24 rebounds in each game against Emmaus, Weatherly and Lehighton, which proved his rebounding prowess.

Kocher was also a stand-out in track and field at Palmerton, earning a number of honors in his junior and senior seasons.

During the first meet of his junior year in 1969, he broke the school record in the high jump with a mark of 6-1. He placed first in the league meet in high jump that year, again jumping 6-1. He followed this up with a first place at the District XI B meet in the same event, jumping 6-2, which was a meet record that qualified him for states.

In the first dual meet of his senior season, he broke the school record in the high jump going 6-4. He won the league meet with a jump of 6-3, which was a meet record. He again was a district champion in the high jump. His high jump qualified him for the state track and field meet where he placed second and set a school record with a jump of 6-5, which was also a career best for him.

He scored 230 career points in track and field and was the Carbon County scoring champion in the sport during his senior year.

Bruce went on to attend Kutztown where he graduated in 1974. He participated in track and field while there and was coached by Denny Roth. He was a four-year letterman and three-time MVP during those years based on being the scoring leader of the team.

After his college years, Bruce participated in the Bnai Birth Track Invitational, where in 1974 he was MVP in the Open Male Class.

Steve Kocher

Steve is a 1976 graduate of Palmerton Area High School where he was one of the finest athletes in the program's rich track and field history.

Through the years and into his senior year, his hard work and hours spent lifting weights and practicing his events paid off. He developed into a three-sport star in the shot put, discus and javelin.

During his senior year, the team participated in the newly formed Centennial League, where he was a part of the team that won the dual meet championship and finished 9-0. The team also went on to win the league meet title and the Carbon County meet title.

In the Centennial League Meet, Steve was second in the shot put and discus, and first in the javelin.

At the District XI B Meet, Steve was second in the shot put and discus and fourth in the javelin. At this meet, he qualified for the PIAA State Championships in both the shot put and discus, placing fifth in the shot put.

Steve was also an outstanding football player at Palmerton. He was a two-year starter at offensive takle, definsive takle, linebacker and was also the team's kicker. His fine play earned him a Centennial League All-Star selection.

Steve continued his education and football play at Kutztown University, where he was a three-year starter at devensive takle. He was an all-conference selection in both his junior and senior years, receiving the Outstanding Lineman Award his senior season.

While at the school, he had the honor of playing on the football team that won the Eastern Division title in the Pennsylvania Conference. He ended his football career at Kutztown being chosed Football Scholar Athlete his senior year.

As a track and field athlete, Steve participated only in his senior year at Kutztown, where he medaled in the shot put in the Pennsylvania Conference Track and Field meet.

As a student at Kutztownm Steve had Deans List Honors, received an award as the Outstanding Biology Student and was named to the Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

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