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Ligenza, Poli among SCFCA inductees

Published August 13. 2013 05:02PM

ORWIGSBURG Three former coaches of current high schools and one at-large inductee from a former school comprise the Schuylkill County Football Coaches Hall of Fame 2013 Class that was announced Wednesday at the organization's preseason media luncheon at Roman Delight, Route 61, Orwigsburg.

Induction ceremonies will be held Wednesday, Nov. 27, during halftime at the organization's annual all-star game at Rotary Field, Schuylkill Haven.

Representing current schools are Richard "Dick" Ketz, Blue Mountain ; the late Walter "Walt" Ligenza, Tamaqua; and the late Joseph "Joe" Willinsky, Minersville. This year's at-large inductee is the late Geno Poli, Coaldale.

Richard "Dick" Ketz

Ketz is a 1958 graduate of Blue Mountain , where he played four years of football and two years of baseball, earning most valuable player awards in both sports. He played four years at West Chester as an offensive and defensive end, during which time the Golden Rams lost just three games.

After graduation in 1962 and one year of teaching at Lancaster , Ketz taught seven years at Hempfield High, coaching offensive and defensive backs. During his 29-year coaching career at Blue Mountain he compiled a 34-46-2 record in eight years as head football coach, and two of his players - Dave Schmidt and Doug Cresswell - earned Schuylkill County Scholar-Athlete and first-team, all-state honors.

Ketz served four years as assistant athletic director and after retirement worked as a sports stringer for several newspapers. He and his wife Judith reside in New Ringgold and are the parents of two sons, Richard and Jeffery.

Walter "Walt" Ligenza

Ligenza had retired as head football coach, but was still teaching at Tamaqua when he died in 1992 at the age of 52. During his 11 years as head coach of the Blue Raiders he compiled a 64-42-7 record that included a run of six consecutive winning seasons and 15 all-state players.

A graduate of Nesquehoning High, where he was a two-way lineman, Ligenza went on to play football at Georgetown , graduating in 1962. He was head junior varsity coach for six years at Tamaqua before becoming head coach and after stepping down went on to serve as an assistant coach at Panther Valley.

He and his wife Barbara resided in Nesquehoning at the time of his death. They had two sons, Walter and Matthew, and two daughters, Marcy and Christine.

Joseph "Joe" Willinsky

Willinsky served his native Minersville as both head football coach and chief of police and was living in Maryland when he died in 2011 at the age of 71. After graduating from Minersville High, he attended Indiana University and was an eight-year veteran of the Navy Submarine Service.

In addition to playing high school and college football, Willinsky played offensive guard for the Boston Patriots in the American Football League and the Philadelphia Bulldogs in the Continental Football League. In his 10 seasons as head coach of the Battlin' Miners he compiled a 52-55-3 record, winning the Eastern Conference Class C title in 1984

Willinsky coached dozens of players who earned various postseason honors and three Schuylkill County Scholar Athletes. He and his wife Frances were the parents of four children: sons David, J. Scott and Mark and daughter Michelle.

Geno Poli

Poli, who was 69 when he died in 1998, was a standout athlete for Coaldale High, having served as head football coach for his alma mater, Shenandoah, Ashland and Panther Valley. He is most remembered for the 33-10 record he compiled in four years at Coaldale, highlighted by an 11-0 season in 1962 and a 10-2 season the final year before it became part of the Panther Valley jointure. He was also a member of the Marian High staff when the Colts won the PIAA title in 1990.

A graduate of New York and East Stroudsburg universities, Poli was a teacher in the Panther Valley School District for 33 years before retiring. An Army veteran who saw service in the Korean War, he and his wife Peggy were married for 44 years and were the parents of sons Louis and Anthony and daughter Marie.

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