18th Annual Banquet
TOM F. VERNON (VERSHINSKI)
If you were going to make a list of the top 5 athletes ever to play at Mt. Carmel High School you would have to include the name of Tom Vernon. He won 12 letters as a Tornado athlete, and was outstanding in every sport. He is the only athlete in the school’s history to be named All State in both football and basketball in the same year.
The list of accomplishments goes on: He holds the single game scoring record for basketball, a 45 point effort against Pottsville in 1955. He was the first player to score 1000 points in a career; and his 25.3 points per game average in 54-55 is still the Tornado record.
He began to compete in track as a junior...up to that time he concentrated on baseball in the spring. He became an immediate sensation. He went to the state track finals in two events, high jump and discus. Meanwhile, he led the Tornado baseball team in both hitting and pitching. As a senior he was Captain on all four major sports squads; and was named to Scholastic Sports All American team at end...the only Pennsylvanian to achieve that honor.
Tom was not just a high school flash. As a football recruit at Michigan State he made an immediate impact. He started at end for three years for the Spartans, during which time their record was 32-12-2. He starred in the Rose Bowl victory over UCLA in 1956; and in 1958 won the Oil Can Award for the squad member who had the best attitude, enthusiasm, and humor…
He signed with the Boston Patriots in 1960 and was their last cut at tight end. He finished that season in the Eastern Coast semi-pro league and led the league in receptions and touchdown passes (16 in 10 games).
He was offered a contract with the Washington Redskins the following year, but because of 1-A draft status opted to coach the Mifflin High School team in Columbus, Ohio. He remained coach there for 5 years, and during the same period continued to play semi-pro with the Columbus Colts and the Columbus Capitols.
He was frankly, ahead of his time. He had the athleticism and grace of a small man in a big man’s body. Certainly one of the finest athletes ever to wear the Tornado red and white.
DR. MICHAEL J. DIMINICK
A list of Mike’s accomplishments would extend beyond our allotted space; therefore we will mention only a few. No one locally, probably very few people nationally, ever combined athletic and scholastic achievement to such a significant degree.
In 1985 as class Valedictorian he scored in the top 5% nationally in the SAT. Meanwhile, he was selected by the National High School Football Coaches as their National Scholar Athlete of the Year. He was also selected by Bally’s as the kick returner on their High School All American Squad. In that one golden year he was named to every All State and National Honors team. In addition, the Mt. Carmel Board of Education retired hi football jersey and Borough Council declared Jan. 2, 1985 as “Mike Diminick Day”.
He attended Duke University not on a football scholarship; but as the Angie Biddle Duke Scolar, the most prestigious Academic Scholarship awarded at Duke. While at Duke, where he started for three years in their defensive backfield, he was first team Academic All American for three years. Mike is the only Duke football player to accomplish this feat. He was all ACC for three years...the 1988 College Football Association National Scholar Athlete of the year...and the ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year. He was honored by the National Football Coaches as a Scholastic All American at their annual meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City after completion of his final year at Duke.
After graduation, Mike entered Harvard Medical School from where he graduated with honors in 1993. He is currently doing his third year of residency in orthopedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Cornell Medical Center, New York.
Whether football or track, no one did it with more elegance, grace and intelligence than Mike Diminick. Ed Romance is grinning from ear to ear at this opportunity to honor Mike.
Billy Shannon was one of the all-time great athletes at Mt. Carmel Township. As an all League guard he led the Golden Bears to the Anthracite League Championship as a senior in 1943. But like so many other great athletes of that era, college just was not an option available to him. He went off to the Service, as did almost every one in those days.
It was in the Navy where he was “discovered”. He was a solid two-sport star for the Great Lakes squad; and his pitching caught the eye of a scout from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Immediately after the end of his service hitch, Billy signed with the Cardinals and reported to their Class A Hamilton affiliate. He began to move up in the Cards chain when he sustained a serious shoulder injury that eventually curtailed his career.
He returned home in 1949 and immediately began to play local semi pro baseball and basketball. He was a member of the 1953 Locust Gap Apollos which won the semi-pro state championship.
Billy Shannon was one of those guys who could have made it with the right breaks. Were it not for the War and the unfortunate shoulder injury, it is not a “stretch” to suggest he would have had a major league baseball career.
Dennis Lentini was a tremendous athlete, whose career was not given proper credit because he played on teams with other terrific athletes who got more headlines. But when you look at the record of his accomplishments, what emerges is the realization that he had one of the finest careers of any Mt. Carmel football player.
Coach “Jazz” Diminick called him an “instinctive” player who had a special feel for the game situation. In those years the “blitz” had not yet become a highly refined defensive technique; but Jazz said “we never had to tell him when to blitz...he seemed to sense the situation and “go” at just the right time.”
He started at linebacker for three years; and was All Conference each of the three. In 1968 he was All State on the undefeated championship team. He teamed with Bob Sacavage as a linebacker tandem on the great ‘68 team which shutout 7 of its 11 opponents. He was also a devastating blocker at the point as a tight end. His blocking was one of the major reasons the Mt. Carmel “stampede”, as the power sweep was called was the hallmark of those teams that featured the running of Bob Veach and Gary Diminick.
He also lettered 4 years in Track & Field, and was three-time District 4 shot put and discus champion. He was recruited by Frank Kush to play linebacker at Arizona State. His name is included whenever Tornado fans talk about the great defensive players of the past.
Henry Duran earned 10 letters as a three-sport athlete at Kulpmont High School from 1941 through 1945. As starting left half back for Coach Mike Terry, Henry did most of the passing and all of the team’s punting. He was an excellent blocker who led the 44 team to an undefeated season.
After graduation, he was offered a number of athletic scholarships to continue his career as a college football player. He chose the University of Pittsburgh, where Clark Shaughnessy’s offense was perfectly suited for someone with his versatile talents. World War II intervened, and his career, like so many others in those days was cut short by being drafted into the service.
He played on the Army’s 7th Division team...and as quarterback and team captain had the opportunity to hone his athletic skills even farther. He received other scholarship offers as a result of his Army career; but he renewed his commitment to Pitt and returned there after his discharge. While at Pitt he sustained a serious hip injury which actually prevented him from getting into a three-point stance. A tailback who couldn’t get into a stance was just not suited for single wing football...and as a result he had to give up football at Pitt.
Despite the danger for further injury, he continued to play as a “semi pro” for a number of local teams. He moved to Maryland and became a member of the Maryland State Police. He later continued in the same field with Nationwide Insurance and General Motors before his retirement.
George Bach graduated from Mount Carmel Catholic High School in 1950. Bach played both ways for the “RAMS” as a tackle and sometimes nose guard. He served as captain his senior year. During his four years as a varsity player, the “RAMS” posted highly successful seasons competing against the larger public and catholic schools in central Pennsylvania. During his tenure the “RAMS” were considered one of the best high school teams in the area and were repeat winners of the Anthracite Catholic League.
George played for several outstanding football coaches and personalities, namely, Robert Balent, Ray Green, Tufkie Andrulevich, Foster Richards, Duke Narcavage, Joe Pezelski and the memorable Herb Curley. All of his coaches rated him as an outstanding trap blocker and a nemesis on defense who made the left tackle post a spot to be shunned by offensive backs. George’s post-season honors included being named to the All Central Pennsylvania Catholic Team and numerous all opponents teams. In his playing days George personified Hard Nosed Coal Region Football but tempered the nature of the game by being successful in the classroom as a First Honor student for four years. George received letters from several colleges (North Carolina, Fresno State, Saint Vincents, Dickinson, and Buffalo) but elected to enlist in the Air Force following graduation.
After completing his military duty, George attended Bloomsburg University where he majored in the Physical Sciences. He accepted a science teaching and coaching position with Minersville Area High School. He served as an assistant coach for several years to one of the states most successful football coaches, John Gurski. George retired from teaching after twenty five years and took over the family owned Beer Distributorship. George has maintained an interest in football and he and his brother Charlie are readily seen at the Silver Bowl during the football season. He is a service officer for the Atlas Legion Post and now enjoys writing poetry some of which have been accepted for publication.
George is most proud of being the first in the line of the Bach brothers (Joe, John, Jim, and Frank) who excelled as RAMS in the 50’s and 60’s.
Tony Dondero was a four year starter at offensive tackle for the Lourdes Red Raiders from 1971 through 1974. He also participated in basketball and golf, lettering twice in each sport.
He was named to the All Coal Region Team, and the All Anthracite team as a senior. He was an important part of the undefeated 1972 Lourdes squad that produced a number of players who distinguished themselves as college players.
He lettered four years at Lehigh University from 1975 to 1978. His Lehigh squad won the Lambert Cup, symbol of Eastern supremacy, in 1975 and 1977. They were division 1 AA National Champions in 1977.
He graduated in 1978 with a degree in Civil Engineering. Tony is employed by W.R. Grace as World-Wide Marketing Manager for Polyolefin Catalysts.
THOMAS W. REVAK
Tom Revak was a big, strong, fun loving kid who also happened to be a heckuva football player and an excellent student. If you figure that combination should add up to All-Ivy medical school you are right.
From 1953 through 1956 he was a fixture at tackle at Mt. Carmel High School. During that period he excelled at football, wrestling and track. He was an Honorable Mention All Stater in all three sports.
He became a 3 year starter at Cornell. During that period, in which he received All Ivy First Team Honors twice, the Big Red won the Ivy League championship and finished second once. Tommy then attended Magill University in Canada prior to matriculation at Cornell Medical School. While at Magill he started for two additional post-graduate years for the Magill football team.
Tom graduated from Cornell Medical School in 1967. He went into the service and served as a physician in the Green Berets during the Vietnam War. He also practiced medicine in Fort Hamilton, Ontario for a short period until his death in 1975.
“Hook’s Goal Beats Coal!”...That was the headline on the sports page of the Mt. Carmel Item, celebrating the upset win that gave the Tornadoes the championship over previously unbeaten Coal Township High.
That was a first-ever championship for the Big Red. Never known as a basketball power, the Tornadoes had always played second fiddle to Shamokin and Coal Township before Jack Hook’s last minute field goal turned the trick for Mt. Carmel.
What was even more improbable was the fact that Hook was a first-year player at the time. He had contacted rheumatic fever his sophomore year and was forbidden by the doctors to participate in sports during his recovery period. He finally got the medical go ahead his senior year, and the res, as they say, is “history”.
The Tornadoes, finally having the “big” man that always seems to be missing at Mt. Carmel won 19 of 23 games and had its most successful season ever to that point.
After graduation, Jack continued to play semi-pro basketball, around a 2-year army stint, in which he served in the counter-intelligence corps. He probably had his most successful basketball performances as a member of the Locust Gap Apollos. The Apollos, led by Hook, Bill Shannon another of our inductees, Bill Wetzel, and Phil Muscara, a former Pottsville star were semi-pro state champions in 1953.
The Apollos took on all comers, and in 1953 won 37 of 44 games enroute to winning the state championship.
Hook later turned to politics; and was a borough councilman for more than 20 years before his death in 1995.
John Mazur was a fighter all his life. Not a pugilist, but a “fighter” nonetheless. From the time he spent picking coal on neighboring coal banks as a youngster, to the fight he made for his life waiting for a fourth round of surgery, Mazur embodied the spirit present in so many other honorees born during those lean times. Like so many other coal-region athletes Mazur used sports as his ticket to a better education, and a way out of the mines.
Mazur was an outstanding wrestler at Mt. Carmel High; but World War II intervened; and the scarcity of gas would not permit the use of the valuable fuel for non essential purposes and all sports were suspended.
John joined the Navy and served as a radio operator aboard the US Bermerton. Afterwards, he enrolled at Pennsylvania Military College, now known as Widener University. He convinced the athletic department there to begin a wrestling program, and he served as the team’s first head coach while a member of the squad. He did well enough to be named to the Small College All American Squad. His leadership ability surfaced in other ways, too, and he was voted Student Council President. He graduated from PMC in 1950, with a degree in Industrial Engineering.
He had developed a keen sense of identification while the “underdog”, and this led him into politics. His political activity and the leadership ability as one of the “Young Turks” in the Democratic Party led to a smashing political upset which seated the Democrats in control of Northumberland County after almost 40 years of Republican control.
He served one of the longest terms in history as County Democratic chairman. He was honored as Mt. Carmel’s “Man of the Year” in 1970 in recognition of his tireless fights on behalf of bringing jobs to the Coal Region. He was also a Mt. Carmel Councilman at the time of his death in 1994.
Jen continues the proud tradition of Mt. Carmel Area athletes who combine success on the athletic field with outstanding accomplishments in the classroom. As a scholar she is first rate; she has received the Distinguished Honor Roll all four years of High School; and is Secretary of the National Honor Society. She recently compiled a 1240 combined SAT score.
As an athlete she has been equally successful. She lettered four years for both the Cross Country and Track teams. She is co-captain of both squads as a senior. She was the tea,’s top finisher at Districts and a member of the Schuylkill League All Star Cross Country team.
As a track star she is a member of the 4x800 relay team which finished second, first and third each of her first three years. She had made the Schuylkill League All Star team in track each of the last three years. She also competes in the 400 meter, 4x400 meter relay, the 800 meter and long jump.
Jen is very active in school and community activities. She is the daughter of Ernie and Bonnie Parisella. She will enroll in Bucknell as a pre-law major in the fall.