19th Annual Banquet
LEONARD “AB" WISNESKI
“ABAJAB” was one of Mt. Carmel’s great all-around athletes. He was outstanding in every sport, in every season. And even though he excelled at football and basketball, when you saw him in action you felt “what God has in mind here was a baseball player”.
After high school he attended Wake Forest on a football scholarship...but ran into the same problem so many of our athletes faced at the time...a combination of homesickness, a war in progress, and a family at home who needed the help of another provider.
He tried out with the Yankees and decided his chances might be better after getting his service obligation out of the way. He joined the Army in 1948 and while in Okinawa became such a local legend that the Army held a parade in his honor. He led the base teams in football, basketball, baseball and even volleyball.
After completing his service obligation he signed with the Phillies and played with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. A year later he was promoted to Salt Lake City where he led the Salt Lake City Bees to the league championship.
He later played in the Pioneer League where he competed against some future major leaguers like Frank Robinson and John Roseboro. He continued his minor league career until 1954 when he decided to return home.
He quickly became a local sports legend playing with the Star Lane Nylons a local semipro power...and later with the Locust Gap Apollos a basketball team which became a colossus in the way it dominated its opposition.
He currently lives in Mt. Carmel, surrounded by his four children and 3 grandchildren. He now uses golf as an outlet for those competitive juices.
Dave Kijewski was an outstanding 3-sport athlete whose accomplishments get bigger the more you read them. Maybe because he played on teams with so many outstanding players his own records tended to get taken for granted. But viewed from the present day perspective Dave Kijewski had one helluva athletic career at Mt. Carmel High.
As a senior he was voted Outstanding Athlete in the class of 1973. No wonder: he was 14-0 in the regular season as a wrestler...and he finished 20-2 overall on his way to becoming Sectional Heavyweight Champion. In his first year out for track he tossed the shot more than 50 feet. And as a two way starter for the Eastern Conference Football Champions, he was outstanding enough to be recruited by Lee Corso at Louisville before finally accepting a football grant at Temple University.
His career record as a wrestler was 31-7, and included 18 pins. He turned down wrestling grants from the University of Virginia and William & Mary.
Dave lives here in Mt. Carmel...his daughters Denise, a senior, and Lisa a sophomore are solid runners for the Tornado track team.
HENRY F. “BILLY” COYNE
Billy Coyne was the “other” tackle on the Mt. Carmel High School 1954 Championship team. The more highly publicized teammate was, of course, Dan Ficca. But Billy Coyne has an outstanding career on his own...and went on from High School to play extremely well on the college level at Gettysburg.
At Gettysburg, Coyne was a United Press All State selection. He also was a Lacrosse player while there.
He was an ROTC student at Gettysburg and upon graduation was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. While in the service he attended the University of Louise Law School on a part-time basis. He continued to do that until his discharge at which time he enrolled full time at the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle.
He is still an active National Guard member...and now serves as Assistant Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
He practices law, along with his daughter Lisa Marie, in Camp Hill, Penna.
The thing you remember about Maria Fantanarosa as a basketball player is this non-stop, all-out, go all the time whirlwind. She was everywhere. She could shoot great...that’s proven by the fact the she is still the State’s all-time leading scorer...for both men and women. But don’t think that she was some kind of ball hog who just shot all the time. She played smothering defense, and hounded the ball from end line to end line. And she was a terrific leader and probably the most popular girl on the team.
Her scoring records: 3823 career points and 1309 single season points have become far more liberal in favor of the scorer in the 12 years since Maria set those marks.
After leaving Mt. Carmel she attended Miami of Ohio, where she continued her outstanding play. She was team captain as a senior and led the team in scoring and assists. She is one of only six women players to score more than 1000 points at Miami of Ohio.
After graduation, Maria coached High School basketball while getting a Masters Degree from Xavier in Sports Administration. She was also part of the Xavier coaching staff with responsibilities for scouting, recruiting and coaching perimeter play. During a 4-year stint at Xavier her team was 74 and 41.
Her present position is with the University of South Carolina’s Lady Gamecocks. She serves as scouting coordinator and is co-director of the University’s summer Basketball Camp. Her coaching responsibilities include teaching defense and shooting to the perimeter plays. She is now in her third year with South Carolina.
FRANCIS P. BACH
The Bach family of Mt. Carmel and Mt. Carmel Catholic High School has made a significant contribution to Coal Region sports. The youngest of the family Frank has also kept the banner flying as an athlete and citizen.
Frank’s senior year in High School was the first year of the jointure between Mt. Carmel Catholic and Lourdes. Despite being the new kid on the block he was a co-captain of the Lourdes squad and at season’s end was named the team’s outstanding lineman. He also led the team to the Anthracite Catholic League Championship.
He was recruited by Dave Nelson to play at the University of Delaware, and quickly established himself there. However, a recurring shoulder injury cut his athletic career short. He never forgot why he was there, however; he graduated from Delaware on time in 1969 with a degree in Chemistry. He received a fellowship from the University and got his Masters Degree in Natural Science in 1970.
He then coached and taught at Dover High School for several years...but got the bug to change careers and in 1977 graduated from Widener University School of Law.
He went to work for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is now the Assistant Council of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
He has remained interested and committed to Coal Region Sports. He has been an assistant coach at Holy Spirit ever since...and serves on the School Board of both Lourdes High School and the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.
JOSEPH J. GREY
Joe Grey was a big, raw kid who made himself an outstanding player. He starred as both an offensive tackle and linebacker for the Big Red. And even though he was surrounded by an all star cast he was good enough in his own right to be named to the 1973 Big 33 Team, which features the top 33 schoolboy players in Pennsylvania.
He was also a letter winner as a basketball player and (in spite of his size) earned points for the Tornado track team as a triple jumper.
He received a 4-year scholarship to play football at North Carolina State, then coached by Lou Holtz. Like so many others, homesickness and other pressures caused him to leave after his sophomore year, short-circuiting what might have been an outstanding career.
Joe died in 1977 in a tragic swimming accident.
“Big Frank” Zorica had it all come together in one day for him, and as a result he won a State Championship over some people who had come into the day with better reputations.
Frank had been a solid, but unspectacular, performer for Coach Jerry Breslin all year. His trademark had always been consistency...and many times in pressure-filled situations, the win goes to the person who handles the pressure and problems best and performs to the level of his ability.
It had rained for several days prior to the State Championship, and the slippery discus ring presented a challenge for throwers who used a full-spin technique to propel the discus. Frank had developed a far less complicated technique during the regular season. Instead of rotating a full 360 degrees in his throw; he found that he could get within 80 to 90 percent of his best throw simply by standing in place and shifting his weight to his back foot to gain momentum to the throw.
The slippery conditions presented the other competitors with problems in maintaining their balance...and the first two throws caused him the same problem. But on his final throw he went to his uncomplicated “half swing” technique and threw the discus 10 feet better than his previous best effort. And it was good enough to win the State Championship. Zorica also finished fourth in the shot put and accounted for 7 of the 9 points earned by the Tornadoes in the State Meet.
Zorica’s feat is one of the things that makes sports so much fun. Having an unknown come out of nowhere to conquer the elements and more heralded athletes is the kind of sports story people love.
EDWIN J. (EDS) MENAPACE
Eds Menapace was a solid two-sport athlete at Mt. Carmel Township. However, he grew as an athlete after High School and became even more outstanding as he matured. He became a three-sport letterman at Susquehanna University in 1949, 1950 and 1951. He was a fullback in football, a catcher in baseball, and a solid rebounder in basketball. He really earned his nickname “Moose”.
After leading the Crusaders in slugging percentage in his final season, Menapace was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and sent to their Class C affiliate in Lockport, New York. He spent a year there then moved up to the St. Hyacinthe Reds of the Canadian League and the following year played with the Midland Indians of the Texas League. Even though he realized his dream of playing in the majors was probably not going to materialize he continued to play for the sheer love of the game.
He continued to play for several more years...finally winding up his career with the semi-pro Statesboro Pilots of the Georgia League.
Eds lived in Silver Springs, Maryland with his family until his recent death.
COACH DAVE “WHITEY” WILLIAMS
Since coming to Mt. Carmel, Coach Williams has a record of 46 wins and only 8 loses. Overall as a head coach he is 74-23-1. In his 4 year stint with the Tornadoes they have won 2 State Championships, 1 Eastern Conference Championship, 1 District 11 Championship, and 1 District 4 Championship. He has produced 13 All State Players. Twice he was named Nike Pennsylvania Coach of the Year; Twice Pa. Football Coaches Coach of the Year; Associated Press Small School Coach of the Year and Reading Eagle Coach of the Year.
CHARLES “CHICK” CONNELY
Chink has been the architect of the devastating defenses of the Tornadoes over the past 4 years. Previous to coming here, he was a defensive coordinator at Marian Catholic for 17 years. In the 46 victories posted by the Tornadoes during Connely’s tenure 16 have been shutouts and another 15 only one score allowed. 10 of the 13 All State players in the last 4 years have been linemen or defensive players.
Brett is the Tornado’s all time leading rusher with 5261 yards and the leading all-purpose yardage leader with 7323 yards. His career has been one of solid outstanding consistency. Game in and game out he was marvelous. When they stacked defenses he still got the yards...when they broke in new linemen it still didn’t matter. He played both ways, carried the ball inside and outside and still showed us his remarkable, even performance game after game. He was the 1996 “Small School” Player of the Year in Pennsylvania. He was one of 5 finalists for Pennsylvania High School Player of the Year...and he will play in August’s Big 33 Game against the best in Ohio. It will be a long time before you see another one like him.
Joey was the defensive version of Brett Veach. Someone once said “a great defensive player sighted the ball early and arrived in ill humor”. They certainly had Joe Costello in mind. He was twice First Team All State Linebacker and you could make a good case for him doing it three times. He started a record 54 consecutive games for the Red Tornadoes. During his Senior year alone he had 138 tackles...35 of them for losses. He was Reading Eagle defensive player of the year in 1996.
Dave was named 1st Team All State as a defensive back, and defensive back of the year by both Reading Eagle and Bloomsburg Press Enterprise. He led the team with 10 interceptions...and was also the leading receiver with 29 catches. He is class President and ranked #8 in his class. He will play at Bucknell University.
Joe Shick made Second team AP All State as a linebacker. He was second on the team with 104 tackles. During his career he made 223 tackles good for eighth place on the all-time Tornado list. He was named Reading Eagle offensive lineman of the year in 96. He is the last of 5 brothers who wore 66 for the Big Red. His grandfather Sam Scicchitano is a member of the Ed Romance Hall of Fame.
Eric saw action in all 54 varsity games in his career. As a three-year starter at Tight End he finished 12th on the all time list with 49 receptions for 6 touchdowns. Made Reading Eagle All Anthracite as tight end for the past two years, and this year made Third Team All State at tight end. In top 5 in his class. Will play at Bucknell.
A relative late-bloomer. Mike came on like gangbusters to be voted First Team All State offensive lineman. He was a large part of the reason the Tornado offense was able to run up 5227 yards this year. Probably the best part of Mike’s career is still ahead of him...and apparently Boston University agrees since he’ll go there on a 4-year grant in aid.
Eric fits the mold of previous winners of this award perfectly. He is ranked 5th in his class; and carries a GPA of 97. He is a member of the National Honor Society and was nominated as a National Scholar while representing Pennsylvania at the Young Leaders Conference. He is on Student Council and has served as a Peer Facilitator for the past three years.
Athletically, his statistics are equally impressive. As a co-captain of this year’s State Championship Red Tornadoes he was a 3rd Team All State End. He was great on both sides of the ball, having 8 ½ quarterback sacks and an interception to go with his 49 receptions and 6 TC catches.
He was also a co-captain of the basketball team, where he lettered three years. He also lettered two years in baseball and two years in track and field.
Eric will attend Bucknell University where he will continue his football career. He is an outstanding choice to join the line of outstanding athletes who have claimed this award previously.