RAY SWANSON | Keystoner W &amp; amp;J favored as PAC champ, again
John Banaszak, the former Pittsburgh Steeler standout, and his Washington & amp; Jefferson Presidents, are once again favored to take championship honors in the 202 Presidents' Athletic Conference title chase.
According to the PAC football preseason coaches poll, the Presidents are favored to capture their 17th title in the past 18 years. That's what one calls domination.
Banaszak, a graduate of Eastern Michigan in 1974 before his stint with the Steelers, is 29-6 in his three seasons as coach of the Red & amp; Black. Last year the Presidents rolled to an 11-1 record, losing to Widener, 46-30, in the Division III playoffs.
"I think we have been named No. 1 by the conference coaches due to our reputation," Banaszak said. "The PAC is getting more and more difficult and talented each season and we have to improve to be able to continue the success that we have recently achieved."
W & amp;J wound up with 33 points and three of the first-place votes. Points were assigned on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Following W & amp;J in the poll was Bethany and Westminster, with 23 points each; Thiel, under coach Jack Leipheimer who is a Hickory High graduate, with 18 points; Waynesburg College, 16, and Grove City College, 13.
Westminster, coached by Jerry Schmitt, and Thiel each received one first-place vote in the poll. Westminster is expected to compete for PAC honors this season following four years of purgatory which included two seasons in Div. II and two seasons of ineligibility for conference titles and national playoffs while being reclassified to Div. III.
Last year the Titans posted a 4-5 record. Schmitt's overall record as coach shows a 12-7 ledger in two seasons. He has 38 returning letterwinners and 12 starters.
It's no secret that Edinboro College has one of the finest wrestling programs around. And a young Sharpsville High standout will become a part of that storied program this fall.
Ron Haywood, a standout in wrestling and football at Sharpsville, posted a 122-30 record while wrestling for the Blue Devils. He qualified twice for the PIAA Championships. He was also an outstanding running back for the Devils, and a four-year letterman.
Haywood had cut his list of potential schools to Edinboro after deciding against Pitt, Lock Haven and Bloomsburg. The location, closer to home, may have been the deciding factor for the young wrestler.
He was rated by some as one of the country's top recruits, now he was seen strolling on the streets of McKeesport, his hometown.
Cecil Howard, the former standout quarterback at McKeesport High School, nixed Syracuse and headed for Youngstown State. He didn't stay long. After Penguins' coach Jon Heacock announced his starting quarterback (it wasn't Howard) the McKeesport signal caller headed back home. His intentions are unknown.
At McKeesport High, Howard rushed for 1,383 yards as a senior, and scored 18 touchdowns. He completed 18 of 49 passes for 302 yards and four TDs. He was a first-team all-state selection (AAAA-AAA) and won numerous other honors.
Two of a kind
Can't help but wondering if Pittsburgh's Brian Giles and Cleveland's Jim Thome were playing with winning clubs. The mood undoubtedly would be much different.