Ten players from YSU's 1979 team, a former assistant coach and a trustee-contributor were honored.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Members of the 1979 Youngstown State football team, the first YSU team to play for a national championship, were among the honorees at the 13th annual YSU Penguin Club scholarship ring dinner Tuesday night at Mr. Anthony's Banquet Center.
Ten members of that team, which set a school record for victories in the season at the time, were present along with the two other honorees -- former assistant football coach Gene DeFilippo and YSU trustee Bill Knecht. They were all named "Penguins of the Year."
DeFilippo was the offensive coordinator for the 1979 team which posted an 11-2 record, losing twice to Delaware, the second time in the national championship game in Albuquerque, N.M.
At Boston College
DeFilippo is currently the athletic director at Boston College, but he still remembers his days with the Penguins.
"Once a Penguin, always a Penguin," said DeFilippo. "I think that the 1979 team was one of my all-time favorite teams. "This has always been a storied program with a rich tradition."
Sam Grooms, the center on the 1979 team, was the team's official spokesman.
"There were so many great players on that team and so many records broken by them, but I think that the team's success was because of the great leadership and the closeness of the players to one another that made us a championship team," he said.
Other players present included Keith Snoddy, Robby Robson, Tim Gardner, Jody DiTunno, Jeff Lear, Jeff Johnston, Bob Porter and Cary Orosz.
Knecht, chairman and CEO of Wendell August Forge, was one of the original organizers of the Penguin Club, which was chartered in 1974.
He played a key role in the more than $3 million capital fund drive that has made Stambaugh Stadium one of the finest in I-AA football.
In 1999, he was inducted into the YSU Hall of Fame as a contributor.
The annual scholarship/ring dinner is the University's chief fund raiser which helps provide scholarships and championship rings to the school's student athletes.