Gaining an appreciate for Warren football

Since starting my journalism career, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a few different things. Spring training in Arizona, a few different Arizona State sporting events, high school football in both Western Pennsylvania and in the Phoenix-metropolitan area, along with several other things.

But the stories I’ve gotten to tell and the people I get to talk to along the way will always be the best part of those experiences, and over the past few months, I’ve gotten to dive into the history of football in Warren. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Built at Mollenkopf is a project I’ll always hold close to my belt because it dives into something that people take so much pride in.

I don’t know if I did it justice for the people that have read the series over the past week, but I hope I did. I hope it allowed you to relive your glory days and retell some of your favorite memories and stories, because I’ve heard some good ones.

Not only was this project fun, I also learned a lot because when I first moved to the area last June to take over the sports department at the Tribune Chronicle and Vindicator, I didn’t know much about the area.

One of my mentors raved about the history of both papers that I would soon be joining, and my then-girlfriend — now wife — told me everything she could about the area. But the conversations I had before landing here didn’t do it justice.

I remember first learning about high school football here in Warren. It was a story about Maurice Clarett. I knew of him while I was growing up in Western New York, but I never realized I was moving to where he made a name for himself. Then, shortly after, I learned of guys like Mario Manningham, Boom Herron, Lynn Bowden, the Daniels brothers and many others. They were guys that were around my time.

Then the 1971 Harding Panthers state championship team was honored before a game this past season at Mollenkopf Stadium. This was when the history of high school football here in Warren truly started to come to the surface for me. After that, I started to do my own research.

I soon discovered the origin of Paul Warfield. I knew of Warfield, but again, I didn’t realize he was from Warren. After writing my most recent article I learned even more as I was told about Bill Kollar, who was drafted by the Bengals in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft after attending Montana State.

I soon asked myself, “How could all of these NFL players come from the same city?”

Turns out, after talking to several people around here, it’s become the norm. I decided I needed to know more.

Then, Ross Browner passed away.

Soon after hearing the stories told about the oldest brother of one of the most historic NFL families, I knew there was a story to be told because his legacy meant so much to so many people and I learned a lot more about the history of high school football in Warren.

There were the back-to-back state titles — in 1971 by Warren G. Harding and 1972 by Warren Western Reserve. That golden era of football here in the city stood out to me, and as I’ve said to multiple people over the past few weeks, I wish I could’ve been there.

To see Mollenkopf filled, and the stands shaking, would’ve been a core memory, and it still is for so many people.

I got a chuckle from the stories told about rivalry week and the pranks that were pulled.

“Egg sales were up that week,” one person told me.

All rivalries are good, but it seems that the Harding-Western Reserve one was a good one, and still is to this day depending on who you ask.

Lastly I do want to thank the people that have helped me through this process and answered the phone when I had a question. It’s because of people like you that stories like this are able to be told and I’m glad I was able to do so.

Now, it’s off to high school football season, and let’s hope for another exciting one.


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