• Penny Weichel

This 'n That

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

(This column also appeared in the June 29, 2020 edition of The Derrick/The News-Herald.)

A collection of odds’ and ends and other blurb worthy items:

Two other Oil City basketball players from the 1960s besides Bibs Hadley who went to Lycoming to play for Dutch Burch were Dave Pearson and Wes Forshee. But as he became more established in the eastern half of the state, so did Burch’s recruiting. Georgia Burch, Dutch’s widow, said a memorable recruit was Harry Perretta, who never played due to an injury. But Burch liked his potential and kept him as an assistant. Then in 1978, at the age of 22, Perretta became Villanova’s first women’s coach. He retired this year after 42 seasons with a 783-489 record and several NCAA tournament appearances.

Bob Witherup, whose 519 points in 1970 broke Chuck Snell’s single-season record at Franklin, went to Thiel and ran for 207 yards in a game against Carnegie-Mellon as a freshman. That ranks No. 7 on the Tomcats’ all-time list. His 1,760 career yards rushing is No. 12. FHS grads Steve Grace and Dennis “Buzzy” Scott and former Oil City quarterback/point guard/ triple jumper George (aka “Leo”) Sterner are also on Thiel’s all-time lists in various kickoff and punt return categories.

Oil City’s Mike Emick was Mercyhurst’s first recruit for men’s basketball. (Remember Mercyhurst used to a women’s college.) And guess who recruited him? Dick Fox – there’s that name again – the 1,000 point scorer from Linesville who was born and is now buried in Tionesta. Emick died of a rare disease in 2017, but stayed in Erie after graduation, raised a family there and was a pillar of the community while staying involved in basketball as a coach and official.

Is this Cranberry’s progression to the single-game scoring record? Jack Stack, 36 points (17 field goals) in 1942; Bob Foggan, also 36 (twice) in 1957; Roy Sanner, 37 points in 1974; Ryan Willison, 41 points in 2013.

Reader Mike Graham writes, “Such a shame for them and us that our local North Clarion girls…squad will never get to find out how far their brand of unselfish team basketball could have taken them. With a different star every game, they were a breath of fresh air for sure.” To the teams left in the playoffs, the swimmers and the spring sports athletes – I think Franklin baseball had some big plans for one– what can I say? Except big, fat bummer.

Chuck Snell’s legend continues to grow: I’m hearing he came off the bench as a grade-schooler to score five points in an exhibition pitting Franklin Re-Arm against a semi-pro women’s team. Family, friends and I imagine others are disappointed that Snell is not in the FHS Hall of Fame.

Ben Schill, the only player to score 1,000 points all in an Oil City uniform, is now a married father of five, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and an F-16 pilot who has flown more than 150 combat missions in the Middle East. (Google him.) Brother Jay Schill was a teammate his senior season at OCHS of Tom Fry, another Air Force Academy grad whose father, Dan, coached both Schill brothers. “With his experience with Tom, (Dan Fry) was a big reason Ben considered and got into the Air Force Academy,” said Jay, a 1990 grad who scored the bulk of his 1,500-plus his first three years VC. “Our family’s success…definitely was influenced by basketball and those special people we played with and coached us.” Love it when people are appreciative.

Another local player who played for Dutch Burch at Lycoming was Franklin grad Steve Russell, son of former Franklin/Oil City coach Dick. There were probably others.

As far as I can tell, Oil City has never had a boy player score 500 points in a season, which (and I’m still looking) would give the school record to Emick, who had 494 points in 1971, the year he scored 56 in one game (and had rebounding outings of 36, 32, 31, 30 and 29). The only others I have for more than 400: Ron McCoid, 434 in 1966; Ben Schill, 431 in 1996; Morgan “Mo” Hadley (son of Bill and grandson of Bibs), 417 in 2015; Tom Current, 404 in 1971 and Logan Way, 401 in 2013.

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