Ed Stetz remembers the day like it just happened.
During his standout football career at Greater Johnstown High School, Stetz received considerable Division I attention and drew the eye of Dave Hart Sr., a former Trojans coach who was Pitt’s football coach in 1967.
Hart invited Stetz to attend a game at Pitt Stadium for a recruiting visit and he selected the Panthers’ Oct. 21 date against Miami (Fla.).
The reason? Stetz was a big fan of Hurricanes’ defensive end Ted Hendricks, an NFL Hall of Famer affectionately known as “The Mad Stork.”
“One of my idols was Ted Hendricks,” Stetz said. “And he completely dismantled Pitt. He blocked two or three punts, and the way he played just blew my mind.”
Miami won the game, 58-0, but neither team was lucky enough to land the services of Stetz.
Instead, the tough-as-nails linebacker landed at Wake Forest, where he rewrote the school and Atlantic Coast Conference record books during his stay with the Demon Deacons, as predicted by a junior high football coach.
Now, more than 40 years after Stetz watched Hendricks in amazement, the duo will be athletically linked as part of the 2012 ACC Football Legends class.
Stetz is one of 12 football players, along with former North Carolina wide receiver Torry Holt and former Clemson and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Bennie Cunningham, to be honored at a banquet on Friday and before Saturday’s ACC Championship game between Florida State and Georgia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
“What can I say? It completely caught me off-guard,” Stetz said Tuesday. “It’s a huge honor. I was taken aback. It’s an honor for my teammates and myself.”
Stetz was a defensive anchor on some of the best teams in Wake Forest history.
The 5-foot-11 linebacker who usually entered the season around 220 pounds, set Wake Forest records in career tackles (460), single-season tackles (203) and career solo tackles (271). When he finished playing for the Demon Deacons in 1971, his 460 tackles were an ACC record and he needed only 29 games to get that many.
From 1969 to 1971, Stetz regularly beat much larger offensive linemen and helped Wake Forest to a conference championship in 1970 – the first in the program’s history.
“What a year that was. The (North) Carolina game and N.C. State games were such big games. Really, every game was a big game,” said Stetz, who led Wake Forest onto the field for a game earlier this season. “I can remember Sports Illustrated did its college preview and there were three lines about Wake Forest that year: No offense, no defense, no hope. That was a rallying point.”
And Stetz, who was inducted into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame this summer, led the charge as Wake Forest tackled a brutal schedule filled with powers like Nebraska, Florida State and Tennessee.
Stetz was known for his high-flying, athletic and aggressive play. Defensive coach Tom Harper gave Stetz permission to run stunts and improvise. In one game against Clemson in 1971, he had 29 tackles. That season, he averaged 18.5 tackles per game.
In 1970 and 1971, Stetz was an all-ACC selection. He played in the 1971 Blue-Gray All-Star game and was inducted into the Wake Forest Hall of Fame in 2004.
“My nose was broken six times and I’m on two nose operations later,” Stetz said. “I once had a broken face and I didn’t even know it. I just knew my face was swollen. The hitting was pretty intense.”
Ed Stetz remembers the day like it just happened.
Palmer to leave UPJ women’s position
Sasha Palmer will embark on a new chapter as a women’s basketball coach next month.
MIKE MASTOVICH | Roberts, Kent State up to old tricks
George Roberts and his Kent State University teammates reached a familiar destination on Saturday afternoon, but took a somewhat different route in winning their third consecutive Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular-season title.
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College players dominate Point nominations
Pitt-Johnstown junior Jake Warner was perfect and extremely productive at the plate while earning the first two monthly nominations for the 2013 Point Stadium Award in February and March.
Mount Aloysius sophomore Derrick Capiak nearly reached perfection to take the April nomination.
Penn State guard leaving for pro career
Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall, the team’s second-leading scorer, is foregoing his senior year of eligibility to pursue a professional career overseas.
The team announced the surprise move in a statement Wednesday. The 6-foot-4 Marshall, who is on schedule to graduate this summer, cited his family including a 1-year-old son, in making his decision.
Penn State coach blasts Sports Illustrated article
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is fervently disputing suggestions raised in a report that player medical care has been compromised after the team doctor was replaced.
Speaking often in an angry tone that might be otherwise reserved for an argument with an official, O’Brien told reporters in a conference call that the health and safety of his players were his top priorities.
East Stroudsburg wins PSAC championship
Senior Brian Ernst threw eight innings without allowing an earned run on just two days rest and East Stroudsburg University used a five-run fifth inning to secure its first PSAC baseball championship since 1971 with a 7-1 win over defending champion West Chester on Saturday at Point Stadium.
The Warriors (33-16), who set a school record with their 33rd win, earned the PSAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament thanks in large part to an outstanding effort by Ernst, who was named the PSAC Tournament MVP.
Millersville players help couple resuscitate ailing child
The Millersville University baseball team came up with a great save this week, but it had nothing to do with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament being played at Point Stadium.
A trip for an after-midnight snack on Wednesday morning ended with seven Marauders being hailed as heroes by a local family after they helped save a little boy who wasn’t breathing.
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