The Trumbull County Sports Hall of Fame will induct 12 new members during enshrinement ceremonies on Sunday, October 30 at DiVieste’s Banquet Center, 754 North River Road, N.W., Warren.
The organization’s 19th class includes Brian Beinecke (football), the late George A. Bollas (wrestling), Vanness “Van” Brandon (football), Tony Davis (football), Bill Dreier (contribution to sports, official), Nia Grant (volleyball), Larry Kempe (football, coach), the late Richard Raidel (football), Tom Raphtis (football), Bob Todd (golf, coach), Dan Williams (football, coach) and Mandy Zolciak Willis (basketball).
Born and raised in Warren, he is a 1978 graduate of Western Reserve High School where he starred in both football and baseball for the Raiders.
An outstanding athlete, he was a two-year starter at quarterback for head coach Don Charlton and a four-year starter on the diamond for head coach Emil Perunko.
For his exploits, he was named team “Most Valuable Player” in both sports, was a First-Team Diamond Conference selection in baseball but it was on the gridiron where his star shone brightest and those successes make him a part of this year’s Hall of Fame class.
A five-time Northeastern Ohio Conference “Player of the Week” honoree, he was a Trumbull County Coaches Association nominee for its “Player of the Year” in football his senior season.
He was named to the prestigious Ohio North-South All-Star Football Classic in 1978 and as a well-rounded student in the classroom while at WRHS, was named to “Who’s Who Among American High School Students,” earned an appointment to the school’s National Honor Society, was a member of Buckeye Boys State and during his senior year was honored as “Teen of the Month.”
Upon graduation he was heavily recruited for football by multiple national teams, especially those in the Pac-10 and Big 10 Conference, choosing to pursue his academic and athletic careers at the University of Arizona where former Niles McKinley head coach, and University of Michigan-Purdue University assistant coach, University of Cincinnati head coach, Tony Mason, was head coach.
He played for the Wildcats from 1978-81 and in his very first game as a freshman, a 24-14 loss at #10 UCLA, he recorded four solo tackles, had an interception and knocked down a pass.
He was named Freshman All-American and placed on the cover of the Pac-10 magazine alongside Arizona State signal-caller and future Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Mark Malone.
The team finished 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the PAC-10 that season and in 1979 as a sophomore, helped the Wildcats to a 6-4-1 regular season mark and 4-3 conference ledger, earning a bid to the Fiesta Bowl – they dropped a 16-10 decision to the Pitt Panthers and future Hall of Fame quarterback, Dan Marino on December 25, 1979 – where he registered a solo tackle on the opening kick-off.
After his sophomore season, Mason was out as head coach and Larry Smith took over the reins, helping the Wildcats to a 5-6 mark and 3-4 league ledger his junior year (1980), going 6-5 overall and 4-4 in the PAC-10 his senior campaign the following year.
A four-year letterwinner, he shared the honor of being selected as one of 10 athletes every year to chosen for its Football Games Cover Magazine, chosen in 1981 for the Arizona-Stanford contest against future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, John Elway.
Selected as a team captain, he was known collegiately for his versatility and ability to play all defensive back positions and was considered one of UA’s very best all-time special teams’ players.
He played in every game, never missing a contest while with the Wildcats, going on to earn his BS degree Home Economics.
After graduation he signed a professional contract with the USFL’s L.A. Express, later returning to Tucson to begin a business career.
Over the years he has coached in the Pop Warner (15 years) Football League, is a member of Big Brothers-Big Sisters and a currently serves as a volunteer football coach at Tanque Verde High School where the wisdom he imparts on his players is “Focus on athletics but school is your first objective.”
He also served on the Pima County Attorney’s Office Board of Directors in Tucson and currently works for Swire Coca-Cola where he is in charge of its Southern Arizona Distribution.
He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.