Former Oakmont lineman headed to Alle-Kiski Hall

| Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ron Cecil was determined not to miss playing in the 1965 WPIAL Class B football championship game.

The Oakmont lineman had injured his elbow during the regular-season finale.

"I remember missing two weeks of practice, going to Harmarville Rehabilitation Center for ultrasound and whirlpool treatment," Cecil said. "They fixed up a brace for me. I was afraid I wasn't going to play."

But play he did.

As a lineman, the elbow was hit on practically every play, and Cecil described "a burning pain that went down to my fingertips."

But during the game, Cecil hit an Apollo ballcarrier deep in Oaks territory, forcing a fumble in what turned out to be a key play in Oakmont's 26-13 victory over Apollo for the WPIAL crown.

The accolades rolled in after the title game, as Cecil was named first-team tackle in the Valley Daily News all-district team and third-team all-state by United Press International.

Cecil went on to have a successful career with Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College and West Virginia.

Still an Oakmont resident, Cecil will be one of eight inductees into the A-K Valley Sports Hall of Fame on May 14.

Oakmont's 1965 team was coached by Chuck Wagner, a 1983 inductee. Cecil said he wasn't surprised Wagner still is coaching.

"It was fantastic playing for him," Cecil said. "He did a lot for me, and he believed in me."

Cecil also lettered four years in track at Oakmont, specializing in the discus, shot put and the 880-meter relay. The Oaks qualified for the PIAA state meet four consecutive seasons, winning the WPIAL team title under the old points format in 1966.

Cecil got a rude introduction to college football, laboring under 100-degree Kansas skies at Coffeyville. He was a two-way tackle and continued his track career during his two years there.

Cecil won the Silver Helmet Award for effort.

"I went back to Coffeyville, and my picture was still on the wall years later," Cecil said.

After leaving Coffeyville, Cecil played for the Mountaineers and was part of the school's 10-1 team in 1969 that won the second Peach Bowl in Atlanta, 14-3, over South Carolina.

WVU was ranked 16th in the country that season, with the only loss coming to undefeated Penn State.

Though an offensive guard, Cecil scored the first touchdown of college football's 100th anniversary season in 1969 under strange circumstances.

"We were near the goal line, and I had a look-out block — that's when you miss your man and yell, 'Look out!' " Cecil said, with a laugh.

He scooped up a loose football and scored.

Cecil later was an assistant coach at Swissvale and was an educator for 36 years before retiring five years ago.

Additional Information:

At a glance

Alle-Kiski Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet

7 p.m. May 14, Clarion Hotel, New Kensington

Inductees: Ronald Cecil, Steve Earley, Sam Elias, Moses Guin, Gregori Martucci, Barry Nelson, Garry Nelson and Christine Mario Troilo.

Tickets: Call Al Uskuraitis at 724-727-7259

? Cost: $20. No tickets sold at the door

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