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Murdered W&J football player remembered at funeral

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 2:23 p.m.
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
The family of Tim McNerney consoles each other after the funeral for the murdered Washington and Jefferson football player at Holy Selpucher Church in Middlesex on Tuesday. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
A Washington and Jefferson football teammate of Tim McNerney looks skyward and holds up five fingers for his jersey number after the funeral for the murdered football player at Holy Selpucher Church in Middlesex on Tuesday. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Submitted
Tim McNerney died as a result of being beaten in Washington on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Washington and Jefferson football teammates of Tim McNerney console each other and hold up five fingers for his jersey number after the funeral for the murdered football player at Holy Selpucher Church in Middlesex on Tuesday. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
The casket of murdered Washington and Jefferson football player Tim McNerney is taken into Holy Selpucher Church in Middlesex for his funeral on Tuesday. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

Tim McNerney was one of the first people whom DeAndre Simmons met when he joined the Washington & Jefferson College football team.

“He asked me what position I play and I said running back and he smirked and said, ‘Me, too,' ” said Simmons, 22, a W&J senior. “From then on, it was an ongoing competition.”

On Tuesday, Simmons mourned at his friend's funeral, where he and others remembered McNerney as more than a talented football player.

“Tim, in many ways, was the best of us,” Brandon Flick, 22, who played football with McNerney at Knoch, said outside the church. “It's hard to describe his impact.”

McNerney, 21, of Penn Township, Butler County, died from head trauma suffered when he and a teammate were attacked and robbed by as many as six men on a street in Washington, Pa., on Thursday. McNerney was a standout senior running back at Washington & Jefferson College and was the all-time leading rusher at Knoch High School.

More than 300 people, many of them McNerney's high school and college teammates, attended his Tuesday morning funeral at Holy Sepulcher Roman Catholic Church in Middlesex. A bagpiper played as pallbearers carried his casket into and out of the church.

The Rev. John Gizler, pastor at Holy Sepulcher, said during the funeral Mass that McNerney “leaves behind shoes too big to fill.”

“He was a shining ray of light to those who knew him,” he said. “He had great integrity and, despite his youth, was very wise.

“He inspired and challenged those around him. And he practiced what he preached because he lived up to his own ideals.”

Colin McNerney, 21, said his cousin inspired him with his outlook on life.

“He looked for the positive in everything,” McNerney said following the service. “He didn't tell me that; he showed me.”

W&J coach Mike Sirianni said McNerney's death hit the team hard.

“He was that kid on the team that everyone looked up to when things were going bad,” Sirianni said. “It's tragic. I hope this is the worst thing these 18- to 22-year-olds have to deal with — especially with the way it happened.”

Meanwhile, the investigation into the beating death continues. Surveillance video shows several people in the area when the crime occurred, Washington police Chief Robert Lemons said Tuesday.

“We can't judge anything off it,” he said. Lemons declined to elaborate.

McNerney is survived by parents Denise and Robert, brother Patrick and grandparents Francis and Frances Schanck and Ruth McNerney.

“Six days ago we never would have believed we would be bidding farewell to a man like him,” Gizler said. “He was a talented musician, coach and mentor. He has left a legacy that some take a lifetime to achieve.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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