Belle Vernon Area Football Hall of Fame adds 6 members
When Belle Vernon Area High School's football team hosts Uniontown, the induction of five members into the 14th class of the Belle Vernon Area Football Hall of Fame will be part of the opening night festivities.
In alphabetical order the five player inductees are Shaun Baker (Class of 1996), Josh Cramer (Class of 2001), Doug Indof (Class of 1978), Rich Planey (Class of 1968), and Greg Shearson (Class of 1983).
Also inducted for his noteworthy contributions to the football program will be Jesse Cramer. Belle Vernon's athletic director since 2004 and former head football coach, Cramer also previously coached wrestling, basketball, and track and field.
Baker was a star defensive tackle on Gary Dongilli's 1995 WPIAL Class AAA championship team, which went 12-2 overall. The previous year he rushed for 342 yards with six touchdowns in three games before an ACL injury. The 1994 Leopards went 10-2 overall and reached the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.
Josh Cramer was a four-year starting and three-time all-conference quarterback from 1997 through 2000. He led Belle Vernon to four straight conference titles, the 1999 WPIAL Class AAA championship game and the 20000 WPIAL semifinals. The Leopards compiled a 38-6 cumulative record during his four years behind center.
A quarterback and defensive end, Indof earned All Big Ten Conference honors in 1977 and helped the Leopards win six games. He was also a baseball and basketball standout. During his 1976 junior season Belle Vernon went 8-2 overall under second-year head coach Jeff Petrucci for the program's first winning season since 1971.
Planey was a two-year starting quarterback under head coach Jimmy Russell and was an integral part of Belle Vernon's offense in 1966 and 1967. He earned All-WPIAL honors and the conference's outstanding leadership award.
Shearson was a two-year starting offensive guard who excelled defensively at nose guard, tackle, end and at long snapping. He helped the 1980 team go 11-1 overall and win a third straight conference title. The Leopards only loss was 8-7 to Aliquippa in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.
The Belle Vernon Area Football Hall of Fame began in November 1999 and is designed to preserve and honor those student-athletes, teams, coaches, and contributors who have helped bring recognition and excellence to the school's football program.
They represent predecessor schools as well as today's merged Belle Vernon Area School District. Past teams besides the current Leopards were Bellmar Hurricanes, Belle Vernon Wildcats, Fayette City Bulldogs, Marion Generals, North Belle Vernon Jackrabbits, Rostraver Leopards and Vernon Bulldogs.
To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, an alumnus must have participated on a varsity football team at Belle Vernon Area or at one of the pre-merger schools and had a distinctive career. Teams, coaches and contributors are also eligible.
Members of the Belle Vernon Area Football Hall of Fame committee include Jeff Antal, videographer; Darrin Belsick, chairman; Bill Blick, secretary; Jack Fayak, senior consultant; Joe Grata, senior consultant; Aaron Krepps, current Belle Vernon head football coach; Stephen Russell, historian; Todd Vaccaro; and John Zunic, treasurer.
Comprising the 2012 class were Shawn Dominico, Jeremy Dudzinski, Jason Shawley, Rich Triggiani and Thomas Young. The special inductees were former cheerleading sponsor Bernadine Fabrazini and retired athletic director James Bush. Players from the 1962 WPIAL Class AA co-champion Rostraver Leopards were also honored in recognition of the team's 50-year anniversary.
Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.