Football star Holes heads into Armstrong Hall of Fame
Clint Holes is still in disbelief.
Holes, a 1992 graduate of Apollo-Ridge High School, remains incredulous that the undefeated 1994 Penn State football team, to which he was a key contributor as a defensive back, wasn't national champions.
“It still hurts; we still feel like we should have at least shared it,” Holes said about the championship that was awarded to Nebraska in both major polls. “I really wish we would have played. Who knows who the real national champion is?”
That question may never be answered in the eyes of Holes or the Penn State faithful, but Holes can at least say he's been honored in a different way for his performance at Penn State and Apollo-Ridge.
Holes is one of 11 people being inducted into the Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame on April 28.
“I'm very honored,” Holes said of his induction. “It's a privilege to be enshrined. It's great company to be in.”
Holes — who lives in Oil City with his wife Kelly and daughters Jorja, 7, and Jessie, 4 — said he looks back fondly on growing up in Apollo.
“All we did was play sports all year round,” he said. “We'd always play pick up. Rain, snow, sunshine, whatever. We had a nice group of kids that were always outside playing.”
Holes said he remembers his Apollo-Ridge football team being close-knit.
“It was nice playing for a small team,” he said. “A lot of us never came off the field, except for maybe kickoffs.”
Playing at Penn State was a new challenge when he arrived there in 1992.
“I remember throwing up after the first couple of workouts,” he said.
One experience he still recalls vividly: He started at the “hero” safety position in the team's victory over Oregon in the 1995 Rose Bowl, which capped the undefeated season.
“They gave me a shot and taped my shoulder up real good,” he said. “On the first series, my shoulder popped out.”
Holes didn't play the rest of the game, but he still remembers the Rose Bowl victory.
“My favorite memory has to be in '94 when we beat Michigan at their place,” he said. “It was a back-and-forth game, and Kerry Collins threw a late touchdown to Bobby Engram.
“Brian Miller, a cornerback, had an interception on my side of the field at the end of the game to seal it.”
With football in his rearview mirror, Holes fuels his competitive fire another way.
“My wife and I are professional poker players,” Holes said. “I'm home all day with my 4-year-old and can take my 7-year-old to school. You hear of a lot of ex-athletes paying poker. You're competing, but you're not lining up and physically competing.
“It fills that competitive void, and you can make a living doing it.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.