Guido: Plum, Har-Brack football stars remembered
The new year didn't start out well for local sports fans.
Two outstanding football players from different eras died on New Year's Day.
Lou Zott, 94, who played football for Har-Brack High School and Duquesne University passed away, along with 1978 Plum High School graduate Jeff Boynton, 54.
Boynton was paralyzed from the waist down after being injured in a July, 1978 all-star game at Mt. Lebanon Stadium, just weeks before he was set to head to West Virginia University.
Boynton set the Plum career record for touchdowns at the time with 27. He was the Keystone Conference's MVP in 1977 and was part of the first three Mustangs appearances in the WPIAL playoffs from 1975-77.
I got a chance to see Boynton several times in the press box at Mustangs Stadium, and he followed sports enthusiastically. It was always amazing to see his attitude despite his setbacks.
Those closest to him were similarly impressed at how he never complained about his situation and got around in his wheelchair as much as possible.
Boynton was inducted into the Plum Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
His jersey number, 22, is the only retired number in the school's 75-year athletic history.
Zott played under two great coaches — Dick Williams of Har-Brack and Buff Donnelli of Duquesne.
During Zott's era, the Dukes were a Division I college football program. He cut short his playing career to serve during World War II.
Following the war, he turned to coaching. He was an assistant on the 1946 Springdale team that won the WPIAL football title.
That same year, Ken High and East Deer also won WPIAL gold, the only time three contiguous school district's have ever won WPIAL titles the same year.
He was the school's coach for awhile and was instrumental in Springdale adopting the nickname of ‘Dynamos.'
Zott also was a football and basketball official for many years.
He spent his later years at Harmar Village but still communicated with the Valley News Dispatch sports department. Zott was inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
And let's not forget Lower Burrell's Emil ‘Moe' Tomayko, starting catcher on West Deer's 1945 WPIAL runner-up who followed baseball passionately on the high school and American Legion levels.
Tomayko also played for the Curtisville Legion team under legendary manager Bob Malcolm.
Wherever there was a baseball game, Tomayko would show up in his lawn chair, urging the manager to “get ‘em going.”
Highlands basketball can now be viewed on your computer at any time. Games produced by the school and broadcast by Mike Choma and Mike Pavlik are available at allekiskievents.com.
Just click on Highlands basketball and watch the Golden Rams in action. Games will still be carried on Comcast Channel 190 several days after they are played.
Former North Catholic coach Don Graham's record for state basketball coaching victories was passed several weeks ago.
Graham, who coached the Trojans for 51 years, collected 801 victories during his 51-year tenure.
The mark was eclipsed by Loyalsock Township's Ron Insinger.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.