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Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame ready to add its latest class

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
The 1924 Norwin football team will be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Submitted
The 1948 Irwin basketball team will be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Submitted
The 1954 Irwin basketball team will be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Submitted
Dick Earnest will be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Submitted
Paul Naponick will be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Submitted
Casey Harper will be inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Submitted

The Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame will host its fourth annual induction ceremony on Sept. 27 at Stratigos Banquet Hall in North Huntingdon.

A total of 14 teams, players, coaches and contributors will enter the Hall of Fame this year, and this week, the Norwin Star looks back on the achievements of six of the inductees before they are enshrined. Next week, the Star will feature the remaining eight inductees.

The 1924 Norwin football team

Norwin and its predecessor schools have sponsored football teams for nearly a century, and the 1924 squad remains its only undefeated team.

The team, coached by 2011 inductee Jack Clawson, went 10-0 — counting a forfeit over no-show Latrobe — and recorded six shutouts over Homestead, Vandergrift, Scottdale, Indiana, Windber and Conemaugh. Norwin earned a tough win, 19-12, over Jeannette in the middle of the season, and then capped the year with a Thanksgiving Day win at Greensburg, 13-6. The losses were the only ones of the year for both Jeannette and Greensburg.

Having outscored opponents by a total of 197-21 and being the only team to even score against Greensburg, the Nov. 28, 1924 edition of the Irwin Republican Standard printed that the team “could well lay claim to the high school football championship of the state,” a claim still upheld in Norwin football history.

The 1948 Irwin basketball team

One year after claiming the school's first PIAA title, the Black Knights defeated Robinson Township, 53-38, for the WPIAL title and topped Bridgeport, 49-34, for a second state title under coach Don Rose.

The team finished with a 27-2 record, and counting Rose, has four individual members of the Norwin Hall of Fame on its roster.

The 1954 Irwin basketball team

Like its 1948 counterpart, the 1954 Irwin team secured back-to-back state titles while being led by four individual hall-of-fame inductees.

Irwin beat Avonworth for the WPIAL title, 61-44, and Mt. Penn for the state title, 61-55, to finish with a 26-2 record under coach Lyman Stough.

Dick Earnest

If picking Norwin's most decorated alumnus, Earnest would have to be included in the conversation before even including high school athletics.

The former mayor of Del Mar, Calif., Earnest was the leading hitter (.429 average) and shortstop for Norwin's 1960 WPIAL title-winning baseball team and co-captain and leading scorer of the football team his senior year.

In addition, his many academic achievements helped him get accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he played in the 1964 Cotton Bowl for the Midshipmen.

Earnest later served as a pilot in the Navy and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 21 air medals, two Navy Commendations and the Vietnamese Air Gallantry Cross.

Paul Naponick

A football and basketball player at both Norwin and Pitt, Naponick was an all-state player in both sports for the Knights.

Among his many honors were selections to the Big 33 football game, the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic and the Westmoreland County All-Star Classic, of which he was the 1966 MVP.

After his Norwin years, during which he set a school record with 47 points in a single basketball game, Naponick earned a law degree from Loyola (La.), where he graduated cum laude, and a Master's in Taxation from Georgetown.

Casey Harper

Harper is this year's inductee as a contributor.

The owner of the C. Harper Auto Group, he is a major donor to Norwin athletics and many other causes through the C. Harper Charities program.

A former Norwin School Board member, he was a 1957 graduate of Penn Joint High School before moving on to the University of Delaware. He also played for Penn Joint, and later form multiple semi-pro football teams in the area.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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