Grimm's career has Westmoreland roots

| Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010

For just the second time, a Westmoreland County native has been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Southmoreland High School graduate Russ Grimm will be enshrined in Canton this summer.

Grimm will be part of one of the hall's more stellar classes. Other inductees include Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau; all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith; all-time pass receptions leader Jerry Rice; and Grimm's Pitt teammate, linebacker Rickey Jackson.

The other Westmoreland County native is Youngwood's George Blanda. The ageless Blanda played until age 48, finishing his record 26-year career with the Oakland Raiders at Three Rivers Stadium in the AFC title game on Jan. 4, 1976.

Blanda kicked a field goal and an extra point in the Steelers' 16-10 victory. The game is best known for Raiders coach John Madden accusing the Steelers of hosing down the artificial turf in the hopes of throttling the Raiders' speedy receiving corps.

Before his career as a Washington Redskins' offensive lineman — collectively known as "The Hogs" — Grimm was part of an incredibly talented recruiting class at Pitt.

In 1980, Grimm's senior season at Pitt, the Panthers were 11-1, losing to Florida State. A remarkable 53 players from that Pitt team either played, were drafted by or received tryouts with NFL teams.

Grimm is more well-known to younger fans as a Steelers assistant coach before heading to Arizona with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt three years ago. But Grimm was a 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback/linebacker with Southmoreland from 1974-76.

Grimm first faced an Alle-Kiski Valley team on Sept. 14, 1974, when the Scotties defeated Burrell, 3-0. Southmoreland kicker and future Pitt teammate David Trout booted a 49-yard field goal to win the game — the longest field goal at Buccaneers Stadium to this day.

Grimm's Southmoreland team lost at Plum, 14-10, on Oct. 24, 1975, but won 27-10 in a return engagement at Burrell on Sept. 11, 1976.

Whatever it takes

Deer Lakes girls basketball coach Dana Petruska is a devotee of former Steelers coach Chuck Noll's favorite saying: "Whatever it takes."

Some of her Lancers were having trouble at the foul line, so those girls are now standing at the far left of the free throw line and shooting from there. The odd method seems to be working — particularly in the fourth quarter of last Thursday's 48-32 victory over Burrell, which clinched a WPIAL Class AA playoff berth for Deer Lakes.

The Lancers were 14 of 22 from the line in the fourth period.

"In all my years of coaching, I usually can convince them that they're very capable of scoring," Petruska said. "As a coach, you try to find any way possible to get them to believe. That's just one of our little tricks."

The Deer Lakes girls will be trying to end a playoff victory drought. The last time the Lancers won a postseason game was Feb. 18, 1995, when Deer Lakes needed double overtime to defeat Quaker Valley, 36-34, in a Class AA preliminary-round game at Fox Chapel.

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