Gateway grad Betts to be inducted into Clarion Sports Hall of Fame
Bob Betts played football at Gateway for legendary coach Pete Antimarino.
His father, former Penn State player Art Betts, served as Antimarino’s longtime defensive coordinator.
But that doesn’t mean Bob Betts, a 1978 Gateway graduate who was part of an 8-1 team his senior year, was given any favors.
“In high school, I played on a very successful program, but we didn’t throw much. I think I caught one pass my senior year,” Betts said. “I might as well have worn No. 72 playing wide receiver. When it was third-and-long in our own territory, we’d just punt the ball instead of trying to pass. (Antimarino) thought too many things could go wrong if we threw it.”
Betts, who also played defensive back, happened to be the Gators punter, and that’s how he caught the eye of Clarion football coach Al Jacks, another former Penn State player.
“Not too many colleges were recruiting a receiver with one catch, but Clarion needed a punter,” Betts said. “I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”
Betts punted for the Golden Eagles in 1978. Within a year, he also was playing receiver. The rest is Clarion football history.
A key contributor on some of the better teams in program history, Betts will be recognized for his career April 26 when he is inducted into the 31st class of the Clarion Sports Hall of Fame.
“I was very happy to find out. I wasn’t totally surprised, but I was humbled when I heard,” said the 59-year-old Betts, a father of three and a territory manager for Under Armour who lives in Murrysville with his wife, Paulette. “I have a couple friends in there, but in football, individual awards are kind of weird. It takes 11 guys to be successful, and we had a lot of success.”
Betts first played receiver in 1979 and caught 19 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns for a Clarion team that finished 9-1. The following year, Jacks changed the Golden Eagles offense to a more pro-style look. That meant more opportunities for Betts, and he capitalized.
In 1980, Betts caught 37 passes for 498 yards and three touchdowns. He earned an honorable mention nod on the Associated Press small-school All-America team, was first-team All-ECAC and PSAC West as Clarion finished 9-2, won the conference title and was awarded the Lambert Cup as the ECAC’s Division II team of the year.
Betts caught 49 passes for 674 yards, which ranked third in Clarion history at the time, and five touchdowns. He earned another AP honorable mention nod, was first-team all-conference in addition to ECAC and NAIA District 8 honors. And Betts was still Clarion’s punter.
“I basically went up there as a walk-on punter and ended up starting at receiver for three years,” Betts said. “It was a fun ride. I made some great memories.”
Such as the time Betts caught the winning touchdown on a Hail Mary against Central State (Ohio) or when his 72-yard touchdown reception provided the winning points against Lock Haven during his junior season.
“We beat Slippery Rock, IUP, Cal. All those teams were pretty good,” Betts said. “We went 4-0 against Slippery Rock while I was there. Those were some good teams we had. That’s something we can hang our hats on.”
And that’s why Clarion will hang a Hall of Fame plaque honoring Betts.
“I was fortunate. I played on good team and for a coach who believed in me,” Betts said. “I have a lot to be thankful for.”