Five inducted into Hall of Fame
In its 35th year, the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame introduced five new members for its 2015 class at a dinner last Friday night at the Northampton Area Community College Center.
Among the five inductees were two local to the Lehigh Valley Press coverage area, Steve Pritko of Northampton High School Class of 1939, and Vincent Rogusky from Catasauqua High School Class of 1976.
The three others included Marty Hlay (Allentown Central Catholic Class of 1956), Dan Kendra (Central Catholic Class of 1974), and John Smith (Pius X Class of 1970). Dan Koppen of Whitehall High School Class of 1998 was also nominated for induction this year, but was unable to attend the event.
"It's an honor to be a part of this special group," said Rogusky. "Each one of these other nominees were special performers in their individual sports, and I am thankful to be included with all of the greats from the Lehigh Valley."
Each member talked about their time spent as a high school, collegiate, and professional athlete, as well as their time in the Lehigh Valley. Each one of them spent some time as a coach as well.
Rogusky was a part of the Catty football team that went undefeated in 1975. He played multiple positions in leading his Rough Riders team to a Colonial League championship during his senior season.
Rogusky then continued his playing career at Lehigh University. In 1977, the Mountain Hawks won the Division II national championship when Rogusky was a sophomore. And in his final year at Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks were runners-up as they moved up a level to Division I-AA.
"I was fortunate to be a part of some great teams at Catty and Lehigh," noted Rogusky. "I will always cherish my time spent at each school."
After college, Rogusky signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins, and spent time in the USFL with the Washington Federals as a tight end.
Pritko, who was the elder of the group at 94 years old, is the only living member of the 1937-38 Northampton "Wonder Team," under legendary head coach Elwood Ludwig.
Pritko then went on to play tight end and punter at Villanova University, before starting a career in the NFL with several different teams, most notably the Cleveland Rams. The Rams won the championship during the 1945 season, and Pritko was named an All-Pro.
Over an eight year career, Pritko had 93 receptions for 1,114 yards and 13 touchdowns. After he hung up his cleats, Pritko served as an official for the NFL for several seasons.
"I can't begin to thank all of my teammates and coaches that I played with for all of those years," Pritko said. "It was a good run and all of these years, I can still look back on my career and think it was successful."
Hlay played quarterback at Central Catholic and Lehigh University, and then became head coach of Notre Dame Green Pond High School from 1964-1980. He also coached track and field for 23 years for the Crusaders.
Kendra was a three-year starter at Central, where he was named an All-American his senior season. At West Virginia University, Kendra was named the Peach Bowl MVP. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams in 1978, and the Canadian Football League from 1981-1983.
Smith was a member of The Associated Press All-State team at Pius X, and the All-PSAC team three times at East Stroudsburg University. He then began his 22-year coaching career in 1976, going undefeated at his alma mater Pius X. Other stops that Smith made include North Hunterdon Regional, Wallkill Valley Regional, Pleasant Valley, and Delaware Valley Regional high schools. He retired as principal of Pen Argyl High School in 2013.