Thirty years have passed since the death of Frank Loria. Next Monday, the awards banquet which bears his name will once again honor 27 Harrison County football players who stand for the excellence Loria exuded on and off the field.
The 17th Annual Frank Loria Awards Dinner, which is sponsored by the Columbian Club, will be held at 6:30 p.m., Monday, March 20 at South Harrison High School.
Loria's name is legendary in the Clarksburg area. A standout at Notre Dame High School, Loria went on to fame at Virginia Tech where he was a first team All-American selection his junior year and was a consensus first-team selection his senior year.
In 1970, at age 23, as an assistant coach at Marshall University, Loria's life was cut short along with 74 others when the team's plane crashed approaching Huntington.
"(The dinner) is a way to show the qualities Frank Loria stood for," Columbian Club president Russell Straface said. "It's to show that these young men are students first and athletes second. That's the kind of person Frank Loria was."
Among those scheduled to attend are Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gatski, West Virginia University athletic director Ed Pastilong, former WVU and St. Mary's High School three-sport standout Russell "Razz" Lopez, along with former Bridgeport and current WVU players Zach Anglin and Donnie Lindsey. Guest speaker will be former Mountaineer and all-Big East performer Anthony Becht.
"We're very excited about having a young man of (Becht's) caliber," Straface said. "Again, he's a great player, but he's also a very good person. The important thing is that he is someone these kids can relate to, and we feel very fortunate to have him."
The Columbian Club will present a plaque to each member of the first team All-Harrison County squad. The Frank Loria Award will go to the most outstanding football player in Harrison County in recognition of the high morals and ideals for which Frank Loria represented.
Also honored will be the Columbian Club Award for Academic Excellence to the senior member of the all-county team with the highest grade point average and the football Coach of the Year award, which recognizes the dedication and contributions of high school head football coaches.
"The reason for the event, in cooperation with the Harrison County School Board, is to reward the student athlete for their achievements, academically and athletically," dinner chairman Clarence Fiber said.
Offensive players who will be honored at the dinner are: Trey Adams, Chris Cunanan, Mike Donnellan, Ben Hall, Brad Heffinger, Evan Kupec, Ryan Nicewarner, David Patterson, Jason Reppert, Jimmie Rogers, Scott Ross, Chad Southern, Cody Wilt and Jeremy Wright.
Defensive players are: Joey Gonzalez, Joe Jenkins, Mookie Mayer, Matt McIntyre, Josh Nicewarner, Steve Otto, Brian Riley, Robbie Riley, C.R. Rohrbough, Drew Toth, Luke Wallace, Max Williams and Mike Wilt.