Former Panthers Start New HS Football Program

Bill Daniels wasn't a record-setting quarterback for Pitt in the early 1970s, but he helped the Panthers ease into a new era for the football program and that contribution was as important as any on the field.

Daniels was the Pittsburgh starting quarterback for the 1973 and '74 seasons, and as a team leader he had to bridge the gap between the group recruited by former coach Carl DePasqua and the new one by Johnny Majors those years.

Daniels leadership skills will be tested again this year, as he has been tabbed by Our Lady of Sacred Heart in Coraopolis, Pa. to be the head coach for its initial varsity football program. OLSH will collaborate with nearby Cornell High School this fall and then be independent in 2010.

"Sure, we're starting from scratch, but it's going to be a lot of fun,'' Daniels said. "We're getting equipment for our ninth- and 10th-graders for the first time, and the school has said that it's going to do whatever it needs to do to upgrade the facilities. So, everybody has been very supportive so far.''

OLSH officials have said that this is the first football program established in Western Pennsylvania in 45 years.

"Bill's enthusiasm for our new football program is infectious, and we're pleased to have such a fine leader at the helm,'' OLSH president Elizabeth Santillo said.

The team will play home games at Youthtowne, a non-profit recreation complex in nearby Findlay Township. Practices will be conducted on OLSH's athletic fields and in the Angela Activities Center. Another person with strong Pitt ties, Foge Fazio, has been charged with developing the OLSH Chargers' program.

"If I was going to be involved with this, I wanted it to be first class,'' Fazio said. "And they've done a great job upgrading everything at the school.''

Daniels is the last quarterback in Pitt history to run and pass for 100 yards in a game in 1973. He led the Panthers in passing with 1,170 yards in 1973 and 919 in 1974. Daniels also was an all-state quarterback at Montour High School.

OLSH is a regular in the WPIAL and PIAA boys' and girls' basketball playoffs, but it might take a while for the football program to reach that status. But, the school has substantially upgraded its athletic facilities to ease the process.

The $4.5 million project features an expanded gymnasium to seat 625 people, a fitness center where teams will practice; a state-of-the-art weight room, two classrooms, the Sister Mary Christopher Moore Café, a two-story community gathering and dining space, locker rooms for teams, coaches, and officials and new athletic administration offices. OLSH's enrollment is 365 students.

"We're a small school, but we have a lot of people interested in athletics,'' Daniels said. "Now, we have to get them interested in football. But I don't think it's going to be a problem.''

Daniels turned down scholarship offers to play for schools such as Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Purdue, which turned out several top-flight quarterbacks, to stay near home and attend Pitt. The Panthers did not have a winning program before Daniels arrived.

That turned around, as the program transitioned into the Majors' Era that eventually ended with an undefeated, national championship season in 1976. While Matt Cavanaugh and Tony Dorsett, among others, are believed to be most responsible for the drive to that title Daniels should be included. And he certainly will be charged with pointing OLSH in the right direction.

"I want to build a program that kids can be proud to be part of, and we have the opportunity to build that,'' Daniels said. "I don't know how long it will take, but I'm looking forward to getting it started.''

Daniels retired from more than two decades working in banking.

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