The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

July 3, 2014

Football: Legendary MCA coach Diminick dead at 86

MOUNT CARMEL — Mount Carmel football coach Carmen DeFrancesco does not remember a time in his life that legendary former Red Tornadoes coach Joe “Jazz” Diminick was not a part of it.

DeFrancesco, reached Thursday night to comment about Diminick’s death late Wednesday, said “This is a sad day. A very sad day.”

DeFrancesco was a family friend since his childhood, then played for Diminick for four years, later served as an assistant to Diminick at Mount Carmel and eventually enlisted him to serve as an assistant at Danville, Shamokin and Upper Dauphin.

DeFrancesco said everything about his coaching style and philosophy was a direct result of having played and coached with Diminick.

And why not? When Diminick ended his 31-year head coaching career 22 years ago, he had the most wins of any coach in Pennsylvania.

He was 267-81-7 as the head coach at Mount Carmel from 1962 through 1992 and had 290 wins overall. Before Mount Carmel, he coached at Susquenita and Coal Township.

Diminick’s teams won five Eastern Conference Southern Division titles along with three overall EC crowns. He had three unbeaten (12-0) seasons and he coached eight first-team all-state players as well as 15 members of the Big 33 teams.

All six of his sons — Gary, Ken, Joe, Ed, John and Michael — played for their father, who also coached track and field at Mount Carmel for  many years and served as a PIAA basketball and track official.

DeFrancesco played on the same team with Gary and coached John and Michael.

DeFrancesco said the joke back in his junior season (1969) was that, with a backfield of DeFrancesco, Henry Hynoski Sr. and Gary Diminick, that Jazz didn’t have to do much coaching.

But DeFrancesco said Diminick indeed was a great coach, and one who was ahead of his time.

“What stuck out in my mind, he was so far ahead of the curve in those days. He would adapt his system to his players; never tried to stuff us into one system,” DeFrancesco said.

“If we had a great quarterback, we threw the ball and back in the 60s no one was throwing the ball. He just adapted everything to the talent he had,” DeFrancesco added.

DeFrancesco said he always had a special relationship with the coach, but especially in the later years when their roles were reversed and Jazz was coaching under DeFrancesco.

“We traveled together and it was a relationship that blossomed into a friendship,” he said. “Someone once said ‘you can count your friends on one hand and have fingers left over.’ He was one of those two or three people that I could call my closest friend.”

When word got out earlier this week of the coach’s condition and then again when his death became known, dozens of former players, coaches and football fans posted comments about the longtime coach.

Among them was former Danville star Kyle Wintersteen, who wrote “How fortunate we were at Danville to play for the legend. We’re better men because of it and we also won a hell of a lot of football games.”

DeFrancesco said he was not surprised that Wintersteen would offer such remarks, noting that Diminick was Wintersteen’s position coach at defensive end. “They developed a really close relationship,” he said.

Another fan posted, “He was the evil empire back in the day, coming out for the game in that Mt. Carmel warm-up suit. A true legend.”

Added Tony Kaledas, “What a family. Jazz as a coach and his sons as players. What a Dream Team.”

In addition to his widow, Anne Louise, the coach is survived by his sons Gary, of Vermont; Ken, of Camp Hill; Joe, of Florida; John, of Lancaster; and Michael, of Virginia.

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