The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 1, 2012

Harold Raker's column on high school football: Eagles honor a leader of young men


Daily Item

---- — If Darwin "Shubby" Marquette had a nickel for every time he climbed the hill to Line Mountain High School after leaving his post as a laboratory supervisor at nearby Meckley's Limestone Products, well, let's just say he would have a lot of nickels.

It is always nice when attending a high school football game to see a school pay tribute to someone who has meant so much to the program.

Last Friday night at Glenn Ressler Field at Eagle Stadium, the coaches, players and fans honored a man who has poured his heart out for this team.

The occasion on this night: Shubby was honored for having coached young football players for 50 years.

In case you skimmed over that last part, I'll repeat it: FIFTY YEARS!

What made it more poignant, the organizers of the presentation were able to keep it a secret from the recipient.

Almost.

"I had no idea," Marquette said this week.

But, when he walked out for warm-ups, he talked to his friend Al Lagerman Sr., who asked him if he had seen his picture. "He said there is a picture out there of you," Marquette noted.

Marquette walked over to purchase 50-50 tickets as he always does ("I still haven't won," he joked) and "they showed me my (Trevorton) high school senior picture."

But he still didn't know what was going on. He rarely looks at the program, but when the players came back out for their "Senior Night" presentation, the public address announcer told the crowd about Marquette's achievement and he was presented with the photo.

After the game, a 42-14 win over rival Upper Dauphin, there was a cake.

"It was real nice. My (step-son), Dan Zerbe, knew about it. He sent them the picture," he said.

Marquette starred as a quarterback, running back and defensive back for Trevorton High School, and the Red Devils' biggest rival was Mahanoy Joint. The two schools merged in 1967 to become Line Mountain.

In his senior year, Marquette handed future Penn State and Baltimore Colts star lineman Ressler and the Bruins their lone defeat en route to the Twin Valley Conference championship. The next season, the Bruins, otherwise known as coach Clyde Miller's Mighty Mites, went undefeated and won the title.

Marquette's coaching career began as an assistant in the Trevorton midget program right out of high school in 1961. After one year, the head coach resigned and Marquette was asked to take over. He stayed in that position for about 25 years. From there, he joined head coach Harvey Boughner's staff with the Red Devils. Marquette joined the staff at the start of the jointure, first working with Joe DeAntona and coaching for every head coach since then, except for one season (2004) when Shawn Liotta was the head coach. Liotta left after one season, Marquette returned the next year and never left.

He served as the Eagles' head coach in 1997 after Mike Buriak Sr. left, but demoted himself back to assistant.

"The reason I gave it up, I didn't think it was fair to the kids, not being in the school with the kids. I saw an opportunity for a teacher to take over," he said.

Marquette, who turns 69 on Wednesday, also served as an assistant to former boys basketball head coach Lance Adams. He is not surprised to still be coaching football after all these years.

"I just like it. I guess there are times you think you should give it up, but the kids are good, so they keep me young," he said.

To put the longevity of Marquette's coaching career in perspective, here are the head coaches for whom he has been an assistant: Harvey Boughner, DeAntona, Paul Stehman (twice), Bill Wolff Jr., Bryan Balavage, Mike Buriak Sr., the late George Schechterly, Mike Buriak Jr., Mike Carson (twice), Sam Stroh, Todd Rothermel and now Rodney Knock.

So what keeps him going? Surprisingly, it is not the incredible success of the program over the years, although he is proud of that.

For Marquette, it really is not so much about winning, or, sometimes, not even about football.

"A goal I have always had is to learn something every day I go on the practice field," he said.

"And that would not be just learning about football. It might be learning something about the individuals that I was coaching, and just talking to them. I think more than winning for me was teaching young people about life and what was going on and what opportunities they have to do with their life."

He said he wishes he could store it all in his mind. The one thing he learned early on and still lives by: "To gain respect, first of all you have to give respect, to the young people you are coaching, and sometimes coaches have a tough time with that."

He said some coaches need to remember that, and think of the players as young men. "They are there not just for the purpose of playing football. It didn't matter if they were staters or not starters, their lives were always important to me, and still are."

When you stay this long in a program, especially one of Line Mountain's caliber, there are plenty of highlights. Too many, in fact, for Marquette to mention, but among them, he said, was the way the community pulled together when a huge snowstorm threatened a home District 4 Class AA title game with visiting Western Wayne in 1995. "It showed how important football was to the community, how important the kids were and everybody pitched in. We had to shovel the field off to play the game."

He also singled out the Eagles' D4 AA championship win over Mount Carmel in 2003 under Stroh and a win over powerhouse Southern Columbia in the D4 A semifinals in 2007 under Rothermel.

Like he did as a player, Marquette coached just about every position during his career, currently working with running backs and defensive ends.

"I've enjoyed every bit of it," he said.

Most Eagles fans would tell him the feeling is mutual.

PAGING DADDY WARBUCKS: Earlier this week as he discussed his team's scheduled game tonight with visiting Milton, and noting that, no matter when it was played, field conditions would be less than desirable, first-year Shikellamy coach Todd Tilford was asking for help. Not only were the fields going to be ugly for the games, but practices as well, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"We need to find some turf," he said. "Anyone out there who would like to donate $600,000 to put turf on the field, we will name the field after them. Tell them to call me. I'm serious," said the former coach at Lewisburg, where, with no field of their own, the Green Dragons play on turf at Bucknell University's Christy Mathewson-Memorial Field.

So, there you go. It will mean much more, and be more appreciated, than having a star named after you.

Plus, like pro wrestling, Daddy Warbucks, from the musical "Annie" was a fake.

THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Tonight

Selinsgrove at Danville —
If momentum means anything, the Seals will win their first Heartland Athletic Conference Division I crown since their state title run in 2009. The Ironmen are seeking their first since 2010. Selinsgrove 21, Danville 20.

Shamokin at Mount Carmel — Will the 17th year be the charm for the Indians in the annual Coal Bucket Trophy game? Perhaps, but ... Mount Carmel 34, Shamokin 31.

Milton at Shikellamy — Familiarity is the name of the game here as these two teams play for home-field advantage in next week’s District 4 Class AAA semifinals. Shikellamy 28, Milton 21.

Line Mountain at Tri-Valley — A long-time rivalry, two teams playing for a playoff home game, and the best teams in the Tri-Valley League not named Williams Valley. Should be a great one. Line Mountain 30, Tri-Valley 28.

East Juniata at Williams Valley — Looking for their first league title and unbeaten regular season since 2008 (under former coach and Southern Columbia grad Scott Cecco), the Vikings are preparing for another playoff run. Williams Valley 49, East Juniata 14.

Southern Columbia at Warrior Run — It was great to see the Defenders pick up back-to-back wins in what has been a discouraging season fraught with injuries. Unfortunately for them, going out with a win is highly unlikely. Southern 42, Warrior Run 13.

Mifflinburg at Lewisburg — This was going to be an uphill battle regardless, but the injuries keep piling on for the Wildcats. Lewisburg 34, Mifflinburg 14.

Central Columbia at Bloomsburg — Talk about a rivalry! This is an intense battle even when the teams are having down years. Imagine what could happen this time. Can the Blue Jays’ outstanding defense slow the law firm, er, offensive juggernaut of Klingerman, Klingerman and Klingerman? Central 19, Bloomsburg 14.

Saturday

Upper Dauphin at Millersburg —
In one of the many Week 10 backyard rivalries being played across the state, the Trojans will try to go out strong against the District 4 Class A playoff hopeful Indians. Millersburg 27, Upper Dauphin 20.

Elsewhere: Athens over Sayre, Bucktail over Carson Long, Troy over Canton, Pius X over Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, Otto-Eldred over Cowanesque Valley, Muncy over Hughesville, Central Mountain over Jersey Shore, Montoursville over Loyalsock, South Williamsport over Montgomery, North Penn-Blossburg over Wellsboro, Towanda over Wyalusing, Wyoming Valley West over Williamsport, Halifax over Newport, Berwick over Hazleton, North Schuylkill over ELCO, and Juniata over Pine Grove.

Last week; season: 22-3; 174-46, .790.

Assistant sports editor Harold Raker covers high school football for The Daily Item. Email comments to hraker@dailyitem.com.