SPRNG VALLEY — Three former football stars, a legendary coach, a longtime athletic director and a state champion football team were inducted into the 2011 class of the Hall High School Hall of Fame. They were all connected by a single theme — once a Red Devil always a Red Devil.
Those were the words of Vicky Piontek of Spring Valley, who was accepting the Hall of Fame honor in behalf of her cousin, Leon Mativy, former Red Devil.
“(Hall) was a big part of my life,” said Frank Colmone, the Hall athletic director from 1970-1993, who was inducted as friend of Hall High School. “I still feel a big part of Hall. I guess once you’re a Hall Red Devil, you’re always a Hall Red Devil. I’ll be a part of Hall the rest of my life.
“I still coach youth football in town ... all my experiences and hard work I want to pass on to the kids right now. Yeah, I definitely agree. Once a Red Devil, always a Red Devil,” said Brant Baltikauski, quarterback of the 2001 state football team inducted Saturday evening.
Inductee Eric Bryant Sr. had a stellar coaching career directing the Hall basketball program, his teams known as the “Hustlin’ Hall Red Devils.” Bryant won 277 games in 19 years at Hall, including six regionals, three sectionals and back-to-back state runner-up finishes in 1997 and ’98.
Bryant said it’s overwhelming to stop and think about all the people that have to be considered for a Hall of Fame like Hall has taken on the past two years.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be a part of it,” he said. “It is definitely one of those honors you want to share with everyone who helped you get here. Very appreciated of all the guys who came out every day to bust their rear ends to be as good as they can be."
Bryant was presented by his son, Eric Bryant Jr., who was the point guard for his dad’s first state runner-up basketball team. Bryant said his father wanted to win games, but he “wanted us to be a better person first.” He said he taught his teams how to play as a team and overcome adversity.
There have been no better football players to grace the Red Devil uniform than Leroy Lunn, Leon Mavity and Jim Troglio.
Lunn, who was presented by his son, Pete, was an All-State guard in 1949 as a senior captain, first in the area to receive recognition of All-American Honorable Mention. He was named as Hall’s Athlete of the year and received the Tom Yasm Award and the Father Garrahan Award.
In 1950, he received appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He played football at Army at guard on the offensive line, serving as the Black Knights’ captain in 1953 and was named to the All-East Top 50 players list. He led Army to a 7-1-1 season that saw Army awarded the prestigious Lambert Trophy for its win over Navy.
Lunn squared off against Troglio’s Northwestern team in 1953.
He said receiving the Hall of Fame honor was “something I never expected and was very, very pleasing. ... It doesn’t get any better than this. I like to think about some of the old days. Now I won’t have go back too far.”
Lunn presented Hall senior Anthony Urbanski with the new Black Lion Award during the 2011 Hall awards ceremony following the Hall of Fame program.
Troglio was an All-State running back in 1951, finishing second in the state in scoring with 22 touchdowns and 132 total points and rushed for 1,326 yards, averaging 7.04 yards per carry. Despite suffering from the onset of glaucoma, that would eventually take his sight, Troglio racked up 2,476 rushing yards (7.3 yards per carry) and 36 touchdowns during his Hall career, which culminated having his uniform No. 66 retired and displayed in the Hall trophy case.
He went on to star at Northwestern, leading the Wildcats in rushing for his three varsity seasons and was one of the top punters in the Big Ten. Jerry Stank of Spring Valley accepted the Hall of Fame honors on behalf of his uncle.
Mavity was next in line of the Hall gridiron greats, receiving all-state honors in 1958. The Seatonville Express rushed for 857 yards and 27 touchdowns his senior season in 1958 at Hall, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.
Piontek said all Mavity, her cousin, who lives in Clearwater, Fla., wanted to do was play Hall football for Richard Nesti.
From Hall, Mavity first went to LPO before heading to the University of Colorado to play both football and baseball. He was the Buffs’ starting running back in the 1962 Orange Bowl on New Year's Day in Miami. He went on to play professionally in the Continental Football League as well as minor league baseball in the Midwest League.
The 2001 team inducted Saturday is one of two state championship teams in the storied history of Hall Red Devil football. Former Hall coach Gary Vicini presented his team for induction. He recalled it being rather prophetic that Levi Derber ran 60 yards for a touchdown on the very first play of scrimmage that season against Yorkville and would go on to run 70 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the 21-0 state championship victory over undefeated LeRoy.
Vicini said his 2001 squad was senior dominated and “strong, quick and intelligent.”
“There’s been lot of good teams, lot of good athletes. For us to be recognized for all the years Hall’s been here, it’s just a great accomplishment,” said Baltikauski, who got knocked out of the game when he was injured holding on the place-kick on Derber’s touchdown.
Colmone served as athletic director from 1970-93, was instrumental in bringing many sports to Hall, including girls’ volleyball, track, softball, bowling and basketball as well as wrestling and cross country. He also served on committees to bring in the new Hall gym and former cinder track and present all-weather track
He said was “humbled, honored, happy and grateful” to be inducted.
“When I was on the payroll here, I did my job to the best of my ability. Evidently, somebody must have appreciated the job I did,” he said.