St. Francis (Pa.) wins over South Carroll's Mihalko

March 31, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

One look at the videotape of Greg Mihalko's final game in a South Carroll High football uniform was all it took for St. Francis (Pa.) College assistant coach Frank Blair to decide he wanted the tailback to play for him.

Blair has handled the recruiting of Mihalko for head coach Frank Pergolizzi and finally landed the Cavaliers' standout this week after pursuing him for three months.

Mihalko (5-feet-9 and 170 pounds) chose St. Francis over Western Maryland College Monday.

"Everything fits me better at St. Francis," he said. "Western Maryland has the run-and-shoot passing offense, which would be good if I wanted to be a receiver. St. Francis runs a multiple offense out of different I formations, which is perfect for me as C tailback."

St. Francis, located in Loretto (400 people), which is 80 miles from Pittsburgh, plays basketball in the Northeast Conference with Mount St. Mary's and will play an independent football schedule similar to Towson State.

Mihalko and St. Francis will meet the Tigers at Minnegan Stadium this fall.

"That tape made the most significant impact," said Ron Mihalko, who graduated from St. Francis and encouraged his son to send the school a tape of the Westminster game. "Frank Blair was really impressed and has spent a lot of time talking to Greg since receiving the tape before Christmas."

On Nov. 11 at Westminster High, Mihalko literally hurled his body through Westminster defenders for large chunks of yardage in a remarkable performance that set the stage for a 27-21 South Carroll victory.

Mihalko had run the ball 38 times for 207 yards and two touchdowns when he was carried off the field with a neck injury with four minutes left and the score tied at 21.

Even though he was in a lot of pain, he did not want to leave for the hospital until the game was over, but he relented and later found out the Cavaliers had won on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Tom Luster to Jeremy Esworthy.

"The Westminster game showed what Greg could really do," said South Carroll coach Gene Brown. "It was a tough decision [between St. Francis and Western Maryland] because he didn't know what he wanted to do [receiver or running back]. I think Greg will have a better opportunity to show his skills in a two-back offense."

Mihalko was also a superb defensive back but Brown said Mihalko will stick to offense at St. Francis.

Ron Mihalko said his son will receive an athletic grant-in-aid that will pay half of his expenses.

"He's going to major in marketing and somehow combine marketing with coaching in the future," said Ron Mihalko who grew up in Portage, Pa., a few miles from Loretto.

Karen Mihalko, Greg's mother, is also from Portage.

Greg Mihalko said Blair has been telling him what to expect when he makes the transition from South Carroll to St. Francis.

"I've seen a couple of their games on film and I think I can fit in," he said. "I know I'll be going against guys who are bigger than I am but I've been doing that all my life."

Of course, Mihalko is excited about the opportunity to play against Towson State.

"That will be fun," he said. "I want to contribute right away as a freshman. I know I'm the third tailback they've signed so I have to win the starting job. I'll also be playing on special teams as a kick returner."

Mihalko rushed for 858 yards and eight touchdowns on 157 carries (5.46 yards per run) his senior season and caught 16 passes for 110 yards. He was a first-team All-Carroll County selection as a senior after being chosen the Offensive Player of the Year in Carroll his junior year.

Mihalko was also a first-team All-Carroll basketball player as a senior and has been encouraged by some people to try out for basketball at St. Francis.

"I'm sticking with just football," said Mihalko.

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