Make room for the Class of 2017

By on September 20, 2017

Six to be inducted into Warwick’s Hall of Fame Oct. 6

Mark Snyder learned last week that he’s going to have to make a speech.

The legendary former Warwick football coach, though, doesn’t expect it to be tough.

Having gotten the news that he’s been elected to the Warwick Athletic Hall of Fame, Snyder knows there are many he needs to thank during a reception at the Middle School on Friday, Oct. 6 before the Warrior football team hosts Hempfield.

“We might not get to the game until halftime,” Snyder joked, alluding to the number of people he wants to acknowledge. “… I’m really humbled by (the selection). There’s just so much that goes into it and so many other people that you depend on, you count on and so many others that help you get to that point. So it’s humbling.”

Snyder won’t be the only one making a speech on Oct. 6. The 2017 Class also includes Antonio Giorgio, Dena Gockley (Cascarino), Brian Johnson, Bobby Kline, and Kyle Narkiewicz.

The pre-game reception is open to the public, at a cost of $5, where food will be available. Doors will open shortly before 5 p.m. For anyone interested in attending the reception, please email Warwick Athletic Director Ryan Landis at rlandis@warwicksd.org. There will also be a ceremony at halftime of the football game.

From a list of 34 nominees, the Hall of Fame committee pared the candidates down to the top 10 vote-getters. From there, the 2017 Class was selected.

Antonio Giorgio

A 2010 graduate of Warwick High School, Giorgio finished as a three-time State wrestling medalist, reaching the PIAA Triple-A finals during his sophomore season in 2008, where he suffered an 8-4 setback to Delaware Valley’s Joe Kennedy at the Giant Center and took home the State silver medal.

“Obviously, I was terrified,” Giorgio said of his appearance in the finals. “It feels like it all went so fast, really.”

Giorgio also won PIAA bronze and fifth-place medals on his way to becoming the Warwick wrestling program’s all-time leader in wins with a 147-10 career record, an honor he held until Devin Schnupp (156-16) during the 2015-16 season.

Recollections of those trips to compete in Hershey no doubt came flooding back to him upon hearing from Warwick AD Ryan Landis about his Hall of Fame selection.

“I wasn’t expecting it and it really brings back a lot of memories,” Giorgio said. “I was excited. I definitely had no idea. It’s definitely an honor.”

Certainly, his career in the Warriors’ red and black singlet was full of honors and accolades. A three-year captain for Warwick, Giorgio was a three-time Sectional and District Three Triple-A champion. He also helped to lead the Warriors to the District Three Team Tournament semi-finals in 2008, where they dropped a 49-18 loss to Giorgio’s former Central Dauphin teammates.

“I remember the excitement from going to Hershey as a team and stuff, it’s fun and those are the things that you kinda remember,” Giorgio said. “It’s that camaraderie that I look back on.”

After leaving the halls of Warwick High School, he went on to the University of North Carolina, wrestling for three years before a concussion ended his career. Giorgio ended up graduating in December, 2014 with a degree in exercise/sports science.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “Definitely, I’m happy with (my career). I feel accomplished and I’m very grateful for the doors it’s opened. So I’m happy with it, but you look at that and I felt like the success in sports (was great), but once I realized I couldn’t compete anymore, it really is something where you have to kinda flip a switch and realize that if you want that feeling of the success, you have to figure out how to get it in other places.”

For the 25-year-old Giorgio, that path has led him to Sandy Springs, Ga., just outside of Atlanta, where he currently resides. He plans to start chiropractor school at Fine University on Oct. 2.

“I’m excited to start this chapter,” Giorgio said.

Dena Gockley (Cascarino)

An All-Star student-athlete in three sports, Cascarino helped the Warwick field hockey and basketball teams win L-L League gold in 1990 and 1991, respectively, and was part of the softball team which won 43 games in four years.

She is currently a second-grade teacher at Kissel Hill Elementary. It was there that principal Ryan Berardi — after hearing from Athletic Director Ryan Landis that she’d been selected — gathered all the second-grade students in her classroom last week.

“He said there was something cool he wanted to show everybody and then he announced it there,” Cascarino said. “I was very surprised.”

When she graduated in 1992, Cascarino was the all-time leading goal-scorer in Warwick field hockey program history with 47.

“I certainly give credit to anybody that I played with because it’s a team sport,” she said, “and they obviously help you get the goals that you get.”

She earned a field hockey scholarship to Old Dominion, where she played for a year, and then transferred to Millersville University.

MU also happened to be the site where Cascarino and her teammates won the L-L hoops crown just a couple of years earlier, beating Ephrata 46-44 on a last-second shot by Ashley Dodson.

Asked about some of her favorite athletic memories at Warwick, she said, “Probably when we won the League championship in basketball. It was a buzzer-beater. Just going to Districts and States in field hockey, probably just the closeness with our team and with all my teammates.”

Cascarino, who has three sons — Colin, 19, Kyle, 16, and Cameron, 14 — involved in athletics, values the fact she played three sports.

“They were all different and it helped you get better for the other ones,” she said, “(It was key for) not necessarily getting sick of one of them and just keeping you fresh.”

Bobby Kline

A 1944 graduate of Lititz High School, Kline won three letters in baseball, earned varsity letters in football in his junior and senior years, and claimed a letter in basketball as a sophomore. In 1944, he was voted as the All-Around Boy.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson also played three sports — football, basketball and baseball — prior to graduating from Warwick in 1982.

Although he started for three years at tight end and defensive end for the Warrior football team, in addition to pitching and playing first base for the Warwick baseball team as a sophomore and junior, it was the Dave Althouse-coached hoops team where Johnson left his biggest impact, scoring 1,359 points during his career. He was the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer until Jack Hurd surpassed him and remains second on Warwick’s scoring list.

“I was very happy (with my career),” said Johnson, who just celebrated his 54th birthday in July. “Thankful for everything. Great coaches, great people, great fans. I learned a lot, not only in the game of sports, but the game of life.”

Asked for his reaction when he learned that he was selected to the Hall of Fame, Johnson said, “I’m shocked, but looking forward to it. I guess it will close a chapter, so to speak.”

His basketball chapter began with coach Althouse when Johnson was a seventh-grader.

“(Coach Althouse) took me under his wing, I started playing against Tim Eberly before school at the middle school,” he recalled. “At 6 o’clock, we were out there for an hour playing 1-on-1, then you showered and went to school.”

During his senior year in 1981-82, Johnson and the Warriors advanced to the District Three finals, dropping a 63-42 loss to Susquehannock at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg before moving on to States and ending the season with a 30-4 record.

“It was challenging,” Johnson said of that season, “there were a couple of new faces because I was used to playing with the gang before, but it was a good time.”

Johnson was an outside threat at forward for the Warriors who could also take the ball inside.

“And we ran a lot,” he said. “There were games where we scored a hundred points and they were all twos. That (three-point line) started in ‘87, actually.”

An L-L First-Team All-Star, he led the Warriors to consecutive Section championships and was a captain his senior campaign. He was also named to the First-Team All-Decade Team of the ‘80s by LLHoops.com.

Following his playing career, Johnson was a junior high basketball coach for six years at Warwick.

Kyle Narkiewicz

A three-year letter winner for the Warwick wrestling team, Narkiewicz advanced to the State Triple-A 189-pound finals in his senior season and suffered a 2-0 loss to Northampton’s Josh Haines, giving him the PIAA silver medal.

Looking back more than 14 years later, the 2003 Warwick High School grad admitted being both nervous and relieved as he walked onto the mat at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“Obviously, I wanted to perform as best I could,” he recalled, “and I don’t know if I performed my best, but the chips fell where they fell and I lost. I don’t remember much of the match — you kinda black out while you’re wrestling a little bit — but I just remember that I tried to embrace the weekend and the whole process and it was a fun night, although I lost.”

In the rich history of Warwick’s wrestling program, the Warriors have 25 District champions, and Narkiewicz, who went on to wrestle at the University of Virginia on a scholarship, is part of that tradition, having knocked off Harrisburg’s Phil Davis 2-1 on a bearhug in the 2003 finals. He also won an L-L League title that year, beating Solanco’s Bret Caldwell in a 13-3 major in the finals, in addition to being named All-American and First-Team All-County three times. In all, he was a two-time State and four-time Regional qualifier, along with being named All-Academic County all four years of high school.

“I enjoyed competing more so than anything and building relationships with people I played with,” said Narkiewicz, who now lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his wife and son (and another child being expected) and sells commercial insurance. “I owe a lot, I think, to whatever success I have had in business and life to sports and being part of a team and enjoying to compete.”

It wasn’t just on the wrestling mats, however, that Narkiewicz excelled. He also lettered three times in football — leading Warwick in tackles as a senior and earning Second-Team Section-One All-Star honors at inside linebacker — led his rugby team in scoring while earning First-Team All-Star honors in 2002, and claimed the No. 1 position on the Warrior tennis team.

His reaction when AD Ryan Landis called to inform him of his Hall of Fame selection was one of surprise.

“Obviously, it’s an honor and there’s many other people I can think of that probably deserve it just as much as I do,” he said. “It’s a great honor and I feel privileged that I’ve been chosen by the people that did choose me … It was a pleasant surprise.”

During his 13-year tenure as the Warwick head football coach, Mark Snyder led his team to a State-leading 18-game unbeaten streak, Section Two championships from 1977-79 and 67 total wins.

During his 13-year tenure as the Warwick head football coach, Mark Snyder led his team to a State-leading 18-game unbeaten streak, Section Two championships from 1977-79 and 67 total wins.

Mark Snyder

In two stints spanning 13 years as the Warrior football coach, from 1976-85 and 1998-2000, Snyder compiled a record of 67-50-2 overall (50-31-1 L-L), including three straight Section Two titles from 1977-79.

In fact, his Warrior teams had the State’s longest unbeaten streak, going 17-0-1 through the ‘77 and ‘78 seasons before dropping a 16-7 loss to Manheim Township in the opening game of 1979. Deep in their own territory and leading 7-6 in the fourth quarter, Warwick’s punter fielded the ball with his foot on the end line, giving the Streaks a safety and turning the tide of the game.

“It was competitive,” Snyder said. “I think if we played them that year 10 times, we probably each would have won five. We were pretty equal.”

It was a Central Bucks West loss late in 1978 that put the Warriors at the top of the list for the unbeaten streak. Interestingly, Snyder and C.B. West iconic coach Mike Pettine were no strangers to one another. Pettine was the head coach in the 1980 Big 33 Classic at Hersheypark Stadium and Snyder was one of his assistants.

Exactly 20 years earlier, Snyder played in the Big 33 after graduating from Lebanon in 1960, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He went on to play at Gettysburg College, serving as the team’s co-captain in 1963 and ‘64, and competing on the only Bullets’ football team to win a Middle Atlantic Conference University Division crown.

The Section Two titles that he won at Warwick were rewarding, but when asked about his favorite memories, the first thing Snyder talks about is the relationships that he made with his players.

“I mean, win, lose or draw, you develop those and that would have to be at the top,” he said. “We always wanted to win, of course, we worked to get that W, but regardless of who wins or loses in high school football, my philosophy is that, as a coach, you want the kids to have a great experience.”

Snyder is quick to admit that he had a great experience coaching at Warwick, having assistants such as Terry Kauffman, John Sukenik, and Larry Zdilla, in addition to working for Superintendent John Bonfield, and principals Harold Swisher, Dr. Stephen Iovino and Fred Cummins.

“I was really lucky when you look at the total picture — the assistant coaches, the parents, the administration, the kids,” Snyder said. “We just had a good group of people around us. And it’s pretty easy to enjoy yourself in that setting.”

There was no District Three playoff format in the ‘70s, so those Warrior teams that won three straight Section Two championships will never know what could have been. But Snyder surely would have liked their chances.

“I didn’t think about it at that point,” he said, “but since then, we’ve discussed it among the guys I coached with and the kids that were playing then, and we’ve often said, ‘I wish we would have had playoffs then because we might have done alright. We had some nice teams.”

Manheim Central won the District Three Triple-A crown in 2000, but not before getting a scare from Warwick during the regular season. Although the Warriors haven’t defeated the Barons since 1983, they nearly did so that night, except for an extra-point snap that couldn’t be handled in dew-heavy conditions in a 21-20 loss. For Snyder, it brought back memories to his Warriors battling to a 14-14 tie against a Bethlehem Catholic team ranked No. 1 in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Saylor Ratings in 1978.

“That one still hurts,” Snyder said of the loss to MC. “That one hurts the most because we lost. Bethlehem Catholic hurts because we tied. It was pretty even in the first half, (then) we completely outplayed (MC) in the second half. I’ll never forget, (Baron coach) Mike Williams said to me after the game, ‘You didn’t deserve to lose.’ That’s a pretty humble winner to say that.”

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2 Comments

  1. Bill Dussinger

    September 20, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I owe so much to Mark Snyder. I was a player on the 1977 team (the team that tied Bethlehem Catholic- at BC by the way). I was an offensive guard and kicker on that team. I learned so much from Coach Snyder and the other coaches on that team… about football, sportsmanship, teamwork, pride, loyalty, being a good citizen, and so much more. We had a very good team that year. It is interesting to think how far we could have gone if there were a playoff system back then. I am more than confident stating that we definitely would have been the state champions that year.

    If I would be pushed to name my five favorite people in my lifetime, Coach Snyder would be up there as number one! Congratulations Coach! You more than deserve this recognition! Thanks for everything!

  2. Lydia Seibert

    September 20, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Where are the outstanding WOMEN? Very timely with the Billie Jean King release this week. You should be ashamed.

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