Bill Fralic Award to recognize WPIAL’s top lineman

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019 | 4:26 PM


The late Bill Fralic was never one for attention.

But the mountain of a football player, who blocked and tackled better than most at Penn Hills and Pitt before a pro career he spent mostly with the Atlanta Falcons, enjoyed being able to make a difference in the lives of young people.

The long-standing William P. Fralic Foundation will look to carry on the lineman’s legacy with a new award.

The Bill Fralic Award will be presented to the WPIAL’s top lineman at the end of the upcoming season.

“When Bill passed away, we wanted to do whatever we could to keep relevant his memory,” said Dan Miller, a former classmate of Fralic’s at Penn Hills and a member of the foundation’s board of trustees. “He was arguably the most dominant lineman to ever play in the WPIAL. Some of the younger people don’t know his story. They might know him as the name on a building (Fralic Athletic Center at Penn Hills). You mention great linemen and Penn Hills, and they mention Aaron Donald. But Bill was outstanding.”

Fralic, 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds in his prime, died of cancer last December at 56.

The award will fall in line with the Heisman Trophy or Outland Trophy, Miller said, but will recognize only the best lineman.

This is not a scholarship, and there is no monetary reward.

“Quarterbacks and skill guys get all the attention,” said Miller, who is Penn-Trafford’s baseball coach.

Coaches from every WPIAL football program will submit nominees, and six linemen — one from each classification — will be selected as finalists for the inaugural award. A seven-man committee — men with ties to Fralic and/or Pitt — will narrow the field to six: Greg Meisner and Rich Bowen of Hempfield will choose 6A; Tom Loughran (Fox Chapel) and Mike Junko (Upper St. Clair) will handle 5A; Bill Cherpak (Thomas Jefferson) has 4A; Marty Rieck (South Park) 3A; John Skiba (Apollo-Ridge) 2A; and Todd Massack (Riverview), Class A.

The players chosen by the seven “chairmen” will be submitted to the committee, which will choose a winner.

“We’ll review the nominees and watch some film on them,” Miller said. “And we’ll get some info from (training) camps.”

The six finalists will be announced Oct. 31, Fralic’s birthday.

The winner will be recognized during an awards breakfast in December at Oakmont Country Club.

“It’s a pancakes and sausage breakfast,” Miller said. “Bill invented the pancake block.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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