George Guido: Last living member of Ken High’s dream backfield dies

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | 6:07 PM

The last living member of the Ken High dream backfield from the 1946-47 WPIAL football championship teams has died.

George “Cubby” France, one of the key players in Ken High’s 26-game unbeaten streak, died Monday at Concordia Lutheran Ministries in Cabot.

He was 88.

France was the quarterback in coach Don Fletcher’s single-wing offense. With France running the offense, Ken High went 34-3-1 from 1945-48.

Backfield mates Willie Thrower, an option halfback, Vince Pisano and Harold Vestrand died before France.

During France’s sophomore season in 1946, the Red Raiders and Vandergrift were the final two undefeated and untied teams in the WPIAL’s Class AA ranks, then the largest classification.

There was so much interest in what amounted to the de facto title game, the WPIAL moved it to Forbes Field.

A crowd of 17,967 showed up to watch Ken High record a 21-0 victory. France tossed a 20-yard pass to Tony Kotowski for an insurance touchdown.

The Red Raiders repeated the title drive in 1947, the first year Memorial Stadium in New Kensington opened.

Ken High, however, lost to Vandergrift in 1948 to prevent a third straight title. In those days, a team had to go undefeated and untied to be eligible for WPIAL title consideration.

France was a four-year letterman in baseball as a shortstop. He then joined seven of his Ken High football teammates at Michigan State.

France, however, left East Lansing after his grandfather’s death. Later, he got his degree and spent 33 years as an educator at Freeport.

He was inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, rejoining his backfield mates again.

Friends will be received Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Redmond Funeral Home, 524 High St., Freeport, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

France will be interred at Greenwood Memorial Park in Lower Burrell.

PIAA wins court case

Sports officials who work under the PIAA’s jurisdiction are considered independent contractors, not PIAA employees.

That’s according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a unanimous, 3-0 decision.

The D.C. Court of Appeals’ decision vacates a July 2017 decision issued by the National Labor Relations Board, which found that a group of PIAA registered lacrosse officials in Western Pennsylvania were employees for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act.

The PIAA, in its argument, said member schools pay the officials during the regular season, not the PIAA itself.

Many schools schedule officials by using chapters to staff games instead of contacting individual officials.

PIAA baseball proposals

Besides the proposal to increase the number of regular-season baseball games from 20 to 24, another measure surrounding pitchers and designated hitters also is on the docket.

In instances where the starting pitcher and designated hitter are the same player, he can stay on as DH if relieved as a pitcher.

However, that person can not return to the mound later in the game.

Also, he may not play another defensive position after being relieved as a pitcher.

It would be known on the lineup card as P/DH.

A player could replace the starting P/DH as the new P/DH. The starting P/DH can only return as DH if substituted for such as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

The rationale behind this proposal is to further support the pitch count rule and limit the wear and tear on the starting pitcher’s arm when they are placed on the field after pitching.

The motion passed the baseball steering committee by a 9-1 vote.


It’s a shame when one’s math skills diminish.

Last week, we reported the Springdale-Deer Lakes football game will be the 1,000th in Dynamos football history.

In fact, it will be No. 900, still a remarkable milestone for a small-town program.

Springdale will carry an all-time record of 407-462-30 into the game.

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