Penn-Trafford’s Joe Enick named 4th annual Bill Fralic Memorial Award winner

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Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 2:39 PM


The more Joe Enick learned about Bill Fralic, the more he saw himself in the football legend.

He saw the blue-collar approach to life, the intense work ethic and the passion for the game.

He saw the angry football player and the gentle giant.

“We were at hunting camp last week, and my dad and pap were asking, ‘What do you know about him?’ ” Enick said. “I said, well, I know he was a mean dude on the football field but a great dude (off of it).”

Enick, the mullet-topped blocker and run-stuffer from Penn-Trafford, was the recipient of the fourth Bill Fralic Memorial Award on Saturday during a breakfast and ceremony at Longue Vue Club in Verona.

The coveted trophy goes to the WPIAL’s top interior lineman.

Fralic, a larger-than-life star at Penn Hills and Pitt and in the NFL, was again remembered fondly as friends and family gathered alongside the six finalists, one from each WPIAL classification.

Fralic died from cancer in 2018.

“These boys … I see my Bill,” said Fralic’s wife, Susan. “He is looking at you and thanking you for being the young men that you are, and for loving this sport that meant everything to him.”

The other finalists, who also watched Fralic’s highlights with wide eyes, were Tyrese Washington-Law of Clairton (Class A), Greg Smith of Steel Valley (2A), Steve Macheska of Belle Vernon (3A), Ty Banco of Trinity (4A) and Kade Capristo of Mt. Lebanon (6A).

Smith and Macheska played PIAA semifinal games Friday night.

For the Fralic Award, coaches nominate players throughout the season, and a panel ultimately picks the winner.

Fralic is famous for introducing the pancake block to football vernacular.

“All of the nominees were the best in their class,” said Fralic Foundation trustee Dan Miller. “Joe separated himself through not only his talent but also his demeanor. When you watch film, Joe pancaked everyone he went against, even when he faced double teams. He epitomizes what the award is about.”

Like Fralic, Enick also is a standout wrestler.

The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder will continue his football career at Central Michigan.

“Joe is extremely deserving,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “He’s a three-year starter two ways for us. He works his butt off on two sports. He’s the nastiest rear-end-kicking kid we’ve had at P-T.”

Facing countless double-teams and stunts, Enick had 33 tackles, two forced fumbles and led the Warriors (6-5) with 7.5 sacks.

Last year, he was a force on both lines as the Warriors won WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A championships.

Enick joked about not being a country club kid as he looked around the lavish club, his weighty new trophy in hand.

“This place is pretty fancy for me,” Enick said. “I saw a buck on the golf course driving in, and that made me more comfortable.”

Enick’s father, Mike, was a lineman at West Virginia.

Joe Enick made it a priority to learn more about Fralic.

He sees similarities in Fralic’s way of life and aggressive style.

“The pancake aspect, yeah,” Enick said. “I’m a little bit mean on the field, but I like to be nice off the field and be a person people like. I like to be someone the young kids playing football look up to.

“This award is also about the coaches and my teammates. None of this happens without them.”

The guest speaker for the event was Mike Kenn, who played 17 years for the Atlanta Falcons where he was Fralic’s teammate.

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

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