NEW CASTLE —
Offensive lineman often don’t get many accolades and David Updegraff was no exception.
In fact, the 1968 New Castle and 1974 Princeton University graduate says he only saw his name in the newspaper a couple of times despite being a two-year starter for Lindy Lauro’s Red Hurricane.
My name was in the paper once or twice, but it wasn’t too often,” Updegraff said with a chuckle.
Not to matter. Updegraff made his mark nonethless.
ENTERING THE HALL
Updegraff, 63, will enter the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame with 11 others on May 4 at the New Englander.
He moved from New Mexico to Austintown, Ohio, in 2002 and currently manages a reverse pharmaceutical distributorship in New Castle.
At 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, Updegraff looked more like a running back than an offensive guard in high school.
Yet, Updegraff managed to start for two years as an undersized guard for the ’Canes.
“I was the smallest of our lineman,” he said. “Our other guard was 5-10 and 175 pounds. I was a guard and we pulled a lot. I went up against guys much bigger than me, but I was able to handle them.”
Being undersized aided the guards in Lauro’s offense.
“We pulled on more than half our plays,” Updegraff said. “We just kept pulling, pulling, pulling. That gave you a head of steam to blocking out tackles and ends. When you pull, you want to look around to cut off any pursuit. You had to stay low and have good technique.”
Former New Castle assistant coach Chuck Cuba said Updegraff was quite coachable.
“He was very easy to teach,” Cuba said. “He was a very intelligent kid. He would go through the repetitions and once he got it down, you didn’t have to remind him too much. David was a hard-working and hard-nosed kid.
“He was consistently seeking to improve himself. We’d stay after practice many times, so I could teach him how to pass block. He wanted to be an excellent football player, which he turned out to be.”
Updegraff and fellow guard Dale Kurtz could hit.
“Kurtz and Updegraff were built about the same,” Cuba said. “They were small, but they were quick. The big thing is they’d hit you. That’s what the game is about. To me, football consists of three things — hitting, blocking and tackling. If you can hit, we’ll teach you the blocking and tackling.”
The ’Canes reached the 1967 WPIAL championship game after outscoring their opponents 396-116. On Thanksgiving Day, Updegraff and his New Castle teammates found a way to beat favored Mount Lebanon 20-14 at Pitt Stadium.
“That was a tough game for me,” Updegraff said. “At the end of the game, I really felt it physically. I never felt like that after any other game. I was physically beat. I was hurting and I was sore.”
Updegraff was representative of that 1967 squad.
“He was an overachiever,” Cuba said. “That was that football team, too. They were not really talented. They’d go to hell for you. They’d tough everything out to get a win. That’s why we won ballgames.”