NEW CASTLE —
Tom Patton never was overly big.
But when legendary New Castle High coach Lindy Lauro looked at Patton, he saw a perfect fit for his offense as a pulling guard.
“Alongside our own players, I was considered undersized,” said Patton, who also starred at the University of Virginia for coach George Blackburn. “Our guards did a lot of pulling. When you were my size and the other linemen we had were pretty big, they wouldn’t see me coming. That was an advantage for me. To me, it was all about angles. It was a good position for me, especially with the type of offense New Castle was running.”
Lauro moved Patton, who was around 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds during his playing days, from the Red Hurricane backfield to the offensive line early in his career.
Patton eventually settled in as the ’Canes’ starting strong-side guard as a junior.
“When I came up from Ben Franklin Junior High School, I was a running back,” said Patton, who with his wife, Linda, has four children and nine grandchildren. “Lindy put me at fullback and Lindy’s fullbacks were blocking backs. Later, he said we needed some linemen. He told me I was going to offensive guard and I thought that was just the worst thing that could’ve happened to me. Then, I found out how fun it was when you get in the trenches. It wouldn’t have been as much fun without Tubby (Johnson) and Herman (Serignese) being there.”
ENTERING THE HALL
Patton will join 11 other inductees on May 4 when they enter the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be held at the New Englander. The social hour is set for 1:30 p.m. with dinner at 3.
Tickets are on sale for a limited time. They are $35 per person and must be purchased by 4 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets can be purchased at the historical society annex from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They also are available at Bucky Richards’ Barber Shop in Call’s Plaza, Augustine’s Pizza on Lutton Street and Hyde Drug Store on Liberty Street in Mahoningtown.
“At 66 if they would’ve waited any longer, it would have been posthumous,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m an emotional person. For someone else to recognize what you do, it got me a little choked up. It took me a couple minutes to respond when I heard the news.
“It’s a very big honor. New Castle and western Pennsylvania have always been great football places, especially back in the ’60s when Texas and Pennsylvania were the hotbeds of football talent.”