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South Jersey Spotlight:
Gloucester County Hall of Fame to Induct 15 New Members

Sunday, January 22, 2006

By Gus Ostrum
Hall of Fame President

Legendary Woodbury High and Sterling football coach Jim Combs along with former NFL lineman Joe Fields will be among the 15 new inductees to the Gloucester County Sports Hall of Fame during the 26th Annual Induction Banquet on March 28 at Auletto's Caterers in Almonesson, the Executive Committee has announced.

Also to be inducted in the Class of 2006 will be David Glocker (Paulsboro), Robin Glazer (Glassboro), Kevin Timbers (Glassboro), Sam Laspata (Glassboro), Nancy Deal Hemby (Pitman), Bud Mossop (Pitman), Juliet Lancaster Avila (West Deptford), Bob Briles (Franklin Twp.), John Cerak (Clayton), Howie O'Neil (Woodbury), Tiffany O'Neal-Nicholson (Mantua), Dan Pidcock (Mantua), and Ed Shirk (Paulsboro).

Tickets for the 26th Annual Banquet are available by calling Hall of Fame President Gus Ostrum at 435-3367.

Jim Combs (Woodbury)
A legendary South Jersey football coach, Combs made his mark at three different schools – Woodbury, Sterling, and Pennsauken – and established himself as one of the area’s all-time greatest. With a career record of 153-50-1, which included 19 overall conference and sectional championships, Combs was named Brooks-Irvine Club Coach of the Year in 1959, 1962, and 1975.

A long-time resident of Wenonah, Combs compiled a 47-20-3 record at Woodbury High from 1956 to 1963, including a perfect 9-0 season in 1959. At Pennsauken, from 1964 to 1966, his teams won the Olympic Conference and South Jersey Group IV championships, while at Sterling High (1967 to 1977), his teams won five consecutive championships, including the conference and South Jersey Group 3 titles with a perfect 11-0 record in his final season. In 1977, his Sterling team was voted No. 1 in the state and in South Jersey.

Combs, a Penns Grove High graduate, was selected as New Jersey’s Scholastic Football Coach of the Year in 1977 by the National Football Clinics of America. He is a member of the Sterling High and Pennsauken High Halls of Fame.

Joe Fields (Deptford/Gloucester Catholic)
A native of Deptford and graduate of Gloucester Catholic High School in 1971 and Widener University in 1975, Fields spent 14 seasons as an offensive lineman (center) in the National Football League (NFL), 13 of which were with the New York Jets. As a center for the Jets from 1975 to 1987, Fields was regularly compared to the NFL’s top centers of the day, including Pittsburgh’s Mike Webster and Miami’s Dwight Stephenson.

A 6-2, 225-pound lineman, he earned two Pro Bowl selections in the early 1980s. As a star at Widener in the early 1970s, he played under coach Bill Manlove and was teammates with another future NFL star, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. Fields finished his NFL career with the Giants in 1988 and now owns a business in Woodstown.

David Glocker (Paulsboro)
A 1980 Paulsboro High graduate, Glocker excelled for the Red Raiders in football, baseball, and basketball. He enjoyed many memorable moments in football as an offensive end and defensive back in helping the Red Raiders win both the Colonial Conference and South Jersey Group 1 championships under coach Tom Brown in 1979. He was selected All South Jersey Group 1 and All Gloucester County that season among his many honors.

A talented baseball player, Glocker earned All-Conference, All-County and All Group 1 honors at PHS, and then played two seasons at Arizona State. An arm injury curtailed his baseball career on the collegiate level. In addition, Glocker also served as an assistant coach of PHS baseball teams for 4 seasons under coach Russ Spicer. He is a member of the Paulsboro High Sports Hall of Fame.

Robin Glazer (Glassboro)
A 1973 graduate of Glassboro High School, Glazer was a star player on New Jersey’s first-ever overall state field hockey champion. In the Fall of 1972, Glazer helped lead her Glassboro High team to the state crown when it defeated West Essex for the NJ overall title in the first season in which state competition in field hockey was held. A right wing, she helped the Bulldogs finish the season with an overall record of 18-0. Her teams also captured Olympic Conference field hockey titles in 1970, 1971, and 1972.

Glazer also excelled in basketball as a guard in helping her teams to a pair of league titles in 1971 and 1972, and as a catcher in softball in helping her squads also win a pair of Olympic Conference championships. She later played field hockey, basketball and softball at Drexel University, and is a member of the Glassboro High Sports Hall of Fame.

Kevin Timbers (Glassboro)
Basketball standout Timbers has the distinction of being the only Glassboro high graduate to hold a New Jersey state championship both as a player and as a coach. A 1981 GHS graduate, he helped his team win the NJSIAA Group 1 state title under coach Steve Crispin, and was named to the All-Olympic Conference Team as a senior.

From 1991 to 1997, he coached the Bulldog teams to a combined 104-47 overall record and guided his 1994 team to the Group 1 state basketball championship. Timbers was also a standout cross country and track runner in high school, and later coached GHS to its only undefeated boys cross country season with a 9-0 record in 1993. In track, he coached the Bulldogs to the 1994 Group 1 Woodbury Relays crown.

Sam Laspata (Glassboro)
In a school that has boasted its share of many fine wrestlers over the past several decades, Laspata can lay claim to being the lone Glassboro High athlete to ever win a state wrestling championship. He accomplished the feat in 1987-88 after posting a remarkable 34-0 overall record enroute to the 140-pound NJSIAA state wrestling title in Princeton. He ranks third in career victories at Glassboro with an overall record of 94-12-3 in four seasons.

At George Mason University, he compiled a 35-13-1 career record, winning the 1991 Navy Classic Wrestling Tournament in his weight class as a junior, and placing first and being named MVP at the Freshman Virginia Military Institute Tournament as a freshman.

Laspata was recently inducted into the Glassboro High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Nancy Deal Hemby (Pitman)
A 1976 Pitman High graduate, Deal Hemby was a star athlete in both the Panthers’ field hockey and basketball programs. In field hockey, she helped the Panthers win one state field hockey championship in 1974 along with three Tri-County Conference championships, earning All South Jersey honors as a senior. In basketball, she averaged 13 points and 13 rebounds per game in heping Pitman win a pair of league crowns.

She earned a full 4-year field hockey scholarship to Penn State University, where she was a 4-year varsity starter and co-captain of the 1979 team, which placed second in the nation behind Cal-State Long Beach in the NCAA Division 1 championships.

Al "Bud" Mossop (Pitman)
A 1949 Pitman graduate, Mossop was an outstanding athletic and student leader while in high school. An offensive end and defensive back, he starred on what many consider Pitman High’s best-ever football team, which went 8-1 and won the Tri-County Conference title in 1948.

Mossop experienced great success in track and field at PHS as well, going undefeated in the quarter-mile race as a senior enroute to the 1949 Group 1 state championship in this event. He also ran a leg on the mile relay team at the Penn Relays in each of his four scholastic seasons at Pitman, and helped the Panthers capture three league championships as well as South Jersey Group 1 titles in 1946 and 1947. A retired New Jersey state trooper, he is a member of the Pitman High Sports Hall of Fame.

Juliet Lancaster Avila (West Deptford)
A 1994 West Deptford High graduate, Lancaster enjoyed a stellar athletic career in swimming and track for the Eagles. Ion 1993 and 1994, she was a state place winner in several swimming events, including the 50 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke, and the 200 and 400-relays. During her career she compiled a total of 10 first place finishes and 2 second places in the annual Gloucester County Swimming Championships. In her senior year, she named New Jersey State Female Swimmer of the Year by the NJSCA.

Although swimming was clearly her best sport, Lancaster nonetheless won the South Jersey Group 2 sectional championships in the shot put in 1993 and 1994 and is still the school record holder in this event. At Rider University, Lancaster established many team and conference records in swimming, and she has been the head swimming coach for Timber Creek High School since 2001.

Bob Briles (Franklin Twp.)
Briles guided successful Delsea High programs in both boys basketball and girls softball, ranking among South Jersey’s finest coaches in both sports. In boys basketball, he collected 355 career wins in 31 years, winning 8 Tri-County Conference titles along with South Jersey and NJSIAA state championships in 1991.

In softball, Briles coached Crusader teams to 310 career wins in 27 seasons, winning three conference crowns along with a South Jersey Group 3 title in 1987. Among his many talented players through the years were pitchers Becky Ryan and Theresa Chorney. Briles, a graduate of Bishop Eustace High and Villanova University, also served at Delsea as an assistant football coach for 6 years and as an assistant baseball coach for three seasons.

John Cerak (Clayton)
During an era when athletes at small schools routinely starred in three or four sports, Cerak was a giant among the county’s rich crop of stars. He starred for the Clippers in four sports – football, track, basketball, and baseball – from 1959 through 1963. He earned All-County honors in three of those sports, and was named to the state All-Star Football team in 1962.

In track, Cerak won the 1963 Group 1 state championship in the javelin throw, setting a state record in the event at 187 feet. He attended the Air Force Academy, and starred in football and track on the collegiate level, and was later honored and decorated as a Vietnam War hero. He is a member of Clayton High School’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Howie O’Neil (Woodbury)
A former successful wrestling coach at Woodbury High for 10 seasons, O’Neil was named South Jersey Coach of the Year and Gloucester County All-Sports Coach of the Year in 1976. Aside from his team’s winning efforts on the mats, he coached state 170-pound champion Howard Pendleton in 1974 as well as 11 district and 5 regional individual champions.

O’Neil also served three seasons as an assistant wrestling coach at Temple University, and has served as an officer in Regions 7 and 8 in various capacities. He has served 32 years with the New Jersey State Wrestling coaches Association in various positions and as a member of the South Jersey Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association since 1971.

O’Neil was inducted into the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1998 for his service as a coach, official and contributor.

Tiffany O’Neal-Nicholson (Mantua)
One of the finest female athletes in Gloucester County history, O’Neal-Nicholson set the standard in track and basketball during her stellar athletic career for the Pioneers from 1986 through 1990. She was a member of her team’s first place Group 2 state champion mile relay team, and she won several South Jersey Group 2 titles in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and long jump events. Her efforts were the big factor in Clearview winning the Group 2 state track and field team title in 1990.

In basketball, O’Neal-Nicholson was the team’s leading scorer for three seasons and was an outstanding rebounder and defensive player. She earned All South Jersey, All-Conference and All-State honors in this sport as well.

Dan Pidcock (Mantua)
The long-time head football coach at Clearview High School, Pidcock’s name has become synonymous with the sport in Gloucester County. After serving as an assistant coach for one season, Pidcock took over as the Pioneers’ head coach in 1974, and has compiled 137 career victories since, including a 7-3 mark in 2002 in which his team qualified for the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs.

He was a former star football player at Wichita State University in 1968 and 1969 as a linebacker and safety, and played one season (1967) at Kilgore Junior College in Texas, helping that school win a National Junior College Football Championship. Pidcock played fullback at Nether Providence High School (now Strath Haven) in Delaware County, Pennsylvania..

Ed Shirk (Paulsboro/West Deptford)
A graduate of Paulsboro High, Temple University and Trenton State College, Shirk is well known as one the finest football coaches in New Jersey state history. He began his scholastic coaching career with a seven-year stint at West Deptford High, where his Eagles shared an Olympic Conference American Division championship with Triton in 1967. He also served as an assistant track and wrestling coach at WDHS from 1960 through 1968.

In 1968, Shirk began a successful 19-year career at Lawrence High in Mercer County, winning a Central Jersey Group 2 co-championship in 1972, and posting records of 8-0-1 and 7-2 in 1973 and 1974 respectively. Among the many successful athletes that he coached was former NFL quarterback Scott Brunner in 1973 and 1974. His teams won four league championships during his coaching career.

Shirk is a member of Paulsboro High’s Sports Hall of Fame, and was an inductee into the National Football Hall of Fame.

Click here to visit the official site of the Gloucester County Sports Hall of Fame.

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