Wheeling Central Mural Honors Coaching Legends

WHEELING — The football tradition at Wheeling Central runs deep. The Maroon Knights have won 14 state football championships under four legendary coaches.

That rich and glorious history has been captured in stunning artwork created by Wheeling Central art student Julie Schuetz. She completed her masterpiece earlier this month, culminating three months of craftsmanship.

Illustrated on the mural are the images of state championship coaches George Strager, Andy Urbanic, Jim Thomas and Mike Young.

Strager led the Maroon Knights to their first WVSSAC football crown in 1963 before heading off to Cambridge High. Urbanic added four more (1964-67) before taking the job at Penn Hills (Pa.)

Thomas directed another quartet of state crowns (1979, 2000, 2002 and 2004) before his untimely death. Young has tacked on five more (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011) and still counting.

Thomas died in 2005. His passing spawned Wheeling Central’s senior art students to commemorate his football legacy at CCHS with a mural painting. The students completed their artwork in May of 2006 on a wall at the school. There it remained until the school underwent major renovations in 2008.

The mural was preserved by cutting it out of the wall and placed in storage. The original piece was created by Kristen DeSantis, Buddy Robrecht, Megan Cook and Zach Noll.

This year, Schuetz, at Young’s suggestion, took the mural to another level. The talented senior added the three other state championship coaches.

She did a masterful job.

Along with Young, she was guided through the endeavor by her art instructor, Ann Kahle.

“Julie is very talented. I knew she could get the job done,” Kahle said. “At first, I was hands-on. After Julie got the technique down, she took off and did a great job.”

Schuetz did some work during school classtime and more after hours.

“I was a little nervous when I first started,” she said. “Mrs. Kahle had faith in me and was a big help.

“I think the finished product turned out really well. I am proud and honored to be able to do this for my school. Wheeling Central is a special place.”

Young was impressed with Schuetz’s artistic ability.

“I am very proud of this young lady. Julie did a tremendous job with this work. She had great leadership from Ann Kahle,” Young said. “It is a great way to honor the football tradition we have here at Central. I want to thank Julie and Ann for helping to showcase our rich football history. Julie is a great young lady from a great family. I had trust in her being able to produce a great product. She certainly did that.”

Schuetz is an honors student. She plans on attending Seton Hill University next fall, majoring in biology and art.

Young has very close ties to all the other three coaches. He either played or coached with all three.

“I played for Coach Strager in 1963 and later coached 16 years with him. I played for Coach Urbanic from 1964-66 and assisted Coach Thomas from 1997-2004,” Young said. “I love and respect all three of them. They all have been a big part of my success.

“All three are legendary coaches and were inspirational for me. I am humbled and honored to be included with them in this mural.”

In addition to Young’s five state football crowns at his alma mater, he has amassed a brilliant 116-34 as Maroon Knights mentor.

The school is still exploring the best options to display the mural.

WVU SUCCESS

West Virginia athletics are soaring in rarified air.

The Mountaineers can lay claim to impressive success in the four major sports (two men and two women) that no other college can so far this season. When talking men’s and women’s basketball, football and women’s soccer, WVU stands above the national athletic landscape.

All four of those Mountaineer teams are rated in the AP Top 25.

Women’s soccer is the exclamation point as the team finished as national runnerup, losing to USC in the title game. The Mountaineers were ranked No. 1 during the regular season.

WVU’s soccer success ran parallel to good times on the gridiron in Morgantown as Dana Holgorsen’s charges compiled a 10-2 mark, good for a No. 14 AP rating, heading into their bowl matchup with Miami (Fla.).

A change of seasons has done nothing to slow Mountaineers’ winning ways.

Coach Bob Huggins, fresh off his 800th career win, has his hoop team ranked No. 12 nationally. The WVU women’s team, meanwhile, remains unbeaten and ranked No. 13 in the AP poll.

That is an impressive feat. Only Florida State can come close to equalling such success. The Seminoles are the only other college to have placed all four of those respective teams in the AP Top 25.

Florida State boasts the following AP ratings: football (11), soccer (15), men’s basketball (20) and women’s basketball (7).

The Seminoles, however, lack the clout of WVU’s national runner-up trophy in women’s soccer.

BUBBA’S BITS

∫ The NCAA Division I football semifinals play out New Year’s Eve. In the opener, Alabama should roll past Washington. I expect Ohio State to get it done in the nightcap. When teams have several weeks to prepare, coaching comes to the forefront. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are the best when it comes to getting their teams ready for a big game.

∫ Michelle Bielanski has guided her Austin College (Texas) women’s basketball team to a flying start this season. The Kangaroos are 6-3. Bielanski, a 1997 St. John Central grad, was a two-time first team All-Ohioan, scoring 1,436 points and leading the Irish to three OVAC titles. She earned a basketball scholarship to Robert Morris.

∫ I like the acquisition of reliever Daniel Hudson by the Pittsburgh Pirates. His biggest asset will be his flexibility as he broke in as a starter, morphing into a reliever. He will add depth to the Bucs’ pen. Hudson went 3-2 with a 5.22 ERA in 70 appearances for the Diamondbacks in 2016. Retaining Ivan Nova for three more years is also solid move. He plugs in nicely behind Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.

∫ The Cleveland Indians, meanwhile, hit a grand slam by landing some much-needed power to their lineup by inking Edwin Encarnacion. He blasted 42 homers with 127 RBI for Toronto last season.

∫ Former Bellaire High, Ohio State and NFL star wideout Joey Galloway was a guest Friday night at the Big Reds’ home basketball game against Martins Ferry.

∫ I want to wish a blessed and joyous Christmas to all our readers.

Bubba Kapral can be reached via email at: bkapral@timesleaderonline.com

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