Brilliant Homecoming Celebration Starts Today

BRILLIANT — Brilliant High School graduated its last class in 1972. That closure left behind a rich tradition in athletics and academics.

It’s a tradition that will have a chance to be revisited from today to Saturday when the annual Brilliant Homecoming Celebration is held. Included in the festivities is the induction of the inaugural hall of fame class, which will include nearly 90 former Blue Devil greats, on Saturday at the former high school.

“We’ve spent 18 months working on this,” co-chairman Kevin Barr said during a work session at the Wells Township Community Center, which will house the hall of fame and BHS museum. “Our committee of nearly 40 people, who have been coming faithfully to meetings and such, is excited. There were a lot of people who didn’t know if this could come to fruition, but with a lot of hardwork, determination and pride, we’ve been able to pull it off.”

Other events during the weekend include a parade, which will start at 10 a.m., on Saturday. A dinner and dance will be held that evening at Undo’s in Weirton. The weekend actually kicksoff with a ‘Brilliant Get Together’ today at Fairway Restaurant in Tiltonsville from 6 p.m. until closing.

A ‘Brilliant Mixer’ will be held on Friday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Brilliant Memorial Park. The Ron Retzer Trio will perform at the former Brilliant Football Field from 6-8 p.m. and a sock hop dance will be held at the high school from 9-11 p.m.

One of the events that Barr is most excited about is a house-decorating contest. Anyone who resides in the former boundaries of the Brilliant Local School District is eligible to enter. The top three places will receive prizes. The judging will be done on Aug. 10 and the winners will be announced the following day at the HOF induction.

Those interested in entering should reach out to Barr either by phone (740-598-3419) or on Facebook.

“We’re proud that Brilliant is going to be able to preserve its history and honor its past, like so many of the other communites have done,” Barr said. “The interest in this weekend and being part of our committee has been overwhelming.”

The hall of fame induction will be emceed by Times Leader and Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register Executive Sports Editor Robert “Bubba” Kapral and WTOV-9 Sports Director Rob Metzger.

“Obviously, we don’t want the event to be too long and with as many inductees as we have, it could have been really long,” Barr said.

“We also know it’s going to be hot in the gym, so we’ve secured some industrial-sized fans. We have some surprises in store for the inductees.”

Not every enshrinee will have the opportunity to speak. However, Bob Henderson, who was the head coach of the Blue Devils’ 1964 basketball team, which advanced to the regional, will speak for upwards of five minutes. Jake Olsavsky, who guided the 1968 Brilliant football team, to an undefeated season and state ranking in the UPI poll, will also offer some thoughts.

“We’re going to have musical tributes for the 64 and 68 teams,” Barr said. “Along with the coaches, several members of that basketball and football team are coming back.

“I think there are 12 members of the basketball team coming back, including four starters.

With such an illustrious history that’s laid relatively dormant since the school closed, the hall of fame committee had plenty of work to do before it announced its charter class in Februrary.

“We’re going to look at a few other athletes, who we know we missed,” Barr said. “We are also looking at teachers and people who graduated from here and have gone on to do well professionally. It’s not just about athletics.”

Even after the weekend of events concludes, history will be on display at the community center. The museum will feature display boards for each sport Brilliant offered and special wall cases for some of the school’s premier teams and athletes. A wall listing of the hall of fame class will also be erected.

The complete hall of fame class is as follows:

COACHES – Bob Henderson, Carl Hamill, Chuck Mathers, Charlie Becca, Jake Olsavsky and Jack Sweeney.

FOOTBALL – Allen Bateman, Andy Adrian, Dale Degenhardt, Eddie Tarr, Frank Popp, Jerry Dougherty, Jim Presley, Jim Bruce Graham, Pete Adrian, Robert Kirkland, Tom Gardner, R.L. Evans, Phil Harvin, Dick Rine, Gary Schaefer and Glenn Blanchard.

BASKETBALL – Chuck McKinstry, Ernie Miller, James Kennedy, Jim Presley, Matt Kessler, Pete Richards, Steve Peaytt, Sam McCullough, Dewey McKay and Dave Winland.

WRESTLING – Allen Bateman, Bill Freeland, Chip Higgins, Eugene Eastham, Gilbert Sterling, Norman Sterling, Dave Bednarek, Harley McDonald and Roger Taylor.

BASEBALL – Kenny Carter, Dewey McKay, Bruce Clark, Greg Hamilton, Andy Adrian, Bob Schaefer, Charlie Bailey, Joe Taylor, Larry Roush and Tom Joiner.

TRACK – Jim Presley, Eddie Tarr, Glenn Blanchard, Mark Degenhardt, Phil Harvin, Bruce Potts, Chuck Brettell, 4 x 8 relay team, Bill Smythe, Denny Cook, Jim Presley, Jimmy Dean Everson, 4 x 4 relay team, Chuck Brettell, Dave Jenkins, Jimmy Frye, Nick Sipcich, Glenn Blanchard, Gary Belfanst, Ed Lapanja and R.L. Evans.

FANS OF THE BLUE DEVILS: Art Phillibaugm, Birdie Grubb, Bob Evans, Doc Puncheon, Ed Fox, Elsie Manley, George Kennedy, Howard Cunningham, Jim Cassidy, Jimmy Dean Everson, J.K. Degenhardt, Lorraine Freeling, O.J. Williams, Ougie Shaffer, Rich Jeffers, Stanton Gilchrist and Thelma Robinson. Hall of fame criteria includes: 1. Must be a Brilliant High grad; 2. First-team all-state honors leads to automatic induction; 3.

Qualifying for state competition in wrestling or track; 4. Win OVAC competition in wrestling or track; 5. Other honorees may be chosen based on stats, post-season honors and post-graduate activities in college.

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