STATE COLLEGE — Former Curwensville head football coach Andy Evanko, who passed away last June after a lengthy battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), was recognized on March 1 by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame’s Central Pennsylvania Chapter during its 23rd annual banquet at the Penn State Hotel and Conference Center.
The foundation, which is known for recognizing scholar athletes and presenting scholarship’s to some, has been in existence since 1959.
Evanko’s wife Tina, brother John, and longtime friend and assistant coach Mickey Morgillo were on hand to accept the award in his honor. Clearfield head football coach Tim Janocko presented the award.
“It’s a big deal,” Janocko said. “(Penn State football coach) James Franklin was there. There were probably 500 people in attendance. The main purpose is to honor scholar athletes at the high school and collegiate level.”
Evanko was given the lifetime achievement award for the impact he had on the Curwensville football program and community. He put together a 150-63 record in his 19 years at the head of the program, leading the Golden Tide to District 9 titles in 2000, 2004 and 2010 and runner-up finishes in 2001, 2006 and in his final season (2018) after ALS had taken his voice.
The Golden Tide’s best season under Evanko came in 2004 when they went 12-1 and made it to the Western Finals where they lost to Rochester.
“Andy was such a large part of the community,” Janocko said. “The football program is such a large part. Andy was a mentor and friend to so many kids.”
Janocko says he was honored to be able to present the award.
“We had a mutual respect for one another,” Janocko said. “I had a lot of respect for Andy and the job he did at Curwensville. He got his kids to play hard in his style. He believed in his style and his kids believed in his style.
That style was a bruising running attack that rewrote the record books as Curwensville boasts the top three career rushing leaders in District 9 history in Nick Stewart (7,324 yards), Nick Sipes (5,963 yards) and Alex Holland (5,734 yards).
And that style and Evanko’s presence at every practice and every game while battling ALS during the 2018 season, which would be his last, was a big reason the Golden Tide made it to the District 9 finals that year.
“I can only imagine how hard that was,” Janocko said. “But I also think that was also part of what kept him going. I think it was probably reciprocal, watching from the outside. It kept him going and he kept the program going.”