Ten years ago, Josh Seidel and Dane Domonkos endured heartache that no high school senior should have to face.
Both standout football players at Bishop McCort High School had lost their fathers three months apart in 2009.
Seidel and Domonkos turned to their football family at Bishop McCort for strength.
The team responded in historic fashion during a 14-1 season that included a District 6 championship and trip to the PIAA Class AA title game at Hersheypark Stadium.
Bishop McCort will honor the 2009 team in an Aug. 23 ceremony during the season opener against Richland at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
“It was how close-knit we were,” said Josh Seidel, now an assistant coach at Bishop McCort.
“Some things happened in the offseason, leading up to it, that really brought our team together. We played for one another. That just made us a great team.”
Seidel’s father, Dave, was a record-setting running back at Bishop McCort and a star at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the 1980s. He served as then-coach Ken Salem’s top assistant in 2009 and had been on the staff since 1996. He died at age 45 in August 2009 after a seven-year battle with brain cancer.
Dave Domonkos had served as Bishop McCort’s kicking coach for many years and helped develop his three sons into some of the best place kickers the region has produced. Dave Domonkos died at age 52 in May 2009.
“We definitely were playing for something that year,” Josh Seidel said.
With 327 yards and six TDs, Josh broke his father’s single-game rushing and touchdown records in a 69-35 win over Richland on Oct. 2, 2009, at the Point. The performance earned him the Point Stadium Award and recognition in Sports Illustrated.
“We’re honoring a group of kids that excelled and did something special after having some pretty tough times a few months earlier,” Bishop McCort principal and assistant coach Tom Smith said. “They set a great example for what being teammates, being a motivated team, what you can accomplish when you work together.”
Smith was an assistant coach at Richland on Seidel’s record-breaking night.
“I have a lot of respect for really good football teams,” Smith said. “I know one when I see one. I knew I was watching one that night. I was watching an inspired Josh Seidel.”
Bishop McCort beat Bellwood-Antis (34-24 for the 6-AA title), Millersville (33-6) and Tri-Valley (42-27) to reach the state championship game. District 7 power Clairton won 15-3 as a crowd of 2,500 Crimson Crushers fans were among 3,000 fans in Hershey.
“That was an outstanding year,” said assistant coach Dan Santoro, who coached the special teams in 2009. “It was a year that was also painful because we lost Coach Domonkos and we lost Coach Seidel. We had a lot to play for.”