Point Stadium Awards Marco Pocora

Richland quarterback Marco Pecora poses after winning the Point Stadium Award and scholarship in 2007.

Louis Lipps had a simple message for Point Stadium Award winner Marco Pecora and his fellow nominees on Friday: Keep working and always strive for more.

“From this day forward, me speaking from experience and pointing a finger at myself, all I know is that your work has just begun,” said Lipps, the former Pittsburgh Steelers big-play receiver. “It is never, ever easy. Believe me, I’ve been there.

“I consider myself as being very fortunate. There is a lot of luck involved and being in the right place at the right time. I always say never, ever, ever give up because you never know what is going to happen.”

Pecora earned the 2007 Point Stadium Award for his performance during Richland’s 30-27 victory over Bishop McCort on Sept. 30. That was the Rams’ first win over the Crushers since 1959.

The senior quarterback ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 187 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. He was involved in nine of Richland’s 17 plays that resulted in a first down, including a tackle-breaking, weaving 59-yard dash to the Bishop McCort 3-yard line to set up the winning score.

“I just want to thank everybody involved in this banquet,” Pecora said after he accepted his award in front of about 150 people at the Holiday Inn. “It’s truly an honor to be standing up here with all these famous people and everything they’ve done for Johnstown. I want to thank my parents, my coaches and my school for everything they’ve done for me. I just can’t say enough. Thanks everyone.”

Bishop McCort’s talented tandem of quarterback Jordan DeFrances and Matt Varga earned Point Stadium Play of the Year. DeFrances threw a 61-yard strike to Varga, and the receiver made a running, one-handed grab for a touchdown to give the Crushers their final lead against Richland on Sept. 30.

That play would have made Lipps smile had he been at the Point that night. The Steelers drafted Lipps in the first round out of the University of Southern Mississippi in 1984. He was the NFL’s Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowl player.

The Steelers twice named him as team most valuable player, and Pittsburgh fans frequently chanted “Looouuu” when he made a dazzling catch.

Oddly enough, Lipps said his first love was baseball and that most people in his home near New Orleans projected him as a prospect in that sport rather than football. In fact, he once attended the AAABA Tournament with the New Orleans team, though he didn’t play.

“My very first trip here to Johnstown was maybe back in the early 1980s. At that point I was a junior in high school and I was an honorable mention on the New Orleans team that came here,” Lipps said. “I think we lost in the last game in the bottom of the last inning. Believe it or not, that was my first love, baseball."

That didn't prevent Lipps from making an impact on the gridiron.

“Back home nobody ever throught I’d survive college football,” Lipps said. “First of all they thought I was too small. But it’s never the size of the boat. It’s the motion of the ocean. If you guys have it in your heart you can make it happen.

“It was hard work and dedication and wanting to prove to people that I could do it regardless of my size, regardless of where I was from, regardless of how big my family was or regardless of what size my school was. If you feel you can do it and you put that 100 percent in it, that’s exactly what you’re going to get out of it.”

The other monthly nominees included Delweld pitchers Tim Freshour (June) and Joel Martin (July), Varga (August) and DeFrances (October and November).

“You’re already winners, now you’ve got to continue to be winners,” Lipps said.

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