The Berwick community has lost its beloved football coach.
George Curry, who guided the Northeastern Pennsylvania school to six PIAA Class 3A state championships, died Friday at 71. He had ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, which had been diagnosed midway through last season.
An undersize center and linebacker at Temple in the mid-1960s, Curry compiled a 455-102-5 record (.817 winning percentage) at three schools. He is the state's all-time winningest coach and ranks No. 5 in the nation.
Curry's storied career ended in November with a 37-7 loss to Scranton Prep in the PIAA District 2 Class 3A final. He had submitted his letter of resignation to the school board before the season.
In his first stint at Berwick, which lasted 35 years and ended in 2005, Curry earned state titles in 1988, '92, '94, '95, '96, and '97. He won USA Today Super 25 championships in 1983, '92, and '95. He retired in 2005 because he needed a break.
In 2012, when the opportunity to return to Berwick arose, Curry, then a part-time driver's education instructor mixing in work as a local radio and television analyst, returned to his old post.
At age 21, after serving as a freshman coach at Temple under George Makris, Curry began his head coaching career at Lake-Lehman.
Known as a quarterbacks guru, Curry produced the likes of Bo Orlando (West Virginia), Jake Kelchner (Notre Dame, West Virginia), Ron Powlus (Notre Dame), and Dave Robbins (Boston College).
Curry's only son, Cos, played fullback and middle guard at Berwick. A wishbone fullback at the Citadel, he is superintendent of the Stroudsburg Area School District.
"I always tell the players, 'Your brains will take you further than your legs,' " George Curry told the Inquirer in 2012. "We've had kids go on to Ivy League schools, West Point, Annapolis. That's the rewarding part."
In his second go-round at Berwick, the hard-nosed Curry coached his grandson, C.J., a quarterback, for two seasons.
Curry's first meeting with C.J. and Berwick's other players was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. "They were in their chairs at 8 o'clock, waiting for me," Curry said. "I guess they had been told about the importance I put on being on time."
Frank Sheptock, who was an all-state linebacker at Mount Carmel and starred at Bloomsburg, was announced as Berwick's new coach in December. He has been Berwick's athletic director since 2013.
Matt McHugh, who spent the last three seasons as Upper Moreland's offensive coordinator, has taken the top job at Council Rock North.
The 27-year-old played quarterback at Garnet Valley (Class of 2007) and Ursinus. He was a wide receivers coach at Ursinus in 2011 and quarterbacks coach at Lower Merion in 2012.
"To me, age doesn't matter," McHugh said of being one of the area's youngest gridiron bosses. "The most important thing is to be able to motivate the kids and put them in a position to win."
With McHugh directing a multiple offensive scheme, Upper Moreland averaged 28.4 points while going 9-2 and advancing to the District 1 Class 3A final last year.
"We wanted to establish the run," he said. "We married that with the play-action pass."
McHugh replaces Adam Collachi, who resigned as Council Rock North's coach after six years. The Indians went 7-4, won the Suburban One League Continental Conference crown, and qualified for the district playoffs for the third straight time last season.