MOOSIC — Pittston Area football coach Jim Norris remembers the stories his father told him about the most decorated football player in school history.
He remembers hearing about Jimmy Cefalo’s talent and that he could have rushed for 5,000 yards if he played varsity his freshman season. Norris, along with the majority of his Pittston Area football team, were on hand Saturday, Aug. 27 for Jimmy Cefalo Night at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game at PNC Field.
“It’s important to any football program to be in touch with the past and the tradition,” Norris said. “(The football team) works every day in a building named after Jimmy Cefalo.”
Cefalo was honored prior to the game and threw out the first pitch.
“It’s always an honor to come back to the Pittston area,” Cefalo said via text message prior to boarding a flight to Seattle on Friday. “I’m always surprised that people have such vivid memories of events that occurred more than 40 years ago. The best part of the weekend was spending time with my family and friends.”
During the RailRiders game, fans had the opportunity to meet Cefalo and get autographs. They were also treated to highlights of Cefalo’s career on the big screen. Joining the football team on the field were the Pittston Area cheerleaders.
“Getting a chance to go there and honor him is pretty important,” Norris said.
Cefalo, who played for Pittston Area from 1970-73, compiled 4,388 yards on 507 carries. He played junior varsity his freshman season and had 23 touchdowns in just seven games. In his senior season with the Patriots, he rushed for 1,940 yards and 24 touchdowns, and was named to the Associated Press and United Press International all-state teams.
One of the best games of his career came in the third week of his senior season against Dallas. He rushed for 310 yards on 29 carries and scored six touchdowns.
Cefalo played his last game for Pittston Area on Thanksgiving Day in 1973 against Wyoming Area. He carried the ball 23 times for 278 yards and four touchdowns.
Norris’ father, the late Jimmy Norris, coached Cefalo for a few years at Pittston Area.
“There’s always talk about him being a great athlete,” the younger Norris said. “He is a good person. He came from a good family and was a great student in the classroom.”
Cefalo went on to continue his football career at Penn State, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1976 Gator Bowl. He was drafted in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, where he would play six seasons and appear in two Super Bowls.
In 1984, Cefalo caught Dan Marino’s pass that broke the record for most touchdown passes in a season.
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