BERWICK — Legendary local high school football coach George Curry has died, according to Berwick School District officials.
Curry, the winningest high school coach in Pennsylvania with 455 victories, led the Berwick Bulldogs High School football team for decades.
Curry led the Bulldogs to six PIAA class AAA championships and was named USA Today High School Coach of the Year twice.
George Curry was 71.
For 46 seasons, George Curry patrolled the sidelines with a gruff demeanor and a gleam in his eyes.
Monday through Thursday was about preaching and teaching, but Friday nights were about winning.
No high school football coach in Pennsylvania did it better: 455 wins, the most in the state, with room to spare.
Curry’s run began at Larksville High School and then to Temple University, where George was an undersized linebacker and center between 1964 and 1966.
Soon after graduation, Curry found his calling as a head coach, first at Lake Lehman High School, and then, in the early ’70s, to a program he would put on the national map.
Curry’s 1983 Berwick team, led by future NFL player Bo Orlando was named USA Today’s mythical national champion.
USA Today again bestowed again bestowed national team honors on Berwick in 1992 and 1995, and twice named George Curry their national Coach of the Year.
Curry’s best teams were a blend of blue collar work ethic intertwined with a cerebral discipline that brought high school football in northeastern Pennsylvania to a new level.
“The things that he’s accomplished are unfathomable, and most of all, the things that he’s done off the field that people really don’t know about,” said Bo Orlando.
“He’s been a father figure and a mentor to a lot of people for a lot of years,” said former player and Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus. “And you couple that with his winning record and you have something that doesn’t come around very often.”
Indeed, it would be the quarterback that became Curry’s calling card to Division I colleges.
Jake Kelchner starred at West Virginia before Parade Player of the Year Ron Powlus went to Notre Dame, followed by Dave Robbins who received a scholarship to Boston College.
Berwick was in its full Bulldog mode winning the PIAA Class AAA State Championship in 1988 and 1992, followed by four consecutive championships from 1994 to 1997.
These weren’t mythical titles, but won on the field of valor.
That Berwick never attained that level again, was because Curry forced football programs in the state to hit the weight room, open the play book, and find coaching to match Curry and his staff.
By 2005, Berwick and George were ready to part ways, but Curry wasn’t done coaching.
Three successful seasons at Wyoming Valley West in Luzerne County eventually led to a three-year career as a radio and television analyst. George Curry’s three years on Coaches Corner on WNEP2 offered a glimpse into the mind of one of the best high school football coaches in America. Curry was insightful and delightful.
In 2012, Curry went back home for his final four seasons at Berwick. In those four seasons, the Bulldogs played in three District 2 championship games, winning the title in 2014 with George’s grandson C.J. Curry running the show at quarterback.
The 2015 season was, at times, tough to watch, as Coach Curry fell ill to his toughest opponent. But George wanted no distractions or intrusions.
We prefer to remember Coach as he was in June of 2012 when we met George on the side of Route 11 to ask him about his return to the sidelines.
“I never was retired because I don’t like that word. I don’t like the word T-I-R-E-D tired. I still got good batteries and I’m still rockin’ and rollin'” said Curry. “Before this came about, I was doing about five different things. I still was coaching camps. I was doing work with you guys – I’m going to miss everybody up there. Now I’m doing one thing: coaching football!”