Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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60 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T his spring, Pittsburgh Post-Ga- zette writer Mike White noted a unique distinction achieved by Notre Dame incoming fresh- man quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Per White, it is believed that Jurk- ovec is the first Western Pennsylva- nia Interscholastic Athletic League quarterback to play in the state's highest classification (6A) and earn all-state honors in both football and basketball. Jurkovec was named first-team all- state in football after completing 72.8 percent of his passes for 3,969 yards with 39 touchdowns and rushing for 1,211 yards and 24 scores, while lead- ing Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland to its first-ever 6A state championship. He also was named second-team all- state in basketball, where his 1,656 career points rank second on Pine- Richland's all-time scoring list. It is an immensely impressive achievement — yet almost standard fare among the all-time best Notre Dame quarterbacks of the past half- century. Reading defenses on the gridiron or on the hardwood vir- tually have gone hand in hand for Fighting Irish signal-callers who have attained laudable achievement over the years. Consider: TOM CLEMENTS (1971-74) Like Jurkovec, the Pennsylvania product (McKees Rock) excelled on the hardwood so much at Canevin High in Pittsburgh, he had an envi- ous choice to make his senior year in 1971 — either play quarterback for Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame or point guard for Dean Smith at North Carolina. Clements chose the former and helped steer the Fighting Irish to the 1973 national title. His basketball outlet came in the legendary Book- store Basketball tournament at Notre Dame that began in 1972. He led 31 Club to the 1973 and 1975 titles, earn- ing MVP honors as a senior. JOE MONTANA (1974-78) Like Clements, another Western Pennsylvania product (Ringgold High) in Montana a few years later had his football/basketball decision to make during the winter of 1974. He received a football scholar- ship offer to 1973 national cham- pion Notre Dame under Parseghian — and also a basketball scholarship from 1973-74 national champion North Carolina State. Montana's official visit to Notre Dame occurred the day the Fighting Irish ended UCLA's 88-game win- ning streak (Jan. 19, 1974). He opted for football at the school where his idol — yet another Western Pennsyl- vania QB, Terry Hanratty — gradu- ated from while helping win a na- tional title. While relegated to mostly a backup role at QB through his first three years, Montana approached Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps about switching to basketball. In the spring of 1977, Montana and basketball for- ward Dave Batton led TILCs to the Bookstore Basketball title. Phelps, who had his own loaded roster that would advance to the 1978 Final Four, recommended that Montana continue with football. The third-team senior quarterback in game three of 1977 rallied the 1-1 Irish to a fourth-quarter win at Pur- due after trailing 24-14 — and Notre Dame would go on to win the na- tional title. RUSTY LISCH (1975-79) The 1979 starting quarterback and architecture major actually had beaten out Montana for the starting role in 1977 — and would go on to play in the NFL five seasons, but he also was a bona fide major college basketball prospect. HEIR TO A TRADITION Incoming freshman Phil Jurkovec continues pattern of past great signal-callers Jurkovec earned all-state honors in both football and basketball in Pennsylvania's highest classification (6A) during his senior season at Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

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