South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

South High grad will be inducted into City League Hall of Fame

 

Lynn Harris

Mike Harber, who played in the backfield with Lynn Harris at South High School in the early 1970s, calls Mr. Harris "the best running back to ever play at the school."

"He had a combination of power, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game.

"He knew how to run the ball," Mr. Harber said.

Mr. Harris ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his junior and senior years.

In his last game, he tallied 232 yards and scored five touchdowns against Schenley High School.

On Oct. 17, Mr. Harris, 59, will be among 23 individuals inducted into the Pittsburgh City League High School All-Sports Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony will be held at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center Hotel in Oakland beginning at 7 p.m. The public may attend; call 412-628-4856 for information.

The event is presented by Achieving Greatness, Inc., in conjunction with the Office of the Mayor, Office of the Chief Executive of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh School Board, city council members, and attorneys.

The National Football League Alumni Association is also a co-sponsor.

"It's a privilege being inducted with hometown stars like Larry Brown, who played for the Washington Redskins, and Tony Liscio, who played for the Dallas Cowboys.

"I'm very honored," Mr. Harris said.

Besides the 23 new inductees, there will be the posthumous induction of 50 of the City League's greatest all-time athletes who meet the same standards as the inductees whose attendance is required.

That criteria is: having attended a City League school; participation in a varsity sport at least 2-3 years; being the best of the best; and strong moral character during and after high school.

The event will also honor 12 current student-athletes selected by their respective high schools as their top male and female student-athletes.

"It's a way to establish a bond between young and old," said Bill Neal, the CEO of Achieving Greatness, Inc., and founder of the Hall of Fame program in 2014.

"This is the first time in the city's history of a hall of fame strictly for student-athletes who participated in City League schools," Mr. Neal said.

Achieving Greatness, Inc., is a for-profit corporation providing services in community development, consulting, advertising, marketing, promotions, and special events. It is headquartered in Penn Hills.

The selection of inductees was made by the eight-member Hall of Fame committee: Eddie Jefferies, former sports editor of the Pittsburgh Courier; retired city school teachers/coaches Chuck Franklin (chair), Vince Neal (co-chair), and Fred Lucas; Ron Saunders and Curt Hefflin, former City League student-athletes; Toni Allen, city school teacher; and Mr. Harber, a KDKA cameraman.

"What we're doing here is much overdue.

"It's time to recognize all the great athletes, and gives these young city players something to aspire to," Mr. Harber said.

Mr. Harris became interested in football about age 11 when he moved to Arlington Heights.

In 10th grade in high school he played running back and safety. In 11th grade, he ran for more than 1,000 yards in an 8-game undefeated season, resulting in a Top 10 Western Pennsylvania team ranking.

Mr. Harris attributed much of his and the team's success to an outstanding offensive line of Michael Kucerovy, Doug Grainger, Jon Ispik, and the late Clarence Fortson.

Fellow running back Mr. Harber was also key as the two friends blocked for one another.

The late Allen Hyatt, a wide receiver, was also a big team contributor, Mr. Harris said.

In both his junior and senior years, South High lost in the City League high school championship game to Perry High School at Three Rivers Stadium.

"I'm a young kid and on the same turf as Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. It was incredible," Mr. Harris said of the experience.

After graduating in 1975, he played football at California University of Pennsylvania.

Five years in the Greater Pittsburgh Semi-Pro League followed, during which he played for the South Side Sooners, Mt. Oliver Mountaineers, and a Hazelwood team.

Today, Mr. Harris lives in Penn Hills and works in the psychiatric department of the VA Center in Oakland.

He is married with three sons, two stepchildren, and eight grandchildren.

His current weekends are all about football: watching step-grandson Chaz Whittaker play safety for the University of Toledo, and step-grandson Cameron Tarrant play quarterback for Penn Hills High School.

As for offering them advice, "When they ask me I tell them, but I kind of let them do their own things on the field," he said.

 

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