12 January 2017
Pictured above: The mural as a work in progress painted by Julie Schuetz, class of 2017.
By BUBBA KAPRAL
Executive Sports Editor, Times Leader
The football tradition at Wheeling Central runs deep. The Maroon Knights have won 14 state football championships under four legendary coaches. That rich and glorious history has been captured in stunning artwork created by Wheeling Central art student Julie Schuetz. She completed her masterpiece earlier this month, culminating some three months of craftsmanship. Illustrated on the mural are the images of state championship coaches George Strager, Andy Urbanic, Jim Thomas and Mike Young. Strager led the Maroon Knights to their first WVSSAC grid crown in 1963 before heading off to Cambridge High. Urbanic added four more (1964-67) before taking the job at Penn Hills (Pa.)Thomas directed another quartet of state crowns (1979, 2000, 2002 and 2004) before his untimely death. Young has tacked on five more (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011) and still counting.
Thomas died in 2006. His passing spawned Wheeling Central’s senior art students to commemorate his football legacy at CCHS with a mural painting. The students completed their artwork in May of 2006 on a wall at the school. There it remained until the school underwent major renovations in 2008. The mural was preserved by cutting it out of the wall and placed in storage. The original piece was created by Kristen DeSantis, Buddy Robrecht, Megan Cook and Zach Noll.
This year, Schuetz, at Young’s suggestion, took the mural to another level. The talented senior added the three other state championship coaches. She did a masterful job. Along with Young, she was guided through the endeavor by her art instructor Ann Kahle. “Julie is very talented. I knew she could get the job done,” Kahle said. “At first, I was hands on. After Julie got the technique down, she took off and did a great job.”
Schuetz did some work during school class time and more after hours. “I was a little nervous when I first started,” she said. “Mrs. Kahle had faith in me and was a big help. “I think the finished product turned out really well,” she added. “I am proud and honored to be able to do this for my school. Wheeling Central is a special place.”
Young was impressed with Schuetz’s artistic ability. “I am very proud of this young lady. Julie did a tremendous job with this work. She had great leadership from Ann Kahle,” Young said. “It is a great way to honor the football tradition we have here at Central. I want to thank Julie and Ann for helping to showcase our rich football history. Julie is a great young lady from a great family. I had trust in her being able to produce a great product. She certainly did that.”
Schuetz is an honors student. She plans on attending Seton Hill University next fall, majoring in biology and art.
Young has very close ties to all the other three coaches. He either played or coached with all three. “I played for Coach Strager in 1963 and later coached 16 years with him. I played for Coach Urbanic from 1964-66 and assisted Coach Thomas from 1997-2004,” Young said. “I love and respect all three of them. They all have been a big part of my success. “All three are legendary coaches and were inspirational for me,” he continued. “I am humbled and honored to be included with them in this mural.”
In addition to Young’s five state grid crowns at his alma mater, he has amassed a brilliant 116-34 as Maroon Knights’ mentor. The mural will be on display in the school gymnasium.