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R.I.P. Venango Catholic
1962-63 to 2023-24
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Venango Catholic's final team stands for the National Anthem at Cranberry before its last game of the season. Coach Matt Healy is pictured with (from left) Bob Wheeler, Owen Campbell, Kyle Beichner, Konnor Beichner, Christian Kluck and Gary Hartle.  (Many thanks to Kelly Malek for snapping this photo).

The long and many tmes storied history of Venango Catholic/Christian (and its forerunner, St. Joseph), came to an end Friday night after it was announced that the high school, located on Oil City's West End, would close  after the 2023-24 school year.

The Vikings lost at Cranberry, 76-40, in what will go down as its final boys basketball game. Ever. (The girls hadn't fielded a team since 2022).

 

The boys, under first-year coach Matt Healy, ended this campaign with an 0-19 record. As it turns out, the Vikings' last win came in the 2023 finale when they defeated Christian Life Academy, 78-60.

There were plenty of victories before that, including District 10 championships in 1976, 1978 and 1984 for the boys and in 1979 and 1980 for the girls, who also claimed a District 9 crown in 2015. And then there was that state championship by the girls in 1980 when the late Father John Weibel coached the team.

There is plenty of information about the past of VC and St. Joe sports -- not only basketball, but football -- on this site, especially here and here.  All-time scoring and other tidbits.

As you browse through, cherish the memories. VC and St. Joe always will be part of Venango County history.

Remembering the exploits of Venango Catholic/St. Joe 

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St. Joseph -- aka the "Irish," the "Hilltoppers" and  the "Joes" and located on Oil City's North side --  fielded a team from 1931-61 before the school evolved into Venango Christian (now Catholic). VC dropped football after the 1988 season. VC students now play football under a co-op agreement with Oil City.

Dan Lillard

Dan Lillard holds school records with 1,013 yards rushing in a season (1971) and 1,463 yards rushing in a career.

Tom O'Connor

Tom O'Connor threw for 966 yards in 1971 and holds the VC career passing yardage record with 1,547.

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Here's coach Al Shilling -- architect of VC's best team record-wise -- 8-1-1 in 1983.

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Forrey Hall punted 17 times for a 34.7 yards average as a senior in high school in 1940. He tipped the scales at 135 pounds when he played for the San Francisco 49ers.

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Dean Henderson's first love was  football and he began his coaching career on the gridiron at VC. But he ended up coaching basketball, first with VC, and then with the Saegertown and Cambridge Springs boys and finally the Meadville girls before retiring in 2008 and ending up in the Crawford County Hall of Fame.

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