Football Player's Senior Project Tackles Devastating
Mark Hiller - www.pahomepage.com
He's number 74 on the Nanticoke High School Football
Team. Christian Stevenson tries to give it his all tackling the enemy
-- both on and off the field. For his senior project, he decided the
enemy he would tackle is breast cancer. He'd try to beat it by selling
pink and black t-shirts with the proceeds going to the American Cancer
Society. "Everybody wanted the shirts so we sold a lot. I mean
a lot," chuckled the teen. Ann Marie Coughlin is the president
of Nanticoke's 12th Man Booster Club. She said, "As part of his
senior project he sold over 650 shirts and our shirts say 'Tackle
The Cause'," said
The cause became even more personal on October 7th for the rough and
tough football player. One of the team's coaches, 50-year-old Henry
Turoski, died from another form of the devastating disease. "He
fought a heck of a battle and he had cancer for the past three years
but unfortunately he lost that battle," said Ms. Coughlin.
As Nanticoke battled Northwest Area Saturday night, the loss of the
man affectionately called "Coach Hank" left the Trojans
playing with heavy hearts. "Big time, big time. I lost an uncle
to cancer, too, so this just on top of everything," said Stevenson.
Ms. Coughlin added, "Coach Hank was an awesome guy I mean you
can ask anybody here. He's been a mentor, he's been a parent. He always
had a kind word to say."
The sight of so much pink throughout the stadium in Nanticoke was
a sign that Stevenson's senior project is a big success -- and something
that would have made the man known as "Coach Hank" mighty
proud. "God bless him, if he was alive he'd be here today with
a huge smile," said Ms. Coughlin.
Christian Stevenson's senior project raised $4,000 for the American
'Coach Hank' - An inspiration to many
Bob Kalinowski, staff writer, was inspired by Coach Hank's fight against
cancer. He can be reached at 570-821-2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coach Hank and I were going to work on a story about
It wasn't supposed to be this one.
Most of you reading probably don't know Henry
Turoski, known to us in the Nanticoke area as Coach Hank. But every
town across America has their own Coach Hank-type figure.
On Friday, we lost ours.
At age 50, Coach Hank lost his battle with
It was a courageous fight that inspired thousands
and showed the best in small-town America rallying around a dear friend.
Coach Hank was a long-time supporter and coach
of Nanticoke football, from the mini-Trojans to the varsity team.
I was one of those mini-Trojans years ago.
A few months ago, I wrote Coach Hank some words
of encouragement: "In the practice fields of Wanamie, you were
known as 'Coach Hank' to me and countless other youths. An endearing
thing about being called coach is that's a proud title you always
carry. To this day, you're 'Coach Hank' to me."
Literally hundreds of young people can say
One of them is current Nanticoke Area head
coach Ron Bruza, who played many years under Coach Hank only to wind
up on the same coaching staff all these years later.
"He was the heart and soul of Trojan football
for many years," Bruza said.
A word that comes to mind when thinking about
Coach Hank is strength. He was the rock solid guy who pumped iron
in the weight room with the young players and inspired them to lift
more and more. They even made "Body by Hank" T-shirts to
Before cancer, Coach Hank's strength impressed
people in a physical way.
The past three years, it was his strength to
survive and his strength to live.
That strength carried him through the dark,
painful days as the colon cancer just spread and spread since he was
diagnosed in September 2008. Almost every visit to the doctor ended
in bad news, but Coach Hank was determined to "crush cancer."
Step by step, setback by setback, he vowed to fight to the end. And
he did - publicly, inspirationally and bravely.
Through it all, Coach Hank got himself to the
football field day in and day out. It didn't matter how sick he was
or how much pain he felt. In early September, it just got too tough
for the big guy.
"He coached right up until he couldn't
coach any more," Bruza explained.
Coach Hank then had one last fight in him -
to live long enough for the birth of his first grandchild. I think
you can guess how this story goes.
Coach Hank and his wife of 31 years, Mickey,
have three children, Kim, Henry Jr., and Kristen. Henry Jr. and his
wife, Melissa, were expecting their child to be born Oct. 5.
Doctors didn't know if Coach Hank had that
long. But then Savannah Turoski arrived Sept. 21.
"She came two weeks early - for him,"
Mickey said. "It was a godsend. That's what he was living for
- to see that baby."
Around the Turoski home in Nanticoke, nearly
every decoration on every wall has the word 'Believe.' That became
the rallying word for Coach Hank's family and friends. His football
players raised their helmets and shouted 'Believe' each time they
left the field. They did it for him. They believed. Everyone believed
in Coach Hank to the very end.
"He fought to the very last breath,"
Trojans win for coach Hank
By Angelo Sulla - email@example.com 570-821-2060
Heading into its game with Holy Redeemer the theme
for Nanticoke Area was win one for coach Hank.
That goal was accomplished, as the Trojans defeated the Royals 52-36
Saturday afternoon at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
Hank Turoski, who was well-respected coach and advid Nanticoke Area
follower, died Friday.
Nanticoke Area was paced by a rushing attack that had 366 yards. Brian
Maslowski lead the way with 208 yards and four touchdowns. Pat Hempel
chipped in with 137 yards and one score of his own.
"Running the football is our bread and butter," Nanticoke
Area coach Ron Bruza said. "We were certainly able to run the
Holy Redeemer got on the board first as Kurt Jones blocked a Nanticoke
Area punt on the first possession of the game. On its first play from
scrimmage, Jimmy Strickland hit a wide open David Gawlas with a 29-yard
Forcing Nanticoke Area to punt the ball on it next two possessions,
Holy Redeemer put the ball in the end zone as Gawlas went untouched
from 18 yards out to increase the Royal lead to 16-0.
The Trojans then struck back as Hempel scored from 42 yards out on
a double reverse.
Holy Redeemer needed four plays on its next drive to move 70 yards.
Nick Tarselli hauled in a 55-yard pass from Gawlas to keep the Royals'
drive alive. On the next play, Strickland hit Gawlas with a 35-yard
Nanticoke Area's Pedro Bracero recovered an errant Holy Redeemer snap
to give the ball to the Trojans. Six plays later Jeff Jezewski hauled
in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Zak Matulewski.
On the first play of the second half Zak Matulewski intercepted a
Strickland pass to give the Trojans possession of the football.
Maslowski then took a handoff and scampered 42 yards untouched for
the Trojan touchdown.
The Trojan defense then stiffened as they forced a Holy Redeemer punt.
Two plays later the combination of Matuleski to Jezewski struck pay
dirt with a 66-yard pass play.
After a poor Royal punt gave Nanticoke Area the ball on the Royal
25-yard line. Nanticoke Area's Brian Maslowski burst off tackle for
a touchdown on the Trojan next play from scrimmage.
Jezewski's second interception of the game set up Maslowski's 34-yard
Following the Nanticoke Area kickoff the Royals had the ball on their
42. Strickland hit a wide open Thomas Cosgrove with a 58-yard scoring
After Redeemer pulled to within six points, Nanticoke put together
a time consuming eight-play, 72-yard drive that culminated with Maslowski
scoring the game's last touchdown from 12 yards out.
Strickland lead the Holy Redeemer attack with 214 yards passing and
three touchdowns. Gawlas aided the Royal cause with three touchdowns
of his own Cosgrove chipped in with two touchdowns.
Henry M. Turoski
October 7, 2011
Henry M. Turoski Coach Hank, 50, of Nanticoke,
passed away Friday, October 7, 2011, surrounded by his loving family
at the Hospice Community Care, Inpatient Unit of Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.
Born May 20, 1961, in Wilkes-Barre, he was a son of the late Henry
B. and Marie Matelinas Turoski.
Hank was a graduate of Hanover Area High School, where he excelled
in basketball, and he was a member of St. Faustinas Parish,
He had been employed by Quaker Oats, Mountain
Top. Also, he was a football coach for Nanticoke Jr. Trojans and Nanticoke
High School, as well as a strength and conditioning coach for many
years. His unique love for sports and physical fitness allowed him
to inspire many of our areas youth to grow into the individuals
they are today.
Hank had an enormous love for the game of football and was a devoted
fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, he was an avid power lifter
and a volunteer fireman.
One of Hanks greatest joys was to be here for the birth of his
first grandchild, Savannah Lee Turoski.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his father-in-law,
Surviving are his loving wife of 31 years, the former Michaelene (Mickey)
Shemanski; children, Kimberly Turoski of Nanticoke, Henry Turoski
Jr., and his wife, Melissa of Hanover Section of Nanticoke, and Kristen
Applegate and her husband, Richard, of Alexandria, Va.; granddaughter
Savannah; special little princess Tillie Grodis; mother-in-law Viola
Shemanski; brother, Michael Turoski of Hanover Township; sisters,
Leona Luongo of Wilkes-Barre and Sharon Wiatrowski and her husband,
Edward, of Hanover Township; brothers-in-law, Gerald Shemanski and
Michael Shemanski Jr.; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday from the S.J. Grontkowski
Funeral Home, 530 W. Main St., Plymouth, followed by Mass of Christian
Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Faustinas Parish, 520 S. Hanover St.,
Nanticoke. Interment will immediately follow in St. Marys Cemetery,
Hanover Township. Friends may call from 2 to 4 and 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Hanks family would like to specially thank the staff at the
Hospice of the Sacred Heart, Hospice Community Care and Geisinger
Wyoming Valley Cancer Center and Medical Center for their care and
Please visit www.sjgrontkowskifuneralhome.com
for directions or to submit online condolences to Hanks family.
When Ron Bruza walked into one of his classes
at King's College several years ago, he thought nothing of wearing
a Nanticoke Area football T-shirt.
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice
He was supporting his alma mater and was letting
people know he was a member of the team. It's a common occurrence
at colleges, big and small, all across the country.
At least that's what Bruza thought.
Little did he know, that shirt would turn into a topic of conversation
- one he didn't want to be a part of for very long. He would get some
chuckles and smirks and people would ask if he was wearing the shirt
because he lost a bet.
That was, and in some instances, still is the perception of Nanticoke
But it's something Bruza is trying his hardest to change.
Last season, Bruza's first as head coach at Nanticoke Area, the Trojans
finished 4-6. They opened a few eyes around the WVC and even surprised
themselves. After all, this was a program that wasn't used to winning
and, at times, struggled with the new found success.
The Trojans had just one winning season from 2000-2009 and the four
wins last year equaled the total amount of games they won from 2006-09.
"We knew when we came in we were taking over a 1-9 team,"
Bruza said. "Even last year when we were doing our preseason
workouts we knew we were better than a 1-9 team."
That is what the coaching staff thought. The players? They weren't
"They were definitely surprised," Bruza said. "When
we got the two wins early that helped us get the other two. They were
playing with confidence, but they still had those (doubts)."
Bruza had more than just instilling confidence in his team to worry
about. He needed the group to play more like a team and not as individuals.
That was evident two years ago when the Trojans gave up a long run
for a touchdown. As the Nanticoke Area special teams unit gathered
in a circle prior to taking the field for the return, pushing and
shoving ensued amongst the Trojans themselves. "We're basically
more of a team now," quarterback Josh Decker said. "We don't
argue with one another after a play goes bad. When things go wrong
we don't break apart."
Staying together has to do with the fact the Trojans have 18 seniors
on the roster this year and got a taste of what winning feels like.
"I have only had these guys going on two years now, but you can
see the maturity in the players from this year to last year,"
Bruza said. "Not only are they growing as players, but they are
growing as young men."
The next step for the Trojans will be to beat a team they aren't expected
to beat. Following last week's season-opening win over Montrose, this
group has now won five of its last 11 regular season games.
But this group wants more.
"We came into this year with expectations," Decker said.
"If teams are thinking of us as easy wins, we're thinking of
them as wins, too. We see ourselves as one of the top three teams
in the conference this year. We're going to be the sleeper team this
In order to reach that goal, the Trojans must beat the likes of Wyoming
Area, Hanover Area, GAR and Lake-Lehman. Last year the Trojans accomplished
one of their goals by knocking off Meyers.
"That's the next step. We need to beat somebody we shouldn't
beat," Bruza said. "Sometimes they think things won't go
their way because they haven't gone their way for so long. I always
tell them actions speak louder than words. I don't want to hear it,
I want them to show me."
Taste of winning has GNA wanting more
Trojans expect to build on successful 2010
Matthew Shutt - Times Leader
After winning its first game in over two seasons in
the 2009 campaign, the Nanticoke Trojans responded to coach Ron Bruza
taking over last season with two wins right out of the gate, a 4-2
record through six weeks and even finding the potential to contend
for a playoff position.
The Trojans season, however, came undone
with a four-game losing streak to end the year.
With a taste of what it takes not just to compete
and stay in the game but to string together wins, the Trojans are
hungry and looking for more this year.
Theyve been working hard all summer,
said Bruza. We had a great offseason in the weight room, we
had a great offseason studying tape and getting the kids here on the
field to practice and everybody stayed in touch throughout the summer.
Were a lot better this year than
we were at this time last year because of the foundation last season
The Trojans will turn to Brian Maslowski early
and often throughout the season to carry the load offensively in what
will be primarily a run-heavy and experienced offense.
Were hoping, offensively, to pick
up where we left off last year, said Bruza. Were
a running team, thats just how we are. Weve got some great
size up front and weve got some guys who can really run the
Maslowski a 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior
will be the focal point of the backfield in Nanticokes
Wing-T offense, a style of offense based upon misdirection and timing.
Bruza feels confident in Maslowski, who broke through as a legitimate
threat in the conference last season with over 1,200 yards rushing,
a 5.9 yards-per-carry average and 14 scores in 10 games. Maslowski
will be joined in the backfield by fellow senior Tom Vitale.
Josh Decker will be taking the snaps under
center and when not handing off to Maslowski will look to Zak Matulewski
and Jeff Jezewski as his primary targets. Derrick Wolfe, Klay Kaspryk
and junior Nate Siese the only member of the skill positions
not a senior will all see time at split end.
The line will be anchored by bookend tackles
Christian Stephenson (6-2, 290) and Steve Valenti (6-2, 270), both
of whom are seniors and should open up some big holes for Maslowski
to exploit. Joe Voyton, Rich Badowski and Kevin Zaykosky will round
out an offensive line comprised entirely of seniors. Sophmore Kyle
Gavrish will see some time at tight end.
The defensive side of the ball was undoubtedly
Nanticokes weak link last year, as the Trojans gave up an average
of 40 points a game in their six losses. The Trojans will be running
a basic four-linemen, three-linebacker set this season and will call
on a number of seniors to shore up the front seven.
Bruza will be looking to Kevin Zaykosky to
lead the group from his inside linebacker position. The 6-2, 210-pound
senior will be flanked by Kaspryk and Badowski with Michael Colatosti
seeing time as well.
The front four will be comprised of Stevenson
and Cairee Walker at the tackle positions, with Chris Gavrish and
Pedro Bracero at the ends.
In the secondary, Jezewski and Matulewski will
be the starting safeties and will be joined by Wolfe and Siese as
After earning four wins last season the
Trojans will be looking to continue that improvement this season.
The focus, according to Bruza, will be the preparation the players
put into it during the week and coming together on Friday nights in
a total team effort.
For us to come together this year, were
going to have to do it without relying on one single player,
said Bruza. Were going to have show up prepared, take
care of the teams we should and try to get better week in and week
out. If we do that, we could have a good season ahead of us.
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Ron Bruza (4-6), 2nd year
Key players lost: Edwin Agosto, RB-DB; Alex Leiby, OL-DL.
Division: WVC 2A-A
PIAA Class: 2A
Returning starters: 10 offense/10 defense
Male enrollment: 288
School phone: 735-7781
Stadium location: Kosciuszko Street, Nanticoke
2010 regular-season leaders
PASSING: Josh Decker 22-of-47, 189 yds., 2 TDs, 7 Ints.
RUSHING: Brian Maslowski 206, 1,214 yds., 5.9 yds., 14 TDs
RECEIVING: Zak Matulewski 12-174, 14.5 avg., 4 TDs
SCORING: Brian Maslowski 92 pts.
Fri., Sept. 2 Montrose 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 9 Col-Montour Vo-Tech 7 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 17 at Susquehanna 1 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 23 Meyers 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 30 at Wyoming Area 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 8 at Holy Redeemer 1 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 14 Northwest 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 21 Lake-Lehman 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 28 at GAR 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 4 at Hanover Area 7 p.m.
2010 Results (4-6)
Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech (5-6)
Wyoming Area (8-4)
Holy Redeemer (0-10)
Hanover Area (7-4)