Joe Andrejco

About This Inductee

Joe Andrejco lettered three years each in both football and basketball at Hazleton High and they were three of the most successful years the school has enjoyed in both sports.

He started on the basketball team all three years, including 1937-38, the year Hazleton High won its third and last state championship under the legendary Hughie McGeehan.

Andrejco’s assignment in every game he played was to guard the opposing team’s top scorer and he was extremely successful as the records for his three seasons as a starting guard prove.

The 1937-38 team finished 22-1 and defeated Altoona in the state title game, 29-27. The 1938-39 quintet was 19-2 and lost in the PIAA Eastern final to Lower Merion 22-17, and the 1939-40 club wound up 19-3 and was defeated by Lower Merion in the Eastern final 27-25.

Although his primary contribution was as a defensive player, he also was the third leading scorer in his junior year.

In football, Andrejco and his fellow resident of the small town of Beaver Meadows, a few miles southeast of Hazleton, became known as the Touchdown Twins.

In their sophomore year (1937), with Cheverko leading the team in scoring and Andrejco third, the Mountaineers finished 6-2-1 under George Shotwell.

The best was yet to come under Coach Stan Olenn. In 1938, Hazleton finished 10-0, outscoring the opposition 267 to 38. Cheverko and Andrejco, a pair of rugged halfbacks, combined their talents to score a total of 167 points.

In a November game against then-undefeated Pottsville at Pottsville, a coal region attendance record for a high school event was set that still stands. Official attendance was 16,492 paid and the crowd was estimated at 18,000. Hazleton won, 30-0.

In 1939, Hazleton ran its win streak to 21 by finishing 11-0 and scoring 276 points to 63 for its opponents. The Mountaineers won the Big 15 championship and combined for 167 points.

Fordham was then a football power and Coach Sleepy Jim Crowley came to Hazleton and signed four Mountaineers, a school record for athletes from Hazleton High going to a Division I university in one season.

Joining Andrejco and Cheverko were quarterback Mike Vukson and tackle Joe “Growley” Yackanich.

The Hazleton players all did well at Fordham and played key roles in the Rams getting a bid to the Sugar Bowl following a season during which they lost only to Pitt.

Fordham defeated Missouri in the Sugar Bowl, 2-0, and Andrejco was the leading ground-gainer in the game. He continued his football career during distinguished World War II service with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Andrejco is a retired Bethlehem Steel executive and he has returned to the Hazleton area to live with his wife, the former Peggy Klemkosky.