Grosse Pointe South has produced some great players through the years. These men are recognized for their contributions to the program in the Grosse Pointe South Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame members have been inducted annually at the Blue Devil Football Legends Golf Outing since its inception in 1915. The Hall of Fame members are:
Russ Hepner, Coach
Hired in 1968 to be the Head Football coach and teacher at Grosse Pointe South High School his tenure lasted 32 years. During his 19 years as head coach and 4 years as defensive coordinator with John Rice his record was 143 wins-69 losses and 10 League Championships.
· Detroit Free Press High School Coach of the Year in 1982 & 1983.
· Coached the 1984 Michigan East-West High School All Star Team.
· In 1988 Michigan High School Football Coach's Hall of Fame.
The 1954 Team
Head Coach Ed Wernet, who was generally considered to be one of the most innovative coaches of his time, led an inspired and disciplined squad to a 7 - 0 record. Port Huron, the consensus state champion, loomed as the final opponent. The determined Blue Devils romped to a 56-12 victory, a perfect 8 - 0 season and became the “Consensus All-state Championship” in 1954.
Reid Fragel Class of 2009
Reid was a three year Varsity starter as a tight end and defensive end and team MVP as a senior for coach Tim Brandon. Reid earned all-state and O-D Bowl All-America status, and was named to the Detroit Free Press "Dream Team". He also played basketball and competed in track and field. Reid grew from a somewhat gangly 5’10” 170lb Freshmen to a powerful 6’7” 280lb Senior capable of bench pressing 225lbs 25 times and squatting a 600lb max, all while running a 5 second 40 yard dash. Always known as a “team first” guy, he was well liked by his teammates and coaches and set an example for hard work and discipline that ranks among the best in South history. Reid was responsible for one of the most memorable catches in South history when he caught a 10 yard pass against Chippewa Valley and carried four players on his back for another 10 yards before they could drag him to the ground.
Fragel was a four year letterman and starter for Ohio State University where he excelled as a tight end and later converted to offensive tackle.
He was drafted in 2013 in the 7th round by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played with the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings.
Tom Bailey Class of 1971
As a junior starting quarterback, Bailey led the Blue Devils to a victory in the first ever game versus Grosse Pointe North and to co-champions of the Boarder City League. As a senior Bailey passed for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Tom went on to play defensive back for the Western University Broncos and returned to South to coach freshman football football for nearly a decade from 1973 to 1982. A favorite coaching memory was beating undefeated North on the last game of the 1982 season, and his final game as freshman coach.
Mike Bevier Class of 1980
In his three year career as starting linebacker for the Blue Devils, Bevier broke the all-school tackling record with 260 solo and 195 assists formerly held by Greg Steen ('72). Bevier was named to the All-State team in both the Detroit News and Free-Press as well as being voted captain and MVP by his teammates.
In his college career at Central Michigan University, Mike was named honorable mention All American and 1st team All-MAC Conference linebacker and is 7th in a career tackles.
Paul Hawk Class of 1984
1982 Game Winning Touchdown Reception
As fullback in his junior year, Hawk was 1st team All-League, 2nd team All-Suburban and 1st team Metro-East which helped the team to a 9 and 0 season record. As a Senior he was names 1st team All-League, 1st team All-Area and 1st team Metro East to lead the Blue Devils to a second 9 and 0 season in a row. Paul finished his career with 134 points, 19 rushing touchdowns, 1,179 rushing yards and a record 2,032 yards of total offense as a fullback.
Paul's promising career at Central Michigan was cut short by injury.
Vince Panizzi Class of 2005
In his senior year at South, Vince was named team MVP and rushed for 1,136 yards on 205 carries. He averaged more than 5 yards per carry throughout his 3 year varsity career and was named to the Academic All-Area Team all four years.
Vince when on to play at Hillsdale College (2005 to 2009) where he had 3,660 career yards on 760 carries with 54 touchdowns which places him third in all-time rushing yardage and second in career scoring. In his senior year he rushed for 1,444 yards on 291 carries with 25 touchdowns which places him third on Hillsdale's all-time single season scoring list. Vince was honorable mention during his sophomore and junior years and first team All-GLIAC as a senior.
Jon Rice, Coach
Beloved coach and former South High School player, Jon passed away a few weeks before being able to receive his award. A great coach and friend of Grosse Pointe football, Jon left us with these words:
Football has meant life-long friendships with coaches and players. It gave me the opportunity to compete and be with my best friends. Each football season brought a new, fresh start to each school year. I enjoyed coaching kids to do their best. I enjoyed the focus on preparation, the competition, and striving for a common goal. My greatest enjoyment was having the support of my wife Denny, my children, Russell and Jane, and my parents, Jack and Vinelle. I believe football is like life: you prepare; you practice; you compete to achieve. Often the effort brings rewards, other times, disappointments. Regardless of the outcome, life does go on.
Jon Rice's accomplishments at South include:
- Grosse Pointe South Assistant Coach and Defensive Coordinator 1968-1986 (115-55)
- Grosse Pointe South Head Coach 1987 – 1992 (38-20)
- Overall Record (166-83-1), 15 Conference Championships, 5 State Playoffs
- MHSFCA Regional Coach of the Year 1987
- MHSFCA Hall of Fame Inductee 1995
- MHSCA Hall of Fame Inductee 1997
Chris Malafouris class of '69
Chris was a multi-dimensional player who never came off the field. He was an all-purpose running back, averaging over 5 yards a carry, catching passes, and scoring 4 touchdowns. Chris also started as the free safety, racking up 6 interceptions with 1 defensive TD, 36 tackles, 5 assists, and 2 fumbles recovered. It didn’t stop there as he also kicked field goals and extra points. An interesting side note to Chris’s season is that one of his few missed extra points occurred after he returned an interception for an 85 yard touchdown. He was so tired he could hardly standup and shanked the kick!
Quote from Coach Russ Hepner: “Chris was the MVP of our 1968 Border Cities League Champions. He seldom came off the field, excelling on offense, defense, and our kicking game. He was a composed and complete football player. Chris was a wonderful young man to coach.”
John DeBoer class of '81
John was a late arrival to football. In 1978, he was in Coach Hepner's sophomore physical education class where he showed great athletic talent and wanted to try the game. Before that could happen, however, a skeptical Mom and Dad had to be sold. Coach Hepner had, shall we say, a very interesting and enlightening meeting with John's parents. John was given the OK, and joined the Blue Devils for the first time in the fall of 1979, his junior year. John was a unique athlete that combined exceptional speed, agility, and great hands with strength and toughness. He was a wide receiver in a lineman’s body and that was a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches and players. His skills allowed him to control the line of scrimmage with his blocking assignments while leading the team in virtually all receiving statistics in both his junior and senior years. John received All-League honors as a senior (First Team) and junior (Second Team) and he co-captained the Blue Chip All-State Elite 11 as a senior.
Tom Thompson Class of 62'
Tom was a multi-dimensional athlete playing football, baseball and basketball. He lettered in 8 of a possible 9 sport seasons at the High (South did not have a 9th grade at the time).
On the football team, he was the workhorse in a run-oriented offense gaining as much as 200 yards in a game against Southfield High School. At the time, South played in the tough “Borders City League” against state powerhouses Fordson, Port Huron and Ann Arbor. The team finished 2nd both years due, in large part, to Tom’s running ability.
Gary Anderson, who played quarterback with Thompson is quoted as saying, “Tom made us all look better. I learned early on that my best play was to hand the ball off to him and let him do his thing.”
One of Tom’s favorite memories is when he and Gary designed a play in the huddle against Royal Oak that resulted in a touchdown. That was a definite “no-no”, especially back in those days. “We came off the field, went to the opposite side of the sideline, away from Coach Wernet, and would not make eye contact. He let it slide, much to our relief,” recalled Thompson.
Tom went on to play college football at Dartmouth College and played until a career ending injury in his junior year.
Greg Steen Class of '71
Greg was a defensive end, linebacker and offensive guard for the 1969 and 1970 squads. In his senior year he was team MVP, All Border City League, All Suburban, and All State Class A. He led the team in tackles in 1970 with 79 solo and 62 assists. His combined total of 131 was 48 more than the next best on the team.
“He came to us with a good reputation but was not overly impressive on the first three days of non-contact practice,” Coach Russ Hepner is quoted as saying. “But when we put the pads on he was special. He had a nose for the ball and loved to hit. He’d run to hell and back to make a tackle.”
Surprisingly, one of Greg’s favorite memories did not involve make a tackle. On a punt return, one of the opponents “downed” the ball by merely touching it without gaining complete control. Greg picked it up and was promptly tackled, fumbled, and the opposing team recovered. Coach Hepner asked, “Who picked up that ball?” Greg replied, “I did.” Hep asked, “Why?” Greg said, “I wanted to score a touchdown!” Greg recalls, “Since the other team never had complete control of the football, it was anybody’s ball. I really knew the rules…”
Greg was a walk-on at Syracuse, earned a full scholarship after the first semester and started all four years at defensive end and linebacker. Greg played opposite the likes of John Cappeletti and Tony Dorsett who became Heisman Trophy winners. Greg appears in the movie Something for Joey about Cappeletti’s brother who suffered from cancer. Football runs deep in the Steen family. Brother Tom played and coached at South for many years. His dad, Jim Steen, was a tackle with the Detroit Lions, playing from 1935 to 1937 with the likes of “Ox” Everson, “Ace” Gutowsky and “Dutch” Clark.
The 2000 District Championship Team
Captains - Brian Berschback, Mark Fragel, Matt Jarboe, Mark Peppler, Andrew Vlasak
Coaches – Mike Mcleod, Rick Moore, Dick Schroeder, Steve Gilvert, Steve Stuckey, Dan Loria, Don Stukey, Greg Hasias, Rob Wozniak, Joe Drouin, John Todhunter
Players – Brendan Allar, Anthony Allor, Kevin Barry, Shane Boon, Daniel Brosnan, James Burns, Scott Cederwall, Robert Champion, Salvatore Ciaramitaro, Robert Crandall, Julian Danko, William Dickinson, Nicholas Fischer, Craig Friemuth, Matthew Garver, Christopher Getz, Brian Goodheart, Benjamin Grant, Kyle Hacias, Tanner Horsley, Thomas Jahnke, Daniel Keogh, Drew Dissalt, Jason Kline, George Kordas, Michael Kosiuk Jr, Thomas Krall, John Lindsley-Thayer, Paul Lochirco, George Mackenzie, Mathew Middleton, Taylor Morawski, Cameron Murg, Michael Naughton, Barry Novak, Michael O'Neill, Sean O'Sullivan, Douglas Orttenburger, Luke Parchment. Liam Parrent, Stephen Pawlowski, Martin Peters, Robert Pogue, Matthew Reynaert, Robert Rogers, Christopher Roosen, Haider Samhat, Matthew Santoro, John Sawicki, David Saylor, Jeffrey Schroeder, Kushtrim Shaqiri, Joseph Stelmark, Jarrett Svendsen, Jack Tocco
Grosse Pointe South had not advanced to the playoffs in 11 years and expectations were not high for the 2000 squad. Someone forgot to tell the players, however, as they gathered for pre-season practices. There was a special bond built over the years in the schools and playgrounds in the Grosse Pointe community. They felt they could make a showing – and they did. The season started slow winning just two out of the first four games – losing to North in game four. But then things started to click. With a stingy defense and an opportunistic offense, the team went on to win four of the next five games and finish 6-3 to qualify for the playoffs.
They drew state powerhouse Kettering in the first round. Kettering had seven Division I college recruits and a 9-0 record. It was a nice run for South but surely the run was coming to an end. How could they possibly stand up to such an awesome program? The young men refused to be intimidated. The defense played with a ferocity and discipline that held firm and the offense scored just enough to secure the win. The game ended with and interception by Brian Berschback as Kettering was driving for a score deep in South territory with less than a minute to go in the game. Final score: 19 – 14.
The next opponent was Sterling Heights whom they had lost to in the second game of the season. Mike Mcleod, Head Coach, tells the story of the Sterling Heights coach telling him before the game that he had never coached a team in a district championship and wanted to know if he had any advice. Mike replied, “Well, to get there you need to beat us. Why don’t we wait until after the game and see who needs the advice?” South went on to win the game 19 – 0 with a crushing defense that smothered Sterling Heights at every turn.
South eventually lost in the 3rd round of the district championships to the eventual state champions – Chippewa Valley.