HERSHEY - At the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center Friday morning, in the shadow of where his Tyrone Golden Eagles' team enjoyed its finest hour, claiming the 1999 PIAA Class AA championship, John Franco was enshrined in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
A fitting venue, indeed.
As one of four inductees, Franco was presented by his brother, Scott, and surrounded by family members, former players, Tyrone coaches, administrators and supporters.
He deflected the credit to them.
"Football is such a team game, and any success I get is directly attributed to so many others," he said. "I want to thank all of them."
Franco dedicated his induction to his parents, mother Jeanne and his late father, John. They spurred him, he said, "to want to be a good role model for my kids."
He credited his wife, Sue, and mentioned his four children.
"I'm so proud of all of them," he said.
He thanked his first coach, Frank DeLeo, during his formative years at Mount Carmel.
"If you're Italian, you have a lot of family around," he said, "and my family is so supportive. We all grew up on the same block. We were Little Italy on Dutch Hill."
He was mentored by Bishop Guilfoyle's Tom Irwin, a 2006 PSFCA inductee, along with fellow BG assistants Lou Berardinelli, Ron Fiochetta and Ron Hoover.
"They led me along," he said.
He praised his current Tyrone staff and singled out Rick Hatch, Dan Bender and John Gressler, "three special assistants who could be up here today."
He said his success was made possible by his players, several of whom were on hand, including ex-Tyrone stars Scott Gummo and Jesse Jones and former BG quarterback Bill Yankovich.
"The wins and losses were one thing," Yankovich, who went on to play quarterback at Carnegie-Mellon (1982-86), said. "The thing I remember is how hard he worked to get kids into schools, driving us around, and he wasn't being compensated for it."
Through 14 years at Tyrone, Franco has amassed an amazing record of 154-31, including seven District 6 titles, four trips to the western finals and two PIAA championship-game appearances.
His Eagle dynasty followed a 40-45-2 run at Altoona, which smartly entertained the possibility of bringing him back during the past offseason.
Franco, though, opted to stay put, in part because of how Tyrone has treated him.
He mentioned former athletic director Pete Dutrow and community leader Harry Sickler as most instrumental.
"Those two talked me into coming to Tyrone when I was a little bit down," he said. "They've been an inspiration to me. Tyrone's administration has made coaching football easy."
Franco doesn't like the spotlight. In fact, he was voted in for PSFCA induction two years ago, but he asked to defer enshrinement.
"To be mentioned in the same group as people like Earl Strohm and Harold Price ... this is just a tremendous honor," he said. "I hope I can always honor the association."
He already has.