The Hanover resident wrote stories and kept stats for the team since 1998
A familiar face was absent from Monday's YAIAA football media day.
Bill Engelhardt, a Hanover resident who wrote stories and kept stats for South Western High School since 1998, died on July 21 after battling cancer the past few months. He was 77 years old.
A New Jersey native who had never heard of South Western until he was nearly 60, Engelhardt became a fixture in the school's press box the past 18 seasons. Mustangs head coach Damian Poalucci said Engelhardt cared about the Mustangs, "sometimes more than people from Hanover did."
"He was a part of our staff in the sense that we communicated every week," Poalucci said. "I'm going to miss seeing him every Friday night, home or away games. I think the kids lost somebody who was really a support for them."
A fellow New Jersey native who joined the South Western staff around the same time Engelhardt began volunteering, Poalucci developed a close bond with the senior citizen and often spoke to him before and after games.
When he learned on July 20 from South Western player Wes Sneeringer that Engelhardt was in the hospital, Poalucci visited him that night. Engelhardt died the next day.
According to Engelhardt's twin brother, Dick, Poalucci thanked Bill for the dedication he showed to South Western. Bill replied from his hospital bed, "I loved doing it."
"I told him I'd come back the next day to see him and (Bill Engelhardt) said, 'I might not be here,'" Poalucci said. "He came here about the same year I did and he was from Jersey, so we had that connection. Bill was a great guy."
Engelhardt developed his passion for high school football while growing up in Bergen County, N.J. He and Dick were both born with congenital clubbed hands, a condition that left Bill with shortened arms and six total fingers. Unable to play the game they loved, the two brothers became team managers and waterboys for their local high school team, the Fair Lawn Cutters.
Both continued to attend Fair Lawn games throughout their adult lives, but Dick eventually became the school's public address announcer and wrote a blog about the team. When Bill moved to Hanover with his wife in 1997, he decided to start his own blog about the Mustangs.
"Because of my brother's work, I decided to write a football article," Engelhardt told GameTimePA.com last December. "The only other motivation was that I loved high school football."
Starting in 1998, Bill Engelhardt posted his stories on his blog, “Mustang Gridiron Corner,” and the Pennsylvania Football News website. He also kept an email list of Mustangs fans interested in his articles and posted the team's stats on MaxPreps.com.
Dick Engelhardt said that his brother was so passionate about South Western that he was hesitant to let the school know when he got sick this spring. He added that speaking to Poalucci before he died meant a lot to Bill.
"When Bill said to Coach Poalucci, 'I loved doing it,' I took that and applied it to his entire life," Dick Engelhardt said. "He loved everything he did. And his extended family can always remember that he summed it up like that."