- Post by: mcalibrary
- January 3, 2024
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For those of you who were Tornado football fans in the late 60s and early 70s, the picture will be forever embedded in your minds. That of the wide receiver running downfield with his arm behind his back directing his running back which way to go. That running back was Gary Diminick in the 1969 Eastern Conference Championship game with Valley View. The wide receiver – Dennis Hepler, today’s inductee in the Ed Romance Chapter of the PA Hall of Fame. That play symbolizes what Hepler has done throughout his athletic career and his life as a public servant; that is, to do whatever was needed to make his team and his community better.
As a freshman for Coach Jazz Diminick in 1967, Hepler had a rifle arm and was thought by many to be the next Buchinski or Doviak. Jazz, however, needed help elsewhere and had a player in Tom Alexander who could lead the Tornadoes at QB. Hepler became an end who would go on to nab 48 balls for 962 yards and 17 TDs during his career at MCA. The 962 yards still ranks 9th on the all time list while the 17 TDs ranks 4th all time. You have to realize that these numbers were put up when throwing the ball was not what it is today. For his efforts Hepler was named a United Press International 3rd team all-state player in 1969. His team would put up a 44-3 record from 67-70 and go on to win 3 Southern Division Championships and one Eastern Conference Crown.
Hepler was also a standout baseball player at MCA for Coach Ed Wojciecowski, playing shortstop and earning 3 varsity letters. He won the Schuylkill League batting crown in 1970 with a .470 average and was chosen for tryouts with the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.
Following graduation in 1971, Dennis won a football scholarship to North Carolina State University. He later transferred to Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio where he participated in both football and baseball.
Today, Dennis can be found officiating regional basketball and baseball games as a PIAA official. In his only venture into coaching, Dennis took the Kulpmont VFW teener baseball program and went on to win 2 consecutive Teener Championships during his 3 year reign. In 1995, Dennis and his son Corey made MCA history by becoming the first father-son tandem to earn all-state honors in football when Corey was named to the AP second team as defensive lineman.
Hepler now continues his community service as a member of the Mount Carmel Area Board of Education and as a member of the Education Foundation. Dennis resides in Shady Acres with his wife, the former Susan Thomas, and are parents of daughter, Susan and son, Corey and have a grandson, Derek.