Falcons’ best include fighter, wrestlers, soccer stars

Ranking the top 10 athletes from North Catholic High School.

Before he was winning titles inside cages, Eddie Alvarez was winning championships in “The Pit.” TIMES FILE PHOTO

By Joe Mason

They closed the building in 2010. They have yet to kill the Falcon spirit.

And a lot of that has to do with the athletics at North Catholic High School. Most will tell you North is a soccer school, and that’s a fair point because it enjoyed tremendous success in that sport. But it’s also a wrestling sport, because the Falcons were just as good on the mat as they were on the pitch.

North played in tough divisions in football and basketball, but always fielded teams that played hard, and the baseball team would usually be among the best in the Catholic League Northern Division.

This is why selecting the top athletes from the school since 1987 is such a challenging exercise. But we did it.

Here are the rules for our game: We are picking the top athletes from the school from 1987 through today. Players are judged by not only what they did in high school, but what they’ve accomplished beyond high school, including college and professional ranks.

We’ve polled fans, coaches and historians, and came up with the top 10. There are many others who didn’t make the list, and it’s obviously arbitrary. Please share your comments, either on the Northeast Times Facebook page or through email.

As with the other lists, a huge thank you to the high school websitewww.tedsilary.com. That site helped with this project tremendously.

This marks the eighth and final list we’ll do this summer. Thank you to everyone who played along. Down the road, when high school season lightens up, we’ll be taking care of our great female athletes. But before we get ready for school, let’s focus on the Falcons.

1. Eddie Alvarez

Before he was the “Underground King,” this 2001 graduate was a two-sport star for the Falcons. He was a tailback for the football team, but his true sport was wrestling, where he was All-Catholic and led North to a Catholic League championship in his senior year. In the finals, he won by tech fall and in the process turned “The Pit” into a party for the people wearing red and white. He finished with 120 career wins.

Upon graduation, Alvarez turned to the world of mixed martial arts and turned into one of the best fighters in the world.

He maintains a record of 28–5–0 with one no contest and last summer, he shocked the world by winning the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight championship by technical knockout over Rafael dos Anjos. He went on to fight Conor McGregor in the main event at Madison Square Garden in one of the biggest UFC cards of all time.

2. Pat Morris

North has a rich tradition in soccer and this 1995 grad is one of the best players the school ever produced.

A three-year starter, the MVP of the league guided the Falcons to the Catholic League championship game, where he scored a hat trick in a 4–3 loss.

He went on to play at Philadelphia Textile, where he was just as productive, scoring 120 points with 49 goals. And as a senior, he was an honorable mention All-American.

He went on to play for the U.S. National Futsal team, played in the World Championships, the Pan-American Games and during his 11 years with the Philadelphia Kixx, he made All-League seven times and led the team to league championships.

Morris is now an assistant coach at St. Joe’s University.

3. John McCarthy

Before he was a goalie for the Philadelphia Union, McCarthy was in the final graduating class at North. He excelled at soccer, starting three years for the Falcons and winning one Catholic League championship.

He was even better at La Salle University. McCarthy was a four-year starter for the Explorers and was named to the All-Atlantic 10 team three times. His efforts in goal helped La Salle become one of the top teams in the Atlantic 10. It made the A-10 Tournament in each of his seasons, including two appearances in the semifinals and another in the title game. He left the school as the all-time leader in saves, shutouts and games played.

Now in his third year with the Union, McCarthy is having a solid season, winning two of his six starts on the year. He also has a tie.

4. Chris Heck

It’s hard to imagine anyone having a better baseball career than this 1995 graduate enjoyed during his days as a Falcon. He was an All-Catholic selection at both first base and pitcher. His best year was clearly his senior campaign, when he helped pitch the Falcons to a Catholic League championship and was named MVP in the process. In the championship game, he threw a complete game and went 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 5–3 triumph over Neumann.

Heck went on to play for St. Joseph’s University, and in 1998 he went 4–7. He then transferred to Clemson and enjoyed a lot of success. In his one season as a Tiger, Heck went 6–1 with a 2.33 earned run average.

Heck was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 26th round out of high school, selected in the 10th round by the Florida Marlins after his junior year at St. Joe’s and taken in the fifth round by the San Diego Padres in 1999.

He spent one year in the minors with Idaho Falls, going 1–1 with a 4.02 ERA in 19 games.

5. Don D’Ambra

The 1990 graduate enjoyed a great senior season, when he was named All-Catholic, All-City and All-State, which was good enough to get him a scholarship to St. Joseph’s University.

Success continued in college, where he was a Regional All-American and the Philadelphia Soccer Seven Player of the Year during his senior campaign. He’s also the only player in school history to win the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

He holds Hawk records, including career goals with 41, career points with 102, and season marks (15 goals, 38 points).

D’Ambra then went on to play for the Philadelphia Kixx, and was arguably the top player in franchise history. He played 14 of his 16 MISL seasons with Philly, guiding the Kixx to two league championships while scoring 388 goals and 904 points, both club records. He also was selected to four All-Star games.

Upon retiring, he returned to St. Joe’s as the head coach of the soccer team.

6. Matt Comey

This 1993 grad could have made this list had he just played one sport, but he was very good at two sports.

He played three seasons on the Falcons’ soccer team, including his sophomore year when he helped North down Monsignor Bonner in the championship game. He earned All-Catholic during his junior and senior seasons.

He went on to play soccer at La Salle, where he was a four-year contributor, and during his senior year, he was a Philadelphia Soccer 7 All-Star.

In high school, he was even better in basketball, twice making First Team All-Catholic, and was named MVP during his final year. That season, he guided the Falcons to a Catholic League championship game, where they lost in overtime to Roman Catholic. Comey finished his career as the second leading scorer in school history.

He also played basketball at La Salle, where he averaged about two points per game as a walkon.

7. Jim Schultice

Schultice, who graduated in 1988, is arguably the best basketball player in school history. He was a two-time All-Catholic selection, and during his final year, when he averaged about 18 points per game, he helped North reach the Catholic League championship before it fell to Monsignor Bonner. He did manage to score more than 1,000 career points for North.

Schultice then went to Holy Family and he provided the Tigers with lots of good times. He scored 2,110 points, grabbed 1,663 rebounds and handed out 419 assists during his four years at Holy Family.

Schultice was an NAIA All-American selection and three times he made the NAIA and Keystone Athletic Conference all-star teams.

8. Rick Mascino

The Falcons have had plenty of great wrestlers and there are none better than this 2004 graduate, who helped North win three Catholic League championships.

Individually, he twice won the Catholic League tournament, and he would have had a chance to win four, but he missed the tournament during his junior and senior seasons due to injury. He made up for it by winning the private school state title during those seasons. As a senior, he took third in the National Prep tournament.

Overall, he finished his career with 124 victories.

He went on to wrestle for Shippensburg.

9. Chris James

It’s rare a player has colleges recruiting them for two sports. James, who graduated in 2008, heard from schools about three sports.

In football, James was a tough offensive lineman who served as a captain on the final Falcons team. He went on to play at Del Val College after graduating.

In the winter, James was an accomplished wrestler, winning four Catholic League tournaments and three times leading North to the Catholic League team title. He exited North with 107 career wins. He ended up wrestling in his senior year at Del Val, where he finished fifth in the conference.

James also had a strong baseball career at North.

10. Sean Murphy

A good everyday player during his days at North, this 2006 graduate improved a great deal after he left. As a senior, he was an All-Catholic infielder, but he made his mark as a pitcher during his college days.

Murphy bounced around in college, playing for Gloucester County College, Salem Community College and High Point before transferring to Keystone College for his senior year.

Murphy showed enough at Keystone to get the attention of the Oakland Athletics, who drafted him in the 33rd round of the 2010 draft.

He played in the minor leagues for four years, maintaining a 32–32 record, and in 2014 he reached Triple A.

Sadly, Murphy passed away suddenly in 2016 while he was in the A’s minor leagues. ••