Frankford football stars lead impressive list

Our sports reporter ranks the top 10 male athletes from Frankford in the past 30 years.

Jahari Evans is an All-Pro offensive tackle, but he got his start at Frankford HIgh School. Photo: MICHAEL C.HERBERT / NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Some schools are good at one sport.

It seems the Pioneers are good at every sport.

The gym in Frankford High School is loaded with banners because the school has been good at just about everything, and to do that, you need great athletes. Frankford has no shortage of them.

The Pioneers dominated football, wrestling and baseball for much of the past 30 years, and that makes picking 10 of the best athletes a daunting task. But thanks to some great Pioneer historians, we’ve put together quite a list, although there are many other greats who could have made it.

Per our rules, players are judged by what they did in high school and what they did upon graduation, both at the college level, and if they went pro, that’s factored in, too. Championships, all-star teams and leadership are also factored in.

Once again, a special thanks to www.tedsilary.com, the high school sports website, for providing statistics.

1. Jahri Evans

Injuries cut Evans’ high school career short. In fact, his high school career is best remembered for a time referees used his crutch as a yard-marker. But once he graduated from Frankford, Evans’ career really got on track.

He played at Bloomsburg and had a strong showing. So strong, in fact, he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft.

He went on to be a mainstay on the New Orleans Saints’ front. He started 169 games from 2006 to 2016. In the process, he won a Super Bowl, signed a contract that made him the highest-paid offensive guard in the game and was a key player in helping quarterback Drew Brees guide one of the top offenses in the NFL.

During the offseason, Evans signed a free-agent deal with the Green Bay Packers.

He is a loyal Pioneer, too. While most players announce their college during NFL introductions on television, Evans switches back and forth to show love to his college and his high school.

2. Eddie Gaskins

The term workhorse running back is the perfect description for this 1998 graduate.

En route to leading Frankford to back-to-back championships during his junior and senior seasons, the four-year starter ended his career with many Public League and city records.

Gaskins rushed for 6,122 yards and 87 touchdowns for his career. His best season was his junior campaign, when he went for more than 2,000 yards.

Gaskins was also a star sprinter on the Frankford track team.

He accepted a scholarship to Utah State, but he never played in a game. Still, his high school stats make him one of the best football players in city history.

3. Joe Farina

Some players have some success. Joe Farina had only success.

As a linebacker, this 2004 graduate helped the Pioneers win two Public League championships. In wrestling, he guided the Pioneers to three straight Public League championships. And his best sport was probably baseball, where as a pitcher and a first baseman, he guided the Pioneers to championships in his junior and senior seasons.

It helped that Farina played with great teammates, but he was one of the best players on all of his teams, and during his three seasons at Frankford, his teams lost a combined two games.

Farina pitched at East Stroudsburg and is now an assistant baseball coach at Frankford.

4. Bobby Higginson

The 1988 graduate could have been a career Philadelphian, but when the Phillies drafted him in 1991, he decided to remain in school. The following year, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers, where he spent his entire professional career.

Before he earned a paycheck for baseball, Higginson was a second baseman for the Pioneers, and his play earned him a scholarship to Temple University.

He made the switch to the outfield while with the Tigers, and by the time he got to Detroit, he was a solid outfielder. Twice, he led the majors in outfield assists.

Higginson also put up big numbers at the plate. Twice, he drove in more than 100 runs, and for his career, he hit .272 while belting 187 home runs.

Baseball was his top sport, but he also performed well in football, both as a defensive back and a punter.

5. Alex Peev

This 1995 graduate served as the Pioneers’ kicker during his senior year, and it didn’t take him long to make an impact. He was named All-Public and All-City for having one of the best seasons a kicker had in the history of the Public League, scoring 58 points, a record that still stands.

And while his kicking was spectacular, he was an even better soccer player.

Peev helped the Pioneers win four straight Public League championships during his high school career, and then he went on to accomplish even more in college.

At St. Joe’s, Peev scored 23 goals and 15 assists for the Hawks. Both totals are in the top 10 in school history.

Peev’s play at St. Joe’s helped earn him a spot on the Philadelphia Kixx of Major Indoor Soccer League.

Peev could excel when he wasn’t kicking, too; he was one of the top Public League wrestlers during his career.

6. Arnold Mullins

The 2004 graduate wasn’t good at one sport. He was great at three.

During the fall, Mullins played running back and defensive back for the Pioneers, helping the team win the Public League championship. In the process, he rushed for more than 700 yards and punched in 12 touchdowns.

For an encore, he helped Frankford win a Public League wrestling championship. In fact, he won a wrestling title every year he was there.

And in the spring, he got over every hurdle put in front of him by winning the Public League championship in the 300-meter hurdles.

Mullins went on to play football at St. Augustine’s in New York, where he led the team in rushing during his junior season.

7. Esteban “Shortie” Meletiche

Juan Namnun has been a successful coach at Frankford, and he has a lot of teams that are near and dear to his heart. But in his final year as an assistant in 2008, when Bob Peffle was still the head coach, Frankford had a season to remember, which makes it stick out as one of Namnun’s favorites.

And Meletiche, who was a senior, was one of the primary reasons.

Along with Edwin “Tito” Rohena, Meletiche was the heart and soul of the team. A wizard in the infield, Meletiche had the ability to get on base, and erase opponents’ scoring chances by catching everything in his vicinity.

Frankford not only won the Public League championship in 2008, but won a game in the state tournament, which had previously been done only once before by a Public League team.

8. Edwin “Tito” Rohena

This 2009 graduate probably set the Frankford program back a lot of money because of the number of times he blasted home runs into the streets of Frankford. A quality pitcher and fantastic outfielder, Rohena did most of his damage at the plate. During his career, he was able to be one of the top hitters for average in the city, but his ability to knock it out of the ballpark was why teams feared him.

Rohena helped the Pioneers win two Public League championships during his career. He was also the Most Valuable Player of the Public League during his senior campaign.

Rohena went on to play at La Salle University. After leaving Frankford, Rohena continued to stay around the Frankford program to help out.

Sadly, he passed away in 2013 after a motorcycle accident.

9. Tim DiGiorgio

Frankford football has a long tradition of racking up yards on the ground, but this 2013 graduate got the Pioneers to change how they do things.

Not only did he have the football IQ to run a high-octane offense, he had a cannon for an arm.

In two seasons as the Pioneers’ quarterback, DiGiorgio threw for 4,061 yards and 44 touchdowns, which makes him one of the best quarterbacks, statistically, in Public League history. Overall, he finished his Frankford career with a 17–6 record as the starting quarterback.

For his efforts, he received a scholarship to Temple, but after three seasons he transferred to East Stroudsburg, where he will come into his senior season as a starter.

While football was his bread and butter, he also excelled at baseball, making second team All-Public as a senior outfielder.

10. Mark Dooling

This 1987 graduate wasn’t the biggest player on the field, but he was always one of the toughest. He was fierce on both the offensive and defensive lines and was a big reason for Frankford’s success during this period.

In his senior year, while he was anchoring the lines, Frankford finished 12–0, including a 42–14 pasting of Dobbins in the championship game.

Dooling was a great hitter during the spring, which helped him earn All-City as an outfielder.

He continued his success after graduation by starring in the Pendel League. ••