Warren football reunion returns

A fund-raising event that debuted in the area in 2016 will return this year after a very successful first run.

The second annual Warren NFL Legends reunion dinner and celebrity golf outing event is scheduled Sept. 24-25 at Trumbull Country Club. The event last year raised between $35,000 and $40,000 for the Warren Gridiron Club, the booster organization for the Warren G. Harding High School football program.

“Last year went way beyond our expectations,” event co-chairperson Ray Yannucci said. “I’ve been involved in some major events in Warren in the last few years and the town always backs everything without fail. That speaks to the citizens and how they view sports.

“We feel good about that and continue to be amazed at the support events like this receive.”

Yannucci is a former sportswriter for the Tribune Chronicle and Akron Beacon Journal, and was owner/publisher of Browns News Illustrated and several other NFL team publications.

He teamed last year with follow event co-chairperson Virginia Holmes, who represents the Gridiron Club, and honorary chairperson Paul Warfield, NFL Hall of Famer from Warren.

“Paul and his wife were very instrumental in making the event a success last year,” Yannucci said. “They met with civic leaders and really pushed for donations.”

This year, Yannucci and Holmes will be working with Ross Browner as the new honorary chairperson.

In 2016 the focus of the event was the large number of former Warren high school players who eventually played professional football.

This year’s focus is on the four coaches who led a Warren high school to a state football championship — Tom Batta, Harding, 1971; Joe Novak, Western Reserve, 1972; Ed Glass, Harding, 1974; and Phil Annarella, Harding, 1990. Annarella’s title, of course, came in the first year after Western Reserve was closed and the city returned to having a single public high school.

“Last year we had close to 200 at the Sunday dinner and we’re shooting for 300 this year,” Yannucci said. “We had a little over 100 golfers in 2016 and we want to sell that out at 144 golfers this time.”

A large attraction for both the Sunday evening dinner and the Monday golf outing was the return to Warren of many of the city’s former professional players.

In addition, several former Cleveland Browns, including Greg Pruitt, Kevin Mack, Ben Davis, Al Jenkins, Judson Flint and John Thierry took part — along with Warfield — in the golf outing.

Former players already committed for this year are Pruitt, Mack, Davis, Jenkins and former San Francisco 49er Rod Morris.

Another new feature of the event this year is a cornhole tournament to be held on Monday the 25th for those who do not golf.

A returning feature is a public autograph session on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Holiday Inn Express, 135 Highland Terrace Blvd., across

Route 46 from the Eastwood Mall complex.

Those interested can participate in several different ways. There are several sponsorship packages at varying levels of participation and exposure.

There are also several levels of participation available. A red package covers the reunion dinner on Sunday evening and the golf outing the next day. The yellow package is for the Sunday dinner only, the gold package is for golf only on Monday and the cornhole package is for that event on Monday.

Information packets have been sent out to those who were involved last year. Those with questions can contact Yannucci (216-870-1036, ryannucci@yahoo.com) or Holmes (330-506-6035 warrengrid@gmail.com).