Payson Man Inducted Into Wall Of Fame

Frank Andruski still holds several records for the Calgary Stampeders in Canadian Football League

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Take one glance at 64-year-old Frank Andruski and its obvious by his size and stature he probably once starred in athletics.

Shake hands with him and the crooked and bowed finger on his right hand is a sure clue his sport of choice was undoubtedly football.

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Frank Andruski as he was shown on his football trading card.

"Yes, I have all those old (football) injuries," he said.

As nagging as old athletic maladies can be for a senior, they also serve as a reminder of the years Andruski spent playing in the Canadian Football League.

Another reminder he'll soon be able to turn to is a spot on the prestigious Calgary Stampeders Wall of Fame.

The Payson man will be inducted Aug. 1 during dinner ceremonies in Calgary and again the following day at halftime of the Stampeders' game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in McMahon Stadium.

Andruski, who has lived in Payson for the past five years, will attend the ceremonies with his wife, Marilyn.

Also being inducted into the Wall of Fame are former Stampeders quarterback Doug Flutie and ex-offensive lineman Rocco Romano.

Since the founding of the Wall of Fame in 1985, only 25 players have been inducted.

Andruski, who wore No. 24 while playing defensive back for the Stampeders from 1966 to 1973, continues to hold several slots in the team's record book.

His 30 interceptions rank him fourth in team history and his four interception returns for touchdowns tie him for second.

In 1973, his 204 yards gained after interceptions led the Canadian Football League and remains tops in Stampeder history.

Also, his 105-yard interception return for a TD in 1973 is the seventh longest return by a Calgary player.

In the 1970 Grey Cup game against Montreal, he had two interceptions and he's listed in the CFL record books for blocking four kicks in his career.

The obviously modest Andruski will only say about his professional football accomplishments, "I had a pretty good career, I'm proud of it."

In reflecting on his time in the Canadian pro ranks he remembers it was his instincts rather than natural talent that helped him succeed.

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Frank Andruski

"I think it was my knowledge of the game," he said. "I never thought of myself as particularly fast, but I studied the game and knew it well."

That gridiron moxie led to a very successful 23-year career in coaching high school football after he retired from the CFL.

Most impressively about Andruski's time in the CFL is that almost 35 years after his retirement, he remains one of the top six players in nine different categories at his position.

Greg Peterson, the man who will introduce Andruski at the induction ceremonies, touts that as a remarkable feat.

"This is a great accomplishment considering the quality of players to have played for the Stampeders over that period of time," he said.

During Andruski's eight seasons in the CFL, he was named to the Canadian All-Star football team in 1967 and 1968 and was a CFL Western Division All-Star six times. He also played on three teams that reached the Grey Cup, Canadian football's equivalent of the Super Bowl.

In 1971, he led Calgary to the Grey Cup championship.

Giving back

In the 2001 Calgary Stampeders yearbook it is written about Andruski, who had just been named an honorary alumni captain, "Many people in this city know that recognizing Frank is also to say thank-you for the great things he has done for our community and the game of football in Calgary."

The writer was referencing Andruski's contributions to founding both flag and youth bantam football programs in the city.

Today the bantam program is one of the most popular youth activities in Calgary.

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Frank Andruski played college football at Utah and pro ball with the 49ers before playing in the Canadian Football League.

The 13-year-old boy who showed up at Andruski's home in 1972 to ask him to coach the new bantam team is the man, Peterson, who will introduce him into the Wall of Fame.

"I didn't really want to coach that team, but I couldn't turn Greg down," Andruski said.

After Peterson played youth football for Andruski, he went on to star on the high school level, eventually earned a scholarship to BYU and played for the Stampeders for almost 10 years.

During his college and pro stint, he wore the same number, 24, as did Andruski.

"That meant a lot to me," Andruski said.

In 1972, Andruski received the CFCN Radio Sports of the Year award for his contributions to the city.

A new game

Andruski remembers his early years with the Stampeders as being a time he had to adjust to the rules of Canadian football.

"They are different than American (rules)," he said.

Most significant for a defensive back was the size of the Canadian field.

The playing surface is 110 yards long and 65 yards wide rather than 100 x 53 1/3 yards in American football.

Also, the end zones in Canadian football are 20 yards deep.

The larger size of the playing field is tough on d-backs who have a bigger area to cover, especially on pass attempts.

"The field is huge, we usually played a lot of zone (defenses) and would play man (to man) only on the short side of the field," Andruski said.

Also in Canadian football, Andruski had to adjust to teams having 12 players on the field, a no fair-catch rule, three downs rather than four, and the allowing of motion in the offensive backfield.

"All of that took getting used to," he said.

The Canadian rules Andruski played under his days in the pros were not the ones in use when he starred at the University of Utah and for one season with the San Francisco 49ers.

Andruski transferred to Utah after captaining the Santa Ana Junior College team that won the 1962 Junior Rose Bowl.

At Brea-Olinda High School in Brea, Calif., he was an all-league selection in both football and basketball and a record-setting high jumper.

After retiring from the CFL he earned a master's degree in education from Arizona State University and taught and coached at a high school near San Diego, Calif. with a student population of more than 3,000.

After stepping down from his career in education he and his wife lived for a short time in El Centro, Calif. before moving to Payson.

"We love living here, it was always our goal to someday live in Payson," he said.

But in the Rim Country few know that Andruski was once the toast of Canada, one of the country's gridiron heroes and a highly respected leader in the city of Calgary

He is unknown locally, that is, until his proud wife enters the scene spewing his football accomplishments to almost everyone willing to listen.

"She's my press secretary," Andruski teases his wife. "This always happens, but it's OK."

Today, the couple enjoys traveling in the family motor home, hiking, watching all types of sports and time spent with their five children, 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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