Dave McNaughton, who famously teamed with Jim Nance and Barry McKnight in Indiana High School’s backfield in the early 1960s, died Oct. 8 at the age of 76 in Lancaster after an 11-month battle with cancer.
McNaughton played in a backfield featuring four players — including quarterback W.H. Spadafora — who earned Division I scholarships.
McNaughton parlayed his scholastic career — 1,235 career rushing yards and 25 touchdowns — into a full ride to Penn State, under head coach Rip Engle. A then-33-year-old assistant coach named Joe Paterno recruited McNaughton.
When he was inducted into the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, McNaughton recalled a 1992 visit to Penn State he took with his daughter, Laura, who was prospective student. They stopped to visit Paterno, who was then the longtime head coach.
“Did your dad tell you about his high school team?” Paterno asked. “That might have been the best backfield I’ve ever seen at the high school level. I’m not aware of any other team where four players earned Division I scholarships. That’s unbelievable.”
Nance, who went on to play collegiately at Syracuse and with the Boston Patriots of the old American Football League, was the standout. McNaughton and McKnight were one year behind and went on to play at Pitt. Spadafora, also one year ahead of McNaughton, went to the Naval Academy.
McNaughton earned a degree in accounting at Penn State. In 1965, in the Penn State-Syracuse game, McNaughton performed a backflip into the end zone to cap a 73-yard drive. That year, he was named MVP by Pittsburgh Curbstone Coaches and was selected for the Associated Press All-East first team. He rushed 884 yards that season, which at the time ranked second only to Lenny Moore, who went on to stay in the NFL.
After college, McNaughton worked in sales and marketing at Armstrong World Industries and Keystone Lighting Co. and in 1984 purchased Keener Manufacturing Co., which he owned and operated for 24 years. In 2008, he started a new enterprise, TagPrinters.com.
McNaughton is survived by his wife of 26 years, Carolyn; his children, Laura McNaughton, David McNaughton Jr., Jaclyn Gilbert and Samantha Toscano; and four grandchildren.