Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Pros highlight this year’s RPS Athletic Hall of Fame class

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – Athletes who went on to play professionally will be inducted into the RPS Athletic Hall of Fame Feb. 8, during the RPS Champions Ball at Raddison Hotel and Convention Center.

This year’s honorees are Mike Sibley, West High School; Dan Scarpetta, Auburn; Amanda Omar, East; Seth Miller, Auburn, Bob Pellant, East; and the 1968 Guilford High School baseball team.

Mark Sibley, a three-year basketball starter at point guard for West High School. Sibley was a sophomore on the 1966-1967 Warriors team that went 28-2 and finished fourth in the IHSA state tournament. He was first team all-conference in 1967-1968 and 1968-1969 when West was a combined a 39-11 and won the conference in 1968-1969.

Sibley also was an all-conference football end, finishing second in receiving yardage his senior year, and a second-team all-conference first baseman, leading the conference in home runs.

Sibley played basketball at Northwestern, scoring 1,113 points and grabbing 364 rebounds in 71 games from 1970 through 1973.

The Chicago Bulls drafted Sibley in the fourth round of the 1973 NBA draft. Mark didn’t make the Bulls, but he did catch on with the Portland Trailblazers, playing in 28 games in the 1973-1974 season. He was the last RPS 205 player to play in the NBA until Fred VanVleet.

After the 1973-1974 season, Sibley chose to become a high school English teacher and basketball and soccer coach at York High School.

Dan Scarpetta was a three-year starting pitcher for Auburn from 1980 through 1982. Scarpetta won at least 18 games over three years for Auburn and struck out at least 335 batters in 222 innings in published boxscores. He was honorable mention all-conference his sophomore year and first-team all-conference his senior year when he won 11 games, struck out 199 batters and pitched Auburn to an IHSA sectional final.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Scarpetta in the third round of the MLB Draft. It remains the highest pick ever for a RPS 205 player. Scarpetta pitched in the minor leagues for eight years, reaching AAA in 1987 and 1988. He compiled a 69-53 professional record.

Amanda Omar was a three-time first-team all-conference NIC-9 and two-time MVP volleyball player for East. She graduated with 824 kills over four years.

In college, Omar played one year at the University of Arkansas and two years for Missouri State. At Missouri State, she was second-team and first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference in her two years. She led the team in kills and digs in both seasons.

After college, Omar played professional volleyball in Puerto Rico in 2001-2002 and in Finland in 2007-2009. She’s stayed in the game coaching volleyball at the AAU and junior college level.

Seth Miller was an all-conference football, basketball and track star at Auburn in 1963-64 and 1964-1965. He finished fourth in the Big Eight in receiving yardage his junior year and then seventh in rushing his senior year. In basketball, he was a top-10 scorer in both his junior and senior years for Auburn teams that went 37-12. In track, Miller was a member of the 1966 Auburn 1-mile relay team that finished second in the IHSA state track tournament.

Miller played college football at Arizona State where he led the NCAA in interceptions his senior year with 11.

The Atlanta Falcons picked Miller in the 8th round of the 1970 NFL draft. Miller didn’t make the Falcons, but he did play in the Canadian Football League in 1970 and caught on with the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League in 1974. He finished second in the WFL in interceptions that year and was leading the league with five in 1975 when the league folded.

Miller moved back to Rockford and began working for UPS. He retired from the company in 2008 and died in 2010 from leukemia.

The 1968 Guilford baseball team is one of just three RPS 205 teams to advance to the IHSA state tournament and the only one to make it to a state title game.

The Vikings won the Big Eight title with a 11-2-1 record and finished 20-3 overall. At the state tournament, the Vikings beat Albion Edwards County, 6-5, and Champaign Central, 3-1, to reach the title game where they lost to Peoria Manual, 9-3.

Coached by Herb Sisler, five Vikings were first-team all-conference players (Brad Blair, Nick Janicki, Dick Dummer, Glenn Nowicki and Ron Holmer) and two were named to the second team (Mark Hunt and Don James).

Coach Bob Pellant was a three-sport athlete and state champion at East and then returned to be a three-sport and state champion coach.

Pellant played football, basketball and ran track at East. He was the 1954 state discus champion. He attended Illinois where a knee injury kept him from playing football. Instead, he focused on track where he set the school discus record in 1958.

He returned to Rockford as a teacher and coach in 1959. He was varsity track coach for one year (1963) and an assistant basketball coach under Art Sadtler. He took over the East football program in 1965 and coached the E-Rabs through the 1975 season when he left after the district cut sports for a season because of budget troubles.

In those 11 seasons, his E-Rabs went 62-19 in conference play and 77-25 overall. East won or shared seven conference championships. His 1973 and 1974 teams went 22-0 and already are in the RPS 205 Hall of Fame. The 1974 squad won a state title in the first year of the IHSA playoffs. In 2017, the 1974 team was voted one of the 32 greatest Illinois football teams in a poll by the Chicago Tribune.

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