Wildcats’ Billeter Will Be Honored
Fifty years ago Paden City had some of the best Class A teams in the entire state. It was not unusual for the Wildcats to make the playoffs, even though only the top two teams made it to the championship. The Wildcats, under Coach Henry Healy, were always in the hunt and near the top.
One of the reasons was the play of athletes like Steve Billeter, who will be honored on July 28 at the annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Game.
Billeter grew up on the south end of town in Tyler County. Back at that time, it would have been unheard of for a Paden City ball player to give his talents over to another school. In fact, he would have probably regretted it still today.
Billeter had what it took to be a great addition to Paden City athletics. He had speed, size, strength, dedication and a love for his high school. He also had a sweetheart who he is still with today. His father (Jerry) was well known, and Billeter was part of his pride and joy. Jerry ran the local barber shop on Main Street at the time, so you know where most of the town talk took place. It was the only place a man could get a flat top and some butch hair cream for 50 cents.
Billeter worked hard at becoming an athlete, and one could find him on the ball field nearly every day. He was an outdoorsman, and fishing has always been his pleasure. When it came to football, however, he was all-business. As an offensive player, he was hard to bring down. He was one of those guys who used his upper body and his legs and would keep grinding it out for the extra yard or so.
Paden City was loaded with talent, and the competition was tough. Some of the younger players ended up playing Division I ball. Billeter could play with the best of them, and believe me, it was tough. When you had to run for playing time, against the likes of Craig Broadwater, a great fullback; Dennis (Dink) Blatt, a Syracuse recruit; Mike Nelson, a WVU recruit; and others, you had your work cut out for you.
Billeter may not have been the main weapon, but his stats proved his case. His senior year, he carried the ball 152 times for 701 yards. That is 4.6 yards a tote. He scored 13 touchdowns and two point extra point runs. He also threw 63 passes and completed 32 for 318 yards and four TDs and averaged 37 yards as a punter.
His football skills never went unnoticed as several colleges took an interest in him and would often visit Berger Field, home of the Wildcats. Salem and Shepherd colleges showed the most interest, but research shows Glenville, Virginia Military and West Liberty also had been there scouting him.
Billeter was a multi-dimensional player who could, and would, play where needed. On offense he was often sharing duty at QB with his friend Rob Amos but was used the most at running for Coach Healy’s single wing. It’s been noted that Coach Healy used to say, “… will just run it off tackle and see who can stop Billeter, Broadwater, Blatt or Nelson.”
As good as Billeter was on offense, it didn’t compare to his defensive prowess. As a linebacker he was a terror. The stats available show him with four interceptions his senior year, along with 53 tackles and 19 assists. At 6’2″ and 190 pounds, he was made to play the position.
During his career at Paden City High School, Billeter received several honors. He played multiple sports, including a starter position on the basketball team. He was mentioned as an All-State player, made first team All-County, and was asked to play in the OVAC All-Star game.
“I enjoyed going to Triadelphia High School for All-Star practice, especially since they paid me to drive up and back,” said Billeter. “Some of the best players chosen decided not to show up for the first practice; later they decided to play and the coach said no.”
Because of the best players being turned down, Billeter got to play in the running back position and had the longest run of the game. The contest ended up a defensive struggle. Following the game, a scout came into the dressing room and ask him to play at Villanova.
With all he had going, Billeter opted for the workforce and raising a family. In 2005 he retired from Consolidation Coal Company after 35 years of service. He married his sweetheart in 1970 and later fathered two children – Courtney, who cheered in the OVAC All-Star game, and Brad – a multiple sports star for the Wildcats as well. Billeter is most proud of his children, who each have wonderful educations and are WVU grads. Brad works in safety for Blue Racer, and Courtney is a professor at Concord College.
If you are a Wildcat football fan, you will want to go to the All-Star game on July 28, to see one of your own receive his honor.