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June 28, 2013
The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 66 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.
Today's number is 66, so we're looking at a player who starred for both of the local football teams.
A Pittsburgh native who spent his whole life in the city, Warren Heller was the leader of Pitt's 1931 national championship squad. As the halfback in Jock Sutherland's single-wing offense, Heller did it all for the Panthers; he led the team in rushing and passing in each of his three active seasons from 1930-32.
Heller wasn't just an offensive weapon; he also kicked, blocked, and played defensive back. But he made his name with the ball in his hands. He rushed for 1,949 yards in his three-year career and recorded two of the longest plays in Pitt history, an 88-yard run vs. Miami (Oh.) in 1931 and an 80-yard run against Penn State in 1930.
In 1931, Heller was Pitt's leading scorer with 11 touchdowns (for 66 points) as the Panthers put together an 8-1 record and the school's fifth national championship. In 1932, Heller's senior season, Pitt went 8-1-2, and while the Panthers' defense pitched eight shutouts, Heller was the team's leading scorer and the driving force behind Pitt's appearance in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
For his performance in 1932, Heller earned All-America honors. He then spent three years with the Pittsburgh Pirates professional football team. Working again in the single-wing, Heller led the Pirates in rushing and passing as a rookie in 1934 and was the team's leading rusher and second-leading receiver in 1936.
Previous entries in the Countdown
Countdown: 67 - One-win seasons
Countdown: 68 - The most prolific receiving game
Countdown: 69 - One of the biggest plays in Pitt history
Countodwn: 70 - The origin of Pitt's nine championships
Countdown: 71 - A good player in a bad era
Countdown: 72 - An All-American who became a dentist
Countdown: 73 - May Day
Countdown: 74 - A "groundwork" season
Countdown: 75 - A successful DL-to-OL move
Countdown: 76 - The 1976 national championship
Countdown: 77 - The last three-sport athletes
Countdown: 78 - An underrated pro
Countdown: 79 - One of the best
Countdown: 80 - The greatest non-championship team in Pitt history
Countdown: 81 - A crushing end to a great season
Countdown: 82 - The dawn of the Foge Era
Countdown: 83 - The most accurate kicker in Pitt history
Countdown: 84 - Pitt in the Pro Bowl
Countdown: 85 - A play that will never be matched
Countdown: 86 - A long but unfulfilled play
Countdown: 87 - The final year of Ironhead
Countdown: 88 - Pitt's All-American tradition
Countdown: 89 - Iron Mike
Countdown: 90 - The four 9-0's
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913