Neil Hickoff took his services to Carlisle in 1975. In his first season, the Thundering Herd came out charging to a 10-1 record and a South Central League Championship. In seven years at Carlisle, Hickoff compiled a record of 37-11-2.
“I remember when I was interviewed by the paper and they asked me what my goals would be,” Hickoff said. “They were surprised when I said our goal was to be the No. 1 team in Pennsylvania.”
Due to the ranking system in place, Hickoff never achieved that goal, but his undefeated 1981 squad did everything it could.
“We came very close to that No. 1 spot a couple of years,” Hickoff said. “I suggested we cut the season down by one or two games and start a week earlier to make time for the playoffs.”
The closest Hickoff came was at CD East. The Panthers lost a game to Cedar Cliff that ultimately cost them the No. 1 ranking.
“We lost to Cedar Cliff in a tough game,” Hickoff said. “The ref made a bad call and it cost us the game, we probably would’ve been the No. 1 team in the state that year. That’s the way it goes, I’m sure every coach in the business has lost a couple of games with bad calls.”
The coach retired from football after the successful 1981 season when the Herd finished 11-0.
However, in 1999, 18 years after his retirement from football, Hickoff briefly returned for a year as the offensive coordinator at Sunny Brockport University, assisting the team to a 6-4 record.
Friday’s Hall of Fame induction was the third of such for Hickoff. In 1994 he was inducted into the 1994 Capital Area Hall of Fame and in 2003 he was named to the Adams County Hall of Fame.
“I don’t think I ever imagined I’d be at the place where I am today,” Hickoff said. “There’s only one real regret that I have. My father and mother passed away a long time ago and weren’t able to see how well their son has done.”