Bloomfield HS football legend Frank Tripucka’s legacy honored by state

Star QB to be posthumously inducted into the NJSIAA’s Hall of Fame

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield High School legendary football star Frank Tripucka will be posthumously inducted into the latest New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame class.

Tripucka is among the seven former student-athletes and administrators who comprise the induction class. These inductees will be honored at a luncheon on Sunday, March 19, at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village, located in Princeton.

Tripucka joins his son, Kelly Tripucka, a former BHS Bengal basketball star who was inducted into the NJSIAA’s Hall of Fame in 2006. 

Frank Tripucka was a 1945 BHS graduate who was a captain on the football, basketball and baseball teams. He will be inducted for his football achievements. In his senior season in 1944 for the football team, Tripucka was a quarterback who led Bloomfield to a state championship, throwing for 15 touchdowns and running for 14 scores. 

Tripucka was also an excellent baseball player, leading the Bengals to two Greater Newark Tournament championship game appearances in 1944 and 1945. The Bengals won the 1945 GNT title – then considered the mythical state championship.

Tripucka continued his football career at Notre Dame, one of the most storied football programs in the nation. He was a member of Notre Dame’s national championship teams in 1946 and 1947, and was the star on the undefeated 1948 squad that finished No. 2 in the nation. 

Tripucka was a first-round draft pick, ninth overall, by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1949. He also played for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Texans, playing for a total of four seasons for the three teams. Tripucka also played in the Canadian Football League for seven seasons and the American Football League for four seasons. In the AFL, he started all 14 games in the Denver Broncos’ inaugural 1960 season, throwing the first TD pass in AFL history and passing for 3,038 yards to become the first player to ever pass for over 3,000 yards in either the AFL or NFL. He played four seasons for Denver. In 1986, he was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Honor. In all, he played 15 professional football seasons. 

Tripucka died on Sept. 12, 2013 at the age of 85.

Kelly Tripucka is considered one of the greatest basketball players in state history. A 1977 BHS graduate, Kelly Tripucka scored 2,278 points in three seasons at Bloomfield. After playing at Notre Dame where he was an All-American, Tripucka was a first-round draft pick by the NBA’s Detroit Pistons in 1981 and played 10 seasons in the NBA with the Pistons, Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets.

The other NJSIAA Hall of Fame inductees this year are Bob Bianchi (posthumously) of Columbia High School for boys lacrosse; Lou Creekmur of Woodbridge High School for football; Jack DuBois, a retired NJSIAA assistant director; Mike Grey of the Delbarton School for wrestling; Larry White, a retired NJSIAA executive director; and Ajeé Wilson of Neptune High School for track-and-field.

“Every year we have a new class of inductees, and every year we’re collectively amazed by the achievements of the individuals who’ve been selected,” NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire said. “That there’s this seemingly inexhaustible supply of talent and commitment speaks to the long, proud history of scholastic sports in New Jersey.”