Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

July 12, 2011

Fort Hill great Steve Trimble dies at 53

Record-setting back led Sentinels to ’75 state title before going on to Maryland, NFL

Arlington — ARLINGTON, Va. — Steve Trimble, one of the Cumberland area’s all-time greatest athletes and the head football coach at Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School in Arlington, died Monday in his office at the school. He was 53.

O’Connell Athletic Director Joe Wootten told the Washington Post he was told that Trimble had been running on the school’s track on Monday morning and was later found in his office around 11 a.m.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Wootten told the Post. “He was in great shape. He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke. He was a healthy guy.”

Born May 11, 1958, Trimble is survived by his wife Gretchen and his four sons, Jeremy, Jordan, Justin and Joshua, who played for their father at Bishop O’Connell. Jeremy, Jordan and Justin went on to play football at West Point, while Josh plans to play football as a freshman at Virginia Tech this fall.

Steve Trimble was the son of Russell L. Trimble Sr. and the late Delores Eleanor Trimble. He was the brother of Russell L. Trimble Jr., Leslie D. Trimble and Gerald L. Trimble.

A 1976 graduate of Fort Hill High School and a 1980 graduate of the University of Maryland, Trimble was a member of the National Honor Society at Fort Hill and played football, basketball and ran track for the Sentinels.

As a tailback and a defensive back, Trimble was the Thom McAn-Cumberland Times-News High School Football Player of the Year in 1975, leading Fort Hill to the Maryland Class A (now 3A) state championship with a 12-0 record. Through the first nine games of the season, he established a Cumberland City scoring record that previously had been set by former Allegany High great and future Ohio State University head football coach Earle “Lefty” Bruce in 1948. Trimble would finish the 1975 season with 200 points and 1,677 rushing yards in 12 games.

Along with his teammates, fullback Lyle Peck and tackle Bruce Metz, Trimble was named to the Maryland All-State football team. He was a multiple state-champion and state record-holder in track and field, winning state titles and establishing state marks in both the 120-yard high hurdles and 330-yard intermediate hurdles. He also held the Fort Hill school record in the triple jump and was a member of record-setting relay teams.

 Trimble and Peck received football scholarships to Maryland where they joined former Fort Hill teammate, quarterback Mark Manges.

“He was the best athlete there ever was,” an emotional Manges said on Monday evening. “Jump higher, run faster ... run harder than anybody.

“Timing ... (Former Fort Hill and Ohio State quarterback) Greg (Hare) and I left (Fort Hill) and Steve had been scoring seven touchdowns a game for my father (Coach Roy Manges) for the VFW Patriots in the Cumberland Youth League. He got to Fort Hill and his sophomore year there was nowhere to put him (on the varsity).

“So he played his year on the jayvee team. Never complained, never did anything but his best. Then, he got up to the varsity for good and he set records. He broke all the records. He was a stud. But if the timing had been better for him, he would have broken records that never would have been touched.

“The timing wasn’t as good for Steve as it was for Greg and me. But you’d never know it by him.”

Trimble, whose No. 44 was retired by Fort Hill in 1992, was a member of the 1976 Atlantic Coast Conference champion Terrapins that played in the Cotton Bowl against Houston and finished 11-1, ranked No. 8 in the country. In 1978, he was a starting cornerback for the Maryland team that finished 9-3, ranked No. 20 in the country, and played in the Sun Bowl against Texas. He was a three-time letter-winner at Maryland and graduated in 1980.

Trimble played free safety for the NFL Denver Broncos (1981-83) and the Chicago Bears (1984), the USFL Denver Gold (1984-85) and the Denver Dynamite of the Arena League (1987). He was on the coaching staffs of the New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Detroit Drive (Arena League). He also made coaching stops at the University of Colorado, Howard University, New Mexico Highlands University and DeMatha Catholic High School.

He was honored in 1985 by the Dapper Dan Club of Allegany County as its Top Award recipient for bringing the most national recognition to the Cumberland area through athletics.

Trimble was hired at O’Connell in 1999 as a security officer and assistant football coach. In Dec. 2002, he was named head varsity football coach, succeeding longtime head coach Darrell Snyder. In 2008, he was named Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Coach Of The Year after leading O’Connell to a 6-4 record. He recently was promoted to assistant dean of discipline at the school.

O'Connell posted the following message on the school’s website:

“It is with a heavy heart that we let our school community know of the passing today of Mr. Steve Trimble, beloved mentor and football coach at Bishop O'Connell High School since 1999. Mr. Trimble is survived by his wife, Gretchen, and four sons: Jeremy, Jordan, Justin and Joshua.

“The Trimble family is in our hearts and our prayers today.

“We will pass along funeral arrangements when they become available.”

“Just like all the Trimbles,” Manges said of Steve Trimble. “Big smile; easy smile. Always a happy person. Just like Russ, Les and Gerald, and, of course Mr. and Mrs. Trimble. I played with Russ and Les, and I played with Steve. And what I’ll always remember about him is that smile and that sweet attitude.

“It hurts. This is a great family ... This is too much.

“I preach to the choir. Steve Trimble was the best there was.”

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at

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