Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 5 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
My 1993 season started on August 21st when my wife presented me with a Morrisville schedule she obtained at the bank. This gave me the idea to visit schools and gain additional schedules as it was still pre-computer days for me, and I needed to write up the schedules in advance. On Tuesday 8/24/93 I visited Council Rock and Neshaminy and was successful in obtaining both teams’ schedules. The team was not out at Rock, and at Neshaminy, given directions by a young man, I walked through the gym where the team was inside in a blackboard session and on to a small office beyond where I was warmly greeted and given a schedule. I noted that this was a new wrinkle I should do each year, and for many years I did, soon with company.
I did not have a Suburban One league pass for 1993, breaking a three year run, but I would have them again for the next 8 consecutive seasons.
I noted an inauspicious beginning to this season. I soloed to Doylestown to see CB East host Pennridge in threatening weather, one of the reasons I was likely alone. The first half ended dry and with East leading 21-0. Then the heavens opened up and it was rain, and thunder and lightning and I beat it home soaked to the skin. When they did start the game again the final was CB East 35-13.
And I mention rain in many of my early-season games; it was obviously a rain-plagued season to start. And early in the year Bud 2 lost his dad, who had been at many games with me; was the reason his son and I met, was hosted by my wife and me one Thanksgiving, and was called “Pop” by me after a season or two. He had been a widower a long time and lived the last few years of his life with his son and his wife. He was a nice man.
In addition to the lack of the pass for the first time in three years and early rainy weather, and the loss of “Pop”, my wife did not make a game for the first time in 10 seasons. My brother in law (Bud 3) halved from 14 games to 7 this season. Unknowingly, 15 games with Bud 1 in company were the most I have for him in any given year. Next season would show a drastic reduction in games with company which was mostly due to my work situation. But it would rebound.
The Jewish holiday Friday break this season occurred for Friday September 24, and Bud 3 and I used the lack of activity here to make a third-straight-year trip to Berwick. This Friday night the Dawgs at 3-0 were hosting Wyoming Area also 3-0. I mentioned the best weather of the season so far in my notes, clear and cool. Berwick was trailing 7-6 with about 4 minutes left in the half when they roared back to take a 13-7 lead at the half. They tacked a second half TD on to win the game 20-7. It was a well-played game between two good upstate teams.
The Dawgs ended the season 13-1, losing in the Eastern final to Allentown Central Catholic 8-13. Wyoming Area had an 11-2 season.
Inexplicable this season was a 17-6 Norristown victory over CB West in the second game of the season for West. It was the Eagles’ first game as their original first game was rained out and rescheduled for later in the season. It was in Doylestown and the Eagles’ ended the year 6-4; while West played in another state championship. I never saw a review or remember explanations, but kudos to the Eagles. It was the only CB West game that I did not either see in person or listen to on the radio this season.
This year’s signature game was CB West 5-1, at Council Rock 5-1 on Saturday October 23rd in the afternoon. Bud 2, Bud 3 and son, and I took it in. Council Rock sustained a drive from the opening kickoff and went up 7-0. The Rock defense held pretty well, but a West fumble recovery gave them good field position and allowed a short-drive TD to even the score at 7 at the half. The West defense stiffened and held Rock at bay most of the third quarter. The Bucks’ drove and went up 14-7 just near the end of the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter the West punter dropped the snap and Rock’s Chiarello scooped it up for a 25-yard fumble-return defensive score. Rock passed for a 2-pt PAT and it was 15-14 Rock. Late in the game, an interception by CB West initiated a 71-yard, 13-play drive and two-point conversion to go up 22-15. But Rock answered with a 2 minute and 16 second drive capped by a 39 yard Wellen to Cozza pass that Cozza made a spectacular diving catch in the end zone and it was 22-21 West.
The Indians decided to go for two and the win. Wellen again put it up in the air. It was batted up in the air on the receiving end and both receiver and defender were right under the descending ball. West grabbed it at the goal line for another interception. About two minutes were left in the game. There was no more scoring, final CB West 22-21.
Rain is again mentioned in late October and early November as I mentioned on two consecutive games that “only Bud 1 and I braved the rain to see —“.
Another break in “normal team” following occurred on November 12 when Bud 2 was interested in seeing Souderton at Plymouth-Whitemarsh; a game which had division championship implications. This was both of our first-ever visits to P-W, and my only one to date. Souderton won 13-12 in a good ballgame and annexed their division’s title.
A trip to Coatesville was planned for me and Buds 2 and 3 for the CB West visit for the D1 Championship Friday 11/19. But Bud 2 was ill, the weather again threatening, and on this very day my bank was absorbed by a really big one and both my job and my wife’s job were under some uncertainty. I listened to the game on the radio.
Coatesville took a 21-18 lead into the locker room at halftime. The third quarter was scoreless. CB West scored twice in the fourth quarter and held off a furious last ditch effort to win the game 32-21.
Thanksgiving saw two firsts recorded this season. Bud 2 and I returned to Poppy Yoder field for my first-ever Pennridge-Quakertown classic which was also the first time I had ever seen Quakertown. Here I saw another current coach play as a student, RB George Banas, who was pretty much contained by the Rams this day. It was close and at 13-13 one point, but the Rams had the last two scores to win it 27-13.
We cancelled our planned trip to Lehigh for a CB West-Easton match again due to the weather. It was a scrum-oriented mud bath won by CB West 6-3.
No plan to go to Altoona was afoot and I listened to the championship game on radio. This year CB West was facing the number 2 or 3 ranked team in the country in North Hills. Their QB was ranked as the top QB prospect in the country, Eric Kasperowitz. (He now coaches Pine-Richland H S). There was also wide receiver Ken Bollens, both first team all state. On the defensive side of the ball North Hills had Seamus Murphy DL 6-5 250 first team all state, and DL Chris Barie 6-3 240 third team all-state. Lavar Arrington was a freshman RB and LB on the team also. Todd Volitis represented CB West for all-state, DL first team at 6-3 240.
CB West held a 14-0 lead until 9:00 minutes left in the game. Then the talent superiority kicked in as it is wont to do, and the Indians scored two 4th quarter TDs and with the last converted a 2-pt conversion try to win the game 15-14 with just a few seconds left. The West and WPIAL annexed the big school championship yet again.
Another glorious season was in the books. A total of 27 games were made, a fine season. Many firsts and highlights outlined in the narrative above were realized. Weather was a mess, though.
On August 18, 1994 I was notified by telephone that Buddy number 2 would miss this coming 1994 season due to job shifts at his employment. There might be a few exceptions. And my wife and my employment stabilized ok with the new bank, but by football season I was transferred from Newtown to Doylestown.
For the 1994 season Harry S. Truman was coming back in to the Power Ten Conference and William Tennent was going to Truman’s old division. William Tennent was also adding lights to their field for 1994. A not-that-often-used Saturday afternoon game destination was history.
On Saturday morning 8/20 I journeyed solo to Doylestown for my first-ever scrimmage, Phillipsburg NJ at CB West. I was surprised that the concession stands were open and humming and about 250 fans were in the stands. I made no notes, but thought that West looked to be good again this season. I knew that P-burg had a fine reputation for high school football.
Because Wednesday-Thursday was his weekend in his new work schedule, I picked up Bud 2 on a Thursday and we made my second school practice tour to Council Rock, Neshaminy and Bensalem. At Bensalem, A D Hart again presented me with a league pass. I was now set for the new season, my 44th.
My company factor dropped from 81% to 58% for 1994. I went to 10 of 24 games solo. My wife did get back for two contests, but Bud 1 dropped from an all-time high of 15 to 6 for 1994. It was due to my choice of games, and my work situation, as I will explain later.
Bud 2’s work situation narrowed him to only 2 contests for 1994, and Bud 3 got to 8, one up from 7 in 1993. It was what had to be, and the numbers would go back up before this tradition just about disappeared.
CB West had been to another state championship game in a losing cause, but they were still the team to beat in my local area. I would see 10 of their 12 games this season, my record for that team, or any team for that matter. The opener was Chester at Doylestown. I had last seen the Clippers in 1962 in a 0-54 loss to Neshaminy; 32 years back.
The Bucks led the game 22-0 in the fourth quarter, with senior QB Snyder throwing strong accurate passes. Receiver drops kept the score from being greater. The Clippers then did score against the first D; but the second tally was a scooped up 67-yard fumble return against the subs to end the game 22-14 CB West.
Bud 3 and son, and Bud 1 and I wanted to see some history made at Council Rock who had portable lights for the first night game at this Rock stadium on Friday, September 9, 1994.
And next-door neighbor Neshaminy was the foe. Two quick Rock scores made it look like it was going to be a runaway. But things settled down and the final was Rock 21, Neshaminy 6.
I noted: “Neshaminy looks to be in for a rough year while Rock looks to challenge” in my game notes. Right and wrong. Neshaminy did flop in legendary coach Dick Bedesem’s last year at Neshaminy ending 1-10 on the field and officially 2-9 as they were awarded a win for a loss for this game, as Rock ran into an ineligible player situation. But Rock didn’t fare much better, officially posting a 2-9 record because of reversing four wins due to the ineligible. On the field they were only 6-5 though.
Norristown was the surprise this season opening a week later and with CB West in town. I have never seen a game at Roosevelt Stadium so I report that the Bucks won this one 34-24. That was the last time the Eagles would lose this season, finishing 9-1. The district playoffs were expanded to four teams this season, but the Eagles 9-1 was not good enough to make it.
I saw the Eagles twice; the first at Council Rock October 8th. The Indians moved the ball fairly well on the ground, but turned the ball over on fumbles twice deep in the red zone. In fact they turned the ball over 7 times in the game, not a formula for success.
The game remained 0-0 for a long time before Rock eventually cracked the goal line and took a 6-0 lead —–for about 13 seconds. The ensuing kickoff got to speed burner Daimon Carroll for the Eagles and 92 yards later with PAT it was 7-6 Norristown.
With about 8:00 left in the ballgame, the Eagles other speed merchant Jeff Butler raced 58 yards off tackle to seal it for the Eagles’ 14-6. This was a solo trip for me.
Two weeks later, I soloed to see the Eagles again at Falcon Field. I purposely sat close to Mike Pettine who was scouting the Falcons, CB West’s next week’s opponent.
I did not bother him except halftime and times when I saw he was not involved on the field. I mentioned the speed of Carroll, and Mike said he was the fastest he had ever seen, and THAT is a testimonial. A good game and study of opposites. Pennsbury’s pound and ball control worked and produced three scores. But the Eagles big-play philosophy worked even better and produced four scores. Most of the third and fourth quarters were tied 20-20. But the Eagle speed produced one more than the Falcons and it ended 26-20 Norristown.
One aspect of the new bigger bank I now worked for was that I was transferred from Newtown to Doylestown to work as I mentioned earlier. As a result, when football season started I would grab a bite and go right from work to War Memorial Field for CB East or West games. This led to less involvement of Buddy 3 that usually rode with me to games, and as I said Buddy 2 was out this season due to work shift changes. The fact that I was in Doylestown so much isolated me from Buddy 1 who primarily followed Bensalem and Neshaminy. I noted that I soloed to five games in a row at one point in the year.
The District One AAAA semi final at CB West had an oddity this season in that both star running backs for West and Wissahickon were named Lowe. West had Bill Lowe and the Trojans had Shawn Lowe. They were possibly cousins, but that is unfounded.
Both did their stuff in the game. Bill Lowe had about 200 yards rushing and a TD and they won the game. The Trojan’s Shawn Lowe had about 175 yards and two TDs. Tied at 7; and then 14 at the half, the Bucks’ adjusted and scored the only TD in the second half (4th quarter) to win 21-14. I made a note: “In the other D1 semi-final Downingtown blasted Springfield Delco 56-13; and I would make them the favorite at CB West next Friday night”.
Sometimes I’m right. My brother-in-law and my nephew joined me for the D1 championship game and I noted it was good to have them back. West was hosting Downingtown. This was the game it was expected to be. It ended 14-7 Downingtown. Their star running backs Aaron Harris and Bryn Boggs did not hurt the Bucks so much, but a counter to a third back plus a long halfback option pass to Harris and a not much heralded defense that was very solid kept the Bucks’ at bay. I noted, “The Whippets look capable of a state championship”.
They didn’t win it this year, but they did make it to states, and it was only a 14-17 loss to McKeesport; and they did win it in 1996. Yet again, the west and WPIAL won the big one; there is still some magnificent football in western PA beyond the days of Montana, Ditka, Marino, and so many more.
The two of us that saw the Turkey Day game at Pennridge in 1993 were joined by Bud 3 for the reverse, Pennridge at Quakertown in 1994. It was my first visit to the Panthers’ Alumni Field. The game was even – no score through three quarters.
A 70-yard fake reverse opened the door to a 7-0 Quakertown victory. Unfortunately it was not so much good defenses that kept the score low as somewhat inept offensive lines. I do not think the stats were impressive for this game.
On Thanksgiving Saturday 1994 I did something I never did before or since. I journeyed alone to Goodman Stadium, Lehigh to see the 3A state semi-final between Berwick and Allentown Central Catholic. Trips of an hour or more I seldom did alone, it was just too boring.
I just never was so cranked to keep a season going and I knew exactly how to get there. Berwick took a 7-0 lead and then fell behind 7-12 at the half. But the Dawgs opened the second half with a TD and 2-pt conversion to go up 15-12. They never relinquished the lead, but the Vikings moved the ball well and the game was in doubt. The final score was Berwick 29 ACC 18. I was still inspired and wanted to motor to Hershey for the Dawgs’ next playoff game.
My brother-in-law (Bud 3) agreed with me so out we motored to Hershey on Friday December 2. Even though I had gone through two bank acquisitions, my work record went from 1959-1994, so I had 35 years seniority and ample time I could take off for these occasions. Bud 3 worked where he could schedule his time and work load, so we both were free to go on a Friday.
This was arguably one of the best high school football games I ever witnessed. It was Manheim Central 13-0 versus Berwick 12-1; Eastern AAA Championship, state semi-final. The Dawgs’ recovered a fumble early and drove in for a 7-0 lead. Manheim answered with the best short, quick passing game I’ve ever seen, 7-7. If they can’t stop something, continue to use it, and Manheim did and drove to a second score and 2-pt conversion 15-7 Manheim Central.
Berwick drove and stalled at the Central 6 or 7 yard line. They settled for a field goal 15-10 Manheim Central. The Dawgs defense stiffened and held and then Dawg junior QB Dave Robbins launched a strike that the receiver jumped up and caught between double coverage in the end zone.
The 2-pt conversion attempt was no good and it was 16-15 Berwick. The Dawgs D had figured out the quick passes by the last series, so Manheim Central next scored on a 60-yard running TD burst. They were successful in their 2-point conversion and the first half ended 23-16 Manheim Central.
Having won the original coin toss and deferred, Berwick received the second half kickoff, drove the field and scored and then kicked the PAT and it was 23-23. The Dawgs D looked tighter in the 2nd half and they scored again, but missed the PAT and it was 29-23.
With about 2 minutes left in the game the Barons’ scored and made the PAT kick and took a 30-29 lead. But Berwick returned the ensuing kickoff to good field position and then a 15-yard penalty on the Barons shortened the field to where another Robbins pass found its mark to make it 35-30. A Robbins 2-point pass conversion made it 37-30 with 1:18 left to play. I said to my brother-in-law; that’s too much time for this Barons’ offense, they can score again. I was almost right by a hair. Manheim put on a pro-like 2-minute drill and ended up on the Berwick 4-yard line with time remaining.
Another short pass was launched and number 90 caught it, but he was wearing the visitors white of Berwick, a game-saving end zone interception. The Dawgs still had to run a play or two, but it was over 37-30 Berwick. A truly great game and way to end my 44th season.
I saw 24 games this time around. Also saw my first scrimmage, did the first of many to come all-day school pre-season visits, first (and only) long haul game solo, first visit to Hershey Stadium, first triple A playoff game seen, and my first visit to Quakertown’s Alumni Stadium. These factors were important to how I rated my seasons.
The year of 1995 was the year the PIAA eliminated ties and made the overtime rule mandatory. New coaches this season would be Mike Pettine Jr. at William Tennent, Biz Keeney at Bensalem, a new man at Morrisville, and Mark Schmidt at Neshaminy. I was negligent in my records keeping over the years in regards to coaching. I wish I had done better now that I write about such things.
My early notes dated August 12 had the coaching notes above, and also that Bensalem A D Bob Hart had seen my wife at the bank and said he had a pass for me again this season. I noted – “a weaker season for CB West (2 losses)? They did end 10-2. Obviously all of the years I had been to high school football were imparting some knowledge to me.
On Saturday August 19th on the way home from a Saturday bank work day in Doylestown, I stopped to catch a scrimmage in progress, Easton at CB East. I liked the East offense this year and I would see 7 of their games.
On Wednesday August 23, Bud 2 and I made our day of practice stops and we hit CB West, Council Rock, Pennsbury, Morrisville, Neshaminy, Bensalem and Tennent.
It was a bit too early. West and Rock had no schedules (published) yet, it was all quiet at Neshaminy, and Bob Hart wasn’t in at Bensalem. We did some kibitzing where there was activity.
I had three reasons to open at Bensalem this season.
One, to thank AD Hart for the pass, two, to see Bud 1 yet another season; and three, to see Penn Wood, the visiting team I had never seen before. Bud 3, his son and I made the jaunt. It was here that I found out that Bob Hart was battling cancer.
But he is with us in 2016, so he must have been successful over the last 20+ years. In what could not have been a very exciting game the Penn Wood Patriots won 6-0.
Bethlehem Freedom at Council Rock the next day was my second outing, I met Bud 1 there. Council Rock looked real good in spurting out to a 27-0 lead and then playing subs which scored 21 more while allowing the Freedom Patriots to score 27. Final 48-27 CR. I was still not writing the games up as I would in later years, actual score-by-score descriptions with names. I was still working; the better game descriptions came closer to retirement.
I soloed for CB East the next Friday. For any reader unfamiliar with the CB West- East situation; both schools played at War Memorial Field in Doylestown. Only in 2015 did CB East open their stadium at the school in Holicong. I was the only one of our 4-posse that had much interest in East. It was a drizzly night but I wanted to see an improved Truman and very improved CB East. I wasn’t disappointed in East, their Delaware Wing-T with deceptive motion and counters looked very good behind their sizable line on both sides of the ball. I noted I wanted to see more of them and predicted a high finish this season.
I couldn’t get away from the Patriots this year as one team in each of my first three games was “Patriots”; Penn Wood, Freedom, and CB East.
Next day I de-Patriotized and saw CB West at Pennsbury with Bud 1. CB West had a line rebuilding job to do. I noted that it appeared that they will rely on defense and a power-running game this season. But as they always execute, they will do alright. I thought Norristown, Council Rock, and CB East might give them a challenge. I made a point to see those three matches when they occurred. But this game at Pennsbury was only 16-6 CB West, closer than some of the challenges that I mentioned.
The next Friday was the Norristown (2-0) at CB West (2-0) game and I went right to it from work in Doylestown. Coach Pettine usually deferred if he won the toss, but in no way wanted to put the ball in the hands of Daimon Carroll, a senior Eagle this season. They won the toss and took the ball. The Bucks power running game and keep-away strategy, along with staunch defense allowed a Bucks’ 21-0 bulge at halftime. Sure enough, the second half kickoff to Norristown inadvertently got to Carroll and he promptly returned it 90 yards for the Eagles lone TD of the night. We had a group of 7 for this game including Bud 2 (on vacation) and his wife, who usually didn’t go to many games, a friend of Bud 3 and him, and two children.
On Friday September 29 North Penn came to Doylestown and turned the table on the Bucks’. North Penn played flawless and the Bucks’ fumbled three times in the first half. Knights’ premier running back Harold Padgett was a bludgeon and the Knights’ lines were superior this night on both sides of the ball. When a pass was necessary the Knights connected. Final 19-14 North Penn. This was an upset as the Knights ended up 7-4 while the Bucks had a 10-2 season as I had predicted.
This only heightened my apprehension for West this season. Next, Council Rock was away on Saturday October 21. Here a rain-soaked heavy wet field reduced the game to a shoving match. The Bucks’ used one drive off of a fumble recovery to score and come away a 7-0 victor.
A rain-switched Monday night game, P-W at Tennent allowed me to see my first game at night under Tennent’s second-year lights. P-W was 8-0 and came from behind to win this one 33-13.
Saturday Nov 11 CB East and CB West met for all of the marbles. Both teams were 7-1 in the league (North Penn had also beaten East 27-7 and was also 7-1 in the league, having lost to Pennsbury). I soloed with my pass for an SRO position and I stood at the fence on the visitors’ side, scoreboard end about 2 yards deep in the end zone.
Fortunately, a lot of activity was at my end zone. Early CB East drove deep into West territory but was stopped on fourth and one near my end of the viewing area. The quarter ended 0-0 and West was coming my way in the second, and scored. West took the second half kickoff and staged one of their patented ball-control drives using almost the entire third quarter with numerous 4th down situations and even a fake punt. This TD was also in front of me. After I left a long interception return made the final 26-0 CB West a bit of a surprising score.
CB West again obtained home field for the first round of D1 play because Coatesville was upset by Conestoga the prior Friday.
Bud 3 and I took it in; he hadn’t been to many games in 1995 and was indeed pulling away from high school football. Coatesville was big physically. And they moved the ball behind that girth; and probably had more yardage and first downs than CB West. But you can’t be mistake-prone on West and win, and the Red Raiders turned the ball over five times. This led to a 25-0 CB West bulge when we left. Coatesville did score to make the final 25-6.
I rarely visited Bristol other than Turkey-day games versus Morrisville, but I wanted to see the District 1 one-A championship game there versus Jenkintown. The Drakes got a 20-7 lead; but at halftime led 20-14. I left with 2 minutes left in the game and it was 28-20 Bristol. The teams traded TDs in the last two minutes to make the final Bristol 34-26. I could add a Class A District 1 championship game to my resume.
On Friday November 17 I went to Neshaminy to see the regional class 1A game between Bristol and St Pius X of Rosetto. I did not expect much for Bristol because Pius was a storied 1A program at 10-1 (Bristol was 5-4) and the Royals were putting up scores such as 62, 59, and 48 in some of their games. Both offenses put on a fine first half show with Bristol actually leading at the half 21-19. But the senior-laden Royals led by 6-4 200 QB Stambaugh owned the 2nd half. And I had seen yet another future head coach to be. The final was St Pius X 31-21, not bad considering the two teams records.
While I was at this game CB West was losing to Plymouth-Whitemarsh 0-16 at P-W in the D1 AAAA semi-final. The two losses I predicted in August for CB West were a reality.
Thanksgiving means high school football and this time Bud 2 and Bud 3 and I caught a late-schedule change Upper Merion at North Penn. The normal Knights’ opponent, Lansdale Catholic was involved in playoffs. This was my first-ever Upper Merion Vikings viewing. It was 14-0 UM through most of the game until about 3 and one half minutes left in the game when the Knights converted on a recovered fumble deep in the Vikings red zone for a short drive 14-7 final.
With that my season abruptly ended. My bank schedule now had me alternating one week in Doylestown and one week in Philadelphia and on Phila Fridays it was tough to make games. This and lack of interest by any of my Buds in pursuing playoffs made any more games not possible. Still with no computer and as such having trouble getting some information, I dropped Berwick from my records after this season; I had picked them up in 1991 the first season we got up there to see them. Later, I added one or two teams to my records each season as “guest schools”. These are usually teams that have a shot at a State Championship from District’s 1, 11, or 12. This was only possible after the PC was a household item for obtaining information on such teams.
Despite the sudden end to the season, I made 26 games this season the kind of total that I liked.
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