Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 18 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
In early 2008 I received a call from Bud 1’s wife informing me that he was in a nursing home in the Langhorne-Penndel area and recuperating (no information on what/why). I got directions and made a visit in late February or early March. He was sitting up in bed and looking as good as always, smiling and joking, showing and claiming no discomfort; seemingly possibly better than a while. We had a nice visit, the only time I had ever seen him outside of high school football, or way back in the 1960’s, basketball games. He was expecting to be released in a short period.
I was indeed shocked to see his obituary in the Bucks County Courier Times in April 2008. A unique relationship extending over 46 years and hundreds of high school football games was over. I felt it deeply and it had an effect on my high school viewing for some time thereafter.
The 2008 season would be my 58th. For the first time in 5 years I did not see the annual June all-star game. My attendance at this game was driven primarily by Bud 1, now gone. I only went to socialize for this game; I was not a fan of summer football.
On July 20, 2008 I made up my paper schedules for the season; the earliest ever. This was a good sign and it was thanks to their being available on easternPAfootball.com.
No pre-season camp visits were made, primarily due to all of the coaching changes. The next season, 2009, I made a solo pre-season visit, and that was the finale.
I soloed to the LaSalle-Pennsbury scrimmage Friday 8/22 at Falcon Field. I ran into Bud 4 there, who I did not contact much anymore, knowing he was a Morrisville stat man and tied to their schedule. The scrimmage was pretty even. Pennsbury had a good team again, and certainly the Explorers did as well; they were only a year away from a 4A state championship.
I soloed to Pennsbury for the season-opener with Archbishop Ryan, and noted that this would be the normal situation this season with Bud 1 deceased, Bud 2 staying only locally, Bud 3 only Thanksgiving, and Bud 4 tied to Morrisville. The Falcons were highly rated, but inexperienced, and it showed with 4 fumbles and 2 picks. The game was in the ending, and, as usual I left with about 4:30 left and missed it; heard it on the radio travelling home. Archbishop Ryan scored with 30 seconds left in the game, missed the PAT, but had a 20-14 lead at that juncture. Falcon QB Pepper completed a pass to the Raiders 15-yard line and out of bounds. The clock expired, but the officials met and put one second back on the clock. Pepper then promptly ran it in from 15 yards out and the PAT was good with no time left, 21-20 Falcons. Raider Coach Galeone protested the game, but I think the score eventually stood.
Next Friday I repeated to Pennsbury for Frankford and the Falcons. The Pioneers looked big and burly and also featured a run-oriented offense. And they outrushed Pennsbury this game 255 yards to 163. The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter 3-3.
Then Frankford drove it in with a capping 3-yard plunge, 10-3 Pioneers at the half. The Falcons took the second half kickoff and drove the field, knotting it at 10. With 6:05 left in the game the Falcons’ Montgomery hit a 23-yard field goal to make it Pennsbury 13-10. The next Falcon possession, Pepper iced it with a 10-yard TD and PAT was a botched run, final 19-10 Pennsbury.
The next day, Sunday 9/6/2008 I was shocked to read of the death of Council Rock South line coach Bruce Stansbury that occurred suddenly after his team’s Friday night 35-14 win at CB East. I had spoken with him once or twice and did not know him as well as some other coaches, but he was known as a fine coach and gentleman. He had been with Mike Ortman at Morrisville 1982-1988 and Rock North 1989-2001, moving to C Rock South when it opened in 2002. I always thought that he facially very much resembled a cousin of mine. This cousin was the youngest brother of the cousin that got me into high school football in 1951; and so I make another ethereal connection in my long hobby.
Tropical Storm Hanna moved some games and gave me and Bud 2 a chance to see Tennent’s newly renovated stadium on Monday night 9/8/2008. It is truly a great field now; best bathroom facilities of any stadium. The game was CB West at Tennent. We spoke with HC Biz Keeney pre-game, our first with him in quite some time, but he remembered us. West’s Rasheed Williams returned the opening kickoff 97 yards to the house. Quickly 6-0 Bucks’. They led 12-0 at the half and the Panthers looked small and had troubles tackling, in one case taking 7 defenders to make a stop. It was all West 25-7 final.
I missed the Friday night 9/19 Pennsbury-Council Rock North game in Newtown due to being ill. I believe that this was about only the second or third time in 58 years that I have such an entry. Thank goodness, rarely was I not well enough to go to a game———yet!
I was good enough the next night to visit Truman and a Conwell-Egan – Cardinal Dougherty matchup. I noted –“small squads, no bands, and no C-E cheerleaders (?), makes the PCL different to see.” It was expected to be no-contest and it was. Egan put up 303 rushing yards and 117 passing and won the game handily 40-6. I noted that C-E’s QB Della-Croce looked good along with tall receiver Golin. Also RB Tretter looked good and that dinged FB Benedetti should be back soon. I moved to the away side at the half as I noticed the Pennsbury gatekeeper, was there and as I knew him well, had a nice quarter or more visit.
I returned to Truman the following Friday night to see Neshaminy at Truman, mainly because I rarely got to Neshaminy with all of the construction involvement there. I spoke briefly with Coach Schmidt as for some reason he entered the field alone after the team was already warming up, and he took a minute to speak with me. Another mismatch was expected and occurred, 42-0 Skins. This was the third consecutive shutout for the Redskins.
On Friday 10/3 I motored to Doylestown and met Bud 2 for North Penn (5-0) at CB West (2-3). Yet another lopsided contest was anticipated. The programs were now far apart from the Pettine-Pettine era and it was 47-7 Knights’.
A now rare Friday-Saturday chance saw me at Pennsbury the next night. Yet a fourth-in-a-row blowout was expected and occurred, Pennsbury (4-1) over Truman (0-5) 40-0. At least I again had some social contact speaking with my gatekeeper friend and Falcon kicking Coach Chuck Galambos; who was the quarterback for Morrisville in the first game I ever saw in October 1951. Tony Schino was now at Pennsbury, and I spoke to him for some length also.
The following Friday night at Pennsbury set my all-time social night experience. Bensalem was at Pennsbury. Because I knew them all, I sat with 6 former Morrisville football players, who were taking in the game. Bud 4 was one of them along with Bill Swope, Jerry Coffee, Ed Neumann, Jack Weaver, Denny Poland, plus Phil Lanctot, formerly of Morrisville who had played for Bishop Egan. Then Rick Lee, ex-Morrisville player and ex-Bensalem and Neshaminy coach stopped by to chat with us all. Through school or banking I knew all of them save Jerry Coffee to whom introductions were made.
These Owls, while 3-4 were expected to play tough and they did. It was but 7-0 Falcons at the half. A third quarter safety made the Falcons edge 9-0 and then still in the third Montgomery hit a field goal to make it 12-0 Falcons at the end of three. In the fourth quarter with about 7 minutes to go, a Pepper to Williams 49-yard aerial set up a TD; with PAT 19-0 Falcons. A long 75 yard pass/run by Owls Davis averted the shutout, 19-7 Falcons.
I was so elated about all of the social activity that I noted from my computerized records that it was my 790th game; and 165th Falcon game and 85th Owls game.
The day after my 67th birthday, I motored to Doylestown for Quakertown (5-2) at CB East (4-3). I thought that Bud 2 might just be there and I was correct. This was a very good, back-and-forth contest quite different than most I had seen this season. It was 6-0 East; then 6-6; 14-6 Quakertown; 14-14; 20-14 East; and finally 21-20 Quakertown at the half. The defenses showed up for the second half and only a single Panther score with missed PAT made the final Quakertown 27-20.
On Friday October 24th, Bud 2 tripped down from Hatfield and we motored to Falcon Field for a 7-1 Falcon versus 7-1 Abington matchup. This seemed to be the social field for whatever reason and we ran into and spoke with Neshaminy coaches Schmidt and Grove, and sat with ex-Bulldog athletes Denny Poland and Bob Lee, and eventually Bud 4. Saw and spoke with Rick Lee, and the Falcon’s gatemen and earlier all the Pennsbury Coaches briefly as they left their warm-up field next to the field house.
The Falcons, behind their fine O line got the ball and scored early for a 7-0 lead. Still in the first, the ghosts tied it at 7. A 40-yard Montgomery field goal made it 10-7 Falcons at the half.
In the third period Montgomery hit another FG, this one from 25 yards; 13-7 Falcons. Still in the third quarter the Ghosts Hensley made a great 34-yard pass reception and with the PAT the Ghosts got their first lead 14-13. Halfway through the 4th quarter, the Falcons’ Lollis took an inside reverse and raced 64 yards to paydirt; just as Bud 2 and I were leaving.
A 2-point PAT was converted to make it 21-14 Falcons. A Falcon interception then led to another Montgomery FG (19 yards) and the final score 24-14 Pennsbury.
On Halloween night I again chose not to go to a game on a nice, temperate evening. I tried to listen to the Pennsbury-Neshaminy internet radio of WBCB, but in the second half it kept cutting out. Neshaminy won 16-13, and I noted “heard all scoring”, so it must have been all in the first half, or before it began cutting out.
Likewise I eschewed the PIAA playoff game at Neshaminy against Downingtown East. It was the construction-parking issue that had me gun-shy for games at Heartbreak Ridge. The construction was supposed to be finished by 2009; so I would see.
I did solo to Falcon Field for a PIAA playoff game with Penncrest in; my first-ever viewing of that Central League team. Bill Heller was now coaching defensive tackles for the Falcons and I hailed and spoke with him a bit at the practice field early, as the team came into the field house.
The Falcons received and drove right down the field, capped by an Applegate 3-yard dive, Montgomery PAT 7-0 Falcons. Later in the first, Montgomery hit a 20-yard field goal and the first ended 10-0 Falcons. Penncrest’s speedy Boyer then burst for a 63-yard score and it was only 10-7. But the Falcons answered immediately on an Applegate 51-yard scamper, and it was 17-7 Falcons. A Lion drive and Boyer 2-yard plunge made it 17-14. But, just before the half, Applegate again ran it in from the 6, and the half ended 24-14 Pennsbury.
The only score in the third quarter was a Falcon Pepper to Devine 13-yard TD pass; and the third ended 31-14 Falcons. In the fourth quarter an almost exact repeat – Pepper to Devine; 11 yards, and of course Montgomery PAT made it 38-14 with about 6 minutes left and my signal to make for an exit. After I left, the Falcon’s Washington returned an interception 48 yards to the house to make the final 45-14 Pennsbury.
On Friday 11/14 I had intended to try a run to Neshaminy for their playoff game with Ridley. But my wife had some knee surgery around this time and I was needed at home.
Thanksgiving was the closure this season as it had been back in the olden days before playoffs. And with my brother-in-law’s children now out of South Hunterdon, likely our last tie to this game as the T-Day choice. It was another 37-8 pounding by a much bigger Del Val program now, and if this series didn’t end; it did for us. Bud 3 and I met up with Bud 2 at South for the game and very social day which it was for all of us now.
I only made 12 games in 2008, down from 15 in 2007. I was starting to doubt the possibility of getting 20 games in anymore. The death of Bud 1 was a factor. There were games in the past that I chose to do just because I knew he would be there for company. I still shunned the construction at Neshaminy, bad traffic venues, weather situations I used to go in but not now, and health issues for my wife, myself, and even our beloved dog weighed on my mind.
I stayed mainly close to home with games at Pennsbury, Truman, Tennent, and Doylestown. No visit to Council Rock, the closest stadium to me, was rare. I had not the heart to visit Bensalem yet, so many Bud 1 memories there.
During my “golden years’ era” of 1989 through 2004 inclusive, I had seen 417 games for an average of 26 games each season. For 2005 through 2008 I saw 67 for an average of about 17 games per season.
Although I had many categories or components that made up my seasons’ status, the number of games seen was always the prime factor. And that was down 9 games a season from its acme.
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