Throwback Thursday: The 1969 Mount Carmel Area
In 1969, Mt. Carmel fielded perhaps the greatest team in its long and storied football history. The Red Tornadoes won 12 straight, climaxing a brilliant season with a 47-6 rout of Valley View in the Eastern Conference championship game. Valley View was a new combination of Blakely, Jessup and Archbald – Blakely had frustrated Mt. Carmel 13-6 in the previous year’s title game.
The brightest star on this formidable team was Gary Diminick, one of six football-playing sons of Tornado coach Joe “Jazz” Diminick. In 1969, Gary rushed for 2,099 yards, then a Pennsylvania scholastic record. He scored 38 touchdowns and 244 points, also a state record. His four-year career total offense total was 4,252 yards including 73 touchdowns. He was named All-American, All-State and All-Anthracite after the brilliant 1969 season. In 1968, he had been selected a second team All-State halfback.
This team was led by senior co-captains Diminick and tackle Bob Chuprinski, but most of the talented manpower belonged to the junior class. In 1970, Mt. Carmel again rolled through an 11 game regular season schedule, only to lose the Eastern title game in a 14-8 heart-breaker at Valley View. The Tornadoes had won 23 straight games.
The legendary Jazz Diminick is a native of neighboring Kulpmont where he starred on the unbeaten untied 1944 Wildcat team. He had a stellar collegiate career at Boston College then had a tryout with the New York Giants and played one year of professional football. He served a year as an assistant at Kulpmont helping coach the perfect record 1951 Wildcats.
Moving to Coal Township, he assisted Walter Marshall for four years, including the great 1955 Coal team, and was head man for the Purple Demons in 1956 and 1957. After two years at Susquenita, he spent a year at Levittown, New Jersey ( now Willingboro ), and a year assisting George Chaump at Shamokin. When Mike Terry died suddenly at the end of the 1961 season, Jazz took the reins at Mt. Carmel.
After winning the first eight games of the 1969 schedule, Mt. Carmel faced unbeaten nemesis Shikellamy, itself a jointure of former Big 15 member Sunbury and cross-river rival Northumberland. The Red Tornadoes prevailed 28-6 as Diminick scored four touchdowns. 9,000 at the home Silver Bowl saw the ace back run for 211 yards on 32 workhorse carries, despite a rain-soaked slippery field and the vaunted Shikellamy defensive line. With the victory, Mt. Carmel clinched the Southern Division title of the Eastern Conference.
On Thanksgiving Day, Mt. Carmel thrashed Shamokin, now in combination with Coal Township, 51-9.
The much anticipated championship showdown with Valley View saw a crowd of 10,000 pack the Silver Bowl. The game was not close. The Red and White scored on seven of nine possessions, as Diminick again scored four times, including runs of 14, 27 and 68 yards. He totaled 203 yard on the afternoon, while junior fullback Henry Hynoski bulled for 110.
Junior quarterback Tom Alexander did his part in the rout by hitting on five of his seven passes for a total of 137 yards.
On its opening drive, Mt. Carmel ran the ball on twelve consecutive downs, Alexander finally scoring on a misdirection play from the five. Valley View then reached the Red Tornado 37 where Quarterback Koniszewski was short by inches on fourth down. Diminick then went 68 yards to score, the first time he had touched the ball, and Mt. Carmel began the celebration.
This quick, fast team was determined, well-conditioned, and well-drilled. The Tornadoes scored 504 points in 12 games; yet many games were completed with JV’s playing most of the second half. Coach Diminick says today that, “ We had super, super kids in every respect. They were so good – a great three-year group”.
In addition to the honors heaped on Gary Diminick, tackle Chuprinski received All-State third team honors.
In 1970, end Phil Klaus and Henry Hynoski were named to the All-State third team offense, while Klaus was also selected for the second-team defense.
The mighty 1969 Tornado starting offense:
E 11 Dennis HEPLER 5-11 175
T 77 Gary HOWANEC 6-½ 197
G 67 Frank GRABUSKI 5-7 154
C 66 Ed MORRIS 5-8 173
G 38 Mike SEMICEK 5-9 196
T 68 Bob CHUPRINSKI 6-0 197
E 51 Phil KLAUS 6-1 196
Q 12 Tom ALEXANDER 5-11 144
H 33 Gary DIMINICK 5-8 155
H 20 Carmen DEFRANCESCO 5-6 151
F 36 Henry HYNOSKI 5-10 175
3 Lars MAGNI-NOREN, a Swedish exchange student, handled the place kicking.
On defense, the Mt. Carmel regulars included:
E 81 John HALCOVICH 6-1 165
T 68 Bob CHUPRINSKI 6-0 197
G 57 Joe NARCAVAGE 5-7 165
G 62 Joe MUSHALKO 5-7 154
T 77 Gary HOWANEC 6-½ 197
E 51 Phil KLAUS 6-1 196
L 36 Henry HYNOSKI 5-10 175
L 66 Ed MORRIS 5-8 173
H 84 Joe WOZNEY 6-2 170
H 35 Dave BUSH 6-0 174
S 11 Dennis HEPLER 5-11 175
37 Mark SASSANI at 5-9 170 was a key line reserve, while offensive guard Semicek came on at linebacker when Mt. Carmel went to a “50” defense. Diminick was used in the defensive backfield against Shikellamy and in critical situations in other games.
The perfect 1969 record:
42 PANTHER VALLEY 0
36 TAMAQUA 6
36 MAHANOY AREA 14
51 BLOOMSBURG 6
19 WEST HAZLETON 6
54 MINERSVILLE 6
42 POTTSVILLE 15
56 NORTH SCHUYLKILL 7
42 SHENANDOAH 8
28 SHIKELLAMY 6
51 SHAMOKIN 9
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
47 VALLEY VIEW 6
1969 star Gary is the oldest of the six football-playing Diminick brothers. He went on to Notre Dame where he was a key halfback and kickoff returner for three Irish squads, including the 1973 National Champions.
Hynoski set a career rushing record at Temple and played with the Cleveland Browns. Klaus was a two-year starter at guard for UCLA, while Halcovich was a three-year starter at end for Boston College. Wozney and Hepler went on to NC State, while Chuprinski and Bush joined Hynoski at Temple. Others played in Divisions II and III.
All six Diminick boys had outstanding football careers at Mt. Carmel. Next brother Ken at 6-0 192 was a second team All State defensive back in 1973 and played three years of collegiate football at Villanova. Joe achieved similar third team honors in 1974 and was a three year letterman at Penn State, 1976-78. Ed went on to UConn and finished his education at Penn State. John played a Lafayette and Michael at Duke.
1972 was another Eastern Conference championship season for Mt. Carmel as the 12-0 Tornadoes defeated Valley View 20-12 in Blakely for the title. In 1973, Mt. Carmel repeated the feat, again going 12-0 and conquering Dunmore 15-6 at the Silver Bowl. 25 straight games were won.
Jazz Diminick retired after the 1992 season with a record of 267 wins, 81 losses, and 7 ties at Mt. Carmel and an overall record 290-91-9.
Back in 1927, Mt. Carmel had beaten Bellefonte, 7-6, at State College in the East-West Central Conference playoff. Behind 6-0, Mike Terry ( then Tarascavage ) scored from the six on a keeper. On the conversion try, Terry, the kicker, took a direct snap from center and passed to end Jim Morrison for the winning point.
In 1954, a powerful Mike Terry coached team won the Eastern Conference title with a decisive 34-14 win over West Scranton. Dan Ficca, a sophomore guard, won All-State first team honors the next two years and had an outstanding career at Southern California and in the NFL.
Since Jazz Diminick’s retirement, the Red Tornadoes have continued their winning ways under Whitey Williams and Mike Brennan. Mt. Carmel teams have won PIAA AA State titles five times since the state playoffs began in 1988 – with championships in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002. The 1998 team was particularly impressive with a 44-7 rout of highly-touted Shadyside Academy in the title game at Hershey.
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