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Throwback Thursday: The 1998 CB West Bucks

Written by: on Thursday, March 27th, 2014. Follow KMac on Twitter.


tbtI have been privileged to see many good high school football teams in my lifetime.  I am not old, but I have been young for a long time now!  While I cannot truly distinguish the “best” team ever on a basis of player-for-player, era-to-era, and other comparatives as well; as anyone else does I try to rationalize and at least have a bracket for “one of the best”.

I accord the 2004 Pittsburgh Central Catholic squad as the best I ever saw in person in the state final that year against Neshaminy.  In this I am apparently not alone as this team is mentioned in almost any circle that is discussing the subject; especially notable in the PCN cable broadcast of the state championship previews a couple of years ago.

The 1992 Berwick Bulldogs and 1996 Downingtown Whippets are in the mix, as is our subject, the 1998 Central Bucks West Bucks’.

The ’98 Bucks’ had a state championship and unbeaten streak to defend.  I had seen the last Bucks loss in 1996 to Plymouth-Whitemarsh in a District One semi-final at Doylestown 21-16.  And I had seen 9 of the 1997 Bucks’ games when they finished 15-0-0 and won their second state championship.  Their prior state title had been in 1991, and they lost at a final in 1993, so there was no particular expectation (for me) of a repeat in 1998.

After opening the season in Doylestown Friday night September 4th to see CB East narrowly defeat Spring-Ford 14-13, I caught the Saturday afternoon (9/5) Archbishop Ryan at Pennsbury affair won by Pennsbury 21-6, and then went to Doylestown again Saturday night for Upper Darby at C B West.  I love trifectas, when I can catch Friday night-Saturday afternoon-Saturday night games.  But it doesn’t happen that much in modern times.

While I had some crew for the first two, I had to solo this time for West.  The first comment in my notes after the game was, “Wow!  West appears better than last year and at least this night, to have no weaknesses.  Offense, defense, talent, size, speed, depth, running, passing.  It was all there tonight.  All of the expected talent performed, plus the subs did as well.”  The Royals did not score on the Bucks defense.  The final score was 59-7 and the Royals TD was a fumbled punt reception run in for their score.  The West subs scored four times on the Royals defense.  The West kicking game had 8 for 8 successful PATs and 1 for 1 Field Goals.

The Bucks were home again on Friday 9/11 and almost repeated their first game score blasting Abington 56-7.  As the Ghosts had been 1-10 in 1997, I skipped that one in favor of Bensalem at Council Rock which offered to be a close game.  You can’t get much closer than 0-0 at the end of regulation, so we had this one pegged correctly.  In double OT, Rock won 3-0.

On Friday 9/18/98 the Bucks were at home for the third consecutive game this time hosting Pennsbury.  The Bucks won 41-0.  This would be an unfortunately historic year for the Falcons who went 3-8 on the season, their only such season in my 63-season history of this squad.  They had only one worse, 2-5-2 in 1954.

The Bucks first away game of the season was at Norristown on Friday 9/25.  Both the Eagles and Bucks were 3-0.  I had seen the Eagles beat Pennsbury 19-17 on the second Saturday of the season, but have never been to Roosevelt field in Norristown.  This must have been a pretty good game, and the Eagles were good in 1998.  The final was 28-13 Bucks, the first time they were held under 40 points and the first time they gave up more than one score.  The Norristown Eagles would end up 11-2 this season, both losses being to CB West.  It was Mike Pettine Senior’s 300th win.

The Bucks were back home on Friday 10/2 to host Neshaminy.  As with Pennsbury, the Skins were also having a down year, coming in 1-3.  The final was 42-14 Bucks and I noted that both Redskin scores were against the subs.  CB West was then ranked first in the state and I indicated that they executed flawlessly in my notes.  They had very few miscues of any kind.  Fullback Dustin Picciotti, linemen Carber and Joe and John Wilson, and Buckley and Edwards were all West roster names that I mentioned in my notes.

Next up for the Bucks was a trip to Crawford Stadium to meet the equally undefeated North Penn Knights 5-0; and the second father-son match up of Mike Pettine Senior versus Junior in his second year with the Knights.  I had dinner at my Hatfield buddies home and then we went to Crawford Stadium.  A rain-soaked crowd of about 9500 joined us.  The Knights opened the scoring when a West fumble popped up in the air, was grabbed by a Knight lineman and returned 68 yards for a TD.  The lineman might have been Dan Chang, the present Plymouth-Whitemarsh coach, I am not sure; he wore number 50.  The PAT was missed.  C B West answered with a sustained drive and Picciotti 6-yard blast.  Tumelty kicked the PAT, 7-6 CB West.  Just before the half the Knights executed a direct snap to the fullback in a tight-T formation.  He then hit Fitzpatrick with a 17-yard pass TD.  The Knights went for two, but a pass was close but dropped and it was 12-7 Knights at the half.  C B West received the second half kickoff and a ball-control, line-surge game ensued; Piciotti eventually went in from 4-yards out.   The PAT was muffed, and the game ended 13-12 Bucks’.

I had seen four of the Bucks first six games and opted for other matches the next three weeks.  During this time the Bucks beat Bensalem 62-7 (away), Truman 35-0 (away), and Council Rock 21-17 (home).  The Bucks were now 9-0, with only their last regular season match with C B East 7-2 remaining.  East had only lost to North Penn and Norristown.

The East-West games were usually standing room only for an outsider like me.  But one of our crew had obtained tickets this year and we had seats for the first time for this matchup.  A pre-game unexpected shower did not last long thankfully.  I did not write any notes on this game, but West prevailed 42-20.  I noted that the crowd began to thin in the fourth quarter so it must have been decided.  The 20 points were most given by CB West all season, so some might have been very late; I do not remember.

At 10-0 the Bucks would be home for the first two playoff games as the structure then provided.  This was great for me, and the first game was a rematch with the North Penn Knights.  Four of our regular “crew” and two guests took this one in.  This time the Knights received and had two 10-yard first down runs.  A few additional yards were added, but then the first of three NP turnovers put the West offense on the field.  A drive netted only a field goal, 3-0 West.  Then with only 1:57 left in the half a Picciotti short burst made it 10-0 at the half.  But a Knight punt was forced and in only 3 or 4 plays the Bucks’ went 62 yards for a back-breaker and 16-0 halftime lead.  I made no more notes but the final was 29-8 Bucks’.

Another rematch – this time with Norristown followed on the following Friday night in Doylestown for the District One title.  Two crew members and I were there.  C B West got off to a fairly quick 7-0 lead, but I remarked then looked a little flat.  The Eagles’ speedy Swittenburg broke a 60-yard TD on the Bucks, and it was 7-7.  But West answered quickly on a long Edwards’ run and went back up 14-7.  They added another TD before the half to take a 21-7 lead to the locker rooms.  On this night Picciotti would have four short run TDs to put it away.  The final was 35-14 C B West.

I was thrilled to learn that the Bucks’ regional encounter the next Saturday would be at Council Rock, the closest stadium to me of all that I visit.  It was still grass then, but a nice field.  The opponent would be the Abington Heights Comets from District 2.  A buddy and I sat on the away side as we always do, but the Comets brought a big crowd from the Scranton area and we moved to the home side as we were out of place.  We settled in and soon our Lambertville buddies’ wife dropped him off and he found us for a threesome.  The stadium was soon packed.  The Comets came to play and dominated early play on both offense and defense, but could only get up 3-0.  Midway in the second period they set up for a second field goal try.  The snap was high and the QB-holder lobbed a pass to the end zone instead.  But C B West’s speedster Dave Camburn picked the toss and returned it 100+ yards the other way for a TD.  It was only 7-3 West at the half.  But the second half was all West, especially on defense.  The Bucks returned a punt for a TD.  Another high snap cost the Comets a safety.  It fell apart for the Comets and it was 30-3 before the Comets again made a valid score.  But then Picciotti busted a long one and it was 37-10 Bucks which was the final score.

The eastern final would be at Neshaminy, another local stadium for me.  The opponent was to be the Trojans of Parkland, and from seeing them in 1996, I thought this might be a tough one for the Bucks’.  A different threesome of buddies including me made this one.  I only wrote that the Bucks scored on their first three possessions and never looked back.  It ended 34-7 Bucks, and they would be playing for their second state championship in a row in 1998.

Although I had seen these Bucks in 9 games this season including all of the playoffs so far, I did not yet go to any state championship games.  The crew member that got me to the state title games was an old classmate of mine that had just hooked up 1997 and 1998 for two longer trips, but was not a “regular” yet.  Other than me, none of the other gang was interested in a long late season trip for the championship no matter who was playing.

So, I had to depend on TV coverage for this state title game.  New Castle, D7 was the opponent for the Bucks and they must have been good to be there, but they were undersized for this match.  And this Mike Carey-coached offensive line was one of the best I have ever been witness to.  The Bucks played what was nearly a perfect game, a marvel of efficiency.  They got the ball 8 times and scored 8 times, the last two by the subs.

The Bucks received the opening kickoff and behind the line play drove the field with a Picciotti 1-yard plunge capping it.  Tumelty then kicked the first of 8 PATs he would kick.  On the next Bucks possession, Picciotti bolted 86 yards around the outside and the first quarter ended 14-0 Bucks’.  West’s 3rd and 4th possessions were controlled drives punctuated with longer runs and ending in Picciotti 1 and 2-yard plunges for a 28-0 count.  Next time the Bucks got the ball Dave Edwards scampered 70 yards for a 35-0 halftime lead.  The New Castle possessions were not all three and outs, they did have a good QB running and throwing; but they could not sustain momentum enough to score.  They got the ball to start the second half with the same result.  When West got the ball Picciotti bolted 64 yards and it was 42-0.  New Castle was able to hold the ball in the third quarter because it ended 42-0.  The Bucks’ subbed now and Senior QB Bill Stone was still able to drive the team and plunge a yard for a 49-0 bulge.  Full subs on defense for the Bucks’ now allowed the single Red Hurricanes score for a 49-7 count.  Second and third teamers got the last score on the Bucks 8th possession, with a Damien Smith 5-yard TD; final 56-7 C B West.

New Castle simply had no answer for Bucks’ linemen Ben Carber, 6-3, 310; Jon Wilson 6-3, 255; Joe Wilson 6-4, 280; and Chris Havener 6-5, 285; all Pettine-Carey-coached and talented.  West had 30 players that weight squatted 400 pounds.

This was the most points scored in 4A finals until North Allegheny’s 63 in 2012; and it is still the greatest margin of victory (49 points) in 4A title history.  It was the Bucks 30th consecutive victory and 2nd consecutive state 4A title appearance and third 4A state championship.

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14 Responses to “Throwback Thursday: The 1998 CB West Bucks”

  1. Nancy S. says:

    I was a football mom for years. Most years I was the family joke because I could not watch my son have all the bigger kids land on him. (He was a center in his CYO years and at Wood. Your article made me wonder if you remember Dave Armstrong? That is who we always went to watch, at CB W’s games. I am not a huge football fan as for years, I lived two blocks from Buddy Miley. That said, I was grateful that my son learned to play against players of all heights and weights in the local CYO team, because it prepared him for Wood. I don’t think Dave finished up at Michigan, sadly.

  2. JiveTurkey says:

    Honestly just saw the documentary on the ’99 CB West team a couple months ago. Thoroughly enjoyed it by the way, but I’m a bit slow on things. I have heard about that book and I’m sure it’s a great read. Unfortunately, haven’t gotten a chance yet. OK, I probably have had a chance, just to lazy to read it. Thanks for the kick in the butt, I’ll see if I can pick it up this weekend.

  3. Paul Sausmann says:

    have you had a chance to read the book “Fading Echoes”??? If not, great read about two very good football players; one from CB West and the other from CB East. Both went into our military after high school/college and had two very different paths. Both talk a lot about learning life from the Doylestown area and playing football. Great book worth the read.

  4. JiveTurkey says:

    Unfortunately I have no footage of any Philly teams. I can only remember a handful of times the networks down here showed HS games, and they were usually the public league basketball championship on a Saturday morning. Maybe it’s because of the amount of pro and college teams in the area, but people down here just don’t follow the most fun to watch sports out there.

  5. Kmac says:

    @Paul Sausmann

    Terrific offer; thank you in advance. Right now I have too many irons in the fire as the adage goes, but I will keep the email address for the future. Sounds as if you actually recorded game results while I have only resorted to hand-made notes and news clippings.

  6. Paul Sausmann says:

    JiveTurkey – do you by any chance have any of those games you were mentioning??? The PCL is one league that I never followed prior to about 2004 or 2005. I followed some of their games but not the league as a whole and would love to see a few of those games mentioned. If you have them on vcr tape, I have no problem burning them onto dvd for you (free of course) as long as I can get a copy myself. let me know at thanks. Paul

  7. Paul Sausmann says:

    @KMAC – if ever interested in seeing the 2000 Erie Prep team or the 1988 North Hills team I can help you out. Shoot me an email sometime at and I’ll send you a games list (over 500 games) of some top quality games to include those two teams. The one game I do have of the 88 North Hills team is in bad shape (vcr tape) but still somewhat viewable.

    Actually anyone interested in good quality high school football games and can’t find them on youtube or wherever, send me an email and I’ll send you the list too. No charge for any games off my list.

  8. JiveTurkey says:

    That ’00 Carroll team was pretty darn good. They were led by Brian Mattaway (177-1223, 23td’s). Mattaway went on to play at Perdue I believe. That was the first year the PCL split into 2 divisions and I don’t know how their record would have looked had they played in the Red division with Prep, LaSalle, Roman, Ryan, Judge, and O’Hara who had a senior RB named Kevin Jones (Virginia Tech, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears). Like all other debates, some games never happened and never will. Just enough to keep guys like us wondering “what if”.

  9. Kmac says:


    No, I did not have the pleasure of seeing the teams you mention but I wish I had seen them. I also would have liked Archbishop Carroll in 2000. The Patriots beat Wood 77-0 and West Catholic 74-7 in going 13-0. They averaged 44.2 ppg and allowed 3.2. I would have enjoyed that team!

    All of my narratives come from my own personal records and recollections in general. I could not ever hope to construct a “best teams” list in reality; even “best teams that I have seen” could certainly be lengthened to include Prep 2013 and Wood 2013 and others, but I also try to not let the articles get too comprehensive to allow for additional narrative on the subject in the future.

  10. Kmac says:

    Last post: “appreciate” first line.

  11. Kmac says:


    Thanks Jive, I always appeciate a comment on my ramblings. Your point is well made, but remember I am limiting my “best teams” to “best teams that I have seen in person”. I only see a fine Philly club if they venture locally to play. I am going to check my records and see if I ever saw Prep 2002, Ryan 1992;I know I did not see LaSalle in 1996, the year I wrote about in the article “A Super Season” on here.

  12. JiveTurkey says:

    Kmac, nicely done! I think you know what I’m gonna say though. Very tough to have a best of list when said teams didn’t have to compete against Philly. 2002 Parkland would have lost by at least 3 scores to St Joe’s Prep that year. 2002 may have been Prep’s best team ever, until 2014 is over that is. Would ’92 Berwick have beaten a Ryan team that went 24-1-1 over 2 years? ’96 Downingtown over a 14-0 Brett Gordon led LaSalle team? I think ’98 CB West would have beaten any Philly rep that year, however, it’s tough trying to figure out the best when teams didn’t have to play the teams that may or may not have been the biggest dog that year. All that being said, I still enjoyed the read.

  13. Kmac says:

    @Paul Sausmann

    Thank you for the kind words, Paul. You are right on about 2002 Parkland also as I did see that team several times and I only include teams that I have actually seen. I did not see 2000 ECP or North Hills 1988; but if you include them I am sure I would have liked to see them. Thanks again!

  14. Paul Sausmann says:

    awesome write up!!! This write up brought back some memories of the book “Fading Echoes”. I’d agree the 2004 PCC was one of the best in modern PA history. 98′ West, 92′ Berwick, I’d even add 2002 Parkland, and 2000 Erie Prep to that list. I know you can’t forget about 88 North Hills team either.

    Nice write up.