Each week, the CDT sports staff will flash back to some of the biggest high school football storylines from 10, 20 and even 30 years ago.
In this week’s edition, local rivalries and strong defensive performances punctuated the past. Take a look:
10 years ago (Sept. 7, 2007)
The battle for the Old Iron Bell between Bald Eagle Area and Penns Valley was all about defense.
In the Rams’ 10-0 victory, both teams combined for just 113 yards of offense as the longest offensive play was a 16-yard pass from the Eagles’ A.J. Robinson to Gary Sowash late in the fourth quarter. Penns Valley capitalized on two short scoring drives: 13 and 11 yards.
In the second half, a snap from the center sailed over the BEA punter’s head and the Rams recovered just 11 yards shy of the end zone. Unsurprisingly, Penns Valley took advantage after a Matt Johnson score. A few minutes later, the Eagles fumbled at their own 13 — and the Rams recovered and then kicked a 25-yard field goal.
“It has a lot of meaning to us,” Rams coach Martin Tobias said of the Bell. “It means a lot to the people in the valley. In fact, I had administrators tell me not to come back if I didn’t bring it back with me.”
In another memorable game, Philipsburg-Osceola grabbed a 13-10 win over Bellefonte in dramatic fashion. Jon Whitman snagged a 90-yard touchdown catch with 3 1/2 minutes left, after breaking through the grasp of the safety. “I just caught it and I thought the kid was going to tackle me and I just ran,” he told the CDT. “I thought I had to score because there wasn’t much time left.”
State College also cruised Friday night, winning 43-0 over Chambersburg. Jared Slike rushed for a 71-yard score on the first play from scrimmage, and Alex Kenney flashed his speed with 60 yards on four carries.
“They both have good speed and they both have the ability to cut,” Al Wolski said. “They do a really good job of that.”
20 years ago (Sept. 5, 1997)
Once again, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Jon Condo strung together an incredible performance. But, once again, that wasn’t enough for the win.
Condo rushed 28 times for 157 yards and the Mounties held a lead through the third quarter, but Bellefonte rallied to earn the lopsided 35-10 victory. The Red Raiders’ Chris Shivery posted 24 carries for 149 yards.
The Bellefonte coaching staff felt the refs were waiting too long to blow the whistle, so they instructed their team to try to strip the ball when the runner was stood up. Midway through the third quarter, the strategy paid off. Bellefonte turned an 89-yard drive and two P-O turnovers into three touchdowns. That turned a 10-7 Mounties lead into a 28-10 Mounties deficit.
“If we don’t learn to control our turnovers we’re in for a long season,” P-O coach Chris Davidson told the CDT. “It’s a matter of concentration.’’
In other games, Bald Eagle Area and Penns Valley both came away with victories.
The Eagles defense recorded nine sacks and allowed just two first downs in the first half, as they cruised past Lewistown 27-7. Hunter Guenot had 114 passing yards, and Dan Roberts paced BEA with 81 rushing yards. The Rams’ 14-7 victory was a lot closer. After getting an interception late in the final quarter, with 55 seconds left and the game tied, Penns Valley’s David Royer connected with Jason Dreibelbis over the middle for a 50-yard TD.
“We weren’t necessarily looking for that,” Rams coach Martin Tobias said. “We were trying to set ourselves up for field goal position, but we’ll take the touchdown.’’
State College also fell to Altoona 25-21, after Larry Johnson rushed 25 times for 125 yards and a score.
30 years ago (Sept. 11, 1987)
Philipsburg-Osceola was the big story on a soggy Friday in which it was the lone local team to record a victory.
The Mounties shut out Bellefonte 28-0 after switching from the I-formation to the Veer. But, more importantly, P-O dominated on defense by allowing just 75 yards of total offense.
“We’ve developed a great deal of pride in our defense over the years,” Mounties coach Jack Bailey told the CDT.
In the other games, Bald Eagle Area missed a two-point conversion with 1:08 left in the game to fall 29-27 against a heavily favored Punxsutawney. Many Eagles faithful questioned scheduling the game in the first place, so the score was looked upon as being close to a moral victory. Penns Valley also fell in a 7-0 game against Loyalsock, when a defensive back slipped on the wet grass to allow the game’s only score, a 37-yard touchdown pass from Charley Fuqua to his brother Jeff.
State College lost to Cedar Cliff 19-0 after what the paper called a “mistake-prone” game by the Little Lions. Cedar Cliff’s Bob Daman had 11 carries for 91 rushing yards — in just the first quarter.