High School Sports

Looking back on this week’s high school football games ... from 10, 20, 30 years ago

State College’s Larry Johnson entered the Nov. 14, 1997, game against Altoona with 2,081 rushing yards — but he was limited to 78 yards on 16 carries. The Little Lions fell 28-16.
State College’s Larry Johnson entered the Nov. 14, 1997, game against Altoona with 2,081 rushing yards — but he was limited to 78 yards on 16 carries. The Little Lions fell 28-16. Centre Daily Times, file

Each week of the season, we’ve flashed back to some of the biggest high school football storylines from 10, 20 and even 30 years ago.

But all good things must come to an end. And with this season winding down and all of the teams in our history lessons eliminated after this week, this will be our final edition of “High School Football Flashback” for the year.

We’ll likely be back again next season. But, in the meantime, have one final look at history’s postseason games:

10 years ago (Nov. 17, 2007)

Philipsburg-Osceola suffered a heartbreaking end to its season, falling 15-11 to Bishop McCort in the final minute in the District 6 Class 2A semifinals.

The Mounties were in position to reach the district championship game for the first time in program history — they led 11-8 in the fourth quarter — before Bishop McCort put together a game-winning, 99-yard scoring drive capped by Eric Lowry’s six-yard touchdown catch with 12 seconds left.

It was the Mounties’ fourth loss in the district semifinals in five years, and it was their third close loss of the season. P-O fell by one point and in double overtime earlier in the season.

“If someone were to tell me the three losses we’d have would be like that, I probably wouldn’t wish that on my own worst enemy,” Mounties coach Jeff Vroman said. “No doubt.”

The Mounties took an 11-8 lead early in the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Bo Reifer, who followed his score with a pass to Colton Harris for the two-point conversion. P-O remained ahead when Bishop McCort took over at its 1-yard line with 1:54 left after a 40-yard punt by Reifer.

Bishop McCort put together an eight-play drive highlighted by quarterback Jordan DeFrances’ 56-yard pass to Matt Varga and capped by his touchdown pass to Lowry.

“You can’t drive any further than that,” Vroman said. “They made the plays when they had to and they deserved to win because of that. You can’t fault our kids for effort. They did what they had to do. They fought; they battled. We just came up a little short.”

The Mounties finished the season with an 8-3 record.

20 years ago (Nov. 14, 1997)

State College couldn’t win in the trenches against Altoona so, in the end, it couldn’t win against Altoona.

In the District 6-9 Class 4A championship, Altoona scored two late touchdowns to slip past the Little Lions 28-16. The game was a Week 2 rematch, in which State College fell 25-21.

“That was the difference,” State College coach Dave Lintal said, referring to the Mountain Lions’ mammoth lines. “I said coming into the game that we were really worried about their size. Their size was really the big difference, especially on the stuff we had to play on. They took advantage of that.''

County star Larry Johnson — who came into the game with 2,081 rushing yards — was limited to 78 yards on 16 carries. And, toward the end of the game, Altoona appeared to move the ball at will.

The Mountain Lions didn’t take a lead until midway through the final quarter, when Erik Weaver broke free for a 77-yard rushing TD. After a two-point conversion, Altoona led 22-16 — and added to its lead on the next drive, when State College tossed an interception and Altoona capitalized by scoring an offensive TD. Altoona was 12-0 after its victory.

30 years ago (Nov. 20 1987)

CDT columnist Ron Bracken started off his game story succinctly: “A busted play broke Philipsburg-Osceola’s heart and knocked the Mounties out of the District 6 Class AAA playoffs last night at Wingate.”

P-O fell 15-3 to Huntingdon, but it led 3-0 with 7:28 left in regulation. That’s when Bearcat quarterback Tom Hudy scrambled for a first down on a fourth-and-5 situation — and then Huntingdon scored a touchdown four plays later. Huntingdon added to the lead with another score with 1:28 left — after P-O turned it over on downs after failing to convert, ironically, on its own fourth-and-5.

It wasn’t difficult to pinpoint the turning point.

“They key play was the fourth-and-5 when Hudy scrambled,” Mounties coach Jack Bailey said. “We had him. If we stop that, then we start thinking about running out the clock, or maybe we start playing field position with them. ... That was a big play because after that they got momentum.”

Said Huntingdon coach Tom Gibboney: “He’s been doing that for us all year.”

P-O finished the game with 49 total offensive yards; Huntingdon had 145 yards. There were nine total first downs and 10 punts.

The Mounties finished the season with an 8-3 record, their third loss in its last three playoff appearances.