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Tyrone Junior High Football team repeats as Big 8 Champions

The Big 8 Football Conference decided to do something new in 2001. The league decided to have a junior high championship to be determined by head-to-head play during the season.
Tyrone won the first Big 8 Junior High championship finishing undefeated.
In 2002, The Little Eagles repeated their title. They lost one game (7-2 overall, 5-1 in Big 8 action) in conference play and had to settle for being co-champs with Indian Valley, but they did defeat Indian Valley 20-0 during the season. However Tyrone lost to Lewistown and beat Indian Valley. Indian Valley beat Lewistown 19-0 to throw the conference into a two-way tie between Tyrone and Indian Valley. A Lewistown victory over Indian Valley would have given Lewistown clear title to the Big 8 crown.
Tyrone junior high began the year on a sour note with a 20-0 non-conference loss to Roosevelt, in which back-to-back mistakes in the third quarter turned a 0-0 game into a two-touchdown deficit quicker than it takes to tell as Roosevelt scored all of their points in that third quarter.
Indian Valley fell in game Two 20-0 with Tyrone quarterback Leonard Wilson rushing for 106 yards on just three carries and completing a pair of passes for 53 more, including a 39-yard TD strike to Trey Brockett and the Eagle defense swarming for five sacks an interception and two fumble recoveries.
The defense notched their second straight shutout a week later in a 13-0 win over Bellefonte. The “D” recorded five more sacks and added a pair of picks and a fumble recovery. Wilson scored both TDs on 73- and 23-yard runs and Bill Smith kicked one PAT.
In week four, the offense exploded and even the defense got on the board for a 57-6 win over Bald Eagle Area. Wilson again led the way for the Eagles with three TDs and 117 yards rushing on just three carries and tossing a 24-yard TD pass to Trey Brockett as well. Doug Brown returned a kickoff 70 yards for a TD, Nate Woodring ran 46 yards for a TD, Matt Lauder ran an interception 41 yards for a score and Josh Hunter got into the act with a 44-yard scamper for a TD.
The Golden Eagles squeaked by Huntingdon in Week Five 14-6, coming from behind with two Leonard Wilson scores, including a two-yarder that proved to be the winner. The defense gave up an early score, then kept the Bearcats out of the endzone over the final three quarters.
Undefeated at the time, Lewistown handed the Eagles their one conference loss a week later, edging Tyrone 12-8 with single TDs in each of the two middle quarters. Leonard Wilson scored a two-yard TD in the fourth quarter to draw the Eagles to within four points.
Tyrone improved their Big 8 Mark to 5-1 with a 16-6 triumph over Philipsburg-Osceola in week seven. Concluding their Big 8 schedule, Wilson scored a two-yard TD in the first quarter and tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Brockett in the second quarter before running in the 2-pt. PAT to cap the scoring.
When mentioning the goals set by the coaches and players at the beginning of fall practice, according to head coach Dan Plummer, “One of our goals is to beat Bellwood.”
In Game eight, Tyrone conquered the Blue Devils 22-6 and the rain and mud with a big performance by Dustin Brown. Brown proved to be a good “mudder” with 158 yards rushing, including TD scampers of 55, eight and 25 yards and the Tyrone defense allowed Bellwood-Antis just one score.
The Eagles completed their season by demolishing Central Mountain 34-0. It was pretty much the Leonard Wilson show on offense with Wilson scoring three times from scrimmage and catching an 85-yard touchdown pass from Bill Smith. Matt Lauder, playing in place of an injured Tyler Gillman led the Eagles defense with an interception and two of the five Tyrone sacks.
“We started out our season against Roosevelt in our first game,” said head coach Dan Plummer, “and we were a little shaky. We regrouped and from then on out, our guys came together and we pulled together as a team. We really played better than anticipated. A lot of people kind of sold this team out a little short at the beginning of the season, not believing we would do as well as we ended up. They accomplished a lot of the goals that they had set out to achieve. We try to be undefeated and we didn’t quite make that one. Beating Bellwood is always a goal every season. Big 8 championships have been a goal since two years ago when they began to have champions at the junior high level and personal goals, such as meeting the potential of the team and trying to be 100 percent academically eligible all season long. Of all those goals, the only one we didn’t achieve was to go undefeated. We came close, we suffered a tough loss during the season to Lewistown. We played a good game, we played a hard game-we just came out a little bit short. The guys hung in there, came back and finished the season with three strong wins over Philipsburg, Bellwood and Central Mountain, all good, tough wins.
I am very proud of all the guys and am very happy to be sending a good group of kids up to the varsity next year.”
Coach Plummer also wished to “extend thanks to his coaching staff-coach Mark Mitchell, Steve Hanzir and Luke Rhoades and volunteer coaches Marvin Murray and Jay Jones, as well as extending thanks to the entire varsity staff for their support and continued commitment to the Tyrone Junior High football program.”