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Terry Tate selected Defensive Player of the Year in Class AA by PA Football News publication

The Tyrone Golden Eagle football team enjoyed another great season in 2004, going 12-2, winning another district title and playing in the Western Final before dropping a close 21-17 decision to Grove City.
With that kind of a season, although football is a team sport, individual performances count heavily toward the end result and are so rewarded at the end of the season. Although all who work hard in practice and contribute 100 percent are worthy of obtaining individual awards and honors, a few seem to rise above the pack and are singled out for their efforts.
The Eagles have been blessed with a great amount of experience and talent over the years and head coach John Franco has taken advantage of these God-given attributes and fine-tuned them to the pleasure and delight of the Tyrone faithful, honing the rough edges away. The end result of coaching and game experience and individual efforts to get better, faster and stronger are evident every Friday night during the football season at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field and each high school football field which the Eagles travel to.
Tyrone players have been awarded the ultimate on both sides of the line of scrimmage in 2004, with Terry Tate (defensive line) and Brice Mertiff (running back) being chosen to the AP Class AA All-State Team.
Honors continue to be reaped for the past football season with Tate being named the PA Football News Class AA Defensive Player of the Year and a host of his Tyrone teammates being accorded PFN All-State nominations.
Terry Tate is a three-year, two-way starter for the Golden Eagles, who was a dominant force on both sides of the football for Tyrone in their long run to football prominence in 2004.
On offense, Tate allowed no sacks from his position at center, teaming with All-PFN linemen Ralph VanAllman (Second Team), one sack allowed and Ron Miller (Honorable Mention), three sacks allowed, to provide a formidable offensive line that blocked for a 2,000-yard rusher, a 900-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard passer. The Eagles clicked so well that they committed only seven turnovers in 14 games. Tate, who moves up from being a Second Team AP and PFN selection in 2003, who had five sacks this year.
VanAllman, a 295-pounder, who spent the summer cutting weight so he could be more mobile, was a Third Team PFN pick in 2003. VanAllman was a three-year starter on the offensive line. Miller endured a knee injury in preseason and came back to help anchor the line.
Tad Chamberlain, who is going to the U. S. Military Academy in the fall, was selected Honorable Mention at tight end. Chamberlain, who was perhaps the best blocking tight end in the conference, had 15 receptions for 193 yards.
Brice Mertiff, a First Team PFN selection, was one of the Golden Eagles’ most prolific running backs in the history of the program. In two and a half seasons as a starter, Mertiff rushed for 4,511 yards, including 2,041 yards in 2004. Brice joins Jesse Jones (twice) and Marcus Owens as the only Eagles to surpass the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season. Mertiff, a Third Team PFN choice last year also caught 11 passes for 201 yards in 2004 and totaled 33 touchdowns (28 rushing, five receiving) and scored 200 points. An all-around athlete, who wrestles and plays baseball, Brice took on the place-kicking chores when regular kicker Ben Gummo was injured and booted two of two PATs. Mertiff broke one of the oldest Tyrone records (first set in 1924) by scoring six TDs in a game this year and had back-to-back 200-yard rushing games.
From his defensive lineman spot, Tate had 21 tackles for loss, had a fumble recovery and an interception and was the heart and soul of a defensive unit that allowed only an average of 78 yards rushing per game and yielded just 7.9 points per contest. Before Grove City scored a season-high 21 points against Tyrone in the Western Final, the Eagles had allowed just 90 points in their first 13 ballgames. A multiple-sports star, Tate is presently undefeated on the wrestling mat and ranked by many publications as the top-ranked 275-pounder in the state after an eighth place finish at States last year.
Defensive back Josh Crabtree, with three interceptions, including two picks in the PIAA playoff contest against Seton-LaSalle, was a Third Team PFN selection, and Brinton Mingle and Brandon Maceno were both Honorable Mentions on the defensive side as linebackers and junior quarterback Leonard Wilson made Honorable Mention at quarterback.
Crabtree, a wide receiver on offense, grabbed 12 catches for 122 yards. Mingle, rushed for 921 yards and 19 TDs as well as blocking for Mertiff from his fullback spot on offense. Brinton, a three-year starter on defense, had six stops for losses. Mingle had a key interception against Seton-LaSalle and was the Eagles go-to back in short-yardage situations. Wilson stepped into an unsure quarterback situation early in 2003 and since has passed for over 2,000 yards and led the Eagles to a pair of district championships. In 2004, Leonard completed nearly 50 percent of his passes, completing 82 of 170 tosses for 1,159 with 10 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. Wilson was intercepted twice in the first Philipsburg game, and on the final pass he threw in the Grove City playoff contest. On defense, Leonard led the team in turnovers recovering a pair of fumbles and intercepting three passes.
In addition to Tate and Mertiff, senior classmate Ben Gummo was named to the PFN First Team as a linebacker. Gummo had 16 tackles for losses and picked off one pass and had one fumble recovery. In addition to his skills on defense, where he played both linebacker and defensive end, Gummo led Tyrone in receiving with 28 catches for 446 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the Eagles’ biggest receiving threat after beginning the season at running back, before being switched to wide out. The Eagles most versatile and probably underrated player, Gummo scored four TDs 50 PATs and six field goals to total 92 points.
Gummo tied the record for field goals in a career, held by John Supina (’86-’88) and older brother Scott Gummo (’97-’00) with 10, and was just one field goal short of Scott Gummo’s seven field goals in 1999. On defense, Ben’s 6.5 sacks led the team as he switched between positions.
Bellwood-Antis also spent one-heck-of-a football fall, earning their third district title and winning 11 straight games, between a season opening loss to Tyrone and PIAA playoff loss to Camp Hill.
Bellwood-Antis defensive back Derrick Hoffer, a First Team AP Class A pick, was also named to the PFN First Team, brother Dustin Hoffer was selected to the Second Team on the offensive line and Dwayne Cherry (linebacker), Tony DelGrosso (linebacker) and Josh Kleinfelter (running back) were selected Honorable Mention.
Derrick Hoffer led all area defensive players with seven interceptions and had another 14 pass breakups. On offense, Derrick led the Blue Devils in receptions for the second straight year, joining Mike Desch (’77-’78-’79) Bo Lardieri (’89-’90) and Brad Wertz (’95-’96) as the only B-A players to lead the team in receptions twice. Hoffer caught 18 passes for 266 yards in 2004. Dustin Hoffer, Derrick’s big brother at 250 pounds to Derrick’s 155, was also named to the AP Second Team All-State squad. Dwayne Cherry and Tony DelGrosso formed a potent combo as two of the Blue Devils’ three linebacking crew. Cherry and DelGrosso combined to make 261 tackles for Bellwood-Antis, with Cherry leading the team with 137 and DelGrosso, who led the team in 2003 as a sophomore, second this year with 124. Tony had a total of 10 tackles for losses and was credited with a safety, and Dwayne followed with nine tackles for losses, and returned an interception for a touchdown. Josh Kleinfelter took over late in the Tyrone game for an injured starter and coach John Hayes, couldn’t get the promising sophomore out of the lineup after that. Before all was said and done, Kleinfelter smashed the previous sophomore record by 1,100 yards in becoming just the third B-A back to rush for 1,600 yards, finishing with 1,620 and set a school record with a 307-yard performance in the Blue Devils first-round district playoff game. Kleinfelter also set a B-A mark for total offense (rushing, receiving, passing) of 1,866 yards.
Numerous Eagles and Blue Devils also made the PFN All-Academic Teams as well.
The PFN Gold Team (3.80-4.0 grade-point average) included Tad Chamberlain and Leonard Wilson from Tyrone and Evan Hughes and L. J. Seidel from Bellwood-Antis.
The Silver Team (3.40-3.79) includes Blue Devils Chris Edmiston and Travis Ehredt and Golden Eagle Brice Mertiff.
The Bronze Team (3.00-3.39) includes Eagles Terry Tate and Brinton Mingle and Blue Devils Troy Brunner and Tony DelGrosso.