Juniors lead Tyrone Golden Eagles in 1981

The Tyrone Golden Eagles opened their 1981 season under third-year coach Tom Miller against Huntingdon at Gray Field, on Friday Sept. 2, with Tyrone grad Pete Sellthe head coach of the Bearcats.
In their 61st meeting, Tyrone had senior veteran Steve Everhart (155 pounds) at quarterback, junior Bruce Wallace (185) at fullback, junior Tiger Rupert (160) or senior Rich Burley (158) at tailback and junior Chris Elder (140) at flanker. Junior Bill Dixon (170) or senior Max Soellner (175) and junior Mark Cannistraci (185) were the ends, senior Max Mattern (167) or senior Jeff Loose (211) and junior Chuck Murray (205) were the tackles, senior Marvin Murray (167) or Mattern and senior Matt Ray (210) were the guards, and senior co-captain Dan McCahan (175) was at center.
On defense, where graduation took its heaviest toll, junior Roy Cowfer (167) or senior Tom Yon (195) was at nose guard, Chuck Murray or Loose and Mattern were the tackles, Wallace and Cannistraci were the ends. Rupert and either Marvin Murray or Dixon were the linebackers, with Dixon or junior Doug Henry (130) on the corners and junior Jeff Golden and Elder at safety.
Senior Marvin Murray was nursing an ankle injury and wasn’t expected to play for the first five to seven games of the season.
Miller had 14 lettermen back from his 1980 squad that went 6-3-1 for the Eagles third straight winning campaign. Miller and assistants Barry Anderson, Bill Abbott, Rob Walter and Jim Butler welcomed a squad of 51. Don Ammerman was the Eagles trainer and Tony Yaniello and Don Friday were the junior high coaches.
In a defensive struggle, the only score was a Mike Sellers’ 37-yard field goal in the second quarter for a 3-0 Huntingdon victory.
The Bearcats outgained Tyrone 136-51 on the ground and 168-94 total offense. Huntingdon had one interception and Tyrone had two. The Bearcats lost two fumbles and Tyrone three fumbles on the rain-soaked turf.
Tyrone wasn’t able to register a first down until there was just 2:21 left in the first half, and worked the ball into Huntingdon territory just three times all night.
Their best chance was squandered at the H-20, when Dale Ellenberger just missed on a 37-yard field goal try with 15 seconds to play in the first half.
Bill Dixon led the Eagles defensive effort with five solo tackles and four assists and two interceptions, Jeff Golden had six solos and two assists, Bruce Wallace four and two and Tiger Rupert and Mark Cannistraci five solos and an assist each. Chuck Murray recovered a fumble at the T-2 to stop one ‘Cat threat.
The annual Backyard Brawl, wasn’t much of a contest, just a good, old-fashioned drubbing of Bellwood-Antis.
Tyrone exploded for 30 points on their first six possessions at Bellwood Memorial Stadium, on the way to a punishing 37-0 triumph over the Blue Devils.
Helping the Tyrone “D” to put the clamps on Bellwood-Antis, were three B-A fumbles, three Tyrone interceptions and 110 yards in Bellwood-Antis penalties.
Although tagged with 122 yards in penalties themselves, the Eagles (1-1) were able to maintain momentum, from the first drive, which was capped by Dale Ellenberger’s 27-yard field goal.
Rich Burley quickly built the Tyrone lead to 10-0 by dashing 50 yards for a score on the visitors second series, and Bellwood-Antis was never able to get untracked.
Burley, Tiger Rupert and Bill Dixon came up with the pass interceptions. After Burley’s pick, quarterback Steve Everhart hooked up with flanker Chris Elder on a 41-yard gain, but Blue Devil Mark Baughman recovered a fumble at the BA-3 to halt the threat.
Bellwood-Antis fumbled the ball right back two plays later and after Rupert carried twice for 10 yards and a first down, Everhart slipped four yards for the TD.
A series later, Jeff Loose recovered a B-A fumble at the Blue Devil-16. Everhart made it two straight scores on the first call and Ellenberger, who converted three PATs to go with the field goal, made the score 24-0 as the first half ended.
Tyrone erased any hopes B-A might have had of a comeback, by marching 58 yards on seven plays following the second-half kickoff, with Everhart pitching to Dixon for the final 17 yards and the TD.
Tyrone (1-1) put on the finishing touches midway through the fourth quarter, following an interception by Rupert, that set them up at the 12. Junior Marty Kimmel delivered the two-yard TD and Pat Starzecky booted the extra point.
Rupert led all running backs with 15 carries for 79 yards. Burley had 47 on just three carries and Wallace added 40 yards on six carries. Everhart was four-of-seven for 65 yards with one TD and one interception. Chris Elder grabbed three receptions for 56 yards.
Traveling the road to Lewistown for week three, Tyrone (2-1) used two field goals by Ellenberger, two rushing touchdowns by Tiger Rupert, a safety and a pass interception that was returned for a TD by Bill Dixon to romp over the Panthers, at Mitchell Field, 35-6.
Ellenberger connected on a pair of long-range field goals to awe the fans in attendance, booting a 39-yarder late in the second quarter to pad a 9-0 lead to 12-0, and then nailed a 46-yarder barely two minutes into the fourth quarter, in addition to three PAT boots.
The superb Eagle defensive unit tackled Lewistown in the end zone for the first score of the game, following a 31-yard punt by Eagle senior punter Larry Woomer, that backed Lewistown into a hole at the Panthers-1. Roy Cowfer led a host of Eagles into the end zone to tackle the runner for the early 2-0 lead.
After the free kick, Rupert started with a 14-yard gain over the left side and capped the drive with a one-yard plunge for the TD.
Coming out for the second half, Lewistown mounted their first trip into Tyrone territory, but were stopped at the T-47 by a Jeff Golden interception.
Cowfer recovered a fumble at the L-2. Rupert scored his second short touchdown on the first play and Ellenberger’s kick gave the Eagles a 25-0 lead.
On their next possession, Tyrone stalled at the Panthers-20 and Ellenberger connected from 46 for his second field goal of the game and third of the season.
Lewistown became the first opponent to score a TD against the Eagle defense, following a blocked punt when Lewistown pushed in a TD from the T-6 with four minutes to play.
Marty Kimmel added the last Tyrone TD on a 32-yard run in the final quarter.
Rupert had 83 net yards on 15 carries and Bruce Wallace added 42 on nine totes. Kimmel rushed seven times for 61 yards, coming off the bench in the second half.
In week four, Tyrone celebrated Homecoming by smacking Bellefonte 20-6, without head coach Miller.
Miller had been suspended from the football program for three days by the Tyrone Area School Board plus given a public reprimand for Miller’s confessed distribution of the Bellwood-Antis playbook.
Miller admitted he photocopied the B-A playbook and mailed copies to other area coaches.
B-A coach John Hayes replied that the playbook controversy did not affect the outcome of the Tyrone/Bellwood-Antis football game. “The playbook did not create a win or a loss,” said coach Hayes.
Taking over the show early, Tyrone (3-1) marched 64 yards to paydirt to thwart any chance for the Red Raiders. Bruce Wallace returned the opening kick for 13 yards, then got loose for a pickup of 31 several plays later. Rich Burley bolted 18 yards on the next play, getting a key block from Mark Cannistraci, and Tiger Rupert plunged one yard for the first score of the contest.
Bellefonte marched into Tyrone territory, but Matt Ray crunched a Bellefonte runner on a critical fourth-and two call for no gain.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Wallace blocked a Bellefonte punt, picked up the football and raced into the end zone. Pat Starzecky.
Tyrone fumbled away a golden opportunity at the B-6, early in the fourth quarter, but Bellefonte returned the favor when Chris Elder pounced on a fumble on a pass-lateral play at the Raider-2. Rupert needed just one play to score and Starzecky added the PAT.
Assistant coaches Jim Butler and Barry Anderson coached the Eagles for the Bellefonte game.
Wallace led Tyrone with an even 100 yards on 11 carries, and Rupert had 98 more on 16 totes.
The Eagles Homecoming Court included 1981 Homecoming Queen Angie Narehood with escort Jim Kimmel, 12th grade princess Tammy Eyer with escort Briton Frantz, 11th grade princess Sally McClellan with escort Eric Dannaway, sophomore princess Amy Kobuck with escort Greg Ferner, and ninth grade princess Barbie White with escort Craig Dutrow. Narehood was crowned by 1980 Queen Melanie Jackson.
On Oct. 2, 1981, Bald Eagle Area struck for three touchdowns in a space of about six minutes in the fourth quarter in a key Big 8 Conference showdown at Wingate. BEA used the three-TD salvo to slip past Tyrone 34-27.
Tyrone (3-2) continued to have a problem with penalties, getting called for a total of 94 yards in miscues. Coach Tom Miller was particularly incensed with interference calls on each of the final two BEA scoring drives.
Tiger Rupert, Bruce Wallace and flanker Chris Elder provided Tyrone’s six-pointers and Dale Ellenberger tacked on three PAT kicks. Rupert scored on four and five-yard runs, while rolling up 85 yards on 19 carries. Wallace blasted 26 yards for his TD and Elder scored on a 55-yard pass play from Steve Everhart.
Tyrone turned BEA away three times – a fumble recovery by Rupert at the T-15, the first of two Elder interceptions at the T-22 and another fumble recovery by Rich Burley at the 10 – in the first half, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t stop Bald Eagle Area in the fourth quarter.
At Roaring Spring, Tyrone was involved in another down-to-the-last minute battle for the second week in a row on Oct. 9, falling 14-7.
Tyrone missed a golden opportunity in the final seconds, when Central’s Scarlet Dragons choked off a last-second bid, recovering a Tyrone fumble at the Dragon-10, which was returned to midfield.
With 1:20 to play, tailback Tiger Rupert and flanker Chris Elder hooked up on a pretty pass play for 42 yards and junior end Bill Dixon made a leaping reception of a Steve Everhart pass for 30 yards, following a multiple exchange in the backfield to get the ball to the C-6. After Everhart gained a yard, Tyrone fumbled the ball on the next play and never got the ball back.
Tyrone managed just six first downs, three in the fourth quarter when they were stopped at the 12 and five-yard lines and also lost three fumbles.
The Eagles reached the Central-26 in the second quarter, but an Ellenberger field goal attempt of 43 yards was short. Tyrone got the ball right back when Mark Cannistraci’s jarring tackle caused a Central fumble and Rupert fell on the ball at the C-25.
Everhart scored the TD this time, covering the final three yards, after his pass to Dixon for 27 yards set it up. Ellenberger booted the PAT and the score would remain tied 7-7 for the rest of the first half.
Rich Burley was the leading rusher for Tyrone (3-3) with 26 yards on four carries. Bruce Wallace had 25 on six carries and Tiger Rupert had 12 yards on six carries. Steve Everhart completed four of a dozen passes for 85 yards. Chris Elder had two catches for 67 yards and Bill Dixon had two for 48.
The Eagle defense gave up over 100 yards passing for the third straight game. Bellefonte passed for 164 yards in a Tyrone win, but BEA passed for 102 and Central for 122 in Eagle losses.
Facing one of their oldest opponents at Gray Field, it took exactly 12 seconds before Tyrone (4-3) got on the scoreboard against Philipsburg-Osceola. Tiger Rupert took the kickoff for a nifty 76-yard TD return at Gray Field on Oct. 16, 1981.
A P-O fumble led to what would be the winning score in the 14-7 Tyrone triumph.
Rupert staked the Eagles to their final chance midway through the final quarter with a fumble recovery at the PO-21. A pass interference call against the Mounties took half the distance to the goal line. A seven-yard scamper by Rich Burley got to the PO-3, Rupert had his number called to the one and Wallace cracked in from there for the winning points.
Wallace and Rupert led the Eagles with 66 yards each, Bruce on nine carries and Tiger on 17.
The Tyrone defense held Philipsburg-Osceola to only 38 yards rushing, but P-O became the fourth straight foe to pass for more than 100 yards with 126 yards.
On Oct. 23, 1981, Tyrone locked up their fourth straight winning season and the 34th in school history. The Eagles did a convincing number on the top Class-A school in the Western Conference with a 14-0 shutout win over Curwensville, at Gray Field.
Thwarted by the gung-ho Golden Eagle defensive unit, Curwensville was able to muster just 41 yards total offense for the night
Tyrone asserted themselves early with a sledgehammer-like 80-yard drive for the first score, after an exchange of turnovers. But finishing off the Golden Tide was another story as Tyrone drives stalled at the Tide 10, 19 and 22-yard lines.
Curwensville got the game’s first good field position with a fumble recovery at the T-31, but Roy Cowfer sacked the quarterback for an eight-yard loss and Jeff Golden intercepted a pass to get the Eagles the ball at their own 20.
Bruce Wallace banged in for the two-yard TD and Ellenberger’s PAT kick gave Tyrone a 7-0 lead, with just under six minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Tyrone drove 56 yards to the Tide-10 and Matt Ray recovered a Curwensville fumble at the 19, but neither advance earned any points.
Finally, the third time proved the charm. Mark Cannistraci smothered another fumble at the C-27, and this time the Eagles capitalized.
Rupert smashed in for the score seven plays later, from the Tide-2 to give Tyrone (5-3) some breathing room with 7:12 left in the fourth quarter.
Wallace rushed for 91 yards on 21 carries and Rupert had 86 on 17 totes.
The Golden Eagles traveled to Lewistown, again to face Chief Logan, on Oct. 30. The Mingoes jumped into 7-0 and 23-8 leads on the way to a 31-26 win that set the Eagles final 1981 record at 5-4, the Eagles’ fourth and coach Miller’s third straight winning season.
A critical turning point occurred with Tyrone trailing 23-20 and driving again for a potential go-ahead score. The Eagles drove 51 yards, including two key third-down calls and a 40-yard pass play from Steve Everhart to Chris Elder, to the Mingoes-3, only to lose the ball on a fumble, a golden opportunity slipping away.
Both teams rolled up over 300 yards in total offense, but Chief Logan used four long-range scores (33, 58 and 69-yard runs and a 21-yard pass) to salt away the victory.
Tyrone collected 63 yards rushing on 16 carries from Rupert, and 56 on 15 carries by Wallace, with Everhart hitting three different receivers for a nine-of-18 effort for 122 yards and Rupert adding one-of-two for 26 yards.
Elder totaled four catches for 77 yards, including a 10-yard TD, Bill Dixon had three for 41 and a 17-yard score and Mark Cannistraci had three for 30 yards. Wallace and Everhart had one-yard TD plunges and Wallace ran for one two-point PAT to complete the scoring.
Tiger Rupert led the 1981 Eagles in scoring (eight TDs for 48 points), and rushing (129 carries for 582 yards), while Bruce Wallace had 32 points (five TDs and one two-point conversion) and 528 yards on 98 carries to place second in both categories. Rich Burley had 178 yards on 49 carries and Marty Kimmel added 123 on 31 totes.
Steve Everhart completed 34 of 74 pass attempts for 446 with four TD passes and six interceptions. Chris Elder was the top receiver with 18 catches for 322 yards and two TDs. Mark Cannistraci grabbed 10 catches for 101 yards, and Bill Dixon had eight catches for 135 yards and two TDs.
Bruce Wallace (defensive end), Bill Dixon (linebacker), Dale Ellenberger (place kicker) and Matt Ray (offensive guard) were all First Team All Big-8 selections, Wallace (running back) and Tiger Rupert (running back) were Second Team picks and Max Mattern (tackle and defensive line), Roy Cowfer (defensive line), Rupert (linebacker), Jeff Golden (defensive back) and Chris Elder (defensive back) made the Honorable Mention list.
Ray (guard), Wallace (defensive end) and Dixon (linebacker) were named to the All-Centre Counties First Team All-Stars, with Elder (split end) and Ellenberger (place kicker) on the Second Team and Mark Cannistraci (end), Mattern (tackle), Rupert (running back), Cowfer (down lineman) and Jeff Golden (defensive back) on the Honorable Mention list.