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Walker rushes to second straight 1,000-yard season in 1981

As another football season dawned, the Bellwood-Antis Blue Devils and second-year coach John Hayes welcomed 12 lettermen from his first season at the helm in 1980, when the Blue Devils recorded a 7-3 get-away mark for the young coach, who had been an assistant coach at Tyrone for nine years. Assistant coaches included Port Williams, Al Pacifico and Jim Torsell on the varsity level, while Darrell Claar and Todd Guyer coached the Blue Devil junior high.
Included among those lettermen, on a roster of 40 players, was senior tailback Steve Walker, who ran for 1,259 yards in 1980 as a junior, the first running back at Bellwood-Antis since 1963 to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark, when Walter Rhoades and Bill Cherry both accomplished the feat. Walker also led Blair County in scoring in 1980, with 16 touchdowns for 96 points. Other letterwinners included John Youngkin, Albert Dillen, Dave Buck, Tim Collier, Jeff Young, Joe Keller, Rob Wigman, Robb Fleming, Bill Damiano, Glenn Davis and Mark Baughman. Keller, Youngkin and Keller were juniors, all of the other returning emblem winners were seniors. It was questionable whether either Collier (broken leg) and Wigman (torn knee cartilage) would play at all, or when they might be ready for action.
Senior Ed Welsh (150 LB.) was the starter at quarterback, with Albert Dillen (158) at fullback, Walker (176) at tailback, and Youngkin (171) at halfback. Up front, it was junior Ken Campbell (160) at split end, Damiano (265) and Wally Rossi (252) at the tackles, Keller (152) and Young (186) at the guards, and Fleming (170) at center.
On defense, the Blue and Gold had Davis and Keller on the ends, Damiano and Young at the tackles and junior Dave Buck (180) at nose-guard. Fleming and junior Tim Watters (160) were the linebackers, junior Steve Miller (157) and Baughman the cornerbacks, and Youngkin and Walker the safeties.
Beginning the season with anybody other than Tyrone has not happened very often, but in the 1981 season, the Blue Devils opened against Penns Valley. The B-A defense ran into a batteringRam in Penns Valley’s Jon Bowersox, who scored twice and rushed for a whooping 174 yards in an 18-0 Ram victory at Spring Mills, on Sept. 4, 1981.
The Rams and Bowersox did all their scoring and most of the damage in the first half. Bowersox, who led Centre County in rushing (1,353 yards) and scoring (88 points) in 1980, had touchdown runs of four and 65 yards and 141 yards rushing in the first two quarters.
The offensive mistakes were never more evident than in the second quarter, when Bellwood-Antis (0-1) reached the Penns Valley-15 with a 14-play drive and in the third quarter when a 15-play drive reached the PV-11. Both drives stalled and the Blue Devils (0-1) made the long bus trip home from Spring Mills the victim of a shutout.
Penns Valley crunched out 237 yards rushing and 280 total offense, while the Ram defense was holding B-A tailback Steve Walker to just 51 yards rushing on 19 carries and the rest of the Blue Devils a total of 70 yards on the ground.
Put together, three lost fumbles, three intercepted passes and 105 yards in penalties and that added up to a very frustrating self-destruction for Bellwood-Antis (0-2) in their annual backyard rivalry game against Tyrone. Throw in a lack of offense and a porous defense that gave up at least a TD in each quarter and you have the Golden Eagles easily romping past Bellwood-Antis, at Bellwood Memorial Stadium, 37-0, on Sept. 11.
B-A never got untracked on offense, rushing for just 31 yards and passing for just 61 more.
After being shackled by Huntingdon in their opener, Tyrone rambled for 30 points on their first six possessions against Bellwood-Antis to turn in their highest scoring effort in the Backyard Brawl in 10 years.
Junior John Youngkin collected a tough 22 yards on eight carries and senior quarterback Ed Welsh connected on four of nine passes for another 36 yards. Mark Baughman was a bright spot with three pass receptions for 37 yards. Walker was held to eight yards net rushing on nine carries.
Tyrone took the opening kick and drove right down the field, only to be momentarily stalled, when Blue Devil Joe Keller sacked the Eagles quarterback, forcing Tyrone to kick a Dale Ellenberger field goal.
From that point on, everytime Bellwood-Antis attempted to mount a threat, they stopped themselves with a miscue or penalty, while Tyrone, who were flagged for 122 yards in penalties themselves, were able to maintain their momentum and turn the game into a rout.
At home for the second straight time in the 1981 season, Bellwood-Antis (0-3) finally found their offense, but the defense must have thought it was another away game, leaving for parts unknown. Northern Cambria used a high-power air attack that accounted for 200 yards and four touchdowns passing to blast the Blue Devils 47-20, on Sept. 18, and hand B-A their third consecutive loss, without a win.
Northern Cambria head coach Steve Magulick had coached against the Blue Devils at Tyrone from 1966-74 before returning to his alma mater, and had defeated Bellwood-Antis in eight straight before suffering a 20-0 loss to B-A in 1974. B-A head coach John Hayes had been an assistant under Magulick at Tyrone. The Blue Devils had handed the Colts a 22-19 loss in 1980 to break Northern Cambria’s 12-game win streak and the two former Tyrone coaches were 1-1 against each other at other schools.
Steve Walker finally flashed the form that took him over 1,000 yards rushing and made him the leading scorer in Blair County, rushing 21 times for 164 yards and two scores. Walker scored on runs of 15 and three yards and junior speedster John Youngkin tallied the third Blue Devil TD with a 22 yard punt return. Tim Kovac converted on the first two extra point kicks.
Bellwood-Antis (0-3) got on the scoreboard for the first time in 1981 in the first quarter, when Walked rambled 15 yards for the score and Kovac’s PAT kick tied the score at 7-7. Northern Cambria connected on several long TD passes however, to take a 27-7 lead at halftime and just kept adding points in the second half.
Bellwood-Antis then took advantage of a school restarting their football program after an absence of 60 years to win their first game of the year. Travel to Indiana County on a warm Saturday, Sept. 26 afternoon, the Blue Devils used the potent two-pronged rushing attack of Steve Walker and John Youngkin to put a 34-12 win over Marion Center, into the books.
Walker carried the pigskin 25 times for 189 yards, including a trio of touchdowns of three, 15 and 89 yards, and Youngkin added 195 yards, despite having his number called just seven times, including TD scampers of 88 and 37 yards. Sophomore kicker Tim Kovac booted four PATs to complete the scoring.
The previously almost nonexistent B-A defense turned in a credible job, holding Marion Center to just 100 yards rushing and holding them scoreless until midway through the third quarter, with the Blue Devils holding a 20-0 lead.
After a slow start in 1981, Steve Walker, a 1,000-yard rusher in 1980, continued to shine like a powerful beacon out of the Bellwood-Antis backfield. In game five, Walker rushed for 144 yards, his third 100-yard game in a row, and two scores, and pulled in a pair of pass interceptions from his safety position. Walker’s effort, which included a six-yard smash and 84-yard bolt for TDs, along with a tough defensive performance by the Blue Devils (2-3) held off a determined Tussey Mountain Titan squad for a 13-0 B-A win.
After giving up 102 points in their first three ballgames, the Blue Devil defense turned in their best effort of the year in stuffing Tussey Mountain no less than six times deep in Bellwood-Antis territory, on Oct. 2. Titan thrusts were halted short of the goal line at the 12-yard line late in the first half. Then Walker stepped in front of a Tussey Mountain pass at the B-A three in the third quarter. After B-A fumbled at their own seven-yard line in the same period, the defense pushed Tussey back, before taking over at the BA-22.
Tim Watters stopped a Titan drive by recovering a fumble at the BA-13 in the fourth quarter. Walker’s second pass theft thwarted a scoring threat at the Bellwood-Antis-6 and then finally, at game’s end, after Tussey had driven inside the BA-10, two quarterback sacks threw Tussey Mountain back to the BA-11 to preserve the shutout and improve their record to 2-3.
In week six, on Oct. 9, Bellwood-Antis traveled to Everett to face a tough (3-1-1) Warrior team that had lost only to undefeated Juniata Valley.
A costly fumble in the game’s early minutes opened the gates for Everett and although the B-A defense held, a 27-yard field goal put the Blue Devils in a hole from which they would never recover. Everett added a touchdown in every quarter to take a 31-0 triumph over Bellwood-Antis (2-4).
Steve Walker pounded out 159 yards on 21 carries from scrimmage, but the Everett defense limited everybody else to just six yards total offense, while racking up 240 yards on the ground.
To find another B-A team that was shut out three times, you have to go back to 1977, when head coach Jim Gardner’s squad went 8-3, with all of their losses by shutout. To find a Blue Devil team that was shut out more than three times, you have to go back to the 0-10 record by the Bellwood-Antis team in 1960, at the tail end of the one long sustained losing streak in Blue Devil football history.
Bellwood-Antis High School’s hope of extending their string of four consecutive winning football seasons were shattered at Roaring Spring on a Saturday night during week seven. Northern Bedford, which played all their home games at Roaring Spring at that time, and the Blue Devils each scored twice, but a first-quarter score followed by the only extra point of the game spelled the difference in a 13-12 Northern win. Bellwood-Antis (2-5) would be faced with the task of winning their final three games to reach the .500 level.
Steve Walker, who had rushed for over 100 yards in each of the Blue Devils last four games, didn’t play a down, watching the game from the sidelines.
The Bellwood-Antis offense sputtered and missed like an automobile badly in need of a tune-up, on Oct. 17, looking good at times and terrible at others.
After a Northern Bedford score and PAT gave the Panthers a 7-0 advantage, Youngkin scored from the five in the second quarter to slice the lead to 7-6 at halftime.
Northern, which scored both TDs through the air, connected for the second time for a 52-yard score and a 13-6 lead after three quarters.
Both teams collected 13 first downs, but the Panthers rushed for 100 more yards 202-102, and passed for 116 yards on a five-of-10 game, while Bellwood-Antis went four-for 15 for 77 yards.
The Blue Devils scored their second TD of the night in the fourth quarter when junior running back Jerry Potts scored on a three-yard run, only to watch victory slip away when a try for a two-point PAT attempt was halted.
Even in the throes of a 2-5 season, Bellwood-Antis was still able to continue their domination over Claysburg-Kimmel, blasting the Bulldogs 34-6 for a Homecoming victory, for the Blue Devils eighth straight win in the series between the two Blair County schools.
Lisa Ford was crowned 1981 Homecoming Queen with Shawnee Stevens as First Runner-up and Cathy Rossi as Second Runner-up
Walker scored on the front end of a 40-yard pass play from sophomore quarterback Bob Gill to open the scoring and added another pair of touchdowns on runs of five and 10 yards.
A couple of key blasts by senior fullback Albert Dillen of 19 and 21 yards set up Walkers five-yard score in the second quarter.
Then midway through the third quarter, junior Bill Capouillez pilfered a Claysburg pass, one of five interceptions for Bellwood-Antis (3-5) and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.
After Gill, who on the night completed five of seven aerials for 152 yards and two TDs, took the Blue Devils into scoring position with tosses of 12 yards to Mark Baughman and 17 to Ken Campbell, Walker followed with a 10-yard blast for his third six-pointer.
Gill then hooked up with Baughman for 61 yards on the final play of the quarter for his second touchdown heave of the contest. Tim Kovac successfully converted on four of five PATs.
Walker gained 78 yards on 15 carries and Dillen added 51 on six carries. Baughman totaled 95 yards and a score on three catches.
In what would be the Blue Devils’ last home loss for the next 26 games, Bellwood-Antis was defeated 27-21 by once beaten Juniata Valley, on Oct. 30.
Following a 16-12 loss to the Warriors, Juniata Valley got back on the winning track at Bellwood Memorial Stadium at the expense of the Blue Devils.
A pivotal three-touchdown barrage in the second quarter would prove to be too much for the determined and upset-minded Blue Devils.
Bellwood-Antis scored a touchdown in each of the last three quarters to push the Hornets to the wall, but couldn’t quite come up with a knockout punch, although the Hornets certainly knew they had been in a fight.
Following Juniata Valley’s second score, Jerry Potts put the Blue Devils in motion, when he returned the kickoff 25 yards to midfield. Steve Walker, who would rush for 172 yards on 30 carries had the key play, racing for 38 yards and Gill got the six-pointer with a six-yard run.
The clinching score, although at the time, it seemed Valley was running away, came on the following kickoff, when the Hornets’ Jack Galloway ran the ball 75 yards for a 21-7 lead.
The inspired Blue Devils scored twice in the second half to make quite a game of it, before falling just short.
First, Daren Desch recovered a Valley fumble at the Hornet-31. Walker had his number called six straight times, the last, a 10-yard TD run, and Gill converted a two-point conversion run to narrow the deficit to 21-14.
Juniata Valley showed why they had lost only one game, by marching 74 yards for their final TD.
Bellwood-Antis roared back with Walker bolting 46 yards for a touchdown and Kovac booting the extra point, but Juniata Valley held on for the win, forcing a punt on the Blue Devils final series and then running out the clock.
Bellwood-Antis would not suffer a loss at Bellwood Memorial Stadium until the Montoursville game in 1987, a streak of 25 straight wins at home.
In their final contest of 1981, the Blue Devils traveled to Glendale to face a Viking squad that had begun the season 4-0, but had been just 1-1-3 over the second half of the 1981 season.
Steve Walker scored both touchdowns in a 14-0 triumph over Glendale as the Blue Devils improved their final 1981 record to 4-6, on Nov. 6.
Walker rushed for 164 yards on 39 carries to push his season total to 1,129 yards to become just the second B-A runningback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in two seasons. Only Walter Rhoades in 1962 and 1963 had accomplished the feat before 1981.
Chris McCartney (1989, 1990), Matt Garner (1999, 2000) and Dave Miller (1999, 2000) each have rushed for 1,000-yard seasons twice since 1981, and present B-A senior Josh Kleinfelter (2004, 2005) has the opportunity to accomplish the feat for a third time in 2006.
The B-A defense never allowed Glendale inside the Blue Devils-30, holding the Vikings to just 33 total plays on offense, compared to Walker, who carried 39 times all by himself.
Jeff Young recovered a Glendale fumble on the third play of the game, and Walker had his number called on 11 of 12 plays, including a touchdown from a yard out. Tim Kovac kicked the PAT to get Bellwood-Antis out to a quick start.
Then after two scoreless quarters, a fourth-quarter, fourth-down pass fizzled for Glendale and Bellwood-Antis drove 58 yards for an insurance score. Walker broke two tackles in his own backfield and then dashed 19 yards for the key play. Then Walker scrambled three yards for his 30th career TD, and Kovac added the extra point boot to set the final score.
Walker repeated as the leading scorer in Blair County, with 84 points on 14 touchdowns. Walker was a First Team Inter-County Conference All-Star for the second straight year, at running back on offense and defensive back on defense-one of just two repeaters on the First Team. Jeff Young was Honorable Mention on the ICC All-Star Team and was picked as a Tribune Democrat Scholar/Athlete.
Walker led the team with 1,129 yards rushing on 198 carries. John Youngkin had 228 yards on 57 carries and Albert Dillen added 155 yards on 44 carries.
Bob Gill completed 16 of 45 passes for a team-high 325 yards, and Ed Welsh was six-of-31 for 75 yards. Mark Baughman led Blue Devil receivers with 11 catches for 237 yards and one TD. Walker had three catches for 69 yards and one score.