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Pigskin Preview: Kimmel, defense lead Golden Eagle to winning season in ‘82

Drawing a bead on their fourth straight winning mark, the Tyrone Golden Eagles, under the leadership of head coach Tom Miller and assistants Bill Abbott, Jim Butler and Barry Anderson and trainer Don “Herc” Ammerman, welcomed a squad of 43, that included both of the top two rushers from 1981, Bruce Wallace (528 yards and five TDs) and Tiger Rupert (582 yards and eight TDs) and All-Conference linebacker Bill Dixon to lead the way. Other battle-tested veteran lettermen included Chuck Murray, Roy Cowfer, Mark Cannistraci, Marty Kimmel, Chris Elder, Jeff Golden and Doug Henry, as well as specialty team letterwinners Dave Henry, Bill Cox and Pat Starzecky.
Defensively, where they figured to be rock-steady with nine starters back, the Eagles had co-captain Cannistraci (6-1, 185) and Wallace (6-0, 185) on the ends, Tom Woodring (6-0, 195) and Chuck Murray (6-3, 215) tackles, and Cowfer (5-10, 167) at nose guard along the line. Dixon (5-10, 170) and Rupert (5-9, 165) were the linebackers, Kimmel (5-10, 155) and Elder (6-0, 150) were the corners, Jeff Golden (6-2, 165) was at free safety, and Henry (5-7, 135) was at strong safety. Others expected to see backup duty on defense were tackle Tom Lannen (5-10, 185), nose guard Jeff Grazier (6-1, 205), linebacker Bill Cox (5-8, 160), cornerback Randy Golden (5-11, 155) and deep backs Kevin Jenkins and Dave Cherry (5-9, 150).
On offense, it was Jeff Golden at quarterback, with Wallace and Rupert or alternate Kimmel at running backs and Elder at flanker. Up front, it was Cannistraci and Dixon on the ends, Murray and Bill Teeters (6-1, 220) at tackles, Cowfer and Cox at guards and Jaymie Chronister (5-10, 160) at center. Grazier and Len Romano (5-11, 185), guard Tom Lannen, flanker Doug Henry and tight end Pat Starzecky were listed as backups who would see lots of duty.
Tyrone opened their season, on Sept. 3, at Huntingdon, against a tough Bearcat squad that had gone 7-3 a year earlier. The Golden Eagle used their stiffling defense to bruise Huntingdon 22-0 in what would be the first of seven straight victories.
In what was a very satisfying piece of work over a team that has had the Eagles’ number too often in the past, Tyrone held the Huntingdon offense to 121 yards rushing on 34 carries, and just four of 13 pass completions for six yards, through the air, while intercepting three Bearcat tosses along the way.
The first of two picks by Marty Kimmel and Kimmel’s 26-yard return was topped off by a facemask penalty that set the ball at the H-7. Tiger Rupert, used sparingly in the Eagles’ final scrimmage, because of a shoulder injury, took just one play to score the seven-yard TD and Pat Starzecky drilled the PAT home for a 7-0 advantage with just 0:21 to play in the opening quarter.
The lead quickly ballooned to 15-0, when running back Bruce Wallace used a gutsy second effort to shrug three would-be tacklers, on the way to a 60-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Tyrone quarterback Jeff Golden. Wallace also surprised Huntingdon with a muddle-huddle trick play, running in the PAT for two points.
The Bearcats made their biggest advance in the first three quarters when they marched to the T-31, but the defense, led by Bill Dixon, Mark Cannistraci, Roy Cowfer and Tom Woodring shut them down just before halftime.
Kimmel’s second interception and his 34-yard run from scrimmage put the Orangemen in business again at the H-1. Golden was nailed just short on a keeper, but Kimmel banged over the left side for the score, a play later.
Rupert gained a team-high 53 yards on 112 carries, and Wallace had his number called seven times for 32 yards. Golden completed three of eight tosses for 78 yards and one TD.
In much the same style that delighted their following on the road a week earlier, the Golden Eagles did in an other old rival at Gray Field, before a standing room only crowd estimated at close to 6,000. Another rock-steady defensive effort and a bruising running game paved the way for a 28-0 victory over Bellwood-Antis.
The Tyrone defense recovered two fumbles (Bruce Wallace got both) and intercepted two more passes (courtesy of Jeff Golden), while the offense rushed for 316 yards behind solid blocks from the “O” line.
Bellwood-Antis, which had last scored against Tyrone in 10-7 Eagle win in 1979, never was able to get closer than the T-24, once in the first three quarters, and then once again in the closing minutes of the game.
“I didn’t expect it to go this way,” said Tyrone coach Tom Miller. “I honestly thought it would be a little closer. We’re happy with the way the kids have been playing.”
Bruce Wallace spearheaded the offensive attack with 110 yards on 13 carries, for the Eagles (2-0) including runs of 29, and 22 yards and Tiger Rupert ripped off 77 yards on 13 totes, including a 13-yard TD that opened the scoring. Marty Kimmel added a 27-yard score, sweeping the right side, and 64 yards on nine carries.
Reserve running back Mike Fink got the other six-pointer on a nine yard run with less than two minutes to play.
Golden’s first pick aborted the Blue Devils’ initial threat, and a big defensive push stopped the other late in the game. Following a 44-yard bolt by B-A tailback Steve Miller, that was the longest run by either team, the Tyrone defense got two straight sacks by Mark Cannistraci and another by Wallace as time ran out.
Week three brought the Lewistown Panthers to Gray Field, with the Tyrone offense again putting up big numbers and the Eagle “D” limiting Lewistown to one score in a 36-6 triumph that was the 19th straight Tyrone win in the series.
Linebacker Bill Dixon intercepted two passes, returning one for a 25-yard TD, and Don Cherry put the emphasis on the job, smothering the Panther QB in his own end zone for a safety.
Complementing the defensive effort, speedy Marty Kimmel shredded the Lewistown defense for 133 yards on 14 carries, including a five-yard TD. Rupert banged out 75 yards on a dozen carries, including a four-yard TD. Greg Ferner chipped in 26 yards and a nine-yard Td on 12 carries.
With six minutes gone, Tyrone (3-0) moved 66 yards for the first score of the night, after big plays by Wallace, Chris Elder and Chuck Murray forced Lewistown to punt. Rupert had the big play, ripping off 22 yards and Kimmel contributed a 15-yard pickup, before Rupert punched in the TD from four yards out.
Cannistraci blocked a Panther punt and Doug Henry recovered at the L-18 to open the door again. Tyrone needed three plays with Kimmel motoring the final five yards for the score. Cannistraci followed with a pass from Jeff Golden for the two-point PAT.
Dixon picked off a pass and the resulting TD gave the Eagles a 20-0 lead at halftime.
That lead quickly became 29-0 when Cherry nailed his safety, and Golden found Elder for a four-yard score that capped a 54-yard drive.
Each team scored once in the fourth quarter, the Lewistown TD the only points the Tyrone defense had allowed in their first three contests.
Without two-way standout Bruce Wallace, who tore ligaments in a knee and Doug Henry, out with a slight bone crack in his lower leg, the Tyrone defense took over against Bellefonte on Sept. 24, and Marty Kimmel had a monster game on offense, rushing for 218 yards and three scores on 18 carries from scrimmage.
Playing at Bellefonte, Tyrone (4-0) won their fourth straight ballgame 32-13, also had quarterback Jeff Golden complete six of nine passes for 114 yards and two TD passes.
“We were concerned about their passing attack, since we knew they a quarterback who could throw the ball and an excellent receiver,” said Coach Miller. “But our pass defense was good, and we had a couple new kids in- Dave Cherry and Randy Golden starting back there.”
Cherry got the nod at Henry’s strong safety spot, and Golden was in at Chris Elder’s cornerback position when Elder would move over to strong safety on some calls.
Bellefonte was successful throwing the ball (14-for-30 for 149 yards), but the Raider rushing game was thrown for a minus 20 yards as the Tyrone defense repeatedly turned Bellefonte away from the goal line.
Bellefonte, in fact, scored first to take the early 7-0 lead, getting on the scoreboard via a fumble recovery that was run 34 yards for a TD, but the Tyrone offense wasted little time in coming right back.
Three cracks by Kimmel for 27 yards, and a Jeff Golden to Bill Dixon 44-yard strike was good for the TD. Bellefonte still held on to a slim 7-6 advantage when the PAT failed.
A pair of pass thefts set up the next two scores for the Orangemen. First, Golden stole one to set up the Eagles at the T-39. Three plays later, Kimmel went over the left side and raced untouched for the 54-yard score. Tiger Rupert swiped the second interception, three plays after the kickoff, at the B-41. Golden covered nine yards with a pass to Chris Elder, lost a yard on the next play and then hit Mark Cannistraci for the 33-yard TD.
Both teams scored once again in the first half. Kimmel restored order following the Bellefonte score, by streaking 70 yards for a Tyrone touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
The Tyrone band came back from Lewistown on Sept., 25, 1982, with a total of five first place trophies. The Golden Eagle Marching Band collected trophies in First in Class III, Best Marching and Maneuvering, Best Drum Line Overall, Best General Effect Front, and The James R. Reigle Award, a traveling trophy sponsored by the Pennsylvania Electric Company. Band leaders included: Dawn Calderwood-drum major, Amy Stever-drum major, Jim Conrad-percussion captain, Vicky Taylor-drum major, Wendy Ammerman-head majorette, Tammy Houser-silk captain and Holly Dawson-rifle captain.
On a warm Homecoming September evening, the Golden Eagles added Bald Eagle Area to their rapidly growing list of 1982 victims 24-3.
With the win, the 1982 edition of the Golden Eagles become the first team to reel off five straight wins at the beginning of the season, since legendary coach Steve Jacobs’ 1948 squad accomplished the feat during an 11-0 season.
Victory Number Five came courtesy of another solid performance by the Big Orange’s aggressive defensive unit and a fine-tuned offense generated by senior thunderbolt Marty Kimmel.
Kimmel, a standout sprinter on the Eagles’ track team, flashed his District 6 championship track form for the third straight week with touchdown dashes of 75 and 16 yards, along the way to 135 yards on 19 carries.
Tiger Rupert churned out 98 yards rushing on 15 carries and Bruce Wallace ripped off 46 on just two totes, before reaggrevating an old knee injury and was lost for the rest of the seasond.
Tyrone amassed 282 yards on the ground and passed for another 55 to account for a total offense of 337 yards. Jeff Golden completed three of four passes for 47 yards before going down with an injury, and backup Mark Barr directed the offense for most of the second half.
Kevin Jenkins picked off three BEA passes and Chris Elder got one interception and Chuck Murray recovered two fumbles and Don Cherry and Rupert each added a fumble recovery, as the Tyrone “D” kept the heat on the Bald Eagle Area offense dropping the BEA runners 12 times behind the line of scrimmage.
Kimmel’s two scores staked the Eagles to a 14-0 lead and after a Golden-to-Dixon pass for a 14-yard TD, gave Tyrone a 21-0 halftime lead, Pat Starzecky boomed 21-yard field goal for the only Tyrone score of the second half. Starzecky was also true on three straight first-half PATs.
The 1982 Key Club Homecoming Queen was crowned at the BEA game. The 1981 Tyrone Homecoming Queen Angela Nearhoof crowned Wendy S. Ammerman as her successor. Ammerman was escorted by Dave Shopp. The Queen’s court and their escorts included: Freshman Princess Lori Tulowitski and escort Craig Dutrow, Sophomore Princess Wendy Estright and escort Ron Reed, Junior Princess Colleen Duffy and escort Briton Frantz, and Senior Princess Pamela Kobuck and escort Chris Scordo.
On Oct. 8, Tyrone (6-0) slipped past a scrappy Central Scarlet Dragon eleven 21-14 to remain undefeated, at Gray Field. The game featured 22 penalties for 269 yards and three TDs in the final five minutes, two by the Eagles to crush the 1-4 Dragons hope of a huge upset. Quarterback/safety Jeff Golden and running back/defensive end Bruce Wallace weren’t even in uniform and valuable two-way performer Tiger Rupert went down with just under four minutes left in the first half and never returned.
The Eagles offense was able to pile up over 300 yards of total offense, and turn away the surprising Dragons, with Marty Kimmel getting his number called 37 times and responding with 188 yards and all three Eagle touchdowns. Mark Barr took over for Golden, hitting five-of-10 passes for 53 yards in his first varsity start, maintaining a steady hand at the controls.
Holding on to a shaky 7-6 fourth-quarter lead, the Eagles found themselves with Central at the T-20. First, the Eagles stalled the Dragons, then found themselves in a deep hole at their own nine-yard line following penalties for holding and delay-of-game.
Twice in the next five minutes, Tyrone was forced to punt, but each time held on to possession, when Central was called first for too many men on the field, and then for an improper signal on a fair catch. Again the Eagles were forced to punt and the snap to punter Kevin Jenkins was high for that one. Jenkins hauled down the snap, and elected to run instead of kicking, taking the big gamble for a 23-yard gain and a first down at the C-33.
“I’d like to say we called that play, but we didn’t,” joked Coach Miller after the game. “He (Jenkins) did that on his own. He is fast and he had enough room. It turned out to be a big play for us.”
Kimmel ran for 13 and Barr found Chris Elder for 10 and Dave Cherry for 11-yard completions before Kimmel covered the final eight yards in two cracks, including the three-yard score.
Only moments later, backed up at their own 10, the Central quarterback went back to throw a bomb, but dropped the football and Golden Eagles Don Cherry and Tom Lannen were there to smother it at the C-4.
Kimmel took just one play to score the TD and Pat Starzecky’s third straight PAT put the game away, although Central came back to score again. Tyrone recovered the short kick near midfield and was able to run the clock out.
Leading both the Big 8 and Central Counties leagues, Tyrone had outscored their opponents 163-36, while averaging 324 yards a game in total offense, while giving up just half that total (160/game) through their first six contests.
Tyrone pulled out their seventh straight win of the 1982 campaign with a 21-7 road win at Philipsburg-Osceola on Oct. 15.
The Mounties had the statistical edge in first downs (11-10) and total offense (234-222), the first team to do that all year, but the Golden Eagle defense stuffed the P-O offense effectively enough to keep them out of the Tyrone end zone and picked off five passes, with all three Tyrone scores coming off interceptions on the rainy Friday evening in Philipsburg.
Standout linebacker Bill Dixon picked off the first P-O pass on the second play of the game, at the PO-36. Six plays later, Dave Cherry went in from five yards out for the TD, and Starzecky booted the extra point to shove Tyrone on top 7-0 with just 2:22 gone.
Several series later, it was Mark Cannistraci intercepting a Mountie pass at the PO-38. A 15-yard penalty for blocking below the waist shoved the Eagles back into their own territory, but they got the 15 right back, on a controversial interference penalty against P-O and Kimmel, who rushed 28 times for 137 yards and two scores, bolted the final 14 yards and Starzecky was true on the PAT.
Early in the second quarter, Dixon picked off his second pass theft of the game to present the Eagles with a golden opportunity. Kimmel burst 34 yards on the very first play from scrimmage, for his second TD of the night and Starzecky made it three-for-three.
P-O came back before the intermission for their only score and neither club could find the goal line in the second half.
On Oct. 22, part of the potential of all the trappings surrounding a late-season showdown between undefeated Big 8 and Central Counties Conferences titans Tyrone and Cjief Logan, was stopped short a week before that ballgame. Unheralded Bedford bounced back from two straight losses to celebrate their Senior Night at Bedford, by handing the Golden Eagles their first loss of the year 27-10.
Tyrone (7-1) jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but then were shut down by the Bison defense, which held Tyrone to their lowest total in points, rushing (180 yards on 54 rushes) and total offense (221 yards).
“They hit the key passes….that’s the thing that beat us,” surmised Coach Miller. “That and those penalties (4-60 yards, one nullified a Tyrone TD) killed us.”
Speedy Marty Kimmel (1,028) ran for a tough 92 yards on 30 totes at the inspired Bedford defense to move over the 1,000-yard rushing mark, but was held under 100 yards for the first time in six games.
Tiger Rupert punched out 74 yards on 15 carries and scored on a one-yard smash against the gritty Bison defense.
Roy Cowfer fell on the first of his two Bedford fumble recoveries, on the first play of the game and the Eagles executed a workmanlike 26-yard drive capped by Rupert blasting into the end zone.
Pat Starzecky booted the PAT and added a 37-yard field goal following Cowfer’s second recovery after a critical 15-yard illegal block penalty negated a five-yard TD run by Kimmel.
Tyrone was able to march to the B-18 at the start of the second half, for their only other serious drive but Starzecky was slightly off target on his 35-yard attempt.
Tyrone Area High School’s bid for its first Big 8 championship ever, and its first Central Counties title since 1964, went down the tubes in a confrontation with unbeaten Chief Logan at Gray Field on Oct. 29.
The Mingoes coughed up the ball the first three times they had the ball – a pass interception by Chris Elder and fumble recoveries by Don Cherry and Chuck Murray, and had a scoring threat aborted on another interception in the Tyrone end zone by Kevin Jenkins, but rebounded to pound Tyrone 35-10.
Like just a week ago when Bedford handed the Golden Eagles their first loss of the season, Tyrone took an early 10-0 advantage, Chief Logan kept Tyrone from further score after that point, while piling up points with their air power attack.
Cherry’s recovery set up the Tyrone touchdown, a 16-yard scamper by Tiger Rupert with three minutes gone. Murray’s set up a 26-yard field goal from Pat Starzecky, who also kicked the PAT following Rupert’s TD.
The Chief Logan offense, once it eventually got going strafed the Eagles for 287 yards and one TD through the air, and set up several of their other scores as well.
Marty Kimmel rushed for 113 yards on 22 carries and Tiger Rupert added 10 carries for 43 yards for Tyrone (7-2).
After two straight late season losses, Tyrone closed out their 1982 season on the road with a workmanlike 9-0 triumph at Curwensville, against the Golden Tide. The Eagles finish 8-2, their best mark since the 1970 squad compiled an 8-1-1 record.
Amazing Marty Kimmel, who actually started the 1982 season as the Eagles ‘third’ man in a backfield that appeared set with the top two running backs returning from 1981, ground out 134 yards on 32 carries to pass Tyrone All-Stater Fred Kaspick’s 1,265-yard mark as the second-best single-season performance. At that time in the pre-Marcus Owens and Jesse Jones eras of Tyrone football, Chet Wolford’s rushing total of 1,406 yards during the Golden Eagles’ 8-2 campaign in 1962 had been the top rushing total in school history.
Perhaps overshadowed by Kimmel’s record-breaking effort, Tiger Rupert also was over the 100-yard rushing total against Curwensville with 120 yards on only 19 carries. Included in that total was the game’s only touchdown- an eight yard blast on a bone-chillingly cold night at Curwensville’s Riverside Stadium.
Tyrone outdistanced the Tide 303 yards to 84 in total offense and only allowed the Curwensville offense to cross midfield twice, never further than the T-37.
Tyrone marched 84 yards on their first possession of the second quarter, sparked by a 41-yard scamper by Rupert, before the Tyrone senior ran eight yards for the TD. Pat Starzecky booted the extra point.
Bill Dixon recovered a free ball for the Eagles, on the following kickoff, at the Tide-29. Although the Eagles lost the ball on downs at the C-7, senior middle guard Roy Cowfer broke through the line on the first play and nailed the Curwensville quarterback in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 final score, with neither team able to punch in any further scoring.
Tyrone ran out of time just before the half at the Tide-30 and stalled in the second half at the Curwensville 17, 25 and eight. Starzecky missed on a 33-yard field goal attempt after the Eagles drove to the 17.
Sparking the Eagles’ fine performance in 1982, speedy Marty Kimmel wrote himself into the Tyrone record books, rushing for a total of 1,284 yards on 218 carries. Beginning the season as the third man in a two-man backfield, because of the return of both Bruce Wallace and Tiger Rupert, who had been the Eagles’ leading ball carriers in 1981, Kimmel assumed the leadership role when both Wallace and Rupert were badgered by injury. Wallace in fact played only the first half of the season and was limited to 24 carries. Rupert recovered to become the Eagles second best rusher with 667 yards on 123 carries. Wallace gained 195 yards on those 24 carries to average a phenomenal 8.1 yards per carry in limited action. Kimmel had a hefty 5.9 average per carry, while Rupert checked in averaging 5.4 yards a tote.
Jeff Golden completed 16 of 32 passes for an even 50 percent completion rate, for 289 yards before he too, was injured. Golden threw five TD passes with no interceptions. Mark Barr took over for Golden with 23 completions in 65 attempts for 209 yards with five interceptions and no TDs. Mark Cannistraci was the Eagles top receiver with 16 catches for 198 yards and one TD. Chris Elder grabbed nine for 84 yards and a TD and Bill Dixon had five receptions for 94 yards and one score.
Kimmel was the leading scorer with 13 TDs for 78 points. Rupert added six TDs for 36 points and place-kicker Pat Starzecky kicked 20 extra points and three field goals for 29 points.
Post season honors poured in for the Golden Eagles. The Eagles landed a total of 13 selections to the All-Big 8 All-Star Team, including six First Team choices, and one First Team selection and a total of seven players to the All-Central Counties All-Star Teams.
Chuck Murray (tackle), Roy Cowfer (guard) and Marty Kimmel (running back) made the First Team Big-8 offensive squad, Mark Cannistraci (end), Cowfer (defensive line) and Bill Dixon (linebacker) were on the First Team Defense. Cannistraci was a Second Team pick at tight end and Tiger Rupert was a Second Team running back. Pat Starzecky (place-kicker), Tom Woodring (down lineman), Jeff Golden (secondary) and Kevin Jenkins (secondary) were Honorable Mention.
The 5-10, 165-pound Cowfer was also the only Golden Eagle named to the All-Central Counties First Team, as a guard on offense. Murray (tackle), Kimmel (running back) and Dixon (linebacker) were selected to the Central Counties Second Team, and Cannistraci (end), Jaymie Chronister (center) and Golden (deep back) were on the Honorable Mention list.