The 1961 Tyrone football team put together an 8-2 season, the Eagles first winning mark since 1956 for head coach Ron Corrigan and assistants John Schonewolf and Jake Livingston. Melvin Mitchell handled the “B” team, which today would be the junior varsity and George Czap and Bob Bubb coached the junior high squad. If not for three missed extra points, the Eagles could have been undefeated, dropping a pair of very tough decisions to Lewistown (7-6) and Lock Haven (13-12).
There were a dozen returning lettermen, of whom 11 had seen considerable duty on the 1960 team which went 4-6.
John Catich and Bill Elder were the starters on the ends, with Rick Woodring also seeing duty at a terminal post. Elder, who eventually was hurt and forced to miss the last portion of the season was a senior 190-pounder. Catich (150 pounds) and Woodring (140) were juniors in 1961.
Along the line, the strongest position was at tackle where three veterans resided. Woods Cunningham (190) and Dale Ray (180) got the nod as starters, while Dale Frye (175) saw plenty of action. All three were seniors. Cunningham played a lot of defense.
Gary Greene, a 162-pound senior, and Bob Snyder, a 140-pound junior, were expected to be the guards at the beginning of the season, although Greene, who also played a lot of end on offense, was second in scoring for the Golden Eagles. Jim Chronister, 170-pound senior played a lot of guard as well.
Junior Dick Hoyne (195) was the starting center on offense, while senior Howd Gearhart was also at center.
Tom Miller, a 180-pound senior was once again the starting quarterback, after alternating at that position as a sophomore and handling the chores in 1960 as a junior.
Ron Cramer, a 186-pound converted end, and senior Chet Wolford (185) manned the halfback positions. Sheldon Harper, a 195-pound senior held down the fullback spot, until he too was injured.
Left halfback Wolford was the Eagles’ leading rusher and scorer, with 1,406 yards rushing, averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and was the Blair County scoring king with 20 touchdowns and six extra points for 126 points. The leading rusher and scorer for Tyrone for the second straight year, Wolford rushed for 180 times for 806 yards in 1960.
Tom Miller was second in rushing with 353 yards, with Ron Cramer close behind with 315 yards. Junior classmates halfback/quarterback Carl White (200 yards) and fullback Sandy Naylor (123) rounded out the top five rushers for the Orange and Black.
Tyrone rushed for a net 2,560 yards and held foes to 1,610 net yards. Tyrone fumbled 22 times ,losing all but five, while opponents fumbled 21 times, with the Eagles recovering an even dozen. Tyrone punted 34 times for an average of 33 yards per kick with Miller and Naylor handling the kicking chores.
The Eagles completed 40 of 92 passes for 664 yards, with Miller throwing for eight TDs, with six interceptions. Opponents completed 41 of 107 passes and had 14 intercepted by Tyrone.
Greene scored 55 points on nine TDs and one PAT, while Miller added six TDs and a team-best 10 extra points for 46 points. Cramer had four TDs and a pair of PATs for 26 points, Naylor had two TDs and two extra points for 14 points, White had one TD and three PATs for nine points, Sheldon Harper, John Catich and Rich Kustenbauder each scored one touchdown and LeRoy Wolfe scored one extra point.
Team members on the Tyrone 1961 team, as taken from the photo in the 1961 Falcon, the name of the school yearbook at that time: Chet Wolford, Tom Miller, John Catich, Bill Elder, Woods Cunningham, Dale Ray, Dale Frye, Gary Greene, Bob Snyder, Jim Chronister, Dick Hoyne, Ron Cramer, Howd Gearhart, Sandy Naylor, Carl White, Sheldon Harper, LeRoy Wolfe, Rich Kustenbauder, David Ross, John Long, Jim Ewing, Jim Burford, Ronald Johnson, Oscar Hample, David Summers, Jon Ammerman, Richard Woodring, Darrel Patton, Paul Detwiler, Richard Ormsby, Gary Barto, Clair Edmondson, Gary Burwell, James Turnbaugh, Paul Ross, Orvis Gill, John Davis and Charles Wolford. Sam Estright, David Little and Chuck Lykens were student managers.
The 1962 Falcon was dedicated to Mrs. Margaret Campbell and Mr. Paul Matusky. Norman Miller was the superintendent of the Tyrone School District, N. Grant Hixson was the high school principal and William Baker was the assistant principal. J. Lynne Ferner was the president of the school board, Dr. Samuel L. Lake was the vice-president, Hugh D. Markel was treasurer, Ralph A. Gill was secretary-treasurer and Fred A. Kaup was assistant secretary-treasurer. Other members of the Board of Control were: James B. Crawford, Chester I. Fry, Albert J. Friday, Curtis Solt, J. Ermine Bailey and Francis J. Herrington. Mrs.. Marjorie Barr was the recording secretary for the Board, and B. C. Jones was the solicitor.
Gary Greene (end) and Chet Wolford (back) were First Team All-Central Counties selections for the 1961 Eagles, while Tyrone dominating the Second Team with Woods Cunningham (tackle), Howd Gearhart (center) and Tom Miller (back) all chosen for Second Team honors.
Greene, who alternated between guard and end during the early part of the season, was the leading vote-getter among ends, while Wolford was third in voting for backs. Miller was fifth, Cunningham was third at tackle, and Gearhart was second at center in the voting conducted by the 14 league coaches and seven sportswriters. Five points were awarded for a first place vote and three for second.
Greene and Wolford were also honored by the UPI as Honorable Mentions on their 1962 All-State Team. The UPI picked first, second and third teams as well as Honorable Mention.
This concludes our season-long look at the 1961 Tyrone Golden Eagle football team and the life and times of the Fall of 1961. We will continue our series in the Fall of 2008 by going back 20 years in time, to examine the 1941 Tyrone football team, which went 10-1-0 under the Eagles’ legendary coach Steve Jacobs. After taking over the head coaching duties with a 5-6-1 mark in 1938, Jacobs coached Tyrone to a combined 44-2-2 record over the next four seasons until World War II intervened and Jacobs was called into the service after the 1942 season.