Sports Tyrone Daily Herald Archives

Eagles win streak, Blue Devils district title, Schopp second at states, Tepsic, Hatch medal in track among top local stories from 2007

It hardly seems possible that another year has come and gone. Here we are rapidly approaching 2008 and not a thing we can do to prolong the head-long rush into another new year. We can however stop for just a moment to remember a few of our favorite things and times from the year gone-by.
In area sports, we would have to go far to find something that the vast majority waits and hopes for and then argues, discusses and watches to a place that we hold above all other sports-FOOTBALL.
In northern Blair County, football is royalty and high school football is at the zenith.
In other places near and far, other sports dominate, basketball, baseball, track and field, or whatever. We all love those sports and in their season they are never neglected, or shorted. Football is the favorite here,
The Tyrone Golden Eagles may not have goner as far as many of us would have liked, but the accomplishments of the 2007 Golden Eagles have been equaled by very few.
Those of us who can remember reading about, or being there would have to go back to 1949, before Korea, before Vietnam, before there were 50 states in the United States, and Harry Truman was the US president. In the opening game of the season, Tyrone lost a football game for the first time in 30 games. Under legendary Eagles head coach, Steve Jacobs, beginning with the fifth game of the 1946 season, the Orange and Black would not lose a ballgame for the remainder of that season, or 1947 (11-0-0), or 1948 (11-0-0). By the time that 1949 opener rolled around, Tyrone football teams had posted wins in 29 straight games.
In 2007, under equally legendary Tyrone coach John Franco, who surpassed Jacobs in wins at Tyrone several seasons past, the current Eagles streaked past that record total for consecutive regular season wins in Week Seven with a 14-13 win over Philipsburg-Osceola, and continued to the end of the season with two more wins. The streak has now reached 32 regular season wins and still counting. Franco and the Eagles have out together a school-record string of three consecutive perfect seasons, going back to their last loss, a 7-6 loss to that same Philipsburg-Osceola team midway through 2004.
Adversity had to be addressed by this 2007 squad, who lost star running back Johnny Franco to a broken leg in a preseason scrimmage game. With a sophomore quarterback starting for the first time and a wide receiver converted to take Franco’s tailback position, the beginning was tenuous at best. That wide receiver, Shayne Tate along with the Tyrone line and an ever-improving Levi Reihart at quarterback pushed the offense, while the Eagle defense gave up just 7.6 points per game, the beat of all area teams to make it much easier for the offense.
Tate rushed his way into seventh place in the Tyrone record books with 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns, not bad for a converted receiver. Reihart completed nearly 55 percent of his passes for 776 yards, with Shane Emigh his favorite target with 26 catches good for 390 yards and eight total touchdowns.
The defense recorded 22 interceptions and 29 turnovers and scored five defensive touchdowns, limiting seven opponents to one score or less. Josh Bradley recorded 7.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks. Brandon Gehret had four interceptions, five takeaways and returned two picks for scores. Johnny Shaffer kicked 44 PATs and four field goals and had a team-high five sacks on defense and 13.5 tackles for losses.
Bellwood-Antis started slowly against a stacked schedule that featured four Double-A schools and two Single-A schools that would qualify for district playoffs, then came on at the end of the season to win five straight games and win the District 6-A championship for the second straight year and third time in the last four years. A loss to eventual state champion Steelton-Highspire in the PIAA Eastern semifinals did nothing to take away from a great season.
Senior tailback Brandon Humphreys continued the Blue Devils tailback-oriented offensive attack rushing for 1,530 yards and 25 overall touchdowns, despite getting a total of only eight carries in three games due to injury and illness. Junior quarterback Nate Gray finished with five straight 100-yard passing games to complete 70 passes for 1,150 yards and 12 TDs, both totals on the top 10 list at B-A. The senior duo of Alan Wertz and Justin Manning combined to catch 42 passes for 754 yards and nine TDs to provide Gray with targets and keep defenses from keying on the running attack too much.
The Tyrone golf team won both the Mountain Conference and the District 6 championship in the fall, with Eagle freshman Jimmy Ferguson selected as the Outstanding Golfer for the Mountain Conference, and Ferguson joining senior Ryan Ruscio on the conference All-Star Team. Ferguson, Ruscio and Bellwood-Antis golfer Tom Trexler participated in the district golf tournament. For Ruscio, it was the second straight year that he qualified for districts. Ferguson qualified for the PIAA state golf tournament, but failed to make the cut for the final day. Tyrone golfers Matt Brooks and Jason Tuskovich were named to the Mountain Conference Second Team All-Stars.
The Tyrone boys cross county team captured the Mountain League title, in the first year of the 10-team conference. Eagle freshman Rich Stever and Bellwood-Antis senior Ben Hatch both qualified for the PIAA state Cross Country Meet in Hershey, with Hatch running the best local time at the state meet for a 57th place at Hershey. Stever is the first Tyrone runner to qualify for states since 2000, when Jim Wiggin ran.
Hatch was chosen the Outstanding Boys Runner for the Juniata Valley League and was joined on the conference All-Start team by B-A sophomore Cooper Campbell. B-A freshman Emily Stapleton was selected Co-Outstanding Girls Cross Country Runner along with Katrina Woods, of Mount Union.
B-A seniors Chelsea Wilson, Rachel Albright and Jannell Wilt were First Team members on the volleyball JVL First Team. The Lady Blue Devils won the championship of the JVL in the first year of operation, without losing a league match. The B-A girls captured their fifth straight undefeated league title, after winning all four Mountain Athletic Conference championships from 2003-2006. Wilson, a middle hitter, also was named as a repeater to the First Team Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association All-State squad for the second straight year. Wilson was also selected to the PVCA All-State team as a junior in 2006. Bellwood-Antis has had a representative on the PVCA first team for the last four years with Wilson joining Stephanie Hatch (2004) and Lauren Carter (2005).
Jon Hampton and Teanna Kobuck were selected to the conference First Team Soccer All-Stars, for Tyrone and Brooke Romano and Chad Hunter were Second Team selections.
Neither Tyrone, nor Bellwood-Antis baseball teams finished above .500 in record, but both had some fine efforts in the spring of 2007. The Eagles came on strong at the end of the season after a slow start, partly due to unseasonably cold early weather and rain that limited practice to inside the gym. Justin Schopp (.390), Johnny Shaffer (.382), Tyler Gillman (.368), Tyler Golden (.362), Jamie Levinson (.347) and Matt Brooks (.342) provided the offense, while Levinson (2-0, one save, 2.23 ERA) and Golden (2-2, 38 innings, 40 strikeouts 3.68 ERA) were the top Eagle hurlers.
While the Tyrone diamondmen were finishing 7-9, Bellwood-Antis went 9-10.
Nate Gray (.410, 14 RBI, five doubles, nine stolen bases) and Brian Hostler (.406, 11 RBI, six doubles) led Bellwood-Antis on offense, with Hostler (5-3, 39 strikeouts, 32 walks with an ERA of 2.75 in 41 innings) on the mound.
On the track scene, Tyrone head coach Tony Yaniello picked up his 200th win when the Eagle boys traveled to Mount Union for their first meet of the season. Yaniello, who has never had a losing boys’ season at Tyrone, improved to 204-55-2 with a 5-1 dual mark in 2007.
The Bellwood-Antis boys won the final MAC Track and Field championship, the annual Bellwood-Antis Invitational, the West Central Coaches Meet, and their first district championship in 40 years.
Blue Devils Brandon Pruznak (first in the 400 meter race, second in the 200, first in the long jump and anchor for the winning 1600 relay), Ben Hatch (first in the 800, second to Pruznak in the 400, and a member of the 1600 relay), Ricky Shawley (first in the pole vault), Adam Mueller (second in the 110 hurdles, third in the 300 hurdles, member of the 1600 relay and Kyle Canfield (1600 relay) qualified for states for the Blue Devils at the district meet.
Liz Tepsic qualified for Tyrone, by winning the triple jump with a personal best, placed second in the 100 hurdles with a school record and just missing qualifying in the long jump with a fourth. Lady Eagle freshman Rachel Emigh qualified for states with a tie for third place in the pole vault and the Eagle 400 relay team of Tyler Gillmen, Shane Emigh, Johnny Franco and Shayne Tate, along with alternates Phil Kreckel and Larry Glace also qualified.
Hatch and Tepsic placed the highest of the local qualifiers with Tepsic third in the triple jump as a senior, after a sixth place finish in the same event in 2006, while Hatch moved up to third place in the 800 meter dash, after an eighth place as a sophomore in 2006. Pruznak finished fourth in the long jump.
Tepsic was the Outstanding MAC girl track and field performer in the league’s final year of operation scoring 172 points and was named the league All-Star in the 100 and 300 hurdles, and the triple jump. Rachel Emigh was the All-Star in the pole vault.
In the boys division, the Tyrone 4X100 relay team of Johnny Franco, Shayne Tate, Shane Emigh and Larry Glace won the All-Star recognition and Eagle Ben Ingle was the fifth highest scorer with 120 points.
Brandon Pruznak was the boys’ Outstanding boy with 174 points and was the All-Star at 200 dash, 400 dash and long jump for Bellwood-Antis. Ben Hatch was the second leading scorer with 146 points and was the All-Star in the 800 and 1600 races and joined Chuck Tomchick, Kyle Canfield, and Adam Mueller on the 4X400 relay team. Ricky Shawley was the All-Star at pole vaulter and the 3200 relay team of Dustin Pruznak, Jamey Rimmey, Alan Wertz and Tomchick was the top point-scorer.
Jenna Nevling was the All-Star at 100 dash and 200 dash for the B-A girls and joined Lauren Leap, Emily O’Shea and Jannell Wilt as the 4X100 relay All-Star team and Leap, Wilt and Chelsea Wilson as the 4X400 All-Star relay team. Wilson was the All-Star in the 400 dash. Nevling was the third-leading scorer (168 points), Leap was fourth (160) and Wilson was eighth (117).
At the beginning of the 2007 sports year, the Eagles and Blue Devils were finishing up the wrestling, swimming and boys and girls basketball programs. New coaches were the item in area basketball, with three of the four teams getting a new head mentor. Tyrone boys coach George Gripp, Tyrone girls coach Luke Rhoades and Bellwood-Antis girls coach Ali Stodart all began the coaching careers in the 2006-07 season, while the fourth spot was filled by veteran Bellwood-Antis boys coach Tim Keech.
If you throw out the Penns Valley Rams boys basketball team, the Bellwood-Antis boys had a fantastic season. Even if you count the Rams, the B-A boys had their best record since the 2003 district title team, finishing 19-6 against all opposition. The Blue Devils had a deep, experienced squad that was easily able to hold their own early in the year, until the football players were back from a long trip into district and PIAA playoffs. The boys basketball team won their first six games, until halted in the Cambria County Tournament finals against a tall and talented Central Cambria squad. B-A went 16-2 in the Juniata Valley League, with both losses to Penns Valley. Memorable triumphs included both games-home and away against Bishop Guilfoyle, for the first in a long time. The final line for the regular season was 19 wins and five losses, and a bye in the first district playoff round. The season ended with the third loss to Penns Valley in the D6-AA quarterfinals. Ben Hatch led the B-A boys with 279 points and 110 assists. Bellwood-Antis head coach Tim Keech won his 100th game at Bellwood-Antis during the season.
In the pool, Tyrone’s Ethan Nulton, often a double winner in individual events as well as helping out in winning relays, first broke his older brother Eric Nulton’s record in the 200 freestyle swim and then later in the season reset his own school record. Phil Kreckel and Dustin Elder on the boys side and Kelly Pearson and Salena Bradigan were the leading scorers for the Lady Eagles, although the Tyrone girls were hurt in dual meets because of a lack of numbers.
A. J. Schopp was the man of the year in local wrestling, winning 40 matches and going all the way to a second place finish at Hershey in the PIAA wrestling championships, as a freshman! Schopp was joined on the MAC All-Star squad by teammates Cody Weaver and Brady Williams on the First Team, and by Bellwood-Antis senior Ricky Shawley on the Second Team. On the CWC All-Star list, Schopp was accompanied by Eagles T. J. Albright and Anthony Romano on the First Team and Jake Smerekar and Blue Devil Shawley on the Second Team. Schopp led the team in takedowns and pins and matched Albright as the only Tyrone freshmen to place at the state championships.
The senior partner of “the lettermen,” T. J. Albright, who won an eighth-place PIAA medal as a freshman, concluded a terrific high school career, before taking his wrestling talents to Thiel College by becoming the first Eagle wrestler to win 30 matches in all four years on the varsity, finishing with a 133-44 mark that is second only to two-time state champion Terry Tate in the history of the Tyrone program.
“He has created a legend. It is simply a matter of maturing and placing himself at the top of the rung,” was how Tyrone wrestling coach Blair Packer described Schopp’s trip to the state finals. “This should be motivation for the next three years. He has handled adversity and wants to prove he is number one.”
One senior led the way for the Bellwood-Antis wrestling team, then handed off to another freshman to take the mantle of leader of the Blue Devils continuing drive to bring the program back. Ricky Shawley recorded a 29-5 season that only B-A legends Ron Wilson and Tracey Karlie have bettered. Shawley and ninth grader Troy Weyant began the season by becoming the first multiple champs at the annual Tri-County Tournament for Bellwood-Antis since 1993. Weyant went on to post 19 wins, only Karlie and Tony Montanaro have won more as freshmen at B-A..
Finally, in the summer sports scene, Martin Oil, made up of Bellwood-Antis athletes started and stopped their way to a 13-9 regular season and the third seed in their own division of the two-division George B. Kelley baseball federation. Although finishing with a losing record, Tyrone Legion (9-12) was the second seed in the other division and the opponent for Martin Oil in the first round of playoffs. Martin Oil won two straight to earn a date in the semifinals with ReMax Realty, a team that had swept Martin Oil for the last two years, including the 2006 semifinal series. Add a ReMax 11-1 five-inning victory in game one of the 2007 series. Faced with extinction for the second straight year, veteran pitchers Earnie Kelley and Brian Hostler responded with their two best games of the season.
First, Kelley and company pitched and hit Martin Oil to an equally decisive 11-1 five-inning triumph, then Hostler shut out ReMax and his offense carried a 7-0 victory that eliminated ReMax and moved Martin Oil into a finals battle against the top seed from their own division, Barkman Oil of Martinsburg.
Barkman had won two of the three meetings during the regular season, but the Martinmen were on a roll. Coach by Ed Davis, Martin Oil went with a pair of 16-year old rookies on the hill for the first two games of the best of five series, “hoping,” said Davis “to al least break even so Kelley and Hostler could get their regular rest between starts.”
First, Nate Gray, with a clutch RBI base hit by Cameron Irvin came from behind to take the opener 6-5. Mock threw just one bad pitch, but left the game trailing. Justin Miller relieved Mock and allowed just one run to score on a wild pitch and prevent further damage, then Kelley earned the save with a perfect seventh. In the second game, Martin Oil got a terrific start from Trey Mock and took advantage of several Barkman errors, and Kelley finished strong for his second straight save. One day later, Davis gave the ball to Hostler, who was quoted in an area paper as commenting the team was going to “bring out the brooms,” predicting a Martin Oil sweep to the championship.
“We were tormenting Brian for what he said,” explained Davis. “So I said ‘Here’s the ball, back it up,’ and that’s what Brian went out and did.”
Hostler stumbled a bit through the first two innings, but got out of both with just a single run scored by Barkman, while his teammates put six runs on the board in their first two at-bats and later added five more in the fourth. For the third straight game, Kelley shut down Barkman Oil late and Martin Oil had their first Kelley Federation championship since 2003.