By Hal Wilson
|ROW 1 - Line Coach Gene Harr, Gary Harris, Ray
Wooley, Tony Jackson, Jack Stacey, Don Greco, Tom Moore, Gerry Pia,
Warren Gregory, Larry Patterson, Bert Kerstetter, Bob Keister, Asst.
Coach Dan Sekeres
ROW 2--Head Coach Larry Bruno, Tom Krzemienski, Bill Heistand, Stan
Kondracki, Joe Nameth, Tony Golmont, Ernie Pelaia, Cliff Main, Wayne
Peterson, Larry Lyons, Don Pelaia, Biff Holland, John Kaercher, Bill
Leech, JH Coach Bruno Campese
ROW 3 - Asst. Coach Abbie Walton. Jim Seaburn, John Pavkovich, Larry
Combs, Terry Krivak, Tom Bozic, Bill Marconda, Ron Sanders, Mike
Smakosz, Marcus Gibson, Clarence Hedge, Brad Booth, John Thompson,
Harold Hamilton, FAculty Mgr. Bill Ross
ROW 4 - Jim Cockfield, Harry James, Karlin Rvan, Larry Hayden, Mike
Bembnowski, Rich Stockunas, Mickey Wooley, Elton Gamble, Jim Chiodo,
Greg White, By Morgan, Tom Sakraida.
Western Pennsylvania is known as the "cradle of quarterbacks" - many
great ones have been nurtured on the fields of the WPIAL over the
years. In 1960, one of the all-time best led his team to the
pinnacle of scholastic football. That year, Joe Namath and his
Beaver Falls Tigers devoured a tough nine game schedule and were
declared WPIAL AA champions, the only perfect record AA team in the
Beaver Falls had struggled in 1959, but the maturing of Namath,
combined with the impact of Coach Larry Bruno, sent the Tigers on
their way. Veteran observers - even game officials - marveled at the
skill and dexterity - the sleight-of-hand ball handling - that
enabled Namath, working with his great end, Tom Krzemienski, and the
rest of this superb team, to dazzle the WPIAL world.
The first serious test for the team was to come at New Castle whom
the Tigers had not beaten in nearly 40 years. Before the game that
night, Bruno expressed concern to Namath about punting with a sore
ankle. The quarterback is reported to have told him, "Don't worry,
coach, we won't have to punt." Beaver Falls didn't and won 39-0.
Against undefeated Ambridge the next week, the Tigers were sluggish
and the tough Bridgers took a 6-0 lead. Later in the half, Namath
was tackled hard while rolling out and thrown on his right shoulder.
He was hurt and Beaver Falls still trailed. Despite the injury,
Namath hit Tom Krzemienski on a 54 yard cross-field pass-run play to
tie the score just before halftime.
The team doctor examined him in the locker room. He told the doctor
and his coach that he could still throw. Despite the injury, Namath
came out for the second half and moved the Tigers ahead 19-6.
Ambridge scored again, but Namath led Beaver Falls to a clinching
touchdown and a 25-13 victory. He had completed only three of 15
passes in the game, but each completion was key to the win.
Monday, the injury was diagnosed as a slight separation - the
shoulder was wrapped each week and Namath played at full tilt the
rest of the year.
At Butler, the Tigers faced another unbeaten AA challenger, but with
Namath in good form, Beaver Falls rolled 26-6. Another major rival,
Aliquippa, was beaten, 34-7, with Namath at his best, completing
nine of 18 for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Then neighbor Ellwood
City was swept aside, 26-0, and the last hurdle to the WPIAL crown
had been cleared.
Namath played with confidence without arrogance. He believed in his
own abilities and those of his teammates. He called most of the
plays himself. If a play didn't work as well as he thought it
should, he would rerun it immediately.
Both Namath and Krzemienski won first team All-State honors. Namath
had passed for 1511 yards and 12 TD's and run for six more.
Krzemienski caught 54 of Namath's 85 completions and scored 10
touchdowns. Namath's passes also went to fine end Tony Golmont, as
well as halfbacks Bo Hayden, Whitey Harris, Harry James and Butch
The halfbacks, along with Fullback Bert Kerstetter, ran hard all
year. Hayden was the leading scorer in Beaver County with 103
Center Jim Seaburn anchored the offensive line. Most of the Tiger
starters went both ways. Namath was kept on the sidelines for most
defensive downs, but he went in at safety at critical times.
Coach Larry Bruno had the come to a losing Beaver Falls program the
previous year. In just his second year, the Tigers reached the top.
Bruno is a native of East Palestine, just over the state line in
Ohio. He had a fine career at Geneva College in Beaver Falls and
played in the 1947 East-West Shrine game in San Francisco. He became
a coach, first at Monaca, coming to Beaver Falls in 1959. His life
was interrupted by Army combat service in World War II, including
two years in the South Pacific.
In 1961, following the great 1960 season, Beaver Falls was perfect
again. Butch Ryan, Namath's 1960 understudy as well as a key
halfback, became every bit as vital to the Tigers' success. He was
the talented all-around quarterback - the key defender - the team
leader. He scored 11 touchdowns, passed for nine others, and kicked
15 PAT's and a field goal.
That field goal provided the winning points in a 16-14 triumph over
Farrell to preserve the Tiger's two-year winning streak. In that
same game, Ryan returned an interception for one score and ran a
kickoff back 85 yards for another
Ryan was named to the 1961 All-State first team at quarterback, the
first time QB's from the same school had been selected in successive
1961 Beaver Falls lost out to the WPIAL's Gardner point system,
however, as Monessen and Wilkinsburg, two other unbeaten, untied
squads, played for the AA championship.
The 1960 Beaver Falls super starting lineup included:
E 52 Tom KRZEMIENSKI 6-1 190
T 62 Stan KONDRACKI 5-11 195
G 72 Bill HEISTAND 6-0 180
C 82 Jim SEABURN 5-11 185
G 74 Ernie PELAIA 5-10 175
70 Larry PATTERSON 6-0 175
T 64 Terry KRIVAK 6-1 195
E 54 Tony GOLMONT 6-1½ 165
Q 19 Joe NAMATH 6-1½ 175
H 21 Karlin RYAN 5-10 177
12 Gary HARRIS 5-7 150
H 22 Larry HAYDEN 5-11 160
20 Harry JAMES 5-9 170
F 18 Bert KERSTETTER 5-9 170
HARRIS, despite his small size, was a genuine "tiger" at linebacker.
17 Tony JACKSON was also a yeoman defender.
1960's magnificent Tiger record:
43 MIDLAND 13
39 SHARON 0
39 NEW CASTLE 0
25 AMBRIDGE 13
26 BUTLER 6
33 FARRELL 18
34 ALIQUIPPA 7
26 ELLWOOD CITY 0
40 NEW BRIGHTON 6
It's regrettable that this great squad was able to play only nine
games - today, this team might have marched right through the
playoffs to the state title and played as many as 15 games.
As the Tigers kept prowling in 1961:
27 NEW BRIGHTON 14
12 SHARON 0
6 NEW CASTLE 0
34 AMBRIDGE 12
20 BUTLER 6
26 ERIE EAST 6
16 FARRELL 14
32 ALIQUIPPA 14
34 ELLWOOD CITY 27
34 PITTSBURGH SOUTH CATHOLIC 14
Joe Namath's career at Alabama, in the NFL, and after is well known.
Ten of the 1960 Tigers won college scholarships including Namath;
Krzemienski who starred at Michigan State; Ryan, a defensive
standout at Iowa; Kerstetter, a key player at Princeton; and Golmont
who had a fine career at NC State.
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