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Book highlights Colonial League FB

Published July 15. 2011 05:01PM

The year was 1979 and Jim Tkach was in his first year as head football coach at Palmerton.

During the second week of that season, the Blue Bombers traveled to take on Southern Lehigh.

In the stands that day a young Coopersburg native watched as Tkach's team pulled off a 13-0 upset to hand their rookie coach his first-ever victory.

While few that day could have predicted the win would be the first of many in a long successful career for Tkach, who is now a member of the Pennsylvania High School Coaches Hall of Fame, absolutely no one could have imagined that the game would one day trigger a book idea by that Lehigh Valley youth.

Yet, over 30 years later, a publication entitled "Rise to Prominence: History of the Colonial League Football" will soon be available to the public.

Mike Feifel was that youth and was 11 years old when Palmerton defeated his hometown Spartans. A few years ago, while Feifel was an assistant at Northern Lehigh under Tkach, he started putting two and two together.

"It was in 2005," he said. "I was coaching at Northern Lehigh and just started talking with Jim Tkach. It dawned on me then that he had been coaching at Palmerton in 1979. I stumbled upon a program that I had kept when my brother played.

"Jim's first high school win was against Southern Lehigh and I was sitting in the stands. I just thought it was a real neat coincidence. I just started putting memories together and started gathering stories and everything took off from there."

Feifel, who is a Social Studies teacher at Lehighton High School and also works part-time as a sports writer/photographer for the TIMES NEWS, has coached for four different Colonial League programs. The current offensive coordinator at Southern Lehigh has also been an assistant at Palisades, Salisbury and Northern Lehigh.

Besides his many jobs, there were other obstacles that contributed in the process taking more time than he expected.

"The most difficult part was trying to put the past together," said Feifel. "Writings from newspapers have changed greatly. The articles and how people wrote them in the 70s wasn't as in-depth as it is now. People really didn't talk about numbers back then.

"When they talked about someone having a good game they may have said they had three touchdowns but they didn't talk about yardage. Now we're so numbers-oriented they're posted in the paper and people are always talking about those things. So piecing the early history was probably more difficult than anything else."

Along with pitfalls, Feifel also came across what he calls "Eureka Moments."

"You'd look something up and you'd be, 'Oh wow that's cool.' There were many of those types of moments. That's what kept me driving on and reaching for more."

Actually, the success of Colonial League schools not only helped turn the idea into reality but it also delayed its completion.

"I just started gathering stuff and when Wilson made their run to the state title, I kind of thought this would be neat to put together (into a book). Through the millions of jobs that I have, it took me a little while to do. It took a while to get it to where I wanted it to be.

"Last year it was pretty much ready to go but the Colonial League had a great season and I wanted to make sure I added that in too."

Some of the items in the 210-page work will include the formation of the league, team summaries, season-by-season recaps, scores of every game played, individual and team records, and head-to-head records.

The cost of the book is $25 and online payments will be accepted, as well as check or money orders. All the information needed for purchase or about the book can be found at

"The Colonial League does a great job representing the Lehigh Valley just as much as the Lehigh Valley Conference does," said Feifel. "What I want to do is just get the word out there, have people read it and enjoy it.

"I'm not going to really be making money out of this. I just think there will be a lot of interest and there will be people who will want to take a look at this, especially those who are interested in the Colonial League."

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