JT Hall to induct 1969 football team
In the mid-to-late 1960s, winning in high school football for Jim Thorpe became relatively taken for granted and expected.
By 1969, it was assumed the high school team would win and claim another leg of the P & B Trophy, which was the symbol of high school football supremacy in the area. Jim Thorpe had claimed legs to this award in 1965, 1966 and 1967. Winning three legs retired the trophy.
There was no league at the time for Jim Thorpe to compete in for football, so this was always the season goal — win the P & B Trophy, which was sponsored by P & B Sports in Tamaqua.
The 1969 team was coached by the late Angelo Konstas, assisted by the late Edward Lucas and Mr. Jim Kroculick. This was to become the fourth Panther Valley/Carbon County football championship by Jim Thorpe during a five-year period. The team posted a 6-2 record, with all six victories being shutouts. Only two opponents scored of the team’s defense. During the six shutout wins, Jim Thorpe outscored its opponent by a 192-0 margin. For the season, JT outscored its opponents, 198-47.
Early on, this team was somewhat different. For the first time in a while, Konstas began varying the snap count, used various defensive alignments, moving away from his tried and true 5-3 to a 4-4 alignment, and occasionally a 6-2 configuration. He also tinkered with his starting backfield as injuries began to take a toll.
Midway through the season, he made final changes to the starting backfield and ran a Power-I formation. He also remained with a 5-3 defense. On occasion, he switched to the 4-4 alignment, but having very mobile linebackers and applying constant pressure on the opposing center became standard.
This team was the first to benefit markedly from offseason weight training, while having the speed that typified Jim Thorpe offenses of the past. The team was paced by scoring leader Peter Susko, who scored over 90 points during the eight-game schedule.
The late John Ohlsen, an offensive tackle/defensive guard, was named All-State Honorable Mention — a very rare accomplishment for a Jim Thorpe football player in the 1960s. Joe Micko, an offensive guard/defensive center, was voted the Times News Football Player of the Year for his devastating presence over the opposing center, creating havoc and confusion for the quarterbacks.
The results from that season were as follows: Marian Catholic (W, 24-0), Pius X (L, 6-21), Pleasant Valley (W, 16-0), Pocono Mountain (W, 6-0), North Pocono (L, 0-26), Northwestern (W, 34-0), Hamburg (W, 60-0), Southern Lehigh (W, 52-0).
Members of the team included Frank Foster, August Long, Joe Moyer, John Ohlsen, Fred Ohlsen, Joe Micko, Rich Balliet, Bill Ulshafer, Richard Skrimcovsky, Matt Zalik, Tom Whitehead, Francis Slivka, Craig Feuerstein, George Smith, Ron Reis, Mike Kowatch, Dale Zanders, George Albert, Donald Sheehan, Bill Clewell, Nelson Ulshafer, Fred Foster, Robert Gigliotte, Blair Redline, Bill Utsick, Pete Susko, George Lazorick, Pat Crowley, Jan Llewellyn, Ed Fisher, Frank Tessitore, Allen Heydt, Ed Hawk, Walt Schlenner and Dave Mueller. Managers for the team were Francis Schlenner, James Borosh, Bob Adams and George Rex.
In a letter of recommendation from Coach Kroculick for the 1969 team induction into the Hall of Fame, he stated, “Although small in player numbers and upperclassmen, we had a good assortment of speed, physical size, strength, toughness and overall athletic abilities.
“Bright and coachable, the players had an understanding of the game of football, creating the intangible but very important trust between coaches and players. This ‘one-mindedness’ is a recipe for success in any sport or organization at any level.
The other inductees this year include Kayla Susko, Ethan Smith, Ryan Saunders II, PJ Johnson and Chris “Chopper” Figura.
The 30th annual Jim Thorpe Area Sports Hall of Fame banquet will be held at Dean Anthony’s Restaurant in Jim Thorpe on Saturday, Aug. 17.
A cocktail hour will begin at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., and the induction ceremony will start at 7:15 p.m. Entertainment will begin at the conclusion of the induction ceremony, which will be at around 8:30 p.m. The cost is $35 for adults and $11.95 for kids. The price includes dinner, selected drinks and entertainment.
Tickets for the induction ceremony and the rest of the evening may be obtained by calling Jack Kmetz at 570-325-4923 or Wilmer Redline at 570-325-3073.