Coaldale's comeback kids climaxed the first perfect season at the school in 28 years yesterday, but only after a bitter fight.
Neighboring arch-rival Lansford, winner of only two games all year gained the plaudits of the banner crowd of 5,000 in one of the most heroic performances of the 41-year rivalry before bowing, 14-7, in the traditional Thanksgiving Day classic at Coaldale.
Only a third period flurry saved the Orange and Black from utter disaster in the seasonal finale.
Ed Kassak rallied the heavily favored Tigers from a 7-0 halftime deficit with a pair of rapid fire touchdowns in opening the second half to earn Coaldale its 11th straight victory without defeat this season. Not since 1934 had a Coaldale team finished an all-winning season.
Moreover, the conquest clinched the Tigers’ first leg on the coveted P&B Trophy, symbolic of Carbon County-Panther Valley area schoolboy supremacy.
But, Lansford yielded the trophy title it won a year ago unwillingly. The Panthers, under first year mentor John Harkins, dominated the statistics and were in command for better than three periods, yet sank to their seventh setback of the year and 25th against 13 wins and three ties in the series.
It looked like the upset of the season until Coaldale’s explosion in the third quarter. In the process, the Tigers established a new school scoring record of 353 points, bettering the 348-point output in 1922.
Kassak also reaped laurels in the victory. His tallies virtually assured him of the area’s individual scoring championship. His 122 points on 18 touchdowns and 14 extra points ranks third highest in area annals.
The explosive second team UPI all-state selection picked his club up by the boot straps soon after the second half opened, scoring first over land and later through the air on a pass from quarterback Bill Edwards.
It was the senior signal caller’s 11th touchdown toss of the season and clinched area honors for him in that department.
He hit Kassak in the flat on a running pass which the senior co-captain grabbed one handed and wiggled free of two defenders, diving into the end zone with his patented second effort. Edwards slashed off tackle for the extra point making it 14-7.
Kassak had set the stage for the tally, returning George Nyer’s kick 39 yards to the Lansford five. Earlier Kassak had scored from the two. Coaldale, pushing the Panthers deep into their own territory, put a LHS punt into play on the enemy 36 and rolled goalward in 11 plays.
Kassak smashed into the end zone off tackle and added the running conversion over the same route to tie the game.
Lansford, which completely out-played the stunned Tigers all through the first half, gave it a last try in the fourth period, marching all the way to the Coaldale four, only to lose the ball on downs.
Bill Jones had recovered a Coaldale fumble on the CHS 37 to give the Panthers their golden opportunity. Don Fredericks did the rest in carrying the Red and White to the four. But, the Coaldale defense held and the offensive unit came on running the ball out to the 12 as the game ended.
Fredericks, the luckless Lansford quarterback, who spent the entire season in search of receivers for his pinpoint passing, directed the determined Panther attack.
He directed the club’s passing game as heavy rain pelted the area and instead turned in a dazzling running performance in carrying 22 times for 67 yards.
First Downs 7 4
Yards Rushing 129 103
Yards Passing 0 13
Passes 0 2-4
Fumbles Lost 2 1
Penalties 40 45
Ends Abrachinsky, Zenko
Tackles Mihalko, L.Fredericks, D.Jones, Holdos, E.Sabol
Guards Major, Mongi
Centers Phillips, B.Jones
Backs D.Fredericks, Karnish, Malkin, Neyer, Pavlik, Petko
Ends Priggins, Miller, Sotak, Danchak
Tackles Parfitt, Griffith, R.J.Hoffman
Guards Terry, Nesterak, T.Sabol
Centers Molotzak, Herring
Backs Edwards, Yankovich, Kodlick, Kassak, Cipko, Moyer, Winsko
LANSFORD 7 0 0 0 7
COALDALE 0 0 14 0 14
Lansford Scoring Touchdowns: Fredericks (7, run). Conversion: Karnish (pass from Pavlik)
Coaldale Scoring Touchdowns: Kassak 2 (2, run; 3, pass-run from Edwards). Conversions: Kassak (plunge), Edwards (plunge).
Officials: Droskinas, referee; Steigerwalt, umpire; Nerio, head linesman; Shields, field judge.