Thursday Games Not New To Area
November 10, 1994|by RUDY BEDNAR (A free-lance story for The Morning Call)
- Coaldale especially enjoyed great success playing on Thursday night. Never mind that sometimes they were at a disadvantage because of a short week.
-In 1948, Coaldale beat visiting Summit Hill 21-6 in the second game of the season and went on to a great 9-1-1 finish. Coaldale also played West Hazleton on Thursday night as the season came to a close and Lansford played the same night at Frackville.
-Three Thursday night games were played in 1949 and four in 1950 including Coaldale's 28-13 win over Kulpmont at Lansford High Stadium near the end of the season.
- In 1962, Coaldale won two Thursday night contests and finished 11-0-0 while Tamaqua, playing its usual Friday night schedule, seized the Eastern Conference crown, finishing 10-0-1.
- Thursday night attractions continued as long as I can remember until the Panther Valley jointure. Coaldale and Summit Hill each appeared in the final season (1963) before the jointure.
Fans simply love Monday Night Football. It's become an established extension of the game's weekend milieu.
Enter Thursday night telecasts. Sometimes NFL matchups, other times collegiate contests and even Canadian rivalries.
The extra night of football viewing is great, especially this fall in light of the shortened baseball season.
Actually, Monday night football was a innovative concept but, for fans in the Anthracite area, Thursday night grid play is really nothing new
I must admit when I arrived at the Morning Call sports desk in 1946, I never dreamed of games being played other than on Saturday afternoons.
Of course, there were scattered Friday night bookings. That surprised me. But, then also an occasional Thursday night billing.
Boy! That really took time getting used to.
Yet, it was quite popular. I'm not sure if Thursday night games were the preferences of opponents like Cass Township, Kulpmont, Frackville or other such conference rivals, or if there was another reason for them.
I just assumed our area teams chose to play on Thursday in an effort to prevent conflicting schedules with neighboring schools, thereby boosting attendances for one another.
Also, judging from the intense interest in high school football in the Anthracite area, I figured it gave fans a chance to attend a lot more games.
At any rate, my first Thursday night card sent Lansford to Frackville and brought Blythe Township to Coaldale in a (1946) season opener.
Then in 1947, Nesquehoning opened at Frackville on Thursday night. In every case, the area teams were successful and proved to be a springboard to winning campaigns.
Lansford flattened Frackville 32-0 en route to an 8-2-1 season, while Coaldale blanked Blythe 33-0 and wound up 8-3. Nesquehoning also shut out Frackville and went on to a 7-1-1 finish.
It seemed to me, like for so many of the teams on ABC's Monday Night Football, the odd night exposure for our area teams was good for them.
Coaldale especially enjoyed great success playing on Thursday night.
Never mind that sometimes they were at a disadvantage because of a short week.
In 1948, Coaldale beat visiting Summit Hill 21-6 in the second game of the season and went on to a great 9-1-1 finish.
Coaldale also played West Hazleton on Thursday night as the season came to a close and Lansford played the same night at Frackville.
Three Thursday night games were played in 1949 and four in 1950 including Coaldale's 28-13 win over Kulpmont at Lansford High Stadium near the end of the season.
George Welsh was in his senior year as the Tigers' quarterback, passing for 15 touchdowns and six extra points, but earlier in the campaign the Orangemen were beaten 6-0 in a Saturday afternoon game at Nesquehoning.
That ended Coaldale's 24-game winning streak, longest in the state at that time.
Also of interest that season was the great start of the Philadelphia Eagles. After crushing the Washington Redskins 35-3, they moved on top of the NFL's American Conference.
They were ahead of Cleveland, New York Giants, Chicago Cards, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Meanwhile, the New York Yanks were setting the pace in the National Conference followed by Los Angeles, Chicago Bears, Detroit, Green Bay, San Francisco and Baltimore in that order.
No expansion teams, no divisions, or playoffs back then. Not even instant replay. Games were all played on Sunday afternoon.
It was a joy to follow your favorite team and players in those days. Sure, there were trades but none of today's free agency stuff to gratify the players' greed and confuse the fans.
Meanwhile, on the high school level, the Thursday night fare grew to five in 1951. That was the year Palmerton High enjoyed its first and only unbeaten season (8-0-0). The Blue Bombers played all their games on Saturday afternoon except one Thursday contest -- their traditional Thanksgiving morning battle with Slatington.
There were six Thursday night attractions in 1952 and it seemed more Eastern Conference schools were getting into the act. Seven were booked in 1955, but ironically, none of our area teams were involved.
Then in 1957, Thursday night football attracted unprecedented attention. That was because, Cass Township which played all its home games on the Thursday night, completed an incredible undefeated, untied and unscored upon season.
Coach Pat Droskinas' forces finished 10-0-0, sharing co-championship honors with Scranton Central in the Southern Division race of the Eastern Conference.
Cass Township beat Shamokin for the divisional crown 2-0 on a safety, when a blocked punt bounced out of end zone in the final minute of a special playoff at Pottsville.
The Condors were supposed to meet Northern Division titlist Scranton Central for the conference championship but Central refused to extend its season into December.
Thursday night attractions continued as long as I can remember until the Panther Valley jointure. Coaldale and Summit Hill each appeared in the final season (1963) before the jointure.
In 1962, Coaldale won two Thursday night contests and finished 10-0-0 while Tamaqua, playing its usual Friday night schedule, seized the Eastern Conference crown, finishing 10-0-1.
Eventually, the novelty of Thursday night games dwindled, mainly because of the emergence of more mergers and jointures.
There were only a couple of Thursday night games booked by the Eastern Conference during the mid-to-late 1960s, but Tamaqua called on Saint Clair for a Thursday night bout in 1971, one of three charted by the conference that season.
And Weatherly played at Central Columbia in a Thursday night game in 1985. There are none scheduled this fall. The last one recorded by the conference was a 1992 contest between Bloomsburg and Northwest.
Catching some of the Thursday night action on TV this season, brought back memories of the days of old.