Panther Valley High to Operate as One Unit in Next School Year

(Reading Eagle, September 29, 1963)

Coaldale, Lansford and Summit Hill will fulfill their athletic obligations for the remainder of the current term but will definitely merge under one roof, starting July 1.

The three districts have officially agreed to operate under the Panther Valley Joint School System in all athletic events during the 1963-64 term. The jointure has become effective immediately but there are no physical changes involving students.

The anthracite area’s newest jointure, which will reduce membership in the Southern Division of the Eastern Football Conference to 21 schools, and apparently end the Black Diamond Basketball League, will have an enrollment of approximately 1,500 pupils. Only about 400, however, will be high school students.

The consolidation of Lansford and Coaldale brings together two schools holding charter membership in the Southern Division. Both are in their 23rd season. Summit Hill has been a member since 1945.

Lansford has compiled a 106-74-10 grid record during the past 22 years. The Panthers won Southern Division honors two successive years in 1943 and 1944. They defeated Dunmore in the 1943 playoff, 19-0, but lost to Hanover Township, 7-0, for the 1944 conference championship.

Lansford also finished runner up in 1942 and 1946. The school was a contender in 1953 until late in the season when two losses dropped Lansford to fourth place in the final rankings.

Coaldale holds a more impressive 119-80-14 record but the Tigers have never won Southern Division laurels. Their best efforts were second place in 1948 and 1949 and third place in 1947, 1950 and 1962.

Summit Hill has won only 33 games, lost 74 and tied three in 18 seasons.

High school students will attend classes at Lansford. All home game will also be played at Lansford since it is the only stadium within the three district jointure equipped with lights.

No announcement will be made on the selection of the head coach for the Panther Valley Jointure until January. Geno Poli won 23 and lost eight in his first three years at Coaldale; Richard Davidyock produced two victories against 13 losses and two ties at Summit Hill in 1961 and 1962; and John Harkins was 2-7-1 in his first year at Lansford in 1962.

The passing of the Coaldale-Lansford Thanksgiving Day rivalry will cut the area’s once-lavish Turkey Day menu to three games: Mount Carmel-Shamokin, Hazleton-West Hazleton and Pottsville-Reading.

The Black Diamond Basketball League has been operating with six teams the past two years: Nesquehoning, Jim Thorpe and Pleasant Valley in addition to the three involved in the jointure. Thorpe has won two straight titles.