from the Sharon Herald

Published August 09, 2007 04:56 pm - When Sharon High’s class of ’57 gathers this weekend for its 50th golden anniversary jubilee, they’ll be many memories to remind members of adolescence’s innocence and the fruits of steel mills’ mentality for manufacturing a work-ethic.

Sharon High's 1957 greatness remembered

By Ed Farrell

Herald Assistant Sports Editor

When Sharon High’s class of ’57 gathers this weekend for its 50th golden anniversary jubilee, they’ll be many memories to remind members of adolescence’s innocence and the fruits of steel mills’ mentality for manufacturing a work-ethic.

Though there has been no definitive documentation, Sharon High is “believed to be the only school in Pennsylvania history to have undefeated football and basketball seasons in the same school year,” according to information submitted by alumni Bob Curtis and Mike Klaric.

“While many people remember this class for its athletic accomplishments, the class is just as proud of (the) academic and professional status they have attained during the past 50 years,” Curtis recently wrote. “Many members of the SHS class of 1957 will return to Sharon to celebrate their 50th class reunion. Classmates from all over the United States, and even Europe, have made plans to attend this special occasion.”

Coached by John Chickerneo, Sharon’s ’56 football team ended 10-0 and as the Midwestern Athletic Conference Class AA champion, while the ’56-57 basketball team of Tigers taskmaster Bud Laycock finished 28-0 and as PIAA Class A (large school) commonwealth kingpin.

Sharon’s ’56 gridders outscored opponents 23.3 to 5.5 and were led by all-state selections Perry Gillette, Francis DeBlase and Klaric. The Tigers tamed Sharpsville (20-0), Beaver Falls (15-6), Girard, Ohio (25-12), New Castle (41-6), Erie’s Cathedral Prep (19-6), Butler (12-6), Aliquippa (20-19), Ellwood City (28-0), Meadville (41-0), and Farrell (12-0).

According to Herald archives, that season-ending win over Farrell at Tiger Stadium drew 7,336 spectators, as noted by Sharon faculty manager George Stover.

Despite that 1st unbeaten grid campaign in a quarter-century, however, Sharon “ ... failed to make the WPIAL playoffs because of an insufficient number of points under the Gardner System,” according to a Herald article. Sharon was competing with unbeatens Jeannette, Charleroi and Ambridge, and Farrell (which was led by coach Tony Paulekas and finished 9-1, “ ... its best mark since 1951 when won the WPIAL championship,” according to The Herald).

In addition to Curtis, DeBlase, Gillette and Klaric, Sharon seniors that season included Bud Antos, Chuck Bestwick, Tom Crawford, Pete Culp, Karoly Dobay, Steve Emery, Fred Garrett, Dave Hughey, Ron Krieder, Don McCartney, Don Miller and Fritz Mueller, as well as manager Dave Rossetti. Chickerneo was assisted by Web Forsythe, Cliff Smith and Tony Razzano.

The “Battling Bengals,” as they were known, were led in scoring by Garrett’s dozen touchdowns and 72 points. Klaric (4 TDs, 19 PATs, 43 points), Dobay and Hughey (5 TDs apiece) and junior Karol Koscinski and Gillette (3 TDs each) topped the Tigers’ TD-makers.

According to “a panel of Tiger fans, as well as using input from the e-mails we received ... ” Curtis/Klaric determined only the 10-0 MAC champions of ’66 and the 11-1 District 10 Class AAA title team of 1990 (led by Michael Archie and Tony Reardon), are more highly regarded in Sharon High history.

When autumn leaves in the fall of ’56 became buried by blankets of snow in the winter of ’57, Sharon continued to dominate on the hardwood as it had on the gridiron.

“The greatest team I have seen or coached,” Laycock was quoted in a 30-year anniversary retrospective written by former Herald assistant sports editor Jeff Turk. Laycock lent credibility to that assessment, as he was member of the school’s 1st undefeated cage contingent — the 1930 Tigers team that outmuscled Lower Merion (18-14) in the state title tilt.

Sharon High's 1957 greatness remembered

Led by 5-foot-10 sharpshooter Mark DuMars — who poured in 411 points (after scoring only 30 during his junior year) — Sharon secured the WPIAL Section 3 crown by dethroning defending champion Farrell, then edged previously undefeated McKeesport in the WPIAL finale at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House, before churning past Chester (59-50) for the commonwealth crown. The latter occurred virtually in Chester’s backyard, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra in Philadelphia.

In addition to DuMars, a 1st-team all-state Associated Press and United Press International selection, the Tigers touted 6-5 post John Fridley, a 3rd-team UPI all-stater; the 5-10 Culp, an AP honorable-mention all-stater, and frontliners Mike Matta and Ed Winters, 6-4 and 6-0, respectively. Four of the five starters were seniors, with the exception being Winters, a junior. Fridley, Culp and Matta were returning starters from the previous season’s 13-8 team that won 5 of its last 6 games and “ ... gave Tiger fans hope for a more successful season in 1956-57,” according to research unearthed by Turk in a February 1956 edition of The Herald.

Sharon successes included Youngstown-East (66-26), Butler (59-40), Erie’s Prep (86-44), Kittanning (66-43), Warren, Ohio (84-32), Meadville (63-45), Sharpsville (69-48), Ambridge (69-38 and 51-43), Beaver Falls (61-37, 68-33), Aliquippa (50-39 and 51-43), Midland (64-49), New Castle (61-50 and 66-42), Ellwood City (55-34 twice), Farrell (50-37 and 57-50), Strong Vincent (64-58), Ambridge (64-31), Hickory (60-40), North Braddock-Scott (53-34), Charleroi (41-37), McKeesport (56-55), Altoona (63-47), Pittsburgh’s Oliver (49-38) and Chester.

Against Sharon, Chester (26-2) was led by guard Bill Wilson’s game-high 20-point performance as well as 6-3 Warren Sutton’s 17. But the balanced Bengals benefitted from the double digits of DuMars (15), Fridley (14), Matta (13) and Culp (11). Before approximately 8,400 spectators, Sharon secured an 8-point 1st-quarter lead, extending it to 14 by intermission. The Tigers took an 11-point edge into the final frame, and were rewarded with a standing ovation beginning with about 2 minutes to play.

Eventually, DuMars starred at Penn State University, and according to Turk’s research from the April 6, 1957 Herald, “Seldom, if ever before, has one performer so captured the imagination of the basketball-conscious Shenango Valley. ... DuMars is bound to go down with the all-time great players in Sharon High’s history. ... Perhaps, no one, including Farrell’s great Julius McCoy, attracted as much publicity during the tournament competition.”

Legendary Don Bennett assisted Laycock, and Carl Nothhaft and Tom Durbin were Sharon’s other seniors that season, while Fred Shaver served as manager. Sharon outscored teams by an average of 61-41, according to Herald records, led by DuMars, Fridley (368), Culp (341), Matta (215), Winters (176, who scored the eventual game-winner with 2:03 remaining against McKeesport), Nothhaft (81) and Durbin (45).

According to Klaric’s research, Sharon’s squad of ’56-57 remains as one of only 20 teams — boys or girls, regardless of classification — to conclude a commonwealth cage campaign undefeated.
The 1956-57 Sharon basketball team went unbeaten and won the state title. Team members were  Ed Winters, Bernie “Pete” Culp, Carl Nothhaft, Mike Matta, John Fridley, Tom Durbin, Mark DuMars, Ray Matthews, Mike Ferrick,  Fred Shaver, George Kemper, Karol Koscinski, Tom Bedich,  Chuck Bastress, Dick O’Hara, Paul Bross, Bob Loch. Head coach Bud Laycock, assistant coach Don Bennett,

The April 1, 1957 Herald capsulized the campaign as “ ... a superb performance by a great Sharon High quintet, which would merit an Oscar in any Hollywood studio.”