In the final game of the season, 50 years ago this week, the Brookville Raiders football team captured its first conference title since 1951 with a 40-6 rout of East Brady.
The season finished up 8-0-1 for the Raiders, who tied Brockway in the season-opener and then reeled off eight straight wins. After winning the final seven games of the 1969 season after starting 0-2, the Raiders hiked their unbeaten streak to 16 straight games. The streak reached 23 as the Raiders started 1971 with seven straight wins.
“Happy Days are here again,” Brookville American Sports Editor Tom White wrote in his opening sentence of the East Brady game which was the lead story on the top of page one.
“The men of coach Al Lefevre have written themselves in local football history. Not only did they become the first team since 1951 to win a conference title, but they also elevated themselves to the all-time charts as they became the first team to win eight games in one season.”
He continued with reaction following the clincher.
“Bedlam broke loose following the final whistle. Players jumped up and down displaying their extreme happiness. Coach Al Lefevre was carried from the field. Brookville fans cheered wildly, expressing their vocal appreciation and congratulations.”
The final standings had the Raiders at 8-0-1 and Brockway in second at 6-0-3 as the Rovers played to a 22-22 tie with A-C Valley in the final weekend. Moniteau (5-2-2), A-C Valley (4-3-2), Keystone (5-4), Union (4-5), Karns City (3-6), East Brady (2-7), Redbank Valley (2-7) and Clarion (2-7) rounded out the final Little 10 standings.
Below is a game-by-game recap:
Brookville 8, Brockway 8
In the only non-win by the Raiders during their streak, the Raiders tied the Rovers at home in the season-opener. Both teams scored in the first half. Brockway blocked Wayne Mumford’s punt and recovered the ball at the Raiders’ 6, setting up John Cantafio’s touchdown run. Tom Ferraro recovered a Rovers fumble near midfield to set up Dave Richards’ 1-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
Mike Benigni had two key interceptions for the Raiders in the second half and nearly ran back a fumbled punt in the final seconds only to be tackled near midfield as time expired.
Karns City 16
Under the lights at Karns City, the Raiders gave up the most points in any game during the unbeaten streak but still led the Gremlins from start to finish. Dave Richards rushed for 139 yards on 21 carries and passed all-time rushing leader Jim Matson (849 yards, 1968 grad). Raiders quarterback Steve White rushed for two touchdowns and threw a 25-yard pass to Mark Jolley for another score. Scott Kelley intercepted a Gremlins lateral and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown.
Brookville 14, Keystone 6
Head coach Al Lefevre pointed to this game as being the toughest chore of the season. The Panthers scored first and were one of just three opposing teams to own a lead during the Raiders’ streak. However, two Dave Richards touchdown runs in the second half were the difference as he went over 1,000 career yards rushing. Mike Benigni made another crucial interception at the Raiders’ 6 with 26 seconds left.
Redbank Valley 0
Under the lights and on a rain-drenched field in New Bethlehem, the Raiders blanked the Bulldogs as Bill Kutz and Dave Richards ran for touchdowns and Steve White threw a 17-yard TD pass to Mark Jolley.
Brookville 26, Union 14
At home in another rain-filled game, the Raiders led 20-0 by halftime. Dave Richards ran for two touchdowns, Steve White added another one and quarterback Ron Racchini threw an 11-yard TD pass to Steve Jolley. Cary Van Aken recovered three Union fumbles.
Bill Kutz scored on a 3-yard run and quarterback Steve White hit Mark Jolley with a 10-yard TD pass for the Raiders’ touchdowns in a shutout of the Warriors. Fred Geer intercepted his fifth pass.
A-C Valley 8
Along with the opening of the new Hickory Grove Elementary School earlier in the week, the Raiders celebrated Homecoming with a win over the Falcons. Marsha Emery was named Homecoming Queen.
On a soggy field during Senior Day, the Raiders notched their first win over the Bobcats since 1954 in convincing style, limiting them to minus-10 yards of offense. Dave Richards scored two touchdowns while quarterback Ron Racchini, who handled the bulk of the starting duties because of an injury to Steve White, ran for one as well. Bill Kutz threw a 39-yard TD pass to Mark Jolley. Richards set a new season scoring record, upping his total to 61 points and passing Jim Matson’s 1967 mark.
The Raiders also got some help from Moniteau, which tied Brockway, 14-14. The Raiders would go into the final game of the year in sole possession of first place in the Little 10 with a 7-0-1 record. Brockway was 6-0-2.
East Brady 6
Securing their first conference title since 1951, the Raiders routed the Bulldogs, scoring 28 points in the second quarter to finish the year with a school-record 8-0-1 record.
“This is a dream come true. When you start the year, you dream of an undefeated season and being conference champions and this year it finally came true,” Raiders head coach Al Lefevre said.
“First, you have to have the kids who are willing to sacrifice and work like the kids we had this year. They were unselfish, and at all times their feelings were what could they do for the team. I think this was the biggest factor.”
Dave Richards rushed for 798 yards and 11 touchdowns while Bill Kutz gained 640 yards and scored six touchdowns. Mark Jolley caught all six of the team’s touchdown passes. Fred Geer made five interceptions. The Raiders defense yielded 102 yards per game and helped cause 28 opponent turnovers. Opponents managed just 2.2 yards per rush.
Coach of the Year: Al Lefevre
Lineman of the Year: Doug Davis
Back of the Year: Dave Richards
Offense: Mark Jolley (end), Davis (tackle), Tom Ferraro (guard), Jack DeMotte (center), Richards.
Defense: Davis and Ferraro (linebacker), Jim Dennison (tackle), Larry Yeager (end), Fred Geer (defensive back).