Loss, tie, upset altered course of '62 Charleroi football season
Three games may have defined Charleroi High School's football season in 1962 more than the others.
And the Cougars were not directly involved in one of them.
Friday, Oct. 12
Uniontown 27, Charleroi 13
A crowd estimated at 7,500 at Uniontown Stadium watched the unbeaten WPIAL Class AA contenders square off in one of the most anticipated games of the season.
The victory gave Uniontown a 6-0-0 record and ran its winning streak to eight games over a two-year period. Charleroi was ousted from the Class AA race and fell to 5-1-0.
Tom Fee, a 5-10, 168-pound senior end, led the Red Raiders with two touchdown passes from quarterback Pete Smith, had another reception that set up a TD and intercepted two Charleroi aerials to put his team in position to score.
Smith and Bennett “Pope” Gregory scored the other Uniontown touchdowns and tackle Phil Zimcosky kicked three extra points.
Quarterback Stan Kemp figured in both CHS touchdowns, passing to Ron Nucci for one and scampering five yards for the other. He also kicked the Cougars' PAT.
Kemp was 8 for 18 and 119 yards passing, while Smith connected on the only three passes he threw.
Friday, Oct. 26
Charleroi 13, Monessen 13
Charleroi held a 13-7 lead going into the fourth quarter before 6,600 fans at Memorial Stadium in Monessen.
Stan Hamlin scored for the Greyhounds with 11:15 remaining to knot the score at 13. A low snap from center prevented Jim Beeler, a very reliable placekicker, from attempting the extra point that would have put Monessen ahead.
Monessen's defense also came through in the final period by stopping a Charleroi drive at the MHS 11 with less than two minutes to go in the game.
James Frezzell scored Monessen's other touchdown and Beeler added the extra point. John Hostetler (pass from Kemp) and Frank Gargon (short plunge) accounted for Charleroi's six-pointers and Stem Kemp kicked the extra point.
The tie knocked Monessen from the WPIAL Class AA championship race, which is won in 1961 with an 11-0-0 record and interrupted their successive winning streak at 18 games. It left the Hounds and the Cougars tied for first place in the conference scramble with each having only one Big 6 game remaining.
Friday, Nov. 12
Donora 19, Monessen 13
While Charleroi was rolling over Pittsburgh Central Catholic 33-16 at home, Donora stunned Monessen, 19-13, before 2,300 fans at Memorial Stadium.
Monessen led the statistics with a 14-1 spread in first downs, a 109-42 passing advantage and a 202-58 bulge rushing but Donora clinched the upset in the fourth quarter when quarterback John Ferrara hit tight end Frank Lawson on a 10-yard look-in pass.
The loss was Monessen's first setback in 21 games over a three-year period and left the Greyhounds with a 3-1-1 conference record. Hence it gave the Big 6 title outright to the Cougars with a 4-0-1 mark. Donora finished the season with a 5-5-0 overall record and legendary coach James K. (Jimmy) Russell called the win “the greatest victory in my 32 years of coaching.”
The conference title was the ninth for Charleroi since 1937 and the eight since Rab Currie became head coach in 1947.
Stan Kemp of the Cougars clinched the Big 6 individual scoring title that night with a touchdown and three extra point conversions that gave him 71 points for the season.
— Ron Paglia