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Pitt to honor '63 team with ample Mon Valley ties

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Courtesy photo
Eric Crabtree, a Monessen native, is one of the members of the Class of 2015 Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Courtesy photo
Fred Mazurek, a Redstone native, will be one of the members of the 196 Pitt football team to be honored at Heinz Field on Saturday.
Dr. John Verklereen, a Charleroi native, will be one of the members of the 196 Pitt football team to be honored at Heinz Field on Saturday.
Courtesy photo
Dr. Charles Ahlborn, a Rostraver Township native, will be one of the members of the 196 Pitt football team to be honored at Heinz Field on Saturday.

Seven men who played high school football in the Mon Valley will share the spotlight Saturday when the University of Pittsburgh honors its 1963 team on the 50th anniversary of one of the most successful seasons in the school's history.

Recognition will take place as part of the game between Pitt and Virginia at 12:30 p.m. at Heinz Field.

The ‘63 Panthers, coached by John Michelosen, posted a 9-1-0 record and were ranked No. 4 in the nation in the final Associated Press poll. Their only loss came at the hands of Navy (24-12) and quarterback Roger Staubach. Victories were posted over UCLA, Washington, California, West Virginia, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Army, Miami and Penn State.

Despite their record, the Panthers did not participate in a post-season bowl game.

The Mon Valley members of that team are:

• Dr. Charles Ahlborn, center, Rostraver High School. He became a dentist and now lives in Brownsville.

• Eric Crabtree, halfback/wide receiver, Monessen High School. He played with the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos in the National Football League and went on to become a successful businessman in Denver.

• Dr. Ronald Linaburg, center, Monongahela High. He also became a dentist.

• John Macuczak, tackle, Ellsworth High. He played for the Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League and later served as president of National Steel Company. He is retired and lives in Freedom.

• Fred Mazurek, quarterback, Redstone High. He became an attorney and now lives in California.

• Ray Popp, linebacker, Monongahela High. He lives in the state of New York.

• Dr. John Verkleeren, end, Charleroi High. He served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy and then had a career as a cardiologist with Kaiser Permanents health system before retiring. He lives in San Diego.

Incidentally, that Pitt team also had one other local tie as Ernie Hefferle, Michelosen's assistant, was a native of Herminie.

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