Sukel remains a Charleroi trivia answer
Quick now, who was the last Charleroi quarterback to make the Mon Valley Conference (Big 10) team two straight years?
The answer is Tom Sukel.
A 1971 graduate, Sukel was an all-Big 10 pick as a junior and senior.
Coached by Rab Currie, the Cougars went an impressive 15-4 with Sukel calling the signals in the 1969 and ‘70 campaigns.
As a junior, Sukel led the conference in touchdown passes with 13 despite averaging only 10 or 11 passes a game because Currie stressed the running game with Phil Hughes and Jack Davis carrying the ball.
Hughes, also a junior, ran for 13 touchdowns and won the Big 10 scoring title with 93 points.
Charleroi went 7-2 in 1969 and 8-2 in 1970 when the Cougars shared the Big 10 title with Monessen and Clairton.
Sukel, who was also the team's punter, said the Cougars should have had only two losses.
“In my junior year we lost 12-8 to Thomas Jefferson when they scored a touchdown on a 90-yard pass in the last minute,” he said. “My senior year we lost 8-6 at Monessen on some questionable calls.”
Charleroi's other blemishes were a 16-0 defeat to Monessen in 1969 and a 28-12 setback at Laurel Highlands in a contest played on a Saturday after being rained out the previous night.
“For some reason we didn't come to play against Laurel Highlands and they had a pretty good team,” noted Sukel.
Sukel's best game was probably as a junior with four touchdown passes in a 36-8 victory over Clairton that was deadlocked 8-8 at halftime. Brian Carlock, Sukel's favorite target, and tight end John Howard both had a pair of touchdown catches.
In 1970, Hughes and fullback Bob Petroka gave the Cougars the conference's top one-two punch on the ground.
Sukel's last game as a Cougar was a 20-7 triumph at Western Conference runnerup Baldwin in the first interconference game. He completed seven of 11 passes for 144 yards and a 22-yard touchdown to Mike Maytas.
“Baldwin finished second to No. 1 ranked Mt. Lebanon in their conference and their coach was quoted as saying we had a better team,” recalled Sukel.
Sukel played two seasons at California State College as a quarterback and punter under coach John Katusa before calling it quits.
After college Sukel was self-employed for seven years in concrete work before going to Specialty Printing in Charleroi, where he was a pressman for 12 years. He's is his 14th year as a metal forger producing tools for the railroad and construction industries at TAMCO, a manufacturing company in East Monongahela.
In 1992 Sukel married the former Cindy Robbins of Speers.
“With Cindy working at Washington Steel, I quit my job and became Mr. Mom for four years, staying home, raising two kids and doing the cooking,” he said.
Both of his daughters, Jillian and Maggie, are Charleroi Area High School students. Jillian is a senior and National Honor Society student who will attend California University, while Maggie is a junior and a Cougarette. He also has a 29-year-old stepson, Sam Stockton.
Brian Herman is a freelance writer.