West Mifflin to honor 1963 team title team
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its only WPIAL championship, West Mifflin will honor the 1963 football team at halftime of its game against Albert Gallatin tonight at Titan Stadium.
Before a merger in 1984-85 to form what is now West Mifflin, West Mifflin North went undefeated at 8-0-1 before taking down Butler, 12-6, at Forbes Field half a century ago to claim the WPIAL Class AA crown.
West Mifflin athletic director Scott Stephenson and longtime friend and alumnus Trevor Broman, whose late father Rick was a fullback and linebacker on the team, thought it would be fitting to pay tribute and began planning the reunion this summer to reunite teammates.
“We always talked about getting the guys back together,” said Broman, an Alcoa employee. “My dad was interested in seeing all the guys again and would have marked the 50 year anniversary.”
“There's a lot of pride in the athletics at West Mifflin. ... We want to keep some type of legacy and what better way than to honor your only championship team?” Stephenson said.
The expected turnout has increased since the event was first planned, with an estimated 35 alumni expected, ranging from former players and coaches to equipment manager and former NFL referee Dale Hamer, set to return.
“It's definitely going to be a nice thing for those guys,” Stephenson said. “They're humbled and overwhelmed. I'm getting calls and emails; these guys just can't believe how much we're reaching out to do this for them.”
Led by coach Dick Scherrbaum and senior quarterback Karl Tribelhorn, West Mifflin North rattled off eight wins in a row that season after opening the year with a 7-7 tie against Duquesne.
In just its fourth year of existence and barely eligible for Class AA competition (the modern day Class AAAA), North found itself pitted against Butler, a team that featured future NFL players and a school that nearly quadrupled North's enrollment, in the championship game.
But after Tribelhorn and Bill Luksis connected on a game-winning touchdown pass, West Mifflin North walked off the Forbes Field grass as champion.
“It was a magical season, everything came together and I can't believe it was 50 years ago,” said Tribelhorn, who lives in Phoenix.
After advancing to the Class AAA championship game last season and currently standing at 3-0 as the No. 5 ranked team in its class, West Mifflin is hoping to add another championship to join the 1963 squad.
“Our football program is back,” Stephenson said. “We had a few down years, but it's back to where we want it. We played in the championship last year and started this season so far 3-0.
“With that being the only championship (team), I think it's good for the kids to say ‘Hey, look what they're doing for this group of guys here. I would like to come back here someday 50 years from now if I'm still around and be recognized.' ”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.