|This article originally appeared in the "Together Again" All-School Reunion July 4, 1987 Booklet.|
The best of times ELHS sports from 1956 to present.
By Dave Burcham, '68
Nothing can excite and unite a community more than a successful sports program, and East Liverpool High School athletics has produced plenty of thrills since 1956.
Of course there's been some down times, too, but sports at ELHS has had far more peaks than valleys.
Some of East Liverpool's most exceptional athletes belonged to the era 0f 1956 to the present [Present in this instance meaning 1987.]
* KEN CUNNINGHAM
was named the Ohio High School Back of the Year in football by the Associated Press in the fall of 1959. Three months later he was honored as the state's best basketball player by AP. He went on to serve as captain of the University of Cincinnati basketball team and later became head coach at the University of Akron.
» BERNIE ALLEN
was another who achieved stardom in more than one sport. He received a football scholarship to Purdue, where he started at quarterback for two seasons. But his speciality was baseball, and Allen spent ten seasons in the major leagues. He played for the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and Montreal Expos. He finished second in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year honors in 1962. He even made it to Cooperstown, N.Y. when he became the only player to ever hit three home runs in the Hall of Fame exhibition classic.
» JIM MUSURACA
was one of three brothers to star in football for the Potters. Musuraca started for two seasons at linebacker at Notre Dame, where he played for Ara Parseghian. Musuraca's athletic prowess was never more evident than during his senior year (1969) at ELHS. In the fall, he led the football Potters to an 8-2 season. In the spring, Musuraca participated in both baseball and track. He pitched a no-hitter and batted .400 that season while being the leading scorer in track. He was a member of the 880 relay squad, which set a school record. His baseball talents helped the Potters reach the Class AAA state semifinals. In one afternoon, he pitched the Potters to a tournament victory and then drove to the district track meet, where he won the shot put.
Potter football success has been steady, but the most outstanding teams have appeared in ten-year cycles.
It started with Bob Gibson's 10-0 team in the fall of 1955. Lou Venditti took the helm in the fall of 1956 and produced a 9-1 squad that scored a school-record 407 points, Venditti, who also began the ELHS wrestling program, was inducted posthumously into the school's athletic Hall of Fame in 1985.
Ten years later ELHS football teams were known for their defense as Bob McNea's Potters posted six consecutive shutouts during one stretch. The 1966 club allowed just 52 points, the lowest figure in 40 years.
A string of eight consecutive winning seasons was snapped in 1971, but the Potters were back on top in 1975 when Don Charlton's club won 9 of 10 games and reached No. 3 in the state polls.
After some trying times, the Potters have returned to their winning ways under present coach Glen Sutherin. ELHS has compiled 8-2 records in each of the past two years.
Although the Potters have never qualified for the state football playoffs since the format was adopted in the early 1970's, East Liverpool was in contention in 1975 and 1985.
The football honor roll from this era is a long and distinguished one.
Any discussion of Potter greats would have to include the names of Jim Potts, Jack Dopier, Jim Kapp, George Hales, Nick Musuraca, Bob Mackall, Bob Bowyer, Bruce Burbick, Bob Maltarich, Mike Snowden, Clarence Crable, Carl Natalina, Chuck Harris, Daryl Herring, Mike McVay, Jim Musuraca, Tom Chambers, Lou Volino, Steve Williams, Jim Moore, Steve Sullivan, Dennis Fitzgerald, Bob Blankenship, Bob Thayer, Gene Bell and Ernie Washington.
Some of the opponents had familiar names, too. In 1959 the Potters knocked off Warren G. Harding, 14-13, despite the presence of a fleet running back named Paul Warfield. The Potter defense held Warfield to 13 yards rushing.
The 1967 Potters kept the pressure on quarterback Alan Hornyak, forcing a fumble in the final quarter and preserving an East Liverpool victory. Hornyak went to achieve All-America status in basketball at Ohio State.
Some of the Potters' biggest football victories of the 1960s included:
» Quarterback Chuck Winters, who later played at Pitt, engineered a 30-point second half that wiped out Midland's 20-0 lead in 1965.
»A flea-flicker from Mike McVay to Earl Diddle helped the 1967 Potters snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and stun Beaver Falls, Pa. in the final minute as a 7-6 deficit became a 14-7 victory.
* A stout defense paved the way as East Liverpool turned back highly-touted Archbishop Carroll of Washington, D.C, 14-13, in 1968.
Some of the Potters' biggest victories of the 1970's:
* Despite playing without starting fullback Jim Moore, the 1970 Potters rocked and shocked DeMatha Catholic of Washington, D.C., 34-0. DeMatha had been unbeaten and rated as one of the top prep football powers in the country.
Jim Cheeks (Class of 72), offensive guard, defensive end after the DeMatha Victory.
» After being shut out by Youngstown Cardinal Mooney for three straight seasons, the 1975 Potters returned the favor, 24-0. Mooney had knocked off Canton McKinley in the season opener before visiting Patterson Field, where East Liverpool was ready and waiting, before a standing-room-only crowd, the Potters played near flawless football.
One of the Potters' biggest victories in the 1980's:
» Alan Blythe scored on a 20-yard run and Steve Landy booted the extra point in the fifth overtime session of a 21-20 victory at Wintersville. The score had been tied 7-7 after regulation, setting up the alternating possession format. It was the most overtimes ever played since the system was adopted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
The Potters were recognized as a scholastic basketball power in Ohio during the 1967-68 and 1968-69 campaigns when they won 34 of 36 regular-season games.
One of the tallest Potter teams was the 1967-68 squad, which featured 6-7 Mitchell Jones, 6-5 Bruce Christian, 6-5 Jerry Christian, 6-1 Mike McVay and 5-10 Earl Diddle. The team won 17 of 18 regular-season games, losing only to Salem's stalling tactics, 25-32.
The season ended in disappointment, however, when the Potters were eliminated from tournament play by hot-shooting Martins Ferry, a team East Liverpool had beaten during the regular season.
The following year, East Liverpool again went 17-1, losing at Aliquippa in overtime after All-Ohio center Jerry Christian fouled out. The Potters were knocked off by Zanesville, 32-31, in the district semifinals.
Although East Liverpool basketball remained competitive through the years, the Potters never again came close to matching those numbers until just last winter. Coach Nick Aloi inherited a veteran team and led the Potters to an 18-2 record.
* Former ELHS basketball stars Frank Chan, Earl Diddle and Bob Dawson returned to coach their alma mater to winning seasons.
* Vern Smith (Class of 1967) broke Ken Cunningham's school scoring record with a 43-point outburst in a 119-50 victory over Niles McKinley. Smith went on to earn All-Ohio laurels.
Besides those already mentioned, no basketball recap would be complete without the names of former Potter stars Don Rogers, Wayne Talbott, Frank Mc-Comas, Dean Cline, Mike Stowers, Dave Kyle, Tony Williams, Frank Taylor, Ken Miller, Dan Cunningham, Bill Montgomery, Chris Chavis and Mark Douglas.
* East Liverpool had success in wrestling in the 1960's, but nothing like what has taken place in recent years.
With the help of youth programs, current coach Nick Trombetta has molded the Potters into one of the premier mat teams in the state.
Mark Emmerling, Paul Ice and Rich Wright have been three of the more successful Potter wrestlers of the 1980's. In the 1970's, Bob Thayer, Ralph Mitchell, Kris Parsons and Eric Mabbott were among the best for the Blue & White. In the 1950'sand 1960's, East Liverpool wrestling produced Jim, Darryl and Herman Hoppel and Don Chadwick.
* Potter baseball teams reached the state tournament in 1956 and 1969. George Hornick, Bernie Allen and and Don Rogers helped the Potters achieve success on the first venture while Dan Cunningham, Jim Musuraca and Tom Chambers gave ELHS the impetus the second time around. On both occasions, the Potters were knocked off in the semifinals.
In track, Steve Williams, Chris Thornberry and Tim Raineer distinguished themselves.
The past decade has seen the re-emergence and re-emphasis of girls sports.
Track stars Kim Augur and Leslie Palmer have been two of the most outstanding for ELHS. Augur, a sprinter, was the state champion in the 400-meter dash. Her time of 54.87 was one-tenth of a second behind the state record. She received a track scholarship to attend Ohio State University.
Palmer (1977) was the first female athlete to gain the East Liverpool High School Hall of Fame. She qualified for the state track meet three times, and placed second in the 80-yard hurdles, fourth in the 220 and fourth in the long jump. Her hurdles time of 10.5 seconds was the seventh fastest in the United States that year.
Other top female athletes of the past decade included Cathy Disch, Jenny Badgley, Peggy Musser and Lynne Wilson.
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