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1988 Retrospective - Week Twelve

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. This was the case come Week 12 for the Johnstown Trojans in the 1988 season as they lost to Blackhawk 14-6 in a game that was played at Mount Lebanon High School in suburban Pittsburgh.

The story of the day for the Trojans was turnovers as the team had six, five of which were interceptions and reportedly, there were several other dropped interceptions by the Blackhawk defense.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars got on the board first as Taylor hauled in a 16-yard pass from Campbell. Cope added the extra point and it was 7-0 Blackhawk. This would be the halftime score. Coach Davitch recalls the play: "The first touchdown they scored was on a play-action pass that was wide open because we had a missed assignment. It was a third down play."

The Trojans answered in the third quarter, mounting a drive that ended with an Alex Roebuck touchdown run from two yards out. The PAT was blocked, but JHS edged the lead Blackhawk had to just one point.

The running game of Blackhawk was too much this day though, so much in fact that the Cougars did not attempt a single pass in the second half of this contest. The game was put away in the fourth quarter as Cope scored from three yards out and added the PAT to cement the final score.

Davitch laments on this game and what could have been: "It was a tough trip, leaving at 8:30AM for an afternoon game but beforehand I really thought we could be successful. I felt we could have done a better job coaching the kids. Maybe because of the past few weeks' success, everyone was just waiting for someone to step up and unfortunately it just didn't happen.

Despite the Cougars being the biggest, most physical team they had faced thus far, Coach Davitch thought the Trojans were "the better football team". Entering the game, Blackhawk was 9-1-1 and their only loss was to eventual state runner-up Aliquippa (they tied with Hopewell).

The Cougars were, and amazingly still are coached by Joe Hamilton. Now 66, Hamilon has eclipsed the 300-win mark having coached 33 seasons with Blackhawk and 43 seasons overall (he also coached at New Brighton) and this past season coached in his record 11th WPIAL title game.

Blackhawk advanced to take on Aliquippa the next weekend for the WPIAL Class AAA Championship Game (yes, the Trojans were a game away from playing at Three Rivers Stadium). The Quips beat Blackhawk 36-7 to take the district title. 1988 was the first season that the PIAA held state championships and Aliquippa was the state runner-up, losing to Berwick 13-0 in a game played at Hersheypark Stadium.

Wrapping up his feelings on the year, Davitch stated: "I felt terrible about the Blackhawk game but great about the season." The team goes down in history for several reasons. They are one of only two teams (along with 1958 squad) in program history to win eleven games and one of only seven teams (along with teams in 1917, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1958 and 1959) to win ten games.

Eight players earned all conference honors following the season: B.J. Gibson, Doug Goff, Chris Peduzzi, Alex Roebuck, Mark Roebuck, Don Roebuck, Chris Stewart and Chuck Wyatt. A few of these players went on to the next level in Peduzzi (Virginia Tech), Alex Roebuck (Eastern Arizona) and Wyatt (IUP) to name a few. Stewart also attended IUP and played baseball.

Stewart and Peduzzi are both athletic trainers, Stewart with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Peduzzi with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wyatt is currently an assistant coach on the varsity staff at JHS. Goff is the Head Basketball Coach at South Carroll High School in Maryland.

Davitch coached the Trojans through the 1990 season. He later coached Conemaugh Township and was the Head Coach of the Johnstown Jackals indoor football team in 2000. Davtich spend ten years with the Conemaugh Township School District as Principal and later Superintendent before becoming Superintendent of the Richland School District in 2003. He retired this post in August 2007. Assistant Tom Fleming succeeded Davitch as Head Coach at JHS, where he remained through the 1996 season. He later served as an assistant on Davitch's staff at both Conemaugh Township and with the Jackals and was later on the staff of another indoor squad: the Johnstown Riverhawks. Fleming was Prinicpal of Richland High School prior to becoming that school district's Superintendent. Fleming has been instrumental in his efforts with the youth football program in the district as well.

I'd like to wrap up this story and the piece in general with some statistics on the season. Please note, these figures include both playoff contests:

Alex Roebuck passed for 14 TDs and rushed for another 5.

Mark Roebuck rushed for 9 TDs and caught 3.

Chuck Wyatt caught 7 TDs, returned a kickoff for a score and had a touchdown on defense/special teams.

Rob Veney had 2 TD catches and 1 rushing score.

Jeff Hess caught 1 TD pass.

B.J. Gibson had 3 rushing TDs.

Doug Goff caught 1 TD pass and was 11-22 in kicking PATs.

 

 

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