1969 Lakeland Conference champs reunite after 50 years

Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times
The 1969 Amherst Comets conference champions football team reunites Friday night on the sidelines, 50 years after winning its big game.

Jason Hawk

After all these years, they are still a team.

The 1969 Amherst Comets football players and cheerleaders reunited Friday under the lights at Mercy Health Stadium, five decades after winning the Lakeland Conference title.

Together they celebrated their memories of the big night when, led by coach Wally Armour, defeated Clearview in a 48-8 rout to win the conference for the first time ever.

“With this team here, there are a lot of good ones,” Armour said when asked about his memories of the 1969 team.

He said the night of the victory is one of the greats. After crushing Clearview, there were “maybe too many beers,” Armour laughed.

Before Friday’s Comets game versus Berea-Midpark, the old teammates met for a tailgating party at the home of Jim Kubuske.

“There’s a lot of catching up to do,” Kubuske said. “Some of these guys haven’t seen each other in 50 years.”

He was a tight end defensive end for the Comets as a sophomore in the championship year. Kubuske recalled how title game was held on a Thursday night and a rowdy, racous crowd filled the bleachers early to cheer on the boys.

The Clippers struck first, he said — then Amherst broke out its stars.

“The Comets showed just how devastating they could be by combining a rock hard defense and a potent offense,” wrote News-Times reporter Andy Warhola back in November 1969.

Amherst tore massive holes in the Clearview line starting in the second quarter. Quarterback Joe Srogoncik, on the first play of that quarter, broke away on a 52-yard touchdown run.

Fullback Dennis Pastron “was especially devastating by battering the Clearview line 16 times” for 124 yards and three touchdowns.

Srogoncik ended the night with two TDs and Jeff Belvo scored on a 36-yard run.

Mark Gentile caught an interception, then eight plays later carried the ball over the line from one yard out, becoming the Lakeland Conference scoring leader with 66 points.

After waving to the fans, the 1969 team — a little older, a little wiser, but still Comets — walked back to Kubuske’s house.

After the game, players headed to Sliman’s Sales and Service on Rt. 58 for a reunion social thrown by owner Paul Sliman.