A superstitious lot, we Farrell folks thought that the Knoch Knights were our good luck charm (I think they wore the same colors), and we would get to Pittsburgh early to watch their game.
When the Knights were beaten, we thought that might signal the end of Farrell run as well. But Coach Ed McCluskey would have none of that and would lead the Steelers to their sixth state championship.
Because of our basketball bond, Tom and I became fast friends. He played at Westminster as well, and that made things interesting, especially when the guys in Russell decided to go to the field house en masse and cheer for him like he was the second coming of Jerry West.
I remember one cold winter night in 1970 Tom, Rick, Bill Murphy and I came to Farrell to watch the Steelers play one of the great teams in Pennsylvania basketball history. The Schenley High Spartans led by the late Maurice Lucas, Ricky Coleman and Jeep Kelly came to town and left a loser on Sam Burns’s putback. But they exacted their revenge when it mattered later in the season, drilling the Steelers at the War Memorial in Johnstown.
I left Westminster after my freshman year to seek a journalism degree at Penn State, and to be honest, have not seen much of Tom since my Titan days. But we always have kept in touch - an occasional visit or a phone call, and since the Internet, via email and Facebook.
We are on different ends of the political spectrum. Tom, a math major, has a more analytical approach to today’s government than I do, and we’ve been known to spar pretty well in Facebook debates. After a series of barbing after the election, I had a co-worker ask me, “Do you know that Tom guy?” I answered with a smile, “Do I know him? We’re best friends.” She was bewildered.