1967 Mustang football team enters PYA Sports Hall of Fame

Gary Pinneo The Chronicle-Express

The 1967 Penn Yan Mustang football team will be entering the Penn Yan Academy Athletic Hall of Fame this month. Talking with members of this soon to be Hall of Fame squad, they to a man, emphasize the word “team.”  By definition, a team is a group working to achieve a common goal or a common end. It is basically a coordinated effort by all to reach this goal.

The Mustang gridiron team entered the 1967 football season with little fanfare from the media, their opponents, or even the community. By most accounts, they were a young team with a lot of talent, but probably another season away from contending for a league title. But they set out in the hot  ’67 summer double sessions on a mission. They were going to be the best football team they could and prove that the experts were wrong. The Mustang coaching staff of Jack Marshall and Dave Currier believed in them. And more importantly, they believed in themselves. The  roster was loaded with a lot of athletic ability and speed. They just had to figure out the formula to convert these assets into a competitive team. And that they did.

The Mustangs started the 1967 season with  a new defense, some early injuries, and some question marks. Penn Yan, for over a decade, used a 7 diamond defense. They started this new campaign with a different defensive wrinkle. They would operate out of a 5-2 defense this year. They quickly proved they had the athletes to do this and adapted to the new look defense. They completely shutdown and baffled a very potent and talented Batavia team in their preseason scrimmage. They opened the regular season with a huge 33-0 win over Haverling in Bath. In week two, they defeated a very good Clyde-Savannah team 32-26 at home, and rolled over DeSales 59-6 in week number three. People were starting to take notice of this upstart Mustang team.

Their biggest game of the year was in week number four. They took on powerful Mt. Carmel from Auburn, a team that hadn’t lost in over two seasons. Mt. Carmel was the easy favorite to win the Wayne/Finger Lakes Championship title. The two teams battled to a 6-6 tie midway through the final quarter. Mt. Carmel kicked a field goal and pulled away to a 16-6 victory. But the tough loss was not going to derail the Mustang mission.

The Orange and Blue rebounded with a 47-13 romp over Waterloo, followed by a 62-0 victory over Lyons.

When Mt. Carmel was upset by Geneva, three teams, including Penn Yan, had a chance to win the conference.

Penn Yan traveled to Seneca Falls to take on a very tough Blue Devils team in the next to last week of the season. After struggling and trailing in the first half, Penn Yan rallied to defeat Mynderse 28-13 to set up the final week and a chance to win the title.

The last contest of the season was the traditional Johnson-Costello American Legion Veteran’s Day Trophy game against Geneva. The Panthers came into this game with just 1 loss and a huge upset win over Mt. Carmel. The winner of this game would clinch at least a share of the W/FL title. Before a huge, cheering home crowd, the Mustangs shutout the Geneva Panthers 20-0. The American Legion trophy was theirs, and so was a hard fought share of the Wayne/Finger Lakes title. The season which started in the hot sun of August successfully ended on the cold, Mustang gridiron in November. The 1967 football Mustangs were champs.

The 1967 Penn Yan Mustang football team scored a league high 287 points that season, 36 points per game. The stingy Penn Yan defense dominated, limiting the opposition to just 74 points including 3 shutouts. 16 different Penn Yan players scored touchdowns that season.  28 0f the 33 players on the roster earned varsity letters.  A true team effort that saw hard work and determination prevail.  Of course, legendary Penn Yan Coach Jack Marshall was named “Coach of the Year.” Mr. Marshall was inducted in the PYA Athletic Hall of Fame several years ago.

The 1967 Mustang football team could be called “over achievers.” But that would not be accurate. They worked hard to be the best they could be and that best proved to be of championship caliber. They believed in themselves as a team. In the critical game against Mynderse which they did not play well in the first half and trailed for most of the first half, Coach Jack Marshall addressed his team on the bus at halftime.

Penn Yan Quarterback Brian Legg remembered Coach Marshall’s tone was not particularly pleasant. “I thought the windows of the bus were going to blow out,” recalled Legg.  But the inspiring speech ignited a second half Mustang surge which propelled them to the key 28-13. They loved and respected their coach and didn’t want to let him down. But they also believed in themselves and their abilities. That’s what championship teams do.

On Friday, Sept. 22, the 1967 Penn Yan Mustang football team will take their rightful place in the Penn Yan Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. This is a wonderful 50-year celebration for this team. The members of this championship team are Jim Blank, Bob Breuer, John Brezinsky, Tom Butcher, Rod Campo, Bruce Castner (Captain), Pat Chapman, Lee Collins, Morris Collins, Amby Cook, Don D’Amico, Tom Edminster, Gary Fox, Rick Gray, Brian Hawley, Fred Johnson, Brian Legg, Jim Mahan, Tom Morse (Captain), Nate Olney, Bob Parmalee, Parker Reynolds, Steve Richmond, Calvin Sans, Don Shipman, Skip Soper, Phil Viele, Bill Whitaker, and Dick Willson. Carroll Graves, Rick Pallatto, and Jens Jensen were team managers. Walter Ballard and Mike Gillard were the team trainers. Jack Marshall and David Currier coached the varsity team. Jerry Turner and Russell Soper coached the J.V. team.