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Frank Stossel: Recollections from the 1972 Raiders’ championship team 50 years later


Frank Stossel 50 years after the championship

… Looking back, you realize what a singular experience being a Raider was.


The Lilly Raiders football program had won four championships of the Cambria County Grade School League from 1961 until 1971. Then in 1972, the Raiders pulled off what many considered an major upset.

Even some of the players think of it that way in retrospect.


Thinking back at that accomplishment from five decades ago, Frank Stossel said that winning the title was not something that was anticipated with the players,


I remember all my teammates quite well. I don’t think going into the season I thought we would win the championship.


However, as the season progressed, we really came together and started to believe we could.

We were well coached which makes a big difference.


Frank Stossel, August 2022


Eugene Talko was the coach for the Raiders, and Mike Felus was his assistant. Gene had started coaching the year before after returning to Lilly from Chicago, and 1972 was a great accomplishment for him.


Being a Lilly Raider


Frank has been in Colorado for the past 41 years, but like many who played in their younger years, he never forgot those roots and the lessons that he learned.

In that season, the Raiders tied St. Joes of Portage in the opening game, but then won the rest of the games leading up to the second meeting with their foe. They then defeated the Flames in Portage to win the title and finish the season with a 5–1-1 record.


He said that was the only championship that he won in many years of playing sports,


Looking back over 50 years I've realized that winning a championship is very difficult to do. Whether you are playing for a team from a small coal mining town in S.W. Pa. or a Super Bowl team it's the same feeling. I feel grateful to have experienced that.


Looking back, you realize what a singular experience being a Raider was. I wouldn't trade those times for anything.


Frank Stossel, August 2022


The leading player for the Raiders was the late Tom Miesko, and Frank and Tom were named as the best in the all-star game at the end of the season. Frank was the Raiders defensive MVP while Tom was the offensive MVP.


However, what Frank remembers about that game was not the awards at the end,


I didn't remember that I was named Defensive MVP of the all-star game. I do remember losing and being pretty [upset] about that. It was another close game 12-8 or something like that.


Of course, everybody likes to be recognized and I was no different.


Frank Stossel, August 2022


However, he remembers how talented one of his teammates was,


Midgo [Tommy’s nickname], what a fierce competitor, and he ran like the wind. I used to hate coming up against him in nutcracker drills; I mean he never let up even in practice.


His intensity was a bit frightening. He was one of those guys you were glad was on your team.

Frank Stossel, August 2022


Tom passed away in 2018.


Ah, the memories -- 50 years later.

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