No game is won or lost on a single play alone, and yet every game has a sequence of events that turn the tide from one team to another. This series delves into the monumental plays that swung momentum for the Golden Eagles in some of their most memorable games.
There was something magical in the games played between Tyrone and Central from 2009 through 2011.
Of course there was animosity. There was the feeling of having claim to what the other guy had. There was dislike and the sneaking suspicion that you weren’t being respected.
Most rivalries have those things, and by 2009 the series between the Dragons and the Golden Eagles was indeed beginning to simmer once again as a rivalry after more than 10 years of utter dominance by Tyrone.
But it takes more than bad blood to produce what the two Mountain League challengers did during that era. The teams would face each other five times over the span of three seasons, and only once, in 2011, did the game fail to go to the wire.
“It was usually the top two teams playing each other,” remembered Lucas Runk, a phenomenal skill player for Central who in four seasons totaled just under 7,000 yard in total offense. From 2008-2010 Runk was the focal point of the Dragons’ offense and he could burn a team in just about every way imaginable. After rushing for 1,580 yards in 2008 as a sophomore, he threw for 1,290 in 2009. As a receiver, he ended his career with more than 1,200 yards in receptions.
“You knew it was going to be a hard-hitting, low-scoring game. Each team was going to bring 100 percent of what they had.”
There were some other factors at play, as well because just as Runk was laying claim to the title of the best player in Blair County, players were emerging in Tyrone who were equally dynamic, players like Steve Franco, Nick Patton, Jared Templeton, and Eric Desch. And at the top were coaches who were second to none in Tyrone’s John Franco and Central’s AJ Hoenstine.
“They had an unreal player in Lucas Runk who could do anything on the football field,” said Ian Murray, a junior in 2009. “In addition to that, coaching was a huge factor. AJ Hoenstine always had a good game plan, as would Coach Franco, and they knew how to get the best out of the non-superstar kids. And with them winning the District championship the year before (2008), it added some fuel to the fire.”
2009 was the starting point, a season when the Eagles and Dragons would play twice in the span of three weeks, and each game had major implications, none more than their Week 12 meeting in the District 6 2A semifinals in Roaring Spring.
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