Midget football started with enthusiastic parents

Moderator Lance Nowell, who played on the original Eagles team, guides the discussion during Reminiscing at Old Home Week, with, from left, Norm Blubaugh, Vic Moon, Joe Szaflarski and John McDowell dredged up memories from 30 years ago, when they helped start the Greencastle midget football league, now a large athletic program for area youngsters.

More Reminiscing articles available in the Aug. 21 print edition of the Echo Pilot

Some of the founders of the Greencastle-Antrim Midget football program made sure audience members understood the contributions of other people in the early days. They presented a program during the Old Home Week Reminiscing series on Wednesday afternoon.

Norm Blubaugh, Vic Moon, Joe Szaflarski and John McDowell were among the volunteer parents who started the organization in 1982. They brought in $19 at the first meeting, with one dollar membership dues. One hundred youngsters signed up. The Keystone Youth Football and Cheerleading League now serves boys and girls from ages 5 to 14.

McDowell was wearing one of the first six hats sold as a fundraiser. Other projects also spearheaded by the equipment manager, the late Woody Ankerbrand, included a gun raffle, food sales, butchered meat and basketball tournaments. The late Jack Quigley was the first coach, and had the uncanny ability to assign players to the right positions. Norm Hann and Jeff Smith started coaching in the formative years, and were still on board. Lanny Carbaugh had started the Quarterback Club. Even the citizens of Greencastle embraced the idea of a football feeder program.

“I don’t know anybody who didn’t support midget football,” said McDowell. “They knew what it would mean for the high school team down the road.”

Carbaugh, sitting in the audience, responded, “Woody was the backbone. It was in his blood. He never played the game. For all the pizzas we sold at the Quarterback Club, Woody was behind every one.”

The founders remembered raising enough money so that none of the players or cheerleaders had to pay to play, now no longer the case. When asked, the Greencastle-Antrim school board immediately gave permission to use the high school football field for Saturday night games under the lights.

“The kids thought they were in the NFL,” said Szaflarski.

Smith’s wife Cheryl took on the cheerleading squad the first year, and is still in charge.

Smith was also present, and wondered if the two of them would ever outgrow their devotion to coaching.

Quigley was remembered for his dedication to the program. Though strict, boys and parents loved him. A proud moment for Quigley, according to his family, was when two players made college teams, and faced each other in a game.

“It was a crowning moment for him,” said McDowell.

The panelists watched their own children pass through the ranks: Travis and Lisa Blubaugh, Jason and Tara Moon, Jamie Szaflarski, and John and Joe McDowell. Now some have grandchildren involved.

Carbaugh thanked the four for their work. “When you do good things, good things come out of it.”

Lance Nowell, who played on the original Eagles team, was the moderator and honored the four men. He said if there were a Hall of Fame for the organization there would be bests of all four in it.