And now it’s time to take a trip down memory lane with another edition of Beaver County Memories, presented by St. Barnabas Beaver Meadows. In today’s edition, we will turn the clock back a little over thirty years to the fall of 1987.
Geneva College had already been playing football for nearly a century at this stage of the game, having fielded the first team in 1890, and lost their only game, against Pitt, that year by a score of four to ten. While there were a few bright spots along the way, like the great teams featuring NFL hall of fame player, Cal Hubbard, in the 1920’s, for the most part, Geneva College football played in relative obscurity at their beloved home stadium of Reeves Field in Beaver Falls. That all changed in 1987 when an exceptional crop of local football high school football recruits came together with head coach Gene Sullivan, and his brother, and assistant coach, Don Sullivan.
Beaver native Doug Dragan joined the team after transferring in from Maryland. He became part of a talented group that included, among others, Monaca graduate Larry DeVincentis, Shenango running back Alan Pavia, John Guido, a lighting quick defensive back from Ambridge, along with a quarterback who grew up in Butler named Jamie Smith. These guys were older veterans who welcomed three young incoming players from Aliquippa that year who would contribute greatly, including Rob Royba, Wayne Tatalovich and Tom Sonsini. The team had many other great players as well, including All American defensive tackle Mike Nedzesky. The influx of the talented players combined with the leadership of the Sullivan brothers helped the 1987 Golden Tornadoes gel into a team that went eleven and two and achieved several milestones. Not the least of which was an an N.A.I.A. second round playoff victory over arch rival Westminster. Prior to that win, Geneva hadn’t beaten the Titans since 1957, and had already lost to Westminster earlier during the 1987 regular season. The victory over Westminster was part of Geneva’s first ever postseason football playoff appearance that also included a first round win over Bluffton University, and a semi final forfeit win awarded over Wisconsin-Stevens Point, who used an ineligible player during the game.
The 1987 season became a turning point of sorts for a Geneva program that would see a very successful ten year run throughout the 1990’s that included several playoff appearances and a victory over Cambellsville University in 1997. Geneva College has also also racked up six Victory Bowl championships in recent years, The momentum created on college hill in Beaver Falls continues to push things forward. Just this past summer, Geneva College completed an extensive upgrade to Reeves Field and the athletic facilities that make it one of the area’s nicest venues, and certainly one of the best football atmospheres in Western Pennsylvania.
These days the Sullivan brothers relive the glory and the memories of the 1987 season often times at St. Barnabas Beaver Meadows, when Gene visits his brother Don, who resides at the Brighton Township facility.
Tune in everyday for another Beaver County Memory presented by St. Barnabas Beaver Meadows. A complete transcript of this Beaver County Memory and archived editions of previous segments can be viewed at Beaver County Radio dot com.