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  • January 12, 2024
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Unlike many of the teams that won championships, expectations were very high entering the 1996 season. MCA had come off the ‘95 season with a team that rolled through the Eastern Conference Playoffs with 34-0 and 35-0 wins over GAR and Line Mountain. They were arguably one of the best AA teams in the state at the end of the ‘95 season and returned many starters including Joey Costello, Brett Veach, Dave Evans, Eric Higgins, Shawn Jayman, Joe Scicchitano, and others. Their 9-3 record included loses to AAA teams Shamokin, North Shuylkill, and Blue Mountain, but 1996 found them raring to go.

They opened up with 43-0 and 54-0 wins over Tamaqua and Panther Valley. Then came the first-ever showdown with Southern Columbia. Southern was ranked #2 in the state and found themselves on the short end of a 41-12 score. Vic Kornaski had a coming out party with his 10-18 performance for 200 yards and 2 scores. Veach (121) and Evans (110) would register 100 yard receiving games while Veach also ran for 138. A very balanced defense held the Tigers to 224 yards. Veach’s 168 yards rushing and Kornaski’s 144 yards passing led Big Red to a 33-7 win over Shamokin. Costello (132) and Veach (101) would pace the Tornadoes to a 47-0 win over Naticoke. They would post 243 yards of offense in the first quarter and would run only 8 plays in the “mercy-ruled” second half. Brett Veach would establish a new single game rushing mark in the 35-14 win over the Colts of Marion, while Costello and Joe Scicc would register 15 and 13 tackles respectively. That would set up the season’s closet game – a 14-0 win over North Schuylkill. The Spartans would actually outgain the Tornadoes 160-146 yards in this defensive slugfest. Kornaski’s 117 yard passing, along with his 42 yard TD to Dan Malakoski paced the Tornado on this night.

The Tornadoes would run through the next three games with Shikellamy (42-15), Blue Mountain (43-6), and Selinsgrove (46-7). Steve Sinkovich (14) and Scicchitano (10) would pace the Tornadoes on defense in the Selinsgrove game. MCA would begin its playoff run with a 28-0 win over Wyalussing with Kornaski again throwing for 117 and another TD to Malakoski. Evans ripped off a 78 yard punt return for MCA, while Jayman posted a sack that began his streak of at least ½ sack in every playoff game. Veach again went over the 200 mark with a 247 yard performance against Central Columbia in MCA’s 21-0 win. Costello (13) and Jay Malakoski (11) would lead the defense. In the Eastern Semi, Veach (115) and Kornaski (118) lead the Torandoes over Hanover Area. J Malakoski, Scicchitano, Higgins, Steve Sinkovich and Jayman would also register sacks in the total dominant performance over Hanover.

That set up one of the most iconic games in coal region history with defending State Champion Bishop McDevitt at Shamokin. Kornaski’s 218 yards passing with 2 TD’s (Veach and Evans) would pace the Tornadoes on offense while Joe Costello’s 41 yards punting average and 13 tackles led the defense. The anti-climactic State Championship game with Tyrone would give MCA its second state championship in 3 years after the 25-6 win. Steve Sinko (12), J. Malakoski (10), Costello (9), Higgins (8) and Jayman (7) would lead the balanced defense that held Tyrone to 122 total yards.

The 1996 team was the first 15-0 team at MCA and went through the ‘96 season without ever trailing in a game. Veach, Costello, Evans, Mike Boyer, Higgins, Scicchitano, and Jay Malakoski were named to various all state teams while Head Coach Whitey Williams was named PIAA Coach of the Year.

Categories: 2016 Hall of Fame