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  • January 12, 2024
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The road to the ’98 State Championship had begun on a cold and snowy day in November of 1997 as the Red Tornadoes lost the District Championship to South Williamsport by a 14-6 score. Right there on the muddy turf of the Silver Bowl where they vowed to never feel that way again. They knew what it would take – a total commitment from each member including freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, the coaches, the administration, and support staff. They were never arrogant about it. Each and every one of them just knew. Hard work, family attitude, and their desire would get them there.

Big Red opened the season with a 35-0 white-wash over Tamaqua, followed by a 35-6 drubbing of Panther Valley. Mike Sinkovich established a new career record for PAT’s in this game by going 5 of 5. Jon Veach had the 4th best game in MCA history, running for 240 yards in the 21-7 win in the Southern rivalry game. The defense came up big with a school record 9 sacks against Shamokin, holding the Indians to -8 yards rushing in the close 21-7 win. Steve Sinkovich and Dan Dowkus had 2.5 sacks each with Jay Malakoski adding 1.5. Even though MCA speedster Nick Sebes ran back a kickoff for 93 yards. Allentown Central Catholic –the eventual AAA State Champion – scored in the 4th quarter for an 18-15 win over the locals. Malakoski, Steve Sinko, and Parisella paced the defense with 13, 11, and 11 tackles each. The Tornadoes regained their winning ways on the road with a 28-0 blanking of Marion Catholic. Veach ran for 178 yards in this one with Sinkovich establishing a new school record making his 19th consecutive PAT. It would take 20 fourth-quarter points for MCA to get past North Schuylkill by a 27-12 score with Veach again leading the way with 229 yards.

Then came one of the all-time classics as MCA eventually won a shoot-out with the Bartosic – Bowman Shikellamy Braves by a 42-38 score. Veach and Sebes ran for 194 and 165 yards respectively while the Braves threw for 456 yards and 6 touchdowns – the most ever against an MCA team. Their 488 total yards also established a new standard against MCA. Malakoski would establish a new MCA record for career sacks with 26.5, adding 2.5 against the Rams of Wyalusing. MCA then established a new mark with 537 yards of total offense in a 48-7 win over Selinsgrove. Sebes would run for 114 and throw for 120 with Josh Parisella grabbing 7 passes for 91 yards and 2 scores.

Big Red opened District IV play with an easy 48-12 win over Line Mountain, followed by a convincing 31-3 win over Hughesville in the Championship game. Steve Sinko with 13 and Jeff Evans with 10 paced the Tornado D. Veach (128), Sebes (124), and Al Bailey (108) registered the trifecta as all gained over 100 yards in a 47-6 smashing of Wyoming Area at our home away from home Shamokin. In an encore meeting with Marion Catholic, Big Red prevailed by a 30-0 score with Sebes running for 105 and scoring 4 TD’s. Terry Meyer registered 12 tackles with Malakoski and Chris Cuff grabbing 2.5 sacks.

Next would be the trip down 81 for our first visit to Hershey, but looming was Shady Side Academy and their 7 Division one prospects. Veach and Sebes scored 2 touchdowns, with Al Bailey adding one, all on the ground. Then Aaron Zeigler took an onside kick attempt 50 yards for another TD and the rout finished by a 44-7 score.

The team would score 505 points and only gave up 122, while registering 5201 yards of total offense. Sinkovich (128), Meyer (116) and Malakoski (105) would pace the defense with Malakoski (14) and Cuff (13.5) the sack leaders. Nick Chesney grabbed 9 INT’s. The 553 yards given up rushing ranks as the fewest ever given up in a season, regardless of number of games. Chesney, Sebes, Veach, Malakoski, Steve and Mike Sinkovich, Jon Else, and Chris Cuff would earn all-state honors. And at the end of the day and the 1998 Tornadoes football season the Big Red would fulfill their promise to each other as the 1998 PIAA State Champions.

Categories: 2018 Hall of Fame