Rewind: 1966 B-UHS AAA State Football Champions

Front row (left to right)-David Shingleton, Paul Weaver, Ibm Posey, Jim Hurst, John Rollins, Gary Zickefonse, Jim Lowe, Butch Talbott, Fred Gaudet and Mike Knabenshue. Second row (left to right)-_Russell Darnall, Steve Shaffer, David Corley, Mike Gillespie, John Long, Rick Starkey, Vernon Shingleton, Blaine Radabaugh and John Young. Third row (left to right)-John Barnes, Kenneth Neely, Eugene Hawkins, Pete Barth, Roger Wilfong, Wiley Byers, Danny Hinkle, Mike Ritter and John Reger. Fourth row (left to right) Mike DeGarmo, Eugene Tharp, Gary Dowell, Pete Gay, Mike licks, Roger Carpenter, Doug Berry, Mike Feola, Joe Coughlin and Wayne Howes. Fifth row (left to right)-Allen Lee, Rick Rice, Keith Dowell, Tom Darnall, David Moots, Mike Allman, Alan Slaughter, Steve Miller and Dana Lantz. Sixth row (left to right)-Dave Godwin, Mike Oldaker, Rick Tenney, Duke Layfield, Steve Taylor, Mark Martin, Herman Watson, Mike Corley and Nick Hymes. Seventh row (left to right)_-Manager Bob Shissler, Mike Ross, David Cutright, Bill Johnson, Jake Anderegg, Gary Davis, Philip Ward, Ron Curkendall and Manager Benny Long. Back Row (left to right)-Manager Delmas Ware, Coach Richard McKinney, Coach Joe Michael, Coach Larry West, Coach Richard Anderson, Coach Harry Hull, and Manager Randy Long. Not pictured, Terry Phillips

TENNERTON — As I was coming to visit my girlfriend this past weekend, her stepfather Kevin Ware of Buckhannon had been looking through a box of his Mom’s things. Amongst them, he found a program from the welcome home party for the 1966 Buckhannon-Upshur High School football team’s state championship celebration dinner. This piqued my interest, so I researched a bit about the 1966 edition of the Buccaneers football team.  

What I found was that the 1966 Buckhannon-Upshur High School football team is one that is engrained in the long storied, athletic lore of this community. The team, with head coach Joe Michael at the helm finished with a flawless 11-0 overall record, capping off the season with a West Virginia Class-AAA Football State Championship. During this legendary team’s march to athletic immortality, they showed off their dominance with eight straight blowout wins of at least 20 points. This run included victories against the likes of traditional area powerhouses Morgantown, Parkersburg, and Fairmont Senior, as well chief rival Lewis County.

Coach Michael’s Buccaneers faced their toughest challenge of the year on Friday, October 28. Just a few days before Halloween, the seemingly unstoppable Buccaneers received quite the scare against Victory High School 

(Clarksburg/Harrison County). Coach Michael’s and his squad dug deep and prevailed in a close battle, escaping with the 13 to 7 and keeping their perfect season alive.  

The scare must have jolted the Buccaneers awake as, they shutout rival Elkins in their final regular season game, leaving little doubt who was the best team in North Central West Virginia with a 28 to 0 win.  

Unlike today, when 16 teams from each class make the playoffs, back in 1966, only the top two schools in each class played in the championship game. Now it was time for the Buccaneers to prove that they were the best team in the state, as they were slated to play Huntington Central in the Class-AAA state championship game on November 19, 1966. Ultimately, the Buccaneers overwhelmed Huntington Central, winning by the rather odd score of 27-2 after the only score they allowed all game was a safety.  

With the win, the Buccaneers capped off a perfect season and came home to enjoy their hometown hero status as the community joyously welcomed them home with a celebratory dimmer on Tuesday, November 29, 1966 in the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Cafeteria. The invocation was delivered by Reverend William B. Folks and dinner was began with a short speech from toastmaster Gilbert G. Coonts. After dinner, guests, coaches, team, and cheerleaders were all introduced and graciously applauded. Coach Joe Michael, special guest speaker Howard Tippett, the Freshman Football Coach West Virginia University at the time, both gave speeches on the team’s accomplishments before the dinner wrapped up with film and highlights from the championship game.  

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