On Friday night, a group of former Central York football players will celebrate a life and a championship.
Members of the Panthers' 1963 title team will be on hand when the 2013 Central team takes on Spring Grove in a York-Adams League Division I game.
At least 20 of the players from 50 years ago are expected to attend, according to Tom Clough, a center/linebacker on the 1963 team.
"We have someone coming from Virginia, which is the farthest any of the players will travel," Clough said. "There is a player living in California, but he couldn't make it. We had like 35 players on our team."
Brad Livingston, Central's head coach for the past 32 seasons, was a sophomore on the 1963 team.
Clough and his teammates will watch the game from the Central sideline, and at halftime, they'll be introduced to the crowd, along with the their former coaches.
The special occasion will rekindle memories of games, practices and the man who was the head coach during their varsity careers: the late Joe Stauffer.
Stauffer, 76, died on June 29 of this year.
"When Joe passed away, it made us start thinking that it was 50 years ago when we played, and we were Central's first championship football team," Clough said. "Bob Miller, myself and Denny McGlaughlin spearheaded the effort to have this night. We want to celebrate Joe's life, both in teaching and coaching, and celebrate a championship."
Clough said that Stauffer's widow, Sandra, and his son, Judd, are planning to be at Friday's game.
"Joe was a quiet guy," Clough said. "He was never a screamer or yeller. He would talk to us between classes, and in the locker room, he would ask about our personal lives."
Stauffer's 1963 team finished with a 7-0-1 record in league play. The Panthers, who outscored opponents, 200-85, tied Spring Grove, 13-13. Central's only setback was a 25-13 non-league loss to Hanover, which wasn't in the York County League at the time.
Miller (quarterback), McGlaughlin (tackle) and the late John Gentzler (running back) made the York County all-star team.
"The big thing for us that year was to beat York Suburban because they beat us the year before and won the championship," Clough said. "The thing I remember about the Spring Grove game is that we would run up and down the field, but we couldn't seem to punch it in."
Clough is looking forward to seeing his old teammates, some of whom he hasn't seen in decades.
"Over 50 years, people move away or you have other interests, and you just don't run into each other," he said. "We might have to wear name tags because we may not recognize one another after all these years."
When Clough and his teammates played, the school and football field were located on East Seventh Avenue in North York.
"Back in the day, you started getting ready for football season by doing some lifting during the summer and putting on a pair of spikes and running two weeks before the season," Clough said. "Now, it (football) is year around. Our offensive line averaged 170 pounds, and we had two guys over 200 pounds. Today, you would be hard pressed to find an offensive lineman under 200 pounds."
Clough and the other players will be there on Friday, and he's hoping the championship trophy (from 1963) will be there, too.
"We've been looking for our trophy, it would be neat to set the trophy out during our tailgate," Clough said. "I know it was in the showcase at the old Central High School (in North York). Hopefully, we can find it."
Trophy or no trophy, Friday night's reunion will be extremely special for the 1963 Panthers.
Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolin email@example.com or at 505-5407.