Mustangs to honor undefeated ’77 title team

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 27 September 2017 at 10:07 am

Contributed Photo – Medina Coach John Loughlin is hoisted high in celebration by co-captains Karl Barna and Doug Hermann following the Mustangs title clinching victory at Starpoint to close out an undefeated 1977 season.

There is an old adage in sports that says defense wins championships and that was probably never truer than for the undefeated 1977 Medina  football team which captured the Section VI Division VI title with a 6-0-1 record and finished 7-0-1 overall.

The accomplishments of that title team, which is now marking its 40th anniversary, will be recognized when those Mustang players are honored in ceremonies prior to this Friday’s Medina/Lyndonville vs. Roy-Hart/Barker Homecoming game at Vets Park at 7:30 p.m.

While the offense reached the 20 point mark only once during the 8 game season the Mustangs defensive unit shined registering 3 shutouts while allowing just 1 touchdown in 3 other games and only 2 touchdowns in the other 2 contests.

The only blemish on the Mustangs record was a muddy, rain soaked early season 6-6 tie at rival Albion.

The Mustangs other division contests, all low scoring wins, included Newfane 22-12, Roy-Hart 14-9, Wilson 8-6, Trott 14-0, Akron 24-14 and Starpoint 20-0.

Following 6-0-1 Medina in the final Division VI standings were Roy-Hart 5-1-1, Wilson 5-2, Albion 3-3-1, Akron 2-3-2, Starpoint 2-4-1, Newfane 2-5 and Trott 0-7.

The title clinching season finale win at Starpoint saw the Mustang defense limit the Spartans to just 97 yards offense.

Leading by a narrow 8-0 margin, the Mustangs locked up the win and the title with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns on a 62 yard interception return by Steve Balcerzak and a 73 yard run by John Champlin, a tally which was set up by a blocked punt.

A big special teams play set up the Mustangs first score of the day in the second quarter as Larry Flynn blocked a Spartan punt attempt and Doug Hermann made the recovery at the Starpoint 15. Champlin capped off the short drive with a 6 yard TD run.

Early in the season, Medina needed three interceptions by Balcerzak and one by Champlin to help lock up the narrow 14-9 win over Roy-Hart. Two of those interceptions set up the Mustangs only two touchdowns, a 2 yard run by Ron Riley and a 20 yard halfback option pass from Champlin to Balcerzak.

Another halfback option pass play from Champlin to Bob Balschmiter on fourth down then produced the lone touchdown the following week in an even closer 8-6 win over Wilson as quarterback Joe Loughlin ran for the deciding two-lint conversion. The Mustangs defense had a key goal line stand in the contest which also saw Balcerzak lock up the win with a late game interception.

The following week Balcerzak had a key 50 yard pass interception return for a touchdown to help lock up a 14-0 win over Trott. The defensive effort also included fumble recoveries by Jim Mirand and  Hermann which stopped Engineer scoring threats.

The Mustangs season opening 18-0 non league win over Cardinal Mooney of Rochester was also noteworthy as it earned Coach John Loughlin his milestone 125th career victory.

Balcerzak, Champlin, Loughlin, Karl Barna, Mirand, Bobby Graham and Hermann all earned first team Division VI All-Star honors. The Mustangs also had Flynn, Riley, Dave Potrubacz, Terry Newell, Jeff Kelly and Ken Taylor receive Honorable Mention.

It should be noted that since the Section VI playoffs did not begin until 1979 there was no postseason competition for the ’77 squad.

The ’77 squad is one of only five Mustang teams to go undefeated. The others include the 8-0 team in 1970, the 8-0-1  sectional championship team in 1980, the 9-0 sectional title squad in 1982 and the 10-0 sectional championship team in 1988 which downed rival Albion in the title game 14-7 at Rich Stadium (now New Era Field).