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East Aurora Old Timers welcomes class of 1987

Updated: December 12, 2012 10:42PM

A most exclusive and unique group of athletes celebrated again at its annual meeting last Thursday.

For the East Aurora Football Old Timers Association, everything old becomes new again on the eve of the final regular season prep contest every October. Tomcats who were members of the team of 25 years ago are officially inducted into the group, and coach Dick Schindel honored the 1987 squad as new members.

An outsider might look at the banquet as a time to tell old gridiron stories for the umpteenth time, but it’s always much more than that. Differences mean nothing as these men are completely one in spirit and pride. It is a fraternity like no other. “Once a Tomcat, always a Tomcat” is its mantra.

“If I weren’t here, I would really miss it,” said Del Dufrain, the legendary coach from 1961-78. “I see these guys and ask what they’re doing, and most of them are very successful. That’s important and the main thing.”

“This is like a family. Everyone enjoys one another and has a good time,” said Henry Cowherd, who was honored as a Tomcat from the 1940s.

Other players recognized from that era were Riney Hessler, John Mouis, Bob Cutter, Dan Dolan and Bob Moga. Warren “Red” Dixon was the senior Old Timer who played on the team of 1938.

The group never fails to recognize and thank all the military veterans in attendance, and to remember former players who have passed away in the year gone by.

In recent years, the Old Timers has also become a service organization and try to give back to the current football program. Four college scholarships have been awarded, and the group is very involved in the newly established Tomcat Youth Tackle Football League. It has afforded 64 fourth- and fifth-grade students the opportunity to receive equipment and begin play this season, and is looked upon as a building block to help bring East’s program back to prominence.

The Old Timers’ connection to the current East program couldn’t be much stronger than it became this fall. Co-Presidents Kurt Becker and Steve “Benny” Kenyon are the new head and assistant varsity coaches at the school. Becker was also an all-American lineman at the University of Michigan and played with the Chicago Bears.

“This is pretty amazing for me to be here tonight. I’ve been part of East football and the Old Timers, and never did I think I would be standing here as the head coach,” said Becker. “East Aurora is full of tradition, and we’re trying to bring it back. There is a lot of work to be done, and we’ve had small victories, even if not on the scoreboard.

“This year’s good kids are the foundation of the program. They’re showing the way that other kids are going to follow.”

As Schindel introduced the newest Old Timers, he also stressed tradition, saying that the group is special and unique.

Tim Young, Bill Deligiannis, and Tarry Williams (who was unable to attend) were the 1987 captains. Others in attendance were Lou Hernandez, Husain Abdulaziz, James King and Joe Emmanuel.

The leadership and spirit of Young and Deligiannis are as evident today as they were a quarter century ago.

“What I love about being a Tomcat is that we never give up. We maybe came in smaller than other teams, but we had big hearts,” said Young, who is now head coach of the Tomcat Wrestling Club. “Coach Schindel is a great guy to this day, and has always been good to me.”

Deligiannis, also a captain of the 1986 squad, concluded the remarks from the inductees.

“Coach Schindel and my teammates are a part of this tradition. It’s a great honor to be here, and I’m very proud to have been born and raised and to still live on the East side,” he said.

“I’ve had the good fortune of traveling around the world, but the things I remember are the things my coaches taught me. The memories of them have affected my life. I had a wonderful group of teammates, and am grateful for this organization.”

The East Aurora Football Old Timers — its members share a bond which will never be broken.

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