Monday, December 01, 2008

Former classmate Dick Popowski dies at age 62

JAMESTOWN, New York, USA - Dan Beckstrom sent along the sad news that Dick Popowski, a classmate of ours who disappeared from our class around 7th grade or so, has passed away.

Dick Popowski was a friend of mine when we were in 6th grade, as he was with Dan Beckstrom. I lost track of Dick while we were in junior and senior high school until the late 1960s when I ran into him at the Hideaway Restaurant on Fairmont Avenue when I dropped in for a beer.

Dick told me an incredibly funny - and pretty filthy - joke about a dog.

I still tell it occasionally, though my wife is furious when I do tell it in mixed company. (No, not people and dogs...)

I sometimes wonder about other classmates who have disappeared at some juncture. Somehow Dick Popowski led me to thing about a fellow named Dan Ryan... I remember him playing football and also spending part of a season on the wrestling team.

Below is Dick Popowski's obituary from the Post Journal.

Obituary from the Jamestown Post Journal

Richard F. Popowski, 62, of 37 McKinley Ave., Jamestown passed away at 11:14 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 29, 2008) in WCA Hospital after a brief illness.

A life long area resident he was born June 22, 1946, in Jamestown, the son of the late Chester F. and Doris M. Silk Popowski.

Richard attended Southwestern High School and was currently employed by Ohio State Security, Bush Industries.

He loved to spend time with family and friends, and his dog Brandi. He also loved fishing, woodworking, baseball and was an avid Red Sox fan. Richard will be sadly missed by his family and by all who knew him.

Surviving are a sister, Diane Rickard of Pensacola, Fla.; two brothers, Douglas Popowski and Scott Popowski, both of Jamestown; a niece, Robin Curtis of Celoron; a nephew, Randall Rickard of Pensacola, Fla.; and a grandnephew Matthew Rickard.

He was preceded in death by his father on Jan. 4, 1976 and his mother on May 24, 2002.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Falconer Funeral Home. The Rev. Robert Lewis will officiate.

The family will receive friends one hour prior to the memorial service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be donate to the Chautauqua County Humane Society, 2825 Strunk Road, Jamestown, NY 14701.

SWCS wins state football championship



Best In The State

Southwestern Cruises To Class C Crown

By Scott Kindberg
POSTED: November 30, 2008
SYRACUSE - Southwestern linebacker Ryan Buzzetto couldn't describe it.

Croton-Harmon coach John Catano was at a loss for words, too.

But, courtesy of a 70-second stretch in the second quarter in which they scored three touchdowns, the top-ranked Trojans seized control of Saturday's New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship football game en route to a dominating, 35-7, victory over the Tigers at the Carrier Dome.

''In a game like this, momentum is going to be a killer,'' Southwestern coach Jay Sirianni said. ''We grabbed it and didn't let go of it.''

As a reward, the Trojans returned home with a plaque that signifies them as the best Class C team in the state.

No one would dispute it.

Junior running back Zack Sopak, the game's Most Valuable Player, threw for two touchdowns and ran for one; sophomore John Mistretta, the most valuable offensive back, rushed for 92 yards and a score; and the defense did the rest to secure Southwestern's first state football title.

''This is for every person who ever played at Southwestern,'' Trojans coach Jay Sirianni said. ''That's what makes it special for me.''

There was nothing particularly special early on as the game was scoreless in the first quarter. The Trojans - behind the running of Sopak, Mistretta, junior Levi Bursch and senior Eric Mazgaj - mounted a 10-play, 64-yard drive, capped by Sopak's 20-yard touchdown pass to Bursch in the right flat. Senior Dan Imfeld, who had missed a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter, booted the first of five successful extra-point tries to give Southwestern a 7-0 lead with 6:36 remaining in the first half.

It didn't take long for the Trojans to find the end zone again.

How does 14 seconds sound?

On the first play from scrimmage, the Tigers fumbled, thanks to a hit from junior defensive end Corey Carlson. Buzzetto scooped up the loose ball and sped 29 yards for the touchdown, pushing Southwestern's lead to 14-0.

''It's one of the greatest feelings I've ever had,'' said Buzzetto, who led the Trojans with 10 tackles, including two for losses, one forced fumble and one sack. ''It came right to me.''

Added Carlson: ''I could not wipe that smile off my face.''

But there was more where that came from.

See CLASS C, Page C-2

From Page C-1

On the ensuing kickoff, Croton-Harmon fumbled again, Southwestern senior John Volpe recovered and, two plays later, Sopak connected with senior Andy Lata on an 11 yard TD strike.

In 1:10, Southwestern had scored three times.

''In a game like this, you can't have turnovers,'' Catano said. ''Unfortunately, we were on the receiving end.''

The Trojans' defense saw to that.

Armed with a 21-0 lead by halftime, the kids in red and white punished Tigers' quarterback Nick Mainiero and three other running backs, holding them to 199 yards in total offense, 48 of which came on a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

''It's true what they say,'' Sirianni said. ''Defense wins championships and we had the defense to do it.''

Sopak and Mistretta added second-half touchdowns, pushing the lead to 35-0 with just under eight minutes remaining in the game.

For Mistretta, who averaged 9.2 yards per carry, it was especially gratifying.

''I told him that he had to go out and run with no worries,'' Sirianni said. ''On the biggest stage in New York, you have to run like this is your last game and, fortunately for us, he's got two years left.''

Added Mistretta: ''To have a couple carries the last couple games and then to come back with 10 carries feels great. To come out on top feels even better.''

Having that winning feeling again is not a reach. In fact, with many of the top players returning next year, it's not inconceivable that the Trojans could be back at the Carrier Dome a year from now.

One of the returning players will be Sopak, who has been named an MVP each of his last three playoff games. Against Croton-Harmon, he completed 5-of-7 passes for 92 yards and rushed 12 times for 77 yards.

''It's not all me,'' he said. ''I have a great supporting cast around me, but when the game's on the line I know I have to make plays.''

The ability to make plays - on both sides of the ball - was common for Southwestern.

''We came out and proved that we should be No. 1 in the state,'' Sopak said.

When asked how he feels about having two champs in the same Chautauqua County neighborhood - nearby Maple Grove crushed Moriah, 55-7, for the Class D crown - Sopak smiled.

''It's a huge deal for Chautauqua County,'' he said. ''We both had great teams this year and we could have great teams next year, too.''

NOTES: Croton-Harmon's lone touchdown came when Mainiero hit Joe Tralli for a 48-yard touchdown pass with 4:30 remaining in the game. ... Other award winners were Bursch and Mainiero, sportsmanship; Southwestern's Drew Merchant, most valuable offensive lineman; Buzzetto, most valuable defensive lineman; and Moriah's Tom Moore, most valuable defensive back.