There was a beat up yellow folder in a beat up tan filing cabinet in a decades-old building.
Inside the folder in the cabinet in the building were some equally old papers, photos and tanned, faded newspapers.
They didn't look particularly meaningful folded up in storage, but let's take a quick look and see what they are.
About nine months ago that is exactly how I stumbled upon what might as well be sacred treasure.
The building: The Sentinel offices. The filing cabinet: the sports department's "archives." The folder: filled with four keepsake tabs on three of Carlisle's state championships ... two copies of the 1988 edition.
I think as sports staff members shuffled in and out of The Sentinel over the past three decades the folder became just an unknown piece of old work lying around. I don't believe my first boss when I started here in 2013 knew it was there. I was certainly never told about it.
I found it by simply sifting through the drawers trying to figure out what to toss and what to keep. We had just decided we were selling the building The Sentinel has called home for decades, so it was time to do a little summer cleaning.
I found a keeper.
This is how this 30th anniversary tab was born.
In these 48 pages we caught up with those people who made the historic run possible: coaches Dave Lebo and Gary Worley, All-American sensations Jeff Lebo, Billy Owens and Michael Owens (who was known more for his skills with a football), and nearly a dozen more people who played for or were around the team in the 1980s. We didn't get everyone —some were tougher to reach than others — but we talked to quite a few who had a hand in the championships.
Billy lives in Philadelphia with his last two kids in high school (pages 4-5), while the Lebos (pages 6-7) are still involved in the game that brought them close. Some of the players live nearby (Matt Smith and John Mazias, for example) and others have moved distances near (Sheldon Bream) and far (Mitch Ortiz).
I also couldn't imagine this tab, nearly 30 years to the day after the rout of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, without the words of those who watched it first-hand like former reporter Kathi Lawton, former sports editor Shelly Stallsmith and current Herd coach Andre Anderson. I owe them one more "thank you" for their time and effort, and for helping me in other ways than just writing for this project.
And just to continue the nostalgia tour, we included content from the original 1988 tab, from the game briefs from each season to stories on Orlando Roebuck's winning bucket and more. (Kathi's name shows up more than once.)
If you want the complete package from 1988, go to cumberlink.com/sports. We didn't have space for everything in these pages, but the web is infinite. Plus, there are hundreds of photos scanned from old negatives. You'll be busy for hours.
Five years ago I started at this paper right out of college; I grew up in the Lehigh Valley and had never heard of Billy Owens, much less Carlisle. One of my first assignments was to cover the 25th anniversary celebration of this very team on the first night of the Carlisle Classic.
I was intimidated and ill-prepared, despite my co-workers giving me the best crash course they could. There is just too much history for one person to learn in a night.
In the time since, I covered my own Carlisle run that captured a hint of those Owens years, with Deshawn Millington and others leading the Herd to a few PIAA appearances. (Personally, I thought they were the better team against Pine-Richland last year and should've faced Reading.)
I've learned a lot about the Lebos, Owenses and others from the 1980s covering dozens of games and talking with Kathi and others during timeouts, pregame and just on the phone.
In a way, this tab was also a learning experience for me. Re-typing thousands of words from the original tab, I became more familiar with names like Hodge, Coleman and others than I had been before.
This was a personal education.
For you, the readers, I hope it rekindles some of the passion you witnessed (for those that lived it) or makes you ask the generations before you to tell you stories (for those too young).
Here are the stories from 'Four straight in '88.'