FOOTBALL: Playing For Gorham An Unforgettable Experience For Moules
Each week, staff writer Steve Bennett is highlighting coaches, players, games and more as Coughlin, GAR and Meyers play their final seasons as separate programs.
Inside the walls of Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium, Mickey Gorham was all business when it came to football. He was meticulous, creative and well ahead of his time.
He also had a unique way of dealing with his players. If a mistake was made, sure, he’d be upset. But he had a way of cleaning things up and making sure his point was delivered.
The players loved it. Well, except for the player who made the mistake. But just like with all things, as time moves on, situations like that become talking points when Gorham’s former players all get together and talk about the old times.
“The things that last are usually with your friends,” said former Meyers great Todd Moules. “We always talk about when you made a mistake, and Mickey would say something to you that was funny. Everybody got a kick out of it. You may not have enjoyed it at the time if you were the one who made the mistake. But, it is something you talk about today when you are with your buddies.”
Moules, a two-way lineman, graduated from Meyers in 1982 and went on to have a decorated career at Penn State. While at Meyers, he was a two-time all-state selection and was selected to play in the Big 33 Game.
But the experience of playing for Gorham is not something he, or anybody that had played for the legendary coach, will ever forget.
“He was a great coach,” Moules said of Gorham, who had two stints coaching the Mohawks, the first from 1966-87 and the other for the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
“He was always a great motivator. He focused a lot on character and how to conduct yourself. Not just playing football, but how you conducted yourself in the school. He mixed in a lot of fun. It just wasn’t all work. He had a lot of fun with the guys on the team and the coaches. He always kept it interesting.”
Gorham finished his career with 153 wins, including an 11-0 season in 1974. There were just seven seasons when the Mohawks finished under .500.
As expected, Gorham had the persona of a larger-than-life figure. He grabbed your attention as soon as he walked in the locker room and maintained when it was time to get on the field. His preparation for game day was ahead of his time, and he always had a trick up his sleeve when it came to play calling, especially for the big games.
“When there were more adverse conditions, he would react the same way,” Moules said. “Those are the things you still talk about today. No matter who we were playing, we went into those games believing that we were going to win. He just had a great way of motivating his players.”
While Gorham was a stickler for discipline, he did have a soft spot for those less fortunate. A special needs teacher during his days as an educator, Gorham made sure he took care of all of his students, particularly when it came to them being involved with the program.
“What was really neat with Mickey, when he taught the special needs students, he was just incredible with all of them,” Moules said. “Just how he incorporated them into our program. No matter what kind of mood he was in, they would walk in the locker room and everything would change. He was great with those kids.”
A perfect example is a story Moules recalled about Dennis Karlheim, the longtime Meyers fan simply known as “Dennis.” Some refer to him as Mr. Mohawk, but Dennis has been a staple on the Meyers sideline for years. Never missing the big games, and always there supporting the team regardless of the record.
“I remember it was a day during the summer, probably the second session of double-sessions,” Moules said. “Mickey would hear Dennis marching down the street on the scoreboard side of the stadium. He told us to take off our helmets and take a knee. He was waiting for Dennis to make his way in the stadium. From there, Dennis would just take over practice.”
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