LEWISTON — At game’s end, John Tewhey didn’t truly know the piece of history he had been given.

The starting Lewiston lineman was awarded the game ball that day after his Blue Devils had beaten their rivals from Edward Little.

“Every senior picked a game to get the game ball,” said Tewhey. “I got the game ball after the last day of the season.”

Lewiston won the Class A state championship that fall afternoon in 1960. Only the team didn’t know it at the time. It would be the third in the school’s history within 10 years.

There were no cell phones back then. There was no Twitter, email or instant updates. Instead, in 1960, the Blue Devils had to wait for other scores around the state to determine how their 8-1 record stood up.

“We didn’t have playoffs back then,” said Tewhey, one of the latest inductees to the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame. “It was just who had the best record. It turned out that we had the best record. So we were the state champs.”

It took some time that day to see what other teams did to confirm the 1960 state championship. Lewiston had lost to St. Louis, of Biddeford, earlier in the year but finished the season strong.

“We didn’t know after the game because a number of things had to happen,” said Tewhey. “There were other teams that had to win or lose in order for us to have the best record.”

Though state championship memorabilia can often be found in a school’s trophy case, that game ball from the state championship has been on display in Tewhey’s house in Gorham.

“I painted the words State Champs 1960 on it and had team members sign the ball,” said Tewhey. “It’s been sitting on my shelf for 51 years. I’m glad to have it.”

That ball and that championship season symbolizes the athletic upbringing that Tewhey was part of as a young boy in Lewiston. His family and friends were all involved in sports. It was the thing to do. It not only became part of his development but part of who he became as an adult.

“Having Norm Parent as a head coach for three years was a real pleasure,” said Tewhey of his Lewiston football coach. “He was a tough guy, but he let you know exactly where you stood. He demanded a lot from his players. He used to talk about his war experiences, and he used to talk about the significance of marriage and family. He was a great influence.”

Sports was part of Tewhey’s family life before he was even born. His father Bill was an athlete as were his uncles, John and Dick Tewhey.

“They were all big sports guys at Lewiston High School in football, baseball and basketball. So my father introduced us to all the sports, and we all picked our sports.”

Between himself and his brothers Peter and Steve, they were all active in sports as kids.

“We all grew up knowing that my father and his brothers were always involved in sports,” said Tewhey. “Our yard was always full of baseball and football games. It was kind of a tradition. We were aware of what the generation ahead of us had done. We were involved also because of the influence they had on us growing up.”

Tewhey played a variety of sports as a kid, but when he got to high school, he stuck to football and golf.

“It was about athletic talent,” said Tewhey of playing primarily football. “You have to limit yourself to what your talents are, and my talents were as a lineman, which doesn’t say a hell of a lot for my athletic prowess.”

His father was a quarterback and halfback, but both Tewhey and his younger brother Steve, already a member of the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame, became linemen.

“I didn’t have the speed and agility,” said Tewhey. “So both my brother and I became linemen.”

Tewhey found a way to add some skill to his position. He became the team’s kicker as well. He was influenced by watching Lewiston lineman Mike Masselli succeed as a kicker and figured he could do the same.

“I used to go to Lewiston High School football games and became aware that lineman could be kickers,” said Tewhey. “So I used to practice kicking the ball over my garage roof. I got pretty good at it. In my junior year, Norm Parent let me kick extra points.”

Much of that Lewiston team had the same roots and upbringing as Tewhey. As each season went by the team got better and better.

“Many of the guys on that team grew up together and played sandlot baseball and football together,” said Tewhey. “In our junior year, I think our record was 6-1-2. That wasnt’ bad, but we thought we could do better, and we went 8-1.”

Though there wasn’t a playoff system back then, the team played the home stretch of the regular season knowing that a championship was within their reach.

“Every game was important,” said Tewhey. “We had great coaches in Norm Parent, Bob Provencher, Andy Shapiro and Dick Gibson. Three of those guys, Parent, Shapiro and Gibson are all member of the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame.”

One of those teammates was Louis Talarico, whose son is being inducted at this Sunday’s banquet as well.

After Lewiston, Tewhey chose Colby over Bowdoin and was a double major in geology and chemistry. He played four years of football at Colby and worked his way into a young lineup. Back then, Colby played both UNH and Maine. They didn’t beat either when Tewhey was there as a linebacker, guard and center.

“Colby didn’t have a great record,” said Tewhey, who lettered three years at Colby. “We tried hard and had a small team. There were a lot of Maine guys on the team. Now Colby is mainly guys from Massachusetts and other players and only a few Maine guys.”

After Colby, his football career ended. He has remained active playing golf and even did some teaching and coaching of his three daughters, Kathryn, Meridith and Allison, when they were kids. Now he follows the athletic exploits of his grandchildren.

He was in the Air Force for three years and earned a PHD at Brown. After living in California for six years, he returned to Maine. He consulted for E.C. Jordan for a six years before starting his own firm Tewhey Associates in Gorham 26 years ago.

Though he’s far removed from his Lewiston childhood and his championship season, those experiences are still part of him. Between his game ball, trips back home or reunions with former classmates and teammates, those days remain to be relived over and over again. He recently attended a 50-year reunion with his class at Lewiston.

“Even though some of them I had not seen in 50 years, you just take off with your conversation and interaction as if you’d never been apart,” said Tewhey. “You build relationships and friendships that continue for a long time.”

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