“Mr. High School Sports” – Special Report: “Broadway Joe’s” High School Coach Dead at 88

By Matt Popchock

Former Beaver Falls head football coach Larry Bruno, a member of the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame, died Thursday morning of natural causes at the age of 88.

Bruno retired in 1979 and was inducted into the Hall that same year after 30 years of coaching WPIAL football.  He spent a decade as head coach at old Monaca High School 1949-58 before serving the same position at Beaver Falls 1959-78.

In 1960 Bruno’s Tigers team, led by senior quarterback and future Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath, went 10-0 and earned a WPIAL championship by virtue of being the only undefeated and untied team in its classification (this was before the district’s modern playoff system was in place).  When Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, it was Bruno who presented him.

Bruno’s 1961 Beaver Falls squad also compiled an undefeated record but missed the playoffs by virtue of rules at the time concerning Gardner Points.  His last WPIAL title shot would come in his farewell season in ’78, when his team reached the Class AA Championship game before losing to Knoch.

He retired with an all-time record of 186-85-15 over three decades, including 134 wins with the Tigers.

(Special thanks to the Post-Gazette and the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame for their contributions to this post.)

  • Pat Belculfine

    Larry coached the best hight school quarterback (Joe Namath) that I have seen play in Western PA and I’ve seen many games during my 66 years. They could have played a College Team and beat them with that squad.

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