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Michael Karas Jr

Football ∙ Midland

On a cold Monday night, the 24th of November 1952, Mike Karas fielded a German Township punt, tucked the ball under his arm, and began a breathtaking run that ended 79 yards later. It was the tenth and most decisive touchdown Karas would score during his senior season, as it insured victory and helped Midland capture its first WPIAL Championship in school history. 


The Leopards, coached by John Petchel, defeated the Uhlans 14-6 for the Class A title that night; the game postponed to Monday because of poor weather and a soggy field. To this day, his teammates can still point to the blade of grass on the 21 yard line at Dormont Stadium in Pittsburgh’s South Hills where Karas began his fateful stride into sports legend. Even though he did not play a full season of basketball at Midland, Karas finished as the third highest scorer in Section VIII with 154 points during the 1952-53 season. 


 Mike attended West Virginia University to play football for one year then transferred to Geneva College where, in his first season, he completed 52 percent of his attempts going 57-104 with 4 TD strikes. He led the “Covies” in total scoring with 7 TD’s and two conversions for 44 points. Mike Karas was named Honorable Mention Little All-America and to the NAIA First Team. He was a true triple-threat with a tremendous talent for passing, running, and kicking. He also played Jayvee hoops on College Hill. Tragedy first struck Karas in July 1956, when he was critically injured; hit by a truck that broke his pelvis in four places while doing construction work near Midland. Many thought his sports career had come to an end, but Mike, despite being bedfast for months, regained his health, strength, and agility and returned to Geneva after missing a full season. In 1957, Karas surprised both physicians and fans by scoring 7 touchdowns and gaining 453 yards rushing, while passing for 3 TD’s on just 12 attempts in his comeback. He also averaged 37 yards per punt.


Karas was preparing to return to Geneva to complete his studies and his final year of eligibility in 1958 when he was tragically killed in a car crash in Brighton Township. He left behind his wife, former Miss Pennsylvania Helen Vidovich Karas and their 2-year old daughter. Mike was just 22. In the hours after the accident, Geneva Head Coach By Morgan said Karas "had more natural ability than any boy I ever coached in high school or college".