One of the region’s most storied football rivalries will be renewed Friday night at Trojan Stadium.
Ampipe vs. Walnut Heights.
It’s been nearly 30 years since 20th Century Fox filmed the Tom Cruise motion picture “All the Right Moves” in Johnstown. To commemorate the milestone, Johnstown High and Westmont Hilltop will take on the roles of Ampipe and Walnut Heights during a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference game at 7 p.m. Friday. This contest won’t appear in theaters, but the players, coaches and fans will resemble actors and extras who filled Point Stadium during filming in 1983.
“We’re so excited about it. It’s such a great story,” said Johnstown High coach Tony Penna Jr., who also is the school’s athletic director. “It’s hard to imagine a little town like Johnstown having two movies filmed here.”
The Paul Newman sports classic “Slap Shot” was filmed in the city in 1976 and based on the Johnstown Jets hockey team.
Seven years later, Cruise and Lea Thompson were relatively unknown actors in leading roles – Cruise as Stefan Djordjevic, the tough cornerback trying to earn a football scholarship and escape a dying steel mill town, and Thompson as his girlfriend, Lisa Lietzke, who had her own dreams of going to college to study music. Craig T. Nelson, whose credits at the time included a role in “Poltergeist,” played coach Vern Nickerson, who revived the blue-collar Ampipe program, but couldn’t find a way to defeat the affluent Walnut Heights team.
“A lot of the story lines have stayed the same 30 years later,” Penna said.
“A lot of these kids are trying to not necessarily find a way out of Johnstown, but they’re trying to find a way into college through football.”
The Trojans (1-1) will wear Ampipe black and gold uniforms while Westmont (0-2) will don the red and white Walnut Heights attire. Penna credited Sportsman’s, an athletic equipment distributor on Horner Street, for producing replica uniforms for the game.
“What a great way to celebrate the movie than to play a game to honor those two teams,” said Westmont Athletic Director Tom Callihan, who appeared in the “All the Right Moves” as an Ampipe player and had his share of close-ups and even a scene in which he showed off some dance moves.
“The teams will wear the respective uniforms,” he said. “Local sponsorship has been huge. AmeriServ is our corporate sponsor. We’ve reached out to the people who have been in the movie. The players who appeared in the movie are going to show up.”