John T. Tunnell
John Tunnell, a 1960 Conestoga graduate, lettered all three years that he played varsity football. As a senior, he was a first-team selection to the All Ches-Mont Team, The Main Line Times All-Star Team, and the Philadelphia Area All-Scholastic Team. According to sportswriter Jack Ryan of the Philadelphia Bulletin, “Tunnell is the best back in the Bux-Mont League.”
Tallying 84 points on 14 touchdowns, John was the co-champion in individual scoring during the 1959 season. His running style was described as “swift and hard running.” John combined with fellow “assistant” backfield partner Dave Thornton to form the dynamic duo the “T Twins.”
Even in 1959 game recap, John already had the nickname that many of us felt naturally calling him many years later: “Big John set Downingtown on its heels by returning the game-opening kick-off 78 yards. Later, he raced 71 yards around the left end for the clinching score.”
John continued his football career at California University of Pennsylvania.
John worked many years for S.M.S/Siemens and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and in retirement, became a crossing guard at T-E Middle School and Valley Forge Elementary—those children were in good hands!
To many of us, Big John was the most “moral” person we knew. John always gave the invocation and benediction at our banquets, not because he could, but because we all knew it meant more coming from him. Not surprising, John was very active in his church where he sang in the male choir. He is a past president of our Association and a long-time Board member. John took governing our Association seriously and never missed a Board meeting. His quiet advice was always on point and invaluable to the rest of us. John was a lifelong fan of the Conestoga program and could always be found at every home game standing against the fence near the home gate.
Unfortunately, John passed away in the fall of 2017. Many friends, colleagues, family, and fellow Board members wanted to honor Big John and his love of Conestoga Football by establishing the John T. Tunnell Scholarship which will be given to a senior who through his football and scholastic ability, his outstanding character, and his loyalty to his coaches, faculty, teammates, and classmates has made an indelible contribution to Conestoga High School.