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Where are they now

Where are they now



Outstanding athletes lined the halls of the Medford High School that Ted Pappas remembers.

— Only later did Pappas realize that rare talent ruled the Black Tornado sports scene.

In those years, we were just a perennial power, says Pappas, a 1972 Medford graduate who excelled in football, basketball and track and field. We had a lot of good athletes, a lot of guys who went on to scholarships in college.

I didn't really have an appreciation until later of how rare that was. I think now, 'Wow, we had so many guys.' Six, seven, eight guys off one team would go on to college sports.

Pappas, himself, was one of those stars who ascended to the next level.

A wingback in football, forward in basketball and hurdler in track at Medford, Pappas moved on to play tight end at Stanford.

He started his senior year there and earned a spot in the Hula Bowl, an all-star game for college seniors, at season's end.

After trying out for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, Pappas left his playing days behind and earned a master's degree in theology at Cambridge University in England.

Pappas became director of education for a Presbyterian church in Seattle while also serving as an adjunct professor of Greek and Hebrew at a local theological college.

He then moved to Andover, Mass., initially to work on a doctorate degree in Semitic languages, but then finding intrigue in East Asian medicine. Now 49, Pappas is an acupuncturist and herbalist as he lives with wife Christy and 7-year-old son Walter in the suburb 25 miles north of Boston.

He does occasionally reminisce about his Medford glory days.

I look back very fondly, says Ted, who is the third of five brothers in the Pappas family. Great experiences, great memories and great friends.

Although his favorite sport as a prep was basketball ' in which he paced the team in scoring and was named second-team all-state his senior season ' a couple of Pappas' top moments came on the football field.

In 1970, his touchdown catch was the lone score in the Tornado's 7-0 state-playoff semifinal victory over Marshall.

In 1971, he heeded a sideline suggestion from brother Jon for another big play in a big game, this one against similarly undefeated Grants Pass late in the season.

Jon (a '71 Medford graduate), who was playing on scholarship for the University of Oregon, came down for that game, Ted Pappas recalls. At one point, he comes down from the stands, catches my attention and says, 'Ted, you can beat that strong safety deep.'

So the next series, I go into the huddle and tell quarterback Jeff Jones, 'Let's go with the deep route.' He does and hits me for a 65-yard touchdown. Jon called the play coming out of the stands ' only in high school.

The Tornado tied the Cavemen, 14-14, in that contest and was left out of the state playoffs despite an 8-0-1 record. Grants Pass claimed the conference's lone postseason berth on the basis of a higher yardage total in the head-to-head affair.

We were undefeated and didn't go anywhere, says Pappas, who was 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds as a Medford senior and bulked to just 215 at Stanford, where he played with current South Medford head coach Bill Singler.

Ted's brothers Alex ('77 graduate) and Chris ('79) also played football and basketball for the Tornado. Oldest brother David ('67) was the lone Pappas to steer clear of Medford High athletics.

They all made the east Medford home that mother Pearl Pappas still lives in an athletic playground.

We played indoor football in the hallway, Ted says, much to mother's chagrin.

Outstanding athletes lined that hallway, too.

Reach reporter Tim Pyle at 776-4483 or e-mail