John Franco is leaving Altoona for Tyrone again.
This time, though, the stay will be much shorter but perhaps just as important.
Franco will be speaking on behalf of the 1999 Tyrone Area High School state championship football team as it is inducted into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Blair County Convention Center.
"I think it's a neat thing to go back with those Tyrone guys," Franco said. "I'll always cherish my years at Tyrone. They were the best of my career, and my fondest memory is the 1999 state championship."
The Golden Eagles are still the only District 6 team in any classification to win a state football title. Tyrone defeated Mount Carmel, 13-6, with the help of a Tim Dry interception return for a touchdown and a late 91-yard scoring run by Jesse Jones.
Franco nearly helped Tyrone match the feat this past season as he led the Golden Eagles to their third PIAA title game in his 18 years at the school. The Eagles fell, 17-7, to Lancaster Catholic.
Scott Gummo, a player on the 1999 title team and a coach on last year's team, said there are no hard feelings toward Franco, who left Tyrone to return to his coaching roots in Altoona in late January after going 190-37 with the Golden Eagles.
"It will be the same friendship or whatever you want to call it when we see [Franco] Saturday," Gummo said. "He had to do what he had to do to support his family, and no one I've talked to holds him going back to Altoona against him."
Franco won't just be reuniting with his 1999 team Saturday. One of Tyrone's biggest boosters, Harry Sickler, has helped many of the current Golden Eagle football players get tickets for the sold-out event. More than 1,100 people are expected to attend.
"Harry Sickler in my opinion is the pillar of the Tyrone football community," Franco said. "I don't know if there is another individual in Blair County who has supported a program more than he has the Tyrone football team.
"He does so much more than anyone sees, and he is just one of those very special people that has given, given and given so much to the community."
Gummo, who will remain on Tyrone's coaching staff for the upcoming season as the offensive and defensive line coach, said the induction will only cement the 1999 team's legacy.
"The kids look up to us as the best thing ever out of Tyrone, because we won the state championship," Gummo said. "This year's team came so close, and they always want to be like the 1999 team, because we won.
"With them sitting there, watching us, it will only serve as motivation to make it back, and I feel especially after losing this past year, they'll be hungry to match us."
Past teams to be inducted in the Hall of Fame include the Cobras softball team, which won a world championship, the 1988 Altoona Area High School girls basketball team, which won a PIAA title and USA Today mythical national title, the local Altoona baseball team that won an NABF national championship and the 1984 Bishop Guilfoyle girls basketball team, which won a PIAA title.
Set for induction Saturday are former St. Francis basketball player and current Williamsburg coach Don Appleman, former Maryland football player Todd Benson, former minor league baseball player Harold "Bucky" Bush, former Duquesne University and WNBA player Candace Futrell and former Villanova basketball player Allen Griffith.
Ken Koronowski of the Altoona Area Youth Hockey Association will receive the Community Service Award, and the 2012 Hall of Fame scholarship recipients are Adena Delozier of Altoona Area High School and Matt Ritchey of Central High School.
The featured guest speaker for the evening is Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.