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Settling it on the field

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Who was the best high school football team in Massachusetts in 1970?

If you lived in Lowell, there was no doubt that the Red Raiders earned that title. Under legendary coach Ray Riddick, Lowell went 9-0 and outscored their opponents by an impressive 227-40. Quincy had similar credentials, winning all nine of its games and amassed a 248-75 advantage.

Picking between those two would have been tough enough, but there was a third school who lay claim to being the top team. Brockton cruised to a 9-0 season and allowed just 53 points, while scoring 276. Current Boxer coach Peter Colombo was an eighth-grader at the time and the son of legendary coach Armond Colombo, but he fondly remembers the discussions.

“Back in those days there were no Super Bowls so the newspapers picked champions,” Colombo said. “The Globe picked Quincy and Lowell and the Herald picked Brockton. We were invited to play a team from Florida at the Gator Bowl, but the Mass. Secondary Schools Principals Association denied Brockton’s request and threatened to sanction them if they went, so we had to say no.”

That got the wheels in motion with the Boston Herald’s Bill Abramson and the Globe’s Marvin Pave putting together a proposal in September 1971 to create a playoff system. While the request was initially shot down, there was enough promise that a committee consisting of principals, athletic directors and coaches were formed to create a system which would determine a champion on the field.

The end result was the inaugural Super Bowl in 1972. There would be two Super Bowls in Eastern Mass and two more in Central/Western Mass. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl competition (although the format is in its 51st season, there were no Super Bowls in 2020 due to COVID).

Even though there was a points system in place to send the top two teams in each division to the Super Bowl, there was some drama in Div. 1. Brockton was the top-ranked team with Newton and Everett closely behind. That year, Newton was upset by Brookline on Thanksgiving, leaving Everett with the belief that they would move up to No. 2.

“In those days before computers and the internet, the only way you got results was by radio,” said John DiBiaso, a junior on that 1972 Everett team who would go on to win 14 Super Bowls as a coach at three different schools, the most recent being Catholic Memorial. “Once we got back to the school and heard the score, we were excited because we thought we were going, but Newton still finished ahead of us.”

Due to the timing of the two games at Boston University’s Nickerson Field, Swampscott earned the distinction of being the first ever Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champion, defeating Catholic Memorial, 28-21.

“It was an honor to play in that game,” Swampscott quarterback Mike Jauron said. “We were in the middle of a nice run (the Big Blue went 54-1 over a six-year stretch), we had a talented team and unusual depth considering we were from a small community. The game itself was very competitive and there are memories that we still share among teammates to this day.”

The depth Jauron referred to was never more apparent than in the backfield. Star Jeff Hegan was sidelined with an injury and Don Page stepped up and ran for 269 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

“We were just so excited to play in that game,” said halfback/defensive back Ray DiPietro. “There was always a big debate in those days as to who was the best, so it was pretty exciting to drive into the big city and play on the AstroTurf.

“It turned out to be a great game, Catholic Memorial was very good. Don was so fast that they couldn’t stop him, he was awesome that day. We had a lot of kids step up in that game and make plays.”

Fran York was an assistant coach under the legendary Stan Bondelevitch. He knew the Big Blue was special, something which hasn’t diminished over time.

“It started with Stan Bondelevitch,” York said. “He was a great coach, he was the boss, he was a believer in one-for-all, all-for-one. Those teams had such great camaraderie, they were a special group and it was such an exciting time to play in the very first bowl game.”

Ronnie Perry Jr. was a kicker and punter on the 1972 team. A multi-sport superstar at the school (Perry would go on to play basketball and baseball at Holy Cross), Perry remembered that it was a terrific game between two talented teams.

“We were a really good team, our quarterback Joe O’Brien was a tremendous athlete who went on to play at BC,” said Perry, whose team won a Super Bowl title a year later. “Dave Singleton was an excellent running back who went to Harvard and Paul Ragucci was a tough north and south runner.”

There was some talk that Brockton didn’t want to play Newton, having already beaten them 35-0 during the regular season. Colombo said that was not true and they knew the Newton team they would face in the Div. 1 Super Bowl was much improved as evidenced by the narrow 16-14 win.

“I remember Newton had Cal Moffie at quarterback and Jerry Kelliher at running back and he could scoot,” said Colombo, who threw for a touchdown and booted a 27-yard field goal. “It was a grueling season and I still remember hugging my dad after we picked off a pass to ice the game. It was a phenomenal feeling and still is to this day.”

As for the Central Mass./Western Mass. Super Bowls at Springfield College, Mike LaSorsa ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns as Fitchburg defeated Greenfield 22-6 in the Div. 1 championship game. Rand Willard’s 30-yard field goal with eight seconds left, coming after he picked off a pass moments earlier, gave East Longmeadow a 10-7 win over Shrewsbury in the Div. 2 title game.

 

DIV. 1 EMASS SUPER BOWL

BROCKTON 16, NEWTON 14

Dec. 2, 1972 – At Nickerson Field, Boston University

Brockton (10-0) 7 3 0 6 – 16

Newton (8-3)     0 0 7 7 – 14

BR – John Ingram 47 pass from Peter Colombo (Colombo kick)

BR – Colombo 27 field goal

NE – Jerry Kelliher 45 run (Bill Steinberg kick)

BR – Ingram 1 run (kick failed)

NE – Ron Wilson 50 pass from Cal Moffie (Steinberg kick)

DIV. 2 EMASS SUPER BOWL

SWAMPSCOTT 28, CATHOLIC MEMORIAL 21

Dec. 2, 1972 – At Nickerson Field, Boston University

Swampscott (10-0)        7 7 7 7 – 28

Catholic Memorial (9-1) 6 8 0 7 – 21

SW – Don Page 42 run (Mike Jauron kick)

CM – Dave Singleton 13 run (kick failed)

CM – Singleton 23 pass from Joe O’Brien (O’Brien run)

SW – Page 42 run (Jauron kick)

SW – Pete Cassidy 2 run (Jauron kick)

SW – Scotty MacCallum 29 pass from Jauron (Jauron kick)

CM – O’Brien 6 run (Ron Perry kick)

DIV. 1 CMASS/WMASS SUPER BOWL

FITCHBURG 22, GREENFIELD 6

Dec. 2, 1972 – At Benedum Field, Springfield College

Fitchburg (9-1-0)  8 8 0 6 – 22

Greenfield (7-2-1) 0 6 0 0 – 6

FI – Mike LaSorsa 2 run (LaSorsa run)

GR – Dave Dauvadjian 26 run (pass failed)

FI – Jim Katon 26 pass from Bob Wotton (LaSorsa run)

FI – LaSorsa 12 run (kick failed)

DIV. 2 CMASS/WMASS SUPER BOWL

EAST LONGMEADOW 10, SHREWSBURY 7

Dec. 2, 1972 – At Benedum Field, Springfield College

East Longmeadow (10-0) 0 7 0 3 – 10

Shrewsbury (8-2)              0 7 0 0 –  7

EL – Gary Kane 5 run (Rand Willard kick)

SH – Jim Catanzaro 74 run (Bob Campbell kick)

EL – Willard 30 field goal

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