I’m going to take you through the entire 1974 football season for SHS, the first in the post-Willie era. As noted last time, the previous three years had seen Summit go 25-1-1 as Wilson and Co. lit it up. Coach Howie Anderson had guided the Hilltoppers to six consecutive Suburban Conference titles as well.
Summit was preseason No. 12 in the state, which proved to be a bit too ambitious, and as noted in the last installment, we lost the opener to Piscataway, 20-0. So continuing…
Game Two…Summit defeated a poor Berkeley Heights squad, 21-20; BH having been routed by New Providence 26-0 in its opener. Chuck Wiebe and Jeff Hunt had touchdown runs, and quarterback Chris Teare hooked up with Ron Paxson for another score. But the game was saved on a key sack by Dorey Facchinei as BH was threatening to take the lead. Afterward, Howie said, “I’m glad we won, but I’m not crazy about the way we did it.” Summit turned it over countless times.
Game Three: Summit loses to Madison, 50-20, as Madison has a whopping 495 yards of total offense, led by running backs Stan Jackson and Aaron Hagen. [I remember these guys.] QB Chris Teare had a “highly commendable performance” in defeat, going 10-19 for 204 yards, with TD strikes to Ron Paxon and two to Alan Wessel.
Game Four: Summit comes back from Madison drubbing to defeat West Orange, 14-8, with Wiebe and Jeff Hunt out with injuries. Teare hooked up with Alan Wessel on a 68-yard TD, and sophomore Mike Horn had a TD run, but a key was Spencer Woodbury’s interception late that set up Horn’s 1-yard score; Woodbury substituting for the injured Hunt at safety. Summit is now 2-2, 1-1 in conference play.
Game Five: Hilltoppers continue comeback on defensive end, defeating Springfield, 24-7, to go 3-2 (2-1 in conference). Chris Teare was 9-15, 98 yards, including a TD pass to Paxson. Andy Nestler had a key interception on D.
Game Six: Summit defeats Millburn, 22-20. Summit is now 4-2, 3-1. Mike Horn carried 35 times for 123 yards and 3 TDs. But Greg Steinhauser saved it on defense with a fumble recovery and blocked punt.
Game Seven: Summit lost to Caldwell, 28-8, and is now 4-3, 3-2. Teare was 13-22, 132 yards, including a TD pass to Tim O’Dell.
Game Eight: Back on track, Summit upsets previously undefeated Verona, 12-6, to go 5-3, 4-2 in Suburban Conference play as Verona and New Providence reside atop the standings at 5-1. Mike Horn had a spectacular interception that he returned for a score and then 54 seconds later, Greg Steinhauser recovered a fumble for the second touchdown. Summit only had 68 yards total offense. The Hilltoppers finished up the year at home going undefeated, 5-0. So it’s on to Turkey Day.
Game Nine: Summit gets pasted, 49-0, as New Providence gains the Suburban Conference title with 438 yards total offense, 306 on the ground. Summit had just 12 yards rushing. My good friend Paul Joyce had 3 TD passes for the Pioneers. [Paul and I were classmates at Wake Forest.] Sophomore star Ted Blackwell had 145 yards rushing for NP.
So Summit football finished the season at 5-4, 4-3 in conference play, as the program fell back to earth but certainly displayed a lot of grit.
Then there was the marching band. We were invited to play at halftime of the Nov. 24 contest between the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals up at the Yale Bowl, Giants Stadium being constructed. Back then, you’ll recall, they actually showed marching bands at halftime so we got a little national television exposure, band director Angelo Merola’s crowning achievement. Game tickets for our boosters, by the way, were only $8.
And now…Summit soccer. What a year it would be. Coming off a 11-2-1 mark in ’73 in Suburban Conference play, Coach Lou DiParisi, in his second year, set the goal of winning Summit’s first conference title in school history (amazingly). And Summit did just that.
Capturing its first SC crown, Summit went 12-1-1 behind goalie John Combias, Matt Bowyer, Don Minkler, Jim Caporaso, Doug Colson, Bob Owen, J.P. Dunne, Mike Closs, Mike Cook, Brad Evers, Jim Atwood, Phil Rogers and Jeff Smith. I apologize for those I may have missed. Speaking of Combias, Louie D. told The Herald, “He’s a helluva athlete. He’s only 5’8″ but like a cat.”
Summit was just getting started, though. In a regular season contest, out of conference, Summit tied perennial powerhouse Berkely Heights, 0-0, to prove to itself it was as good as anyone in the state.
Summit stumbled in the Union County tourney, however, losing to Westfield in the semis, 1-0. For some reason we were seeded just 7th, yet had defeated 2nd-seed Clark 1-0 the match before.
So now it was on to the state playoffs, having gone 13-2-2 in the regular season. Summit won its first two games by identical 2-0 scores. At 15-2-2, Summit had outscored its opponents 40-7, with goalie Combias having 14 shutouts.
Next up in the states, Millburn, which Summit destroyed 5-0 behind two goals by Matt Bowyer. Then it was a rematch with Berkeley Heights, and another 0-0 tie, though Summit prevailed, after the overtime periods, on corner kicks; the method for deciding ties in those days.
On to the State finals against Ewing, and Summit, after falling behind 1-0, prevailed 2-1 on Bowyer’s two goals and more stellar play on defense. It was the second state championship for Summit soccer. Coach DiParisi said afterwards, “I’m so happy, I’m speechless.” Louie gave a fiery speech during the halftime break.
So the final record was 18-2-2, with state and Suburban Conference titles, while outscoring the opposition 47-8 (Combias with 16 shutouts).
Lastly on the sports scene, the cross country team finished 12-5 in dual meets, but upset undefeated Caldwell in winning the Suburban Conference meet behind Jeff Newell, Paul Reich, Wolfgang Name, Pete Nix and Woody Cornog. [Your editor was generally 7th or 8th on the team, but a helluva cheerleader in the bigger meets that were restricted to the top five.]
It was proposed that city employee wages rise 11% in 1975, this being a time of inflation.
Republican Congressman Matthew Rinaldo bucked the trend, and the Watergate backlash, to win reelection. Summit was still a bastion of conservatism in those days. [It no longer is.]
Police had a problem keeping teens from stealing street signs. Did you have one in your room?
St. Teresa School celebrated its centennial.
At The Strand, “That’s Entertainment” and “The Trial of Billy Jack.”
Recycling of newspapers was being contemplated. I noticed a story on leaf pick-up and for those of you from outside the area I thought you might be interested to know that in New Providence, they now charge to pick up your leaves.
Jim Gwathney was getting extensive playing time for Montclair State’s football team; brother Ernie at Glassboro State. George Gross was on the Delaware football squad. Mike Reid and John Dunne were starring at Muhlenberg.
The Summit mini-bus was expanding its service.
Next installment around Jan. 20.