A quickie just to get our senior year going…the high school football season started late back in our day, like Sept. 27. Currently, Summit, as you see from the home page, played its first game on Sept. 11. Of course we didn’t have state playoffs to schedule around when we were in school.
So in the second, post-Willie Wilson, George Gross, and Ernie Gwathney season, Summit was coming off a 5-4, 4-3 Suburban Conference, campaign and coach Howie Anderson wasn’t particularly optimistic, even with 17 starters returning on offense and defense. We were very small, with just one or two players at 200 lbs. Among the names on defense were Mike Bormann, Tim Williams, Phil DeFranco, Scott Leisher, Rick Gross, Rob Guida, Frank Rea, Ron Paxson, Jeff Hunt, Mike Horn and Spencer Woodbury.
On offense, Chris Teare was the quarterback as Anderson said of him, “He’s tall, has a good arm and is a good field general.” That’s our boy! At running back were Horn (the only player who started out playing both ways), Kevin Kline, Kevin Phelan, Andy Nestler and Ron Ruppert. The offensive line featured Herb Mardany, Pete Wallburg, Jim Weatherstone, Craig Curtiss, and Chris Ruhnke, with Alan Wessel at tight end and Tim O’dell at wide receiver. [These were the names in the Herald early on…others will be worked in as the season progresses.]
So Summit squared off against mighty Westfield in the first game. Under coach Gary Kehler, Westfield was 51-1-2 the past six seasons, and 110-10-6 overall under him. Heck, Westfield had 90 guys go out for the team.
But Summit lost by only a 7-0 score, as the Hilltoppers actually dominated the first half, only to have Westfield engineer an 88-yard TD drive in the second. Nonetheless, especially with the contest being in Westfield, it was a very solid Summit effort.
In the second game, Summit rolled over Berkeley Heights 27-0, as Chris Teare hooked up on 50- and 30-yard scoring strikes with Kevin Phelan and Alan Wessel. Andy Nestler took it in from 2 yards out, and Phelan had a 7-yard TD run. All in all, a good start.
As for the Boys Soccer team, they were coming off an all-world season, with Summit going 22-2 in 1974 and capturing both the Group 3 championship and its first ever Suburban Conference title. Prospects were not real strong for coach Louis DiParisi’s boys, however, as virtually all the big stars graduated. But the team nonetheless started off 2-0-1, in defeating West Orange 3-0 (goals scored by Dave Constant, Mike Cook and Rob Steele), a 0-0 tie with Caldwell, and a 1-0 win over Millburn (Jeff Smith with the tally). Jeff Williams was in goal, replacing the graduated John Combias.
And the Cross Country team was also entering the 1975 season as defending Suburban Conference titleholders. The top runners were seniors Jeff Newell, Wolfgang Name, Paul Reich, and Woody Cornog for coach Tom Washburn’s harriers. [Washburn was a very good man…fond memories of the guy.] Matt Fretague, Tim McMahon and Jim Gibbons were expected to contribute, while your editor normally was the 7th or 8th runner in most races, and a helluva cheerleader. And after our first five meets, we were 5-0.
In early September, there was a tragic auto accident in Chatham that claimed the life of a very well known Summit high school alum, who had just attended the wedding of his brother. You’ll appreciate why I don’t want to give names, but it might jog one or two of your memories.
At The Strand during this time… “The Wind and the Lion,” with Sean Connery and Candace Bergen; “The Drowning Pool” with Paul Newman; and “The Fortune,” with Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.
The Board of Education was wrangling with the teachers union over a new contract.
Next installment, Nov. 17.