|Ken Brown of the Melrose High School class of 1984 has been working hard on putting together a website detailing the history of Melrose Football.
He is looking for information, photos, and more.
Here is a link to the site he has created and what he's accomplished thus far.
Please contact Ken if you can assist him in this project.
MELROSE FOOTBALL HISTORY
Under the direction of Head Coach Tim Morris, the Red Raiders will be entering their 94th year of varsity football at Melrose High School.
The high school building, which was originally located at the site of the former Coolidge School on Main Street, opened just after the turn of the century. Although, by 1903 informal club football was being played at Pine Banks Park, using volunteer coaches, it wasn’t until 1911 that official coaches were hired, and a regular scheduled was established. A new Suburban League was organized, comprised of teams representing Wakefield, Malden and Medford. Games were played on a regular home and away rotation.
In 1920, a new Mystic Valley League was established, and Theodore Bullen was appointed Head Coach of the Melrose High team.
The next significant milestone for high school sports in the city came about 1925, when a new athletic field was dedicated on Tremont Street by Clarence DMar, the prominent marathoner, who was a Melrose native. This field extended along Tremont Street in a north to south direction, and was surrounded by a regulation 440 yard track, with a baseball diamond as the north end.
The legendary Harold Poole, who was to become the winningest coach in Melrose High history, took over the team in1926, and over the next 18 years established an enviable record of success winning championships in 1931, ’32. ’34, ’37, ’40 and ’43. Three of Coach Poole’s teams were undefeated.
David Gavin assumed the coaching reigns of the Melrose High team in 1944, winning the championship in his first season and again in 1946.
Tragedy struck the MHS football program in 1946 when the untimely death of a fine young athlete, Fred Green, was fatally injured in a game near the end of the season and died two days later. In spite of this tragic loss of their teammate, the outstanding ’46 team dedicated their season to their fallen teammate and went on to win the Class A Championship. Although they were invited to participate in a post season game in the Miami Orange Bowl, the team declined the invitation due to the death of Fred Green. This incident seemed to put a cloud over the program for the next 4 years.
The beginning of a new era for MHS football came about in 1954, when Joe ‘Buc” Austin became the head coach and led his team to its first winning season in 7 years. Coach Austin left Melrose after only 2 years to become the coach of Maine’s Bridgton Academy. Note, Coach Austin’s son, Tom Austin, coached our current coach Tim Morris, at Bridgton Academy. After Coach Austin’s departure, his assistance, Jack Walsh, took over the team for the next few years, during which Melrose entered the newly formed Middlesex League in 1957.
With the arrival, in 1958, of Coach Joe Hoague from Natick High, high school football in Melrose changed dramatically. Coach Hoague lost no time in leading his new charges to the 1959 Middlesex league and a Class “B” Title. Continuing in his winning ways, Melrose garnered the league championship again in 1963, as well as the league and Class “B” championship in 1967. Melrose was co-champs in the Middlesex League with Reading in 1967, and with Stoneham in 1973. In 1977, the “Red Raider” squad completed a successful (9-1) season, losing only to Watertown 9 to 6. Coach Morris, a 3-year two-way starter for Coach Hoague was a member of this team.
Before his retirement, Coach Hoague achieved a combined record of 200 victories as a high school football coach at Melrose, Natick and Taunton High Schools and received a deserved recognition by his induction into the Massachusetts Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Bruce MacPherson, who enjoyed success coaching the New Bedford High School football team, came to the local scene in 1980, leading the team in the 80’s and early 90’s. MacPherson, enjoyed quick success, capturing a three-way share of the Middlesex League crown during the 1981 season with a record of 7-3. The highlight of Coach Mac’s Melrose coaching career came in 1982 when Melrose shared the Middlesex League title with Woburn and was selected for its first Division I Super Bowl appearance against a formidable opponent in Natick High School. In what many described as the best High School football game ever played in Massachusetts, Melrose was defeated by a close 35 to 34 margin at Foxboro Stadium.
In 1988 Melrose again shared the Middlesex league championship honors, this time with Lexington. In 1993 Coach Mac resigned in his coaching position to accept the position of Director of Health at Dennis-Yarmouth High School on Cape Cod and to continue coaching as an assistant at that school.
Coach MacPherson’s long-time assistant, Tim Morris, was selected as new Head Coach at Melrose High School. Coach Morris became the first former MHS player to assume the head football coaching position at his alma mater.
In 1994, in his first year at the football coaching helm of Melrose High School, Coach Morris, achieved an impressive record of 7 wins and 3 losses with a young, untried team. The remarkable performance of this squad throughout the fall brought about renewed pride and resurgence of spirit to the school and Melrose community.
The Raiders were 6-4 in 1995 and the excitement continued as the Melrose offense was brought to new heights by Coach Morris, the arm of Liam McNeilly, and a core of outstanding receivers led by Jonathan Troy. The 1996 team had many close, tough games and finished 4-5-1. The 1997 was a young team that showed steady improvement and, despite a record of 2-8-1; many younger players saw plenty of playing time.
The 1998 Red Raiders went 8-2 and were the top ranked defense in the Middlesex League. Offensively, Melrose had a strong ground game that scored 234 points along with a stingy defense that allowed only 97 points. Melrose had several league All-Stars include Joe Merrick and junior tailback George LeBlanc, who rushed for over 1,100 yards that season. Tim Morris received “Coach of the Year” honors and was also selected as the Head Coach for the Shriners Football Classic.
As forecasted in preseason predictions, the 1999 MHS team demonstrated consistent football excellence throughout the fall to dominate their Middlesex League opponents. On Thanksgiving Day, the undefeated Red Raiders faced their traditional rival, Wakefield High, which was also undefeated. The game ended in a hard-fought 14 to 14 tie and both ended up being Co-Champions in the Middlesex League.
After the undefeated 1999 season, the Red Raiders were 2 and 8 in 2000, 3-6-1 in and 4-7 in 2003. The 2003 season featured many close games as a young Red Raiders team gained valuable experience going 3-8. In 2004 the Red Raiders, posted a very impressive 9 and 1 record and captured sole position of the coveted Middlesex League Championship. Also, for the first time in over 20 years, the Red Raiders made a visit to the post season where they faced a formidable opponent in Chelmsford. Despite the disappointing 22 to 19 loss, the Red Raiders season was an overwhelming success with 11 players earning Middlesex League all-star honors and Coach Morris being named the Middlesex League Coach of the year.
The Red Raiders went 4-5 and 4-6 in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The 2006 team captain, Jonathan Needham became the first player since Doug Prentice in 1983 to earn a scholarship to a Division 1A school.
1966 Middlesex League Championship Team
This year marks the 40th reunion of the Melrose High School Class of 1967, a class that included 14 seniors that captured Middlesex League Championship in the fall of 1966.
In their drive to the league championship that fall, the team stormed undefeated through their first six opponents, outscoring them by 188 to 88, while amassing an incredible 330 yds. per game average in total offense under legendary Joe Hoague.
The Red Raiders’ record was 8-1, with the sole blemish being a 1 point setback, 15-14, to Reading in the 7th game as a result of an extra point kick after they had tied the score early in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately for the locals, Melrose had possession just inside the Reading 20 yard line when the first half ended, and was also battling back at mid-field when the final gun sounded.
The offensive line for this high-powered machine was anchored at right tackle by All Middlesex League , All-Scholastic, and future Melrose High Hall of Famer, John ‘Jake’ Driscoll, son of the well-liked assistant Coach, Jackie Driscoll, who worked with the backs on both sides of the ball. The starting center was Rick Rudolph, a 3 year starter, also named to the All Middlesex league team, whose son, Trevor, is currently an assistant on current head coach, Tim Morris’ staff.
The left side of the offensive line was bolstered by seniors, Vic Leone at left tackle and Pete Saunders at left guard, with junior Alan Chasse also getting plenty of action. At right guard was junior Billy Marcoux. Billy worked in tandem with Jake to open holes on the right side of the line for a ‘quick hitter’ that often resulted in a first down when we needed it most, or a to cap off a scoring drive near the opponent’s goal line.
Claude Croston served as the motivating, assistant coach of the linemen, and he always taught that games are ‘won’ or ‘lost’ at the line of scrimmage. At right end was another senior, sure-handed Bill Greeley, who caught a number of passes for big gains in crucial situations and was a hard-nosed blocker on that side of the line. Both Bill Greeley and junior, Mark Miliotis, who saw considerable action on both sides of the ball, are members of The Melrose Hall of Fame, as State Basketball Champions of 1967.
The left end position was capably handled by a rising star in sophomore, Walter Conway, the first freshman player Coach Hoague had ever elevated to the varsity in his career in the previous season.
Local sports writers at the time referred to these Melrose players as ‘iron men’ because of their size, and because 9 of the 11 starters were seniors who went both both ways. They pointed out that Jake was 6’3” and 260 lbs, and noted that he had already set a state record on the shot put earlier that year. But the most explosive part of this team was in the backfield where opponents had to face 4 experienced seniors who had all seen extensive action as sophomores and juniors.
The quarterback was David Sheridan, son of the then Saugus coach, former Melrose and Holy Cross star, Walter Sheridan, who is now a Melrose Hall of Fame Member. Dave completed about 60% of his passes for 600 yds., for 5 TD’s, with an 18 yd./completion average, and ran for another 116, with a ‘whopping’ 72 yds. on only 4 carries against Wakefield on the highly successful qb run/pass play.
Dave had a bevy of speed-burning running backs led by Dick Umile, another All Middlesex League selection, and also a Melrose Hall of Fame Member for his well earned and well-known success on both the gridiron and the ice.
Umile, now the head coach of the Hockey East powerhouse, UNH hockey team, gained over 900 yds. on 90 carries, for a 10 yd./per carry average, and 78 points, scored 7 touchdown runs of 50 yds. or more during the season, including a 51 yd. scamper also against Wakefield. It stood as the go ahead score in the 3rd period of the all-important Thanksgiving Day game which the Red Raiders won, 22-12, to seal the Middlesex League Championship.
On top of that, Dick led the Middlesex League with 9 interceptions. Brian Berkowitz, the 165 lb. fullback, gained 515 yds. on 85 carries for a 6 yd./carry average, but that’s all he needed because we always went to ‘Berky’ when the going got tough down on the goal-line.
Coach Hoague would call the same off-tackle dive play on the right side of the line behind the power of Driscoll, Marcoux, and Rudolph, with Greeley coming in from his right end position to take out a linebacker. This play was so successful that ‘Berky’ finished the season as the 2nd leading scorer in the state with 132 points.
The 4th member of the backfield was the ‘diminutive dynamo’, Bobby Ciulla, who had seen extensive action in his sophomore and junior seasons so he was a seasoned runner. Bobby gained 600 yds. on 90 carries and scored 18 points for the Red Raiders, including a 44 yd. touchdown run against Reading after Umile had recovered an on-side kick to start the 2nd half.
Unheralded during the season, but certainly appreciated by their teammates were 5 seniors, linemen Bobby Lynch, Wayne LeBlanc, Bill McKenna, and backs Kevin Greelish and Don Belmonte who provided much needed backup support on both sides of the ball and also on special teams. They were steady, determined players, and they stepped up when they were needed.
There were several other juniors who saw action during the season as well. They include: George Hormel, son of team physician, Dr. George Hormel, Alex Paone, Bill Ferreira, John MacDougal, Ed Charlton, Paul Rahilly, Steve Andrews, Mike Sullivan, Matt Cassis, Richard Merrick, Richard Laine, Arthur Hartigan, Ken Malenchini, and sophomores, Steve Murphy, Martin Stanton, and Doug Searles, and freshman, Tony Depaulo.
The other coaches who rounded out the staff were: Paul Bean, Louis Blastos, Bob McIntyre, Phil Burr, Bill Reynolds, and Tony DeTeso.
While several of the members of the Class of ’67 have remained close friends over the last 40 years, we all still get together for our reunions every five years when we can re tell old stories of those glory days, but there really isn’t much room left for exaggeration after all these years.
Besides, this team let their unselfish play do their talking for them in the fall of 1966.