Archbishop Kennedy - Just Once More
Just Once More
Just one more time I’d like to see Jim Sheedy, line up in the backfield at the Conshohocken “A” Field, split to the left of quarterback John Boudreau, the sun disappearing over the “A” Field scoreboard, on a cool October evening, the Kennedy cheerleaders belting out the same old tune, “TOUCHDOWN, TOUCHDOWN, GoooooooooSAINTS.” The defenders have their eye on Sheedy, after all they are well aware the skinny kid could run, they scouted the Kennedy team well, on any sweep, if you didn’t cut Sheedy off, he’d be gone down the sideline.
Among the crowd noise, the cheerleaders chanting, and defensive linebacker shouting “WATCH THE SWEEP, WATCH THE SWEEP,” the ball is snapped, Boudreau runs left through the backfield, hands to Sheedy, looks like another sweep, but Sheedy cuts into the line off tackle, and inside reverse, he sheds one defender, breaks right and streaks down the sideline for a 45 yard gain. The Saints line up over the ball, Sheedy split to the quarterbacks left, with the snap of the ball Boudreau runs over to Sheedy, but this time the gig is up, there are four defenders waiting outside, and another four defenders just waiting for Sheedy off tackle, they swarm to Sheedy but he doesn’t have the ball, Boudreau would be Moon Walking down the left sideline good for another 18 yards, the defenders would be yelling over to the sideline “what do you want us to do, what do you want us to do.”
In 1981, the Archbishop Kennedy Saints posted a perfect 10-0 record, they won the Bicentennial League Championship and were ranked as one of the best football teams in the area. In the opening game of the 1981 season Kennedy allowed 21 points in their victory over Harrington, In the following two games against Wilmington Friends and Chestnut Hill Academy the Saints didn’t allow a point. In their next two victories Kennedy allowed a touchdown to Springfield and another the following week in their win over Morrisville. Morrisville took a lead with their lone touchdown 7-6 that lead lasted for one play when on the ensuing kickoff Kip Kelly raced 75 yards helping the Saints to a 21-7 victory. As for Sheedy, he was only averaging 141 rushing yards per game but Morrisville had Sheedy’s number, they just ran at him whether he had the ball or not and held him to 55 yards on the ground. With Sheedy taking the night off Boudreau hit six timely passes, John Streeper, Shaffer and Hollingsworth picked up the ground game for the victory.
The Bicentennial League was a very competitive league made up of smaller schools. Typically teams participating in the Bicentennial League were happy winning four, five or six games a season. With Archbishop Kennedy posting a 5-0 record to open the season, they put a bulls eye on their jerseys, a Bicentennial League team just wasn’t supposed to be that good. A funny thing happened in game number six as the Saints took the field on the mid October night against the winless Lower Moreland Lions. This game was a cake-walk for the Saints, or so they thought. The Lions came into Conshohocken with a whole new defense, this defense didn’t allow points as Kennedy held a slim 7-0 halftime lead. It wasn’t a Chris Bockrath halftime speech, but the team captains had a few words to say and in the end the Saints celebrated a 36-0 victory to go 6-0. The lone first half touchdown for the Saints was the result of a 24 yard touchdown pass from Boudreau to Kelly. Early in the second half Boudreau and Kelly repeated the pass combination for a 14-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff Joe Bello put a would be receiver to sleep with his block and Andy Mitchell fell on the ball on the three yard line, Bello punched it in and the saints were 6-0. Sheedy, off tackle, around the right end, and he had his fifth 100 yard rushing game of the season.
Game seven of the dream season was against Lansdale Catholic, wasn’t much of a game, the Saints led 26-0 late in the game before allowing Lansdale to score six meaningless points. Sheedy scored two touchdowns while rushing for 125 yards, Boudreau scored one with his feet, even if it was only one yard, Mitchell thru the air had a beautiful 66 yard catch and run score. The Saints ran for 227 yards, and passed for another 210 yards, by the way Lansdale passed for 20 yards. Kennedy’s Kip Kelly had his usual game, he caught five passes from his tight end position for nearly 90 yards, and recorded tackles on every inch of the field sacked the quarterback, recovered a fumble and carried the water onto the field during all Kennedy time outs, no just kidding about the tackles.
Typically, during my years of covering Kennedy football, Jenkintown, has always been the weak link in the Bicentennial League. The year 1981 was different, as usual the Drakes only suited 19 football players, but they had a lot of talent on that 81’ team. The Saints coming into the late season game sported a 7-0 record, the Drakes were 6-1, and perhaps the biggest threat of the season to the Saints. It was a hard fought, well-played game as Boudreau scored on a five yard run in the second quarter and Bello scored on a one yard run in the third quarter and the Saints held on for a 12-7 victory. The win assured the Saints of the Bicentennial League Championship.
The Saints took their 8-0 record on the road to Bristol, in my years of watching Bristol football, they were the scariest team to play. The Bristol school district has some tough neighborhoods, and some very talented kids, Bristol could be 1-9 one season and 9-1 the next season. The victories come a little tougher when you travel up to their neighborhood and in 1981, with an 8-0 record the Saints found themselves down 14-8 in Bristol during the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter Boudreau scored twice, Matt McMenamin scored one and Chris Hollingsworth kicked three extra points for a 29-14 victory.
As we all know more than three decades later Kennedy beat Plymouth Whitemarsh 28-7 to cap the perfect 10-0 season. For Chris Bockrath and the tough football players from a small school, they claimed a little piece of Conshohocken sports history in 1981, a season never to be forgotten.
Just one more time I’d love to be on the sideline at the Conshohocken “A” Field and get tired of hearing the announcer say “Staudenmayer on the tackle, Staudenmayer on the tackle, Staudenmayer on the tackle.” Sometimes I’d go hang out on the visitors sideline just to get away from the loud speakers only to listen to opposing coaches yelling “block that Staudenmayer kid, will someone please block that Staudenmayer kid, get in front of that number 71.” It was 1983, and another Archbishop Kennedy football season was underway. The opening game of the season in 1982 was a tight game as the Saints pulled out a 6-0 victory over Harrington, the Saints beat Harrington in the first game of the 83’ campaign 34-0. The 1983 season was all about guys like John Catania, Jim Borkowski, Tony Vito, Mark Streeper, Steve Borusiewicz, Bill Dunne, Jay Mashintonio, Felix McKeogh, Tim Alexy, Tony Venezia, Steve Goreski, Harry Magiliente, John Capizzi, Fred D’Angelo, Jay Guyger, Tony Hughes, Mike Katona, Bob Blasczak, Lenny Martelli, Howard Daywalt, and the rest of the Saints 83’ squad.
Following the Harrington victory the Saints beat Roman Catholic 13-0, Borkowski and Dunne scored touchdowns and the defense for the second week in a row allowed less than 100 yards of offense outscoring their two opponents 47-0. Goreski and Venezia played well in the 21-6 victory over Springfield sending the Saints to a 3-0 record. Borkowski ran for 78 yards, caught three John Catania passes for another 83 yards, and caught a touchdown pass.
The Saints went on to post victories over Morrisville, 35-0, They tied Archmere Academy 6-6, Archmere was the Delaware State Class “C” 1982 Champions with many of the championship team players, Lansdale Catholic was a cake walk as the Saints shut them out 28-0. They went on to beat Jenkintown 33-6, and Bristol 28-0. Plymouth Whitemarsh had a small bone to pick with Kennedy, the Colonials were 0-2 against the Saints. The Colonials had a high powered offense that fared well in the Suburban One League, but 1983 wasn’t gonna be their year as the Saints put a whoopin’ on their cross town rivals 31-0 recording their sixth shutout of the season.
The Archbishop Kennedy Saints also had very successful season in 1982, and 1984. As I recall without going to the record book the 1946 St. Matthew’s team posted an 8-1 record that included four shutouts. Ray Borzelleca was one of the leaders on that team and a Maxwell Award winner. I think it was in 1948 St. Matthew’s football team led by Don Stemple, a speedy halfback , went 8-2, and in his Senior year helped the team to a 9-1 record in 1949. Come to think of it Head Coach Charlie Heavey had a number of very successful teams. If I remember correctly, (remember I’m not checking the record books here, I’m going from memory) St. Matthew’s had a championship football team in the late 1950’s, and the Saints posted a 9-1 record in 1989, or 1990. Naming a few of the toughest St. Matthew’s/Kennedy players would be a long, long list, but I would be remised if I didn’t mention a guy by the name of Tony Moore. Tony was a three year starter from 1958-60, and everything I ever read about him, and everything I ever heard about him was opposing teams feared him, he was a punishing fullback at 5’10, 230 pounds, when he got the call, opposing players just prayed that he didn’t run at them. In Tony’s senior year for St. Matt’s he carried the ball 3 out of every 4 offensive plays the entire year, and averaged seven yards per carry, and had a habit of never avoiding contact.
I never attended a classic Conshohocken High School, St. Matthew’s High School Thanksgiving Day football game. I never met the “Thin Man,” Charley Heavey, and for sure I would have loved to have seen Tony Moore carry the ball just once, a draw straight up the middle, the nose tackle sheds his blocker, only to be flattened, looking up to see Tony running over him.
As Thanksgiving nears, I think about what I wouldn’t give to be on the sideline just once more hearing Chris Bockrath sending in the play, or having one of his small debates with a referee. What I wouldn’t give just to be on the sideline one more time with the Archbishop Kennedy Saints during a championship game. And what I wouldn’t give to be on the sideline just one more time watching the clock run down, on a cool, late October Friday night, with a heavy dampness hanging over the “A” Field. To see it, and to feel it, John Borusiewicz on the microphone, Ray Bowman walking the sidelines, Davey Carroll carrying the head-set cord around for Bockrath, and in Kennedy’s later years seeing coaches like Felix McKeogh, Frank Suntheimer, and Dominic D’Adona walking the sidelines. Yea, what I wouldn’t give to see Josie Leszczynski carrying a camera up to the press box, and what I wouldn’t give to attend one more Archbishop Kennedy Banquet.
Just one more time I’d like to see John Staudenmayer blitz from his linebacker position, and crush a quarterback, I love to see Ronnie Keaser return a kickoff, and wouldn’t it be fun to watch Craig Kaminski break one off tackle, or see a Catania to Borkowski touchdown pass in the back of the end zone.
When I say, “Just one more time,” I realize that none of us will ever witness this again, hope you enjoy the memories.
About Jack Coll
Jack Coll was a long time free-lance photographer and writer who worked for or worked with the Conshohocken Recorder Newspaper, the Norristown Times Herald, the Neighbors section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and several Montgomery County Newspapers including the Today’s Post, The Colonial, and the Ambler Gazette among others. Jack was the official, un-official photographer for Archbishop Kennedy High School covering many of the school events and sporting events posting many of his photographs over the years in the schools yearbooks. Jack was also a photographer for many years for Plymouth Whitemarsh High school sports teams taking pictures for many years for the different sports programs books. Jack, along with his son Brian has authored a number of books on Conshohocken including Conshohocken in Sports, Conshohocken Then and Now, and Tales of Conshohocken and beyond, all available at Coll’s Custom Framing located at 324 Fayette Street. More recently Jack writes columns for “Conshy Stuff . Com, where he continues to write history pieces, flashback columns and a weekly music column titled, “Talkin’ Music with Jack.” Jack still participates in a couple of newspapers now and again, but what he wouldn’t give to be on the sideline at the “A” Field, covering a Kennedy football game, just one more time.