Plymouth Whitemarsh Football; In The Beginning
By Jack Coll
Excitement ran high on September 17, 1954 as the Plymouth Whitemarsh High school was about to play the first football game in the schools short history. In 1953 the school opened with students in the tenth grade, the school played basketball and baseball games in 1953-54, but no football games. As Head Coach Ron Landes prepared his team for the inaugural high school football game, he knew he was up against it. Conshohocken High School was P-W’s first opponent and coming off a 5-3-2, 1953 season record, Conshohocken was considered a powerhouse because they had seven starters back from the 53’ team. In 1951 the Conshy Bears posted a 9-0-0 record and in 1952 they slipped to 9-1-0, the Blue and Gold of Conshohocken had a team average weight of 172 pounds going into the 1954 season while the Royal Blue and Scarlet of Plymouth Whitemarsh had a team average weight of 165 pounds.
Ron Landes and his coaches Bob Engle, Frank Marello, and Walt Peters felt good going into the game with Pat Nareisso at quarterback, Wilson Marvel and Joe Carbo at running backs, and Charles Hallman at fullback. A number of other players from that first P-W squad included Harry Hansell, Anthony Ciliberio, Pat Carlino, George Fulmer, Bob McCuen, Henry Morott, Clement Kircher, Harry Campbell, Warren Myers, Joe Davis, Bill Gromalski, Tom Romano, Bill Hayes, Richard Pellechio, Gene Koehler, Fred Cardamone, Bob Gromalski, John Rodjuski, Bill Walton, Frank Walton, Berry Bruce, Lester Parente, Paul Vodila, Charles Jones, George Guzzardo, Tom Campbell, Nils Jensen, Bob DiNenno, Lou Mazzerle, Dick Blasy, Jim Mastrocola, and John MacMullen.
The game was played at the Conshohocken Community Field and unfortunately for the Colonial squad Conshohocken had names like Jim Dozier, Vic Smith, Sam Minnick, Lucius Howell, Charles Staley and Hal Graham, and they all scored touchdowns leading Conshohocken to a 41-0 victory. Conshohocken standout Reese Whitley led the Blue and Gold at quarterback helping Conshy to score early and often. Plymouth Whitemarsh had nothing to be ashamed of as Conshohocken High went on to post an 8-2-0 1954 season record.
The Colonials lone home game was played in week two of the season playing Del-Haas High at the Conshohocken Community Field. The Colonials scored their first touchdown in school history to take a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Pat Narciso hit Harry Campbell for two consecutive passes for the early score. The visitors from Bristol scored the next five touchdowns leading to a 33-12 victory.
And so the season went, a 50-7 loss to Royersford, (Nick Salamone scored the only P-W touchdown) a 27-0 shutout delivered by Jenkintown, a 33-7 loss to Upper Merion, a 28-14 loss to Quakertown, a 20-0 loss to Lower Moreland, and a 39-6 Thanksgiving loss to Upper Dublin in front of 1800 fans. There was good news following the 0-8 season for Plymouth Whitemarsh, the team was made up of sophomores and juniors, with no seniors on the team, meaning every player would return for the 1955 season, and the Colonials record could only get better.
The following year in 1955, the Colonials won their first game in school history with a 6-2 victory at the Conshohocken Community Field over Del-Haas. The winning score came in the third quarter when quarterback Ron Minges hit Tom Campbell on a 25 yard pass for the winning score. That winning feeling didn’t last long as the 1-0 Colonials lost to you know who, Conshohocken 19-0. Touchdowns by Howell, Dozier, and Law were far too much for the Colonials. The Plymouth Whitemarsh Colonials in 1955 won their first game of the season over Del-Haas, and won the final game of the season beating Lower Moreland 47-13, but in-between lost six games to finish the season with a 2-6 record. It was the victories that mattered,
Important victories followed, in 1958 the Colonials recorded their first victory over Conshohocken High School 14-7, and it was a brutal game that resulted in a number of players leaving the game with broken bones. Bruch Vandegrift of Conshy left the game with a broken leg, Jim Lafrida also a Conshy player left the game with a broken nose, and Jack Schultz, and Colonial end suffered a broken left wrist. A number of other injuries were reported at the time by Conshohocken High School Athletic Director Harry Fox. Another first for the Colonials came in 1959 when they beat Norristown 7-6 in the final minute of the game when Bob Hood connected with Bill Bernardo on a 52 yard touchdown pass.
The 1963 Colonials posted an undefeated season with a 7-0-1 record and it should be noted that Norristown canceled the final game of the year. The toughest game of the year came against the Upper Merion Spartans in a 33-32 victory. Guys like John Pergine, Ed Swetkowski, Rick Derrickson, Derry Hughes, Fred Neve, Gene Romanoski, Frank Mellor, Fred Kern, Mike Olszewski, Tom Rambo, and Mars Seiferth among others were standout players during the season.
In the first decade of Plymouth Whitemarsh football, the school’s teams went from winless to champions. Over the past 60 years many of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School’s alumni have gone onto the pro ranks in sports, and to the top of the field in their careers.
That first victory in the 1955 season broke ground for future football seasons at the school, championship seasons were on the horizon, Colonial football squads have been feared throughout the leagues.
In this 2013 football season, teams around the league are noticing the Colonials. When they knocked off Downingtown 36-34 in overtime a few weeks back the Norristown Times Herald headline read “Colonials Stun Whippets.” A week later the Colonials proved the victory was no fluke when they dominated Upper Moreland beating them 48-28, and the game wasn’t that close. This year’s Colonials are featuring a one, two punch out of the backfield as Josh Vega ran for 166 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns while his running mate Brian Afflick netted 190 yards rushing with a pair of touchdowns. Connor Hanlan ran for 112 yards and scored a touchdown, imagine your number three back running for 112 yards. The Colonials posted a 525 total yard game, something future opponents need to think about.
And that my friends is the way it was, and the way it is.