Here's something new I wanted to post leading up to the 2011 high school football season -- a different way to organize my list of the greatest football games ever played in the Glens Falls area over the last few decades.
It's kind of an expanded version of my top 10 list of the area's greatest games, which we published at the end of the 2009 season and covered the previous 40 years. There were a few games I missed, so I started looking back over some other games and found a ton of very good ones.
Through extensive research over time, I have compiled a pretty complete list of some of the best games ever played on local high school gridirons... I have published the master list of very good games on my blog here, but it's become unwieldy -- so I'm going to split it up by decade, and slot in the great games as well...
What better place to start than the 1960s... with the spectre of Vietnam hanging over high school kids of the day, rock and roll in full force from the Beatles to Jefferson Airplane, and hippies and Woodstock and the baby boom generation...
On local gridirons, Hudson Falls, Glens Falls and St. Mary's of Glens Falls were among the best; the smallest schools played eight-man football in the Adirondack Eight-Man League, when even Argyle, Hartford and Fort Ann played football; and Lake George and Queensbury started teams...
To whet your appetite, here's a classic from 1953 that was beyond the scope of my original 40-year limit, but it's hard to beat this Northern Conference shootout between Glens Falls and Whitehall:
Whitehall 26, Glens Falls 26, Oct. 31, 1953 at Whitehall: The Clint Taft-coached Whitehall Maroon were near the tail end of a 24-game non-losing streak (which did not end until the 1954 season opener), while first-year Glens Falls coach Putt LaMay had his Indians unbeaten at 5-0 — same record as Whitehall — when they played this Northern Conference showdown. Glens Falls rolled out to a 26-0 lead before the Maroon roared back to tie. The Indians converted two first-half fumbles into TDs and led 20-0 at the half on Jerry Morrissey’s second score, a 70-yard sprint. Morrissey added his third TD from 10 yards out for a 26-0 Glens Falls lead in the third quarter. However, key injuries and a fired-up Whitehall team turned the momentum to the Maroon’s favor. Gordie Angus fired a TD pass to Fran McDonald to cut Whitehall’s deficit to 26-6 heading into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, McDonald ran 36 yards for a score, then a Fran Seymour fumble recovery led to Pete Leombruno’s 4-yard TD run, with Leombruno’s PAT pulling the Maroon within 26-20. McDonald then blocked a Glens Falls punt and scooped up the ball at the Indians’ 10. Tom Martin banged into the end zone three plays later from the 1, but Angus’ pass attempt for the extra point (remember, no two-point conversions until the '60s) was broken up by Glens Falls’ Bill Donohue to preserve the tie in the final seconds. Both Whitehall and Glens Falls closed out their seasons with wins the following week to complete 6-0-1 campaigns, as Northern Conference co-champions.
And now, some of the great games of the 1960s:
Greenwich 13, Hoosick Falls 13, Nov. 7, 1964 at Hoosick Falls: In a battle of unbeatens for the Washington County League title, Greenwich and Hoosick Falls battled to a deadlock to share the crown. The Witches saw leads of 7-0 and 13-7 disappear against the scrappy Hoosiers. Hoosick Falls pulled into a tie in the fourth quarter on Glenn Hynick’s 15-yard TD run, his second of the game, but Frank Carelli’s PAT attempt sailed under the crossbar. Greenwich had taken the lead on Mike Hunisak’s 20-yard scoring pass to Gary Baker.
Fort Edward 18, Cambridge 13, Oct. 9, 1965 at Cambridge: Trailing 13-12 with 30 seconds remaining in the game, Fort Edward pulled out a thriller when QB Joe D’Angelico connected with Pete Fisher on a 65-yard scoring strike on third down. D’Angelico rolled out and threw downfield to Fisher, who went up between three defenders for the catch and outraced the Indians to the end zone. D'Angelico was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969.
Warrensburg 33, Salem 25, Oct. 30, 1965 at Warrensburg: Warrensburg rallied from an 18-6 third-quarter deficit to capture the Adirondack Eight-Man League title in a wild finish, outscoring the Generals 20-7 in the fourth quarter. Trailing 18-13 in the final period, the Burgers got TD runs of 30 yards from Doug Kenyon and 15 yards from Steve Engle to take a 26-18 lead. Salem got a 1-yard TD from Wes Nelson to pull within 26-25, but Warrensburg sealed victory on a 40-yard hook-and-lateral from Steve Garcia to Bob Smith to Steve Palfrey to complete the scoring. It was the Burgers’ second thrilling win over Salem in 1965 — a month earlier, Smith had thrown a 30-yard TD pass to Garcia with 10 seconds left to pull out a 25-19 victory.
Hudson Falls 21, South Glens Falls 0, Oct. 30, 1965 at Hudson Falls: Undefeated and unscored upon all season, Hudson Falls wrapped up the Northern Conference championship with their sixth shutout of the season. One week after staging a goal-line stand to prevent Glens Falls from scoring in a 28-0 win, the Tigers staved off another threat. In the third quarter, South High drove to the Hudson Falls 5-yard line -- only Ray Bartholomew's shoestring tackle of Tom Knapp prevented South High from scoring. The Tigers then threw the Bulldogs for losses of 2, 12 and 6 yards and forced an incomplete pass to take over on downs at the Hudson Falls 20. Mark DeCamilla ended another South High threat with an interception at his own 3.
Hudson Falls 21, Queensbury 0, Nov. 6, 1965 at Queensbury: Hudson Falls wrapped up the last undefeated, unscored-upon season in area history with a shutout of the Spartans. Queensbury reached the Tigers' 2-yard line in the first quarter, but a holding penalty pushed them back to the 13 -- and Mark DeCamilla picked off a pass on the next play. Future Lake George coach Tim Donnelly later had an interception at the Hudson Falls 15. The Tigers finished the 1965 season a perfect 7-0, having outscored their opponents by a combined 141-0.
Hudson Falls 20, Granville 14, Oct. 8, 1966 at Granville: The Tigers held off upset-minded Granville in Northern Conference action to win their 18th consecutive game dating back to the 1963 season. Hudson Falls picked off three passes and recovered three fumbles, but the Golden Horde stayed in the game to the end. With star Mark DeCamilla sidelined, the Tigers got big games from Terry Bartholomew, Mark Nassivera and Tom VanAernam in a game in which both teams produced about 250 yards total offense. Hudson Falls’ 18-game winning streak was snapped by Glens Falls the following week.
St. Mary’s (Glens Falls) 18, South Glens Falls 12, Oct. 15, 1966 at East Field: South High came out in a new “polecat” offensive formation, with Tom Seeley lining up 15 yards deep and the rest of the team lining up strong right or left to open up passing lanes. It worked for a time, as Tom Knapp scored a pair of TDs for the Bulldogs. However, the Kerry Blues established their power game, with Pat Kenneally scoring twice and Steve O’Connor once.
Schuylerville 19, Fort Edward 18, Oct. 8, 1966 at Fort Edward: Schuylerville scored two fourth-quarter TDs to rally for the Tri-County League win. Down 18-13, the Black Horses set up the go-ahead score with an interception by Jeff Castro. Three plays later, Jeff Patnaude connected with Dave Whaley on a 15-yard TD pass. The Flying Forts had taken an 18-6 lead in the third quarter on an 85-yard kickoff return by Billy Joe Montgomery.
Fort Edward 14, Whitehall 13, Oct. 7, 1967 at Fort Edward: In a key Northern Conference clash, Fort Edward remained unbeaten as Jack Toomey scored from a yard out and sophomore Mike Tripp booted the PAT with less than two minutes remaining. Whitehall had taken a 13-0 halftime lead behind Al Fredette (yes, Jimmer's dad) and Jim Taft, but was held to 12 total yards in the second half as the Forts took control. Trailing 13-7, Tripp recovered a fumble near midfield and Fort Edward drove 55 yards for the decisive TD, a drive kept alive twice on fourth-down runs by Toomey and Jack Miles, the latter setting up Toomey’s TD.
*Honorable Mention* Fort Edward 14, Ticonderoga 13, Nov. 1, 1968 at Derby Park: Fort Edward wrapped up an undefeated season with a hard-fought Northern Conference win over Ticonderoga. Pete Caruso scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, and passed to John Haley for the go-ahead conversion to give the Flying Forts the lead. The Sentinels’ final drive reached deep into Fort Edward territory, but a series of incompletions and Russ Snowball’s huge sack of Ti QB Bob Stevenson sealed the win for the Forts.
Greenwich 19, Stillwater 13, Nov. 2, 1968 at Greenwich: No timeouts, no overtime, no problem. In a season-ending showdown for the Tri-County League title, the Witches pulled out a victory over Stillwater as QB Billy Smith scrambled 35 yards for the winning touchdown as time expired, snapping a 13-13 tie.
Salem 20, Lake George 14 at Salem, and Warrensburg 14, Argyle 14 at Warrensburg, Sept. 20, 1969: Many of the games in the old Adirondack Eight-Man League were lopsided, as Lake George was often the dominant team. On this season-opening weekend, however, two eight-man football games came down to the wire. The Generals recorded the upset of Lake George when Jack Rapp caught a 15-yard TD pass from Charlie Slater on fourth-and-10 with 28 seconds remaining. Even less time remained when the Burgers rallied to tie Argyle on John Kenyon’s 35-yard TD pass to Dave Monroe, and Kenyon’s tying two-point conversion run. Randy Cuthbert had given the Scots a 14-0 lead in the first half, but Warrensburg battled back. Eight-man football ended after the 1975 season in the Glens Falls area.
Cambridge 26, Greenwich 24, Oct. 11, 1969 at Cambridge: Mike Bellamare’s 3-yard TD run in the fourth quarter gave Cambridge the cushion it needed against a Witches comeback in the final minutes. Greenwich, which had pulled within 26-24 on Tim McGrouty’s 8-yard scoring pass to Ray Whitaker and Doug Jilek’s conversion run, drove downfield for one final threat. However, the Indians halted the Witches on fourth-and-inches from the Cambridge 5-yard line with 2:30 remaining to seal victory. Bellamare scored three TDs, including on passes of 40 and 45 yards from sophomore Doug Luke. McGrouty had two scoring passes and ran for another for Greenwich.
Glens Falls 28, Johnstown 27, Oct. 11, 1969 at Johnstown: The Indians pulled out an upset victory over Johnstown as Jim White returned an interception 75 yards for a TD and a 28-21 Glens Falls lead early in the fourth quarter. Glens Falls’ Mike Young hit Sir Bills QB Jim Mylott as he threw, allowing White to pick off the wobbling pass at the Indians’ 25. Johnstown drove for a TD by Don Wager in the fourth quarter, but the Sir Bills went for two and the lead, and the Indians’ Mike Gersten nailed Mylott on the option short of the goal line. Johnstown threatened one more time in the closing seconds, but Bob Stevens’ interception for Glens Falls ended the game.
So that wraps up the 1960s... stay tuned for the 1970s...