The Big Picture 34 – Milestones
The Big Picture
By Paula G.
Ace Sports Reporter
Redskin history: 1928 through 2012
July 28, 2013
Langhorne: Sitting around my office the other day, and throwing darts at the calendar to kill time (when is that August 30 kickoff game against Northeast High gonna get here, hurry up please), I decided to pass some time by calling an old friend of mine, Sammy, who lives on the West Coast. He’s a football nut too and after discussing some college teams, and their prospects for the upcoming season, we swung around to high school ball. And although the first thing I was sure he’d throw my way was just how “great” Mater Dei, Corona Centennial or Mission Viejo are looking for 2013 (yes − he lives in SoCal), I was a little surprised when the first thing he said was: “Paula, how ’bout those ‘Skins! They got a load coming back this year. How’re they looking? You know I’m a fan too.”
Later when we hung up (after covering in detail how the 2013 Schmidtmen “are looking”), I got to thinking − what it is that makes us all so crazy about Neshaminy football? What is it? What’s the magic; what is it that captures a town, a community, a school, and folks around the state and beyond (so many, many people year after year)? So I started jotting down some special moments, people, occurrences and “things” about Neshaminy football; “stuff” that has helped to form the school and the team over the many years. Achievements on the field that are plain as day and background events too. And as I was making my little compilation I realized “hey, these are like milestones!” But wanting to insure I wasn’t off base, I looked up “milestones” and found this definition: A milestone is an action or event that is significant; a happening that marks a change or stage in life, history, etc.
Well, that was good enough for me, so I kept chugging along and writing down events, people and occurrences of significance in Redskin history (from my point of view). And I came up with the following for which I’ll first apologize if I missed a person, or game, or anything at all that perhaps should have been included (I am kind of proud of my work, though). Plus I also ask that you bear in mind that I dug into some “items” that might not seem directly relevant but which are certainly “big picture” in any event. I hope you enjoy it (and note my list is correlated to the year of the event or happening so each little “section” begins with the year in bold).
1681 − In March of this year King Charles II of England grants colonist William Penn a huge amount of land west of the Delaware River. It will eventually become Pennsylvania but before that occurs Penn’s “short-term” plans for the land include both developing and making a home in what he names Bucks County (in honor of his home in the county of Buckinghamshire, England). To begin the process he gives plots of land, in lower and middle Bucks, to those who share his vision. Needing a reliable diagram to document what he is doing, he requires a “plot map” of the area and so he sets about getting it drawn up. One major geographical feature to be dealt with, and essentially splitting the lower part of the county in two, is a tributary of the Delaware. Called “nischam-hanne” by the native Lenni-Lenape people who inhabit the region, it means “double stream” or “the place we drink twice” because of an area in its upper run where it doubles back on itself. The English speaking settlers who attempt to spell the “word” phonetically produce mixed results. One effort that becomes a little more common than others is “nessamineh” and soon the meandering stream is known as the “Nessamineh Creek”.
Regardless of previous attempts at sounding it out, Penn’s surveyor takes a different approach on his work (punctuated by his use of capitalized, block letters on his map) as he decides the rambling water course name is properly written as follows: NESHAMENY CREEK. The second “E” is later changed to an “I” while it’s a certainty that the now long gone map maker had absolutely no idea he had helped “create” a word that would become very, very important to the people of central Lower Bucks some 250 years in his future. And as to Penn, his large estate on the banks of the Delaware will also give those same fans of the word “Neshaminy” something to root against when he christens his Bucks County home “The Manor of Pennsbury”.
1876 − In the mid-17th century a man named Jack Alexander decides to build his home in what would lead to a small village being established by him and the others who follow his lead (they call it Attleborough and it’s located just to the northeast of Philadelphia). And the little town’s subsequent growth soon benefits from its strategic location in the center of Lower Bucks County and at the intersection of two main roads. One runs between Philadelphia and Trenton, on a southwest to northeast course, and the other connects Bristol and Easton in a generally southeast to northwest alignment. The routes are heavily traveled and for a period well into the 19th century the town serves as the main stagecoach stop for travelers between those cities. But with growth came the need for the borough to become more formal and in 1876 the good people of Attleborough decided it should incorporate. And while they were at it, they also thought it important to honor one of their residents who had become Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. So after a vote of nothing but “ayes” they changed their town’s name to accomplish their collective goal. And just who was their favorite son? Jeremiah Langhorne.
1924 − Deciding that separate or shared public schooling was no longer cost or academically effective, the boroughs of Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Hulmeville, Penndel and the Township of Middletown (all five clustered around each other in central Lower Bucks County) held talks in the early 1920s and decided to merge for the purpose of establishing a new school district. As the consolidation plans gained traction, it became obvious that a new high school had to be built too so a plot of land in Langhorne, on Cherry Street, was then secured for that purpose. Following some further discussions it was also decided that the two “largest” of the “partners” would get top billing when the school is called Langhorne-Middletown high.
But as scholastic education is not just about books, and with baseball a favorite of the students, the open land behind the new school easily accommodated the diamond and outfield the sport required. Basketball, the other sport of choice, would unfortunately only see road games for the team as there was no “gym” at the new building (practice was held in a local farmer’s barn or outdoors behind the school). No other “major” sports were accounted for at the time and Langhorne-Middletown began operations that year as a “two-sport” high school.
1928 − With strong backing by Langhorne-Middletown’s principal, William Thomas, who incidentally was the team’s first grid coach, a decision was made that the school needed a football team. Thus, some of the land out in back of the school was graded flat and lined to include a field for practice with the Langhorne-Middletown Redskins football team then organized. The 25 boys who turned out to form a club soon played their first game ever, and their only contest that year of ’28, when they took a road trip to Newtown’s Pickering Field, (Newtown High would later be renamed Council Rock in 1950). And as exciting as playing a game was for Langhorne, the Redskins lost, 13-0, and finished the year 0-1.
As to the colorful Thomas, he was an avid outdoorsman and athlete from Nanticoke, Pennsylvania which drew its name from the Nanticoke Lenape tribe. A Teddy Roosevelt type he was an inquisitive sort with any number of pursuits. Passing that zest along to his students, Thomas encouraged them to understand and appreciate the Native American culture, particularly the Lenni-Lenape’s Unami Tribe (meaning “down river people”), that had existed around Langhorne in years past. With his interest in such local heritage sincere, he was also instrumental in the adoption of “Redskins” as the team’s nickname. And as Thomas was quite enamored of the game of football he also quarterbacked the Penndel Aces for a few seasons (the Aces were a local semi-pro football club in the ’30s and ’40s). Remaining with the school district until the late ’40s, Thomas was well-loved by his charges in addition to being a respected academic who authored a book on the history of the Pennsylvania public school system.
1929 − With Thomas retiring after the one game season of ’28, the school’s science teacher, Charlie Beck, a Bristol native, became the first permanent coach of the Redskins in ’29 and he then stays on the job through the 1942 season. The initial campaign under his direction sees the team play its first full slate of games (nine in all); however, the end result is a not so spectacular 2-6-1 record. Still, there are some memorable moments as the team opens against Newtown and records its first touchdown ever in the game. It’s on a pass play as single-wing fullback Charles Carter finds end George Paxson all alone in the end zone for the six points. And even though the game goes in the books as a 13-7 loss, the ‘Skins are undaunted as they will meet Newtown again later that year when they earn their first win ever in another 13-7 game.
1930 − The team comes in at 6-2 with its two losses to Morrisville and Perkasie-Sellersville (which later becomes Pennridge). Although not a scoring machine, they are tough defensively as five games see shutouts by the ‘Skins. The “points allowed per game” of 3.88 sets a record that still stands today. Alonzo Davis becomes the first Redskin to earn all-star status when he makes the All Lower Bucks Team as a running back (as voted by the coaches back then). Langhorne-Middletown High also plays Fallsington High in what is, in essence, the first Neshaminy versus Pennsbury game (Langhorne wins 20-0 over a Fallsington High which had only underclassmen available as it was converting from a junior high to a senior high that year). Bensalem is also put on the schedule as well that season and through 2012 the two schools have played 77 times (the most ever by Neshaminy against a school that has never changed its name or gone through a “merger”). Relatively rural at that time, the population of Middletown Township that year is 2,100 while Langhorne has 1,143 people. Penndel, Hulmeville and Langhorne Manor, the other “parts” of the district, have 789, 582 and 397 residents respectively. There are about 300 students in the four year high school.
1935 − Having played as an “independent” for its first seven years, the formation of the Lower Bucks County League in time for the ’35 season gives the ‘Skins a league of its own (previously the coaches and local sportswriters voted for the champion of Lower Bucks at the end of the season). The LBC members that first year are Bensalem, Bristol, Fallsington, Morrisville, Yardley, Newtown and Langhorne-Middletown. With Bristol and Morrisville the area’s “big schools” back then, the Dawgs and the Bunnies, which was Bristol’s original mascot before they became the Warriors, dominate the early years of the confederation.
1938 − The ‘Skins are 5-2-2 that year, one of the better clubs of the Beck era. Senior quarterback Chuck Klein and his star running back, senior Bill McCahan, combine to lead the team to an overall 9-4-4 record during the ’37 and ’38 seasons. Three of the four losses in those two years were at the hands of Bristol and Morrisville.
Following his graduation in 1939, McCahan, a three sport athlete at Langhorne, plays baseball and basketball at Duke. After graduation he served in the military during World War II before being drafted by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1946. In September of 1947, his rookie season in “the bigs” after a year of minor league ball, he throws a no hitter against the Washington Senators and is listed among the 238 players who have accomplished that feat in the modern era of major league baseball. And were it not for a single errant throw, which allowed a batter to round first and make it safely to second, he would have been among the much, much smaller group that has thrown a perfect game.
1939 − The season following the departure of Klein and company represents the nadir of the Beck years as the team goes 0-8. But fortunes do turn and the team’s will too. The Associated Press releases its first Pennsylvania all state team that year and soon enough the sport writers will find the post-season pickings to be very good in Langhorne.
1940 − It’s a slightly better but still relatively forgettable 3-6-1 year for the ‘Skins as the team is mired in a slump since the graduation of its “big hitters” after the ’38 season. And although Middletown Township’s population has added 1,000 or so residents during the decade of the 1930s, to 3,136, Langhorne is flat during the same period while the other three boroughs have remained stable as well. Consequently, Langhorne-Middletown high is still a small school.
1942 − The team finishes 4-1-1 during a war shortened season. And after it’s over, Coach Beck retires with 14 seasons and 118 games under his belt. The total seasons coached, and total games coached, will stand as records until both are eclipsed by Mark Schmidt. The first record falls in 2005 when Schmidt coaches his 119th game and then the second is surpassed in 2009, Schmidt’s 15th season at the helm.
1943 − Johnny Messics volunteers to coach the ‘Skins without pay during the war years of ’43, ’44 and ’45. A Temple graduate, Messics was on Glenn “Pop” Warner’s 1934 Temple squad that finished 7-0-2 and then played in the first Sugar Bowl (a 20-14 loss to Tulane). And in another war shortened campaign, Messics’ team plays only four games, losing three and tying one. The first year coach employs the Notre Dame “Box and Shift” offensive formation and although not helpful in his first year, the team improves in ’44 and ’45 as they go 9-6 those years.
1945 − The ‘Skins play a night game at “Playwicki Field” on Cherry Street in their first ever contest under the lights. But the portable lamps are not quite adequate for the job and kicks, punts and high passes are lost in the darkness resulting in any number of rather comical fumbles and dropped balls as players don’t see the football until the last second.
1946 − New head coach Mike DeRisi, another Bristol native who attended West Chester State before coming home to Bucks County to teach, leaves Fallsington High to replace the just departed Messics. DeRisi makes an immediate change in Langhorne when he drops the Notre Dame box offense Messics had employed and replaces it with Glenn Warner’s single-wing scheme (DeRisi sought to exploit the speed of the Redskin backs which was not as effective in the somewhat power-back centric Notre Dame arrangement). DeRisi’s idea is on the money too as he guides the Redskins to their first LBC championship as they finish 7-2-1. The team also beats both Bristol and Morrisville in the same year for the first time.
On a “personnel” note, senior and four-year starter, Wayne “Inky” Schneider, qualified as the first Redskin superstar as he lines up as a quarterback, running back and receiver and then throws, runs, punts, catches, plays defense and returns kicks during his time in Langhorne. He also had a hand in half of the 1946 team’s 236 total points which was the most ever scored by a Redskin team through that season. Going on to play for West Chester State, Schneider was listed by “Sport Magazine” as one of the country’s top college quarterbacks in 1949. He also played in two “small” college bowl games in just one season as the “rules” permitted participation in more than one post-season game in those days. Joining the Air Force after college he becomes a jet fighter pilot and sees action in Korea and Vietnam. After retiring from the service, he then returns home to Lower Bucks and teaches at Pennsbury high school.
1947 − DeRisi’s boys follow up as they turn in another 7-2-1 report card and Langhorne take the LBC once again. Not quite the equal of the ’46 group, the two losses are to Riverside, 31-13, and Ft. Washington, 39-7. At the season’s end DeRisi moves on to Hammonton, New Jersey where he continues coaching.
1948 − James Egli becomes the head man and stays on board through the 1951 season. He switches from the single-wing offense to the more “modern” T-formation and generates a 15-19-4 record in his 4 seasons.
1949 − Although already an old “foe”, the Redskins line up in their opener that year against a brand new school: Pennsbury (which is the result of a merger between the Fallsington and Yardley high schools with a name change included). The game ends 0-0. That season is also the last year the team will play under the name Langhorne-Middletown as the ‘Skins will see a name change itself before the next season begins. As to the last Langhorne-Middletown squad, they were a solid group finishing 5-3-1, the best under Egli’s direction.
1950 − The newly christened Neshaminy High School opens for business in 1950. Merging with Lower Southampton Township, the school district now spans from the city of Philadelphia in the west to Falls Township in the east. Bensalem and Bristol Townships are to the south and the also newly named Council Rock school district is to the north. In another important first that year, Neshaminy and Pennsbury play under those “names” for the first time that year. The Falcons take the historic contest, 12-6, as they best an uneven ‘Skins group that will finish 5-5.
As the school year began that season, Middletown Township then had 4,987 residents while Langhorne claimed 1,579. Penndel, Hulmeville and Langhorne Manor had experienced little growth during the last decade; however, Lower Southampton brought its 3,562 residents to the mix. With the district thus doubling in population in the ten years since 1940, to just over 10,000, and with “Baby Boomers” already arriving with more on the way, it’s obvious that the antiquated Cherry Street high school that was built in 1924 must go. Already in the works was the acquisition of a huge plot of land, 212 acres in all, located at 2001 Old Lincoln Highway where a new school will be built (and it just so happens it is bounded to its north and west by the Neshaminy Creek which most decidedly entered into the naming of the newly expanded school district). Bids and plans for the complex are reviewed by the Board and construction begins on the new school in the next few years. While the students wait for its completion they continue to go to classes at the old Cherry Street facility.
Meanwhile, two men, not necessarily yet well known to the people of Langhorne and the surrounding townships and school districts, are putting the finishing touches on plans that will radically transform Lower Bucks County. One is William Levitt, the home builder, and the other is Benjamin Fairless, the President of US Steel. They’ll be known in short order, though, as within just a decade Levitt build over 17,000 homes in parts of Middletown, Fairless and Bristol Townships in his second “Levittown” while Fairless will oversee the construction of a steel mill in Falls Township that will be known as US Steel’s “Fairless Works” (Levitt breaks ground in 1952 while the steel mill first begins operations that same year). A planned community called Fairless Hills (located in the Pennsbury school district) is also built by US Steel to house some of its workers. The explosion of families that will then move into Levittown and Fairless Hills (seeking the available housing and many jobs that need filling in the booming economy), plus the tough “steel mill” mentality many of those new residents will bring, leads to an assembly line churning out tough and scrappy, sports crazy young boys that will play football at the Neshaminy, Pennsbury, Woodrow Wilson and Bishop Egan high schools for the next quarter century.
1951 − In Egli’s last year at the top (he moves over to Pennsbury as its head coach for the 1952 campaign), Harry Franks, from Reading and a recent East Stroudsburg graduate, is hired as an assistant varsity coach. Franks also serves as the head coach of the JV team which posts a perfect 7-0 record that year in a sign of things to come; however, the varsity is 2-5-3 in a season that is most remarkable for the first three games of the season as each ended in a 6-6 tie.
1952 − With Egli’s departure Franks is named head coach of the varsity. Putting his iron will to work without any delay, he immediately scraps the T-formation offense the Redskins had been using under Egli and brings back the single-wing. His ’52 squad likes the change too as it posts a 9-1 record, the best yet for the ‘Skins. The only loss of the year is to BuxMont league champ, Ambler, in the opening game, 25-7 (and providing a look to the future, the Ambler coach is Earl Baugher who will later come to Pennsbury and serve as its head coach from 1962 through 1969). With the strong record on the field, the ‘Skins take the LBC title for the third time in their history with the other two championships in 1946 and ’47. The 278 points scored breaks the old record of 236 set by the ’46 team. Comprised mostly of underclassmen, the future looks bright for the team. The annual Redskin team awards are also instituted at the end of that season and Steve Cloak is voted the first “Mr. Redskin”.
1953 − The ‘Skins manufacture another 9-1 season as Bensalem ruins the run for a 10-0 finish in the last game when it upsets the heavily favored Neshaminy team, 7-6. Despite the loss, the team takes the LBC championship for the second year in a row (and for the fourth time since 1946). The 18 games without a defeat or tie, between the opening game in ’52, and the loss to Bensalem in the last contest of ’53, are a record at Neshaminy to this day. The Courier Times begins maintaining stats on the leading scorer each year and Neshaminy’s Don Cameron takes the first year honors with 108. Joe Moronese then tallies 113 in ’54 while Errol Faunce logs 97 in ’55 as Neshaminy pulls off a “three-peat”. Through 1965, and including the three just named, Neshaminy sees one of its players win the “title” nine times including Harry Schuh (twice), Jack Stricker, Bob Baxter (twice) and Jim Colbert.
1954 − The class Franks has directed since 1951 leaves no doubts about their abilities as Neshaminy finishes the season 10-0 while they win their third straight LBC championship. The first “perfect” Redskin team, they also trounce Bensalem, 53-6, as the upset of the year before was not forgotten. The team is a scoring machine and its 349 points, and resulting average of 34.9 points a game, are both new records for Neshaminy with the “per game” still fourth all time today. Frankford high transfer, Errol Faunce, takes over the quarterback duties as a junior and throws 17 touchdowns. Stan Covington is his favorite target. Don Cameron and Joe “Shorty” Moronese are the one-two punch in the backfield. During the season the team earns its 100th win with a 13-7 triumph over Eddystone. Post season the Courier Times debates the merits of whether the ’54 ‘Skins are the best team ever in Lower Bucks with the ’38 Morrisville team and Bristol’s 1936 squad considered the contenders. The popular local newspaper also begins picking all-star teams that year for the first time (previously the coaches voted for the honors) with Neshaminy dominating the selections.
On the field, though, it’s obvious to Franks that he needed help directing the team and so John Petercuskie, from Old Forge in upstate PA, was hired as an assistant coach at the beginning of the year. He had attended East Stroudsburg with Franks and then gone back to his home to teach and coach after graduation. When Franks called ‘Cuskie to tell him of the opportunities at Neshaminy he was quickly convinced. He coached the linemen while Franks directed the backs.
The new high school complex was also completed in time for the ’54 school year and it’s featured in Life Magazine as an example of a modern suburban school (while its expansive campus is determined to be the largest east of the Mississippi). The athletic fields aren’t yet finished so for the 1954 and 1955 seasons the team still plays at the old Cherry Street field (but the students still get to enjoy the new digs during the day). And like its counterpart, the AP, the United Press International begins selecting post-season all state teams in 1954. And in just another few years those selections by the AP and UPI will be sprinkled with Redskins.
1955 − The team comes in at 7-3 (an off year for a Franks’ team), yet takes their fourth straight LBC trophy as all three losses were non-league.
1956 − The opening contest against Hatboro-Horsham sees the first game played at Neshaminy’s new field called the “Neshaminy Athletic Field” or “Playwicki Field” (as the old Cherry Street field was called as well). It’s a night game as lights had been installed with the seating being the “old” style wooden and steel bleachers. Franks had purchased the lights and stands from a bankrupt Reading minor league baseball team. He then hired a crew to dismantle it all, had it lugged it to Langhorne and then reassembled in time for the season (that included jamming telephone poles near the field that were then used to mount the lights).
Jack Swartz, a friend of Petercuskie’s who had also graduated from East Stroudsburg and was from the upstate town of Moosic, had also gone back to coach at his home high school of Carbondale following graduation (Swartz was a tremendous athlete excelling in all three major sports). After a call from his buddy, he was soon on his way to Neshaminy too, arriving in time to help coach during the ’56 season. Finishing 9-0-1, Neshaminy pockets its fifth straight LBC championship. They are also the second Redskin team to finish a season without a loss. Giving up just 45 points in ten games, the 4.5 points “allowed” per game is second all time to only the 1930 team’s 3.88 average. It’s considered by many as the “real record” by a defense as it was earned in the “modern era”.
1957 − The team suffers another “off” year as it ends the campaign at 7-3. One of the losses is to Pennsbury, 7-6, which is the only LBC league game loss Neshaminy suffers from 1952 through 1965. The LBC championship is still shared, though, as William Tennent beat the Falcons, and it represents six straight for the ‘Skins. Allentown High is added to the schedule and it eventually leads to a new conference being formed with several Lehigh Valley teams (the 32-7 loss to the Canaries that year was the worst beating a Franks coached team would endure during his tenure).
Pre-season Franks had contemplated canceling Neshaminy Junior High’s football program so that the “freshmen” would be eligible for the high school team. The reason was sound enough: Ninth-grader Harry Schuh could then play on the varsity (he decides against it when he concludes it would not be fair to the majority of those young underclassmen). The Big 33 is also established in ’57 with the first group merely honorary as the initial game won’t be played until the following year of 1958.
1958 − Pete Cordelli, Sr. is hired as an assistant coach after ‘Cuskie makes a call, just as he had done with Swartz a few years back. Cordelli, from Blakely in upstate PA, had played for the legendary John “Papa Bear” Henzes as a school boy before service in the navy during World War II. After the war’s end he headed to George Washington University where he played both football and baseball in addition to earning his degree.
On the field the team comes in at 8-1-1 with Pennridge, champ of the BuxMont, delivering the only loss that year, 26-13. Neshaminy earns its seventh LBC championship in a row while with turnabout being fair play, the team stops Allentown, 18-0, and earns some “revenge” for the smack down the year before. Two sophomores, Schuh and Jack Stricker, are instant “hits” as running backs with Schuh winning the LBC scoring title that season.
1959 − The team finishes 10-1 and takes the LBC once again. The only loss is to the defending state champs, Easton. Added to the schedule just that year, only a last second “Hail Mary” pass and touchdown lets the Dawgs escape with a 13-7 win. The team’s 376 total points scored sets the new standard in that category while the defense allows just 52 points, or 4.73 a game, which is still the 6th best ever.
Franks retires at season’s end (turning the team over to Petercuskie) with his overall record standing at 69-10-2. Schuh is voted to the AP’s all state 2nd team as a fullback and becomes the first Redskin to earn statewide post-season recognition by the major news service organizations. Schuh also repeats as the LBC scoring champ.
In Levittown the just finished Carl Sandburg junior high opens for the ’59 school year. Paris “Pal” Allison, a man Franks had hired in the mid-50s to coach the JV, is sent to serve as the head coach of the Chieftains. Allison, who had graduated from Morrisville in the late ’40s before serving in the Air Force and then graduating from Temple University, had worked as an assistant coach with the varsity squad in addition to his JV duties. Learning from Franks and the men he had brought aboard over the last decade, Allison produces an undefeated Sandburg team in their first year. The players he develops in the early ’60s will supply a great deal of the senior high’s firepower in the years to come.
1960 − Petercuskie directs his first group as head coach of the Redskins and his inaugural team comes in at 10-0-1. It’s Neshaminy’s third squad to finish unbeaten as the LBC trophy remains in Langhorne for the 9th straight year. A 13-13 tie against Easton is the only blemish. The team scores a then monumental 436 points, a new record, and averages 39.63 points per game (the total points scored stood as a record until broken by the 2004 squad’s 466 points with the “points per game” average still serving as the benchmark for that category). The defense gives up just 51 points and the 4.64 points “allowed” puts the team at fourth position all time (behind the 1930, 1956 and 1946 squads).
Seniors Schuh and Stricker are both named all state that year which is the only “time” two Redskin running backs were selected in the same year. Schuh earns 2nd team honors from the UPI for the second time (the first multi-year “all state” Redskin) and Stricker earns 3rd team honors from the AP (Schuh is also named a high school all American, a first for a Redskin). The two backs scored 99 touchdowns, or 594 points, between them in their three years at Neshaminy while Stricker takes the scoring title in the LBC that year (with the two of them keeping it between themselves their three years). Stricker plays at Temple while Schuh attends Memphis State, where he is an all American, before being drafted in the 1965 pro football draft by Oakland. He plays for 10 years, earning all pro status while also playing in the 1967 Super Bowl. He is a member of the all time Raiders’ team as an offensive tackle.
With Middletown Township’s population then at 26,936 residents (1960) and Lower Southampton standing at 12,619, plus the 3,000 or 4,000 in the other “boros”, the district has grown from 5,000 people in 1940 to 10,000 in 1950 before ballooning to 40,000 in 1960. With Levittown completed in 1959 the impact on the district was immediate. As a result, during the 1960s graduating classes at Neshaminy will average over 1,000 students each year while the supply of student athletes seems endless.
1961 − The ‘Skins play 12 games, the most ever in a season, and finish 11-1. The 13-7 loss to nemesis Easton is the only black mark. What follows is rather amazing as a 28-14 win over Allentown Allen the next week (the fourth game of the season) is the beginning of “The Streak” during which Neshaminy will not lose another game on the field until 1966. Schuh is the first Neshaminy player to participate in the Big 33 (the game is played during the summer prior to the season and features just graduated seniors). John Carber is also the first Redskin to be selected 1st team all-state while he is also the first Redskin to be selected by both the UPI and AP for all state honors in the same year. He goes on to star as a lineman at West Point and is the recipient of many post season honors and awards while at The Academy.
Before the season the LBC is divided into a Section One (big schools) and Section Two (small schools) to take into account the population shifts which had occurred over the 1950s. Neshaminy is in the large school category and the championship is once again theirs, the tenth straight. Charles Barr, father of early to mid-’60s star running backs, brothers Bob and Gerry, starts the N Club with other like minded parents and boosters. It remains as an important supporter of Redskin football to this day.
1962 − The team finally shakes the Easton jinx as they get by the Red Rovers, 13-7, at Cottingham Stadium, Easton’s home field. They finish 10-0-1 and are the fourth unbeaten Redskin group since 1954. Once again LBC champs, it represents 11 titles in a row. Junior Bob Baxter sets the all time single season scoring record as he tallies 191 points as a fullback, punt & kickoff returner and extra point man. He also earns honorable mention all-state honors. But not the only running back making noise that year, Bill Brundzo and Bobby Barr fleshed out the backfield in ’62. And with the local press quick to capitalize on the initials of Baxter, Brundzo and Barr they were soon enough referred to as the “Triple BB Rocket Combination” or simply the “BB Rockets”. That they were too as they ripped up the field and scored points at a pace that left no doubt that they meant business.
1963 − The ‘Skins book a 9-0-1 record, take the LBC again and are also champs of the newly formed East Penn League title (the predecessor to the Big 6,7 and 8 leagues and which initially consists of Neshaminy, Easton, Allentown Allen, Allentown Dieruff and Bethlehem Liberty). The team also plays their first game in the new concrete stadium as they open the year against Central Dauphin, a District 3 powerhouse which has lost just one game in the previous two seasons. The ‘Skins bank a 7-0 win. Seating is expanded to over 10,000 as the “old” bleachers are moved to the sides of the concrete stands. In a dogfight, the Redskins just get by visiting Pennsbury, 21-20, in the final game that year as the rivalry is beginning to see the heat turned up.
Baxter finishes his three years at Neshaminy with 367 total points which still stands as Neshaminy’s career scoring record. He is named first team all state by the AP and UPI, the second ‘Skin to be honored by both newspaper groups in the same year, while he is also the second Redskin to be selected all state as a junior and senior (following Schuh’s selections in ’59 and ’60). Baxter receives high school all American honors as well, just as Schuh had in 1961, and he then follows him to Memphis State where he stars as a wideout and punter. Drafted by Cleveland in ’68, he makes it to the last cut and declines the invitation to stay with the Browns on the “Taxi Squad”.
1964 − The Redskins finish 9-0-1 and claim their 13th straight LBC trophy and the East Penn league title as well (it’s their second straight in the new conference). The team also drops the single-wing and replaces it with the Delaware Wing-T (installed by Franks in 1952 it had served the ‘Skins well for over a decade). Although ‘Cuskie claimed otherwise, the change was rumored to have been made to accommodate junior quarterback Jim Colbert’s talents as both a passer and runner. On the road at the brand new Falcon Field against Pennsbury, the Redskins are 7-0-1 while the Falcons are 8-0 when they meet. It’s the first time both teams are unbeaten going into a game with each other during a late season contest. The UPI calls it the “Top Game” in the state the weekend they tangle as 11,000 fans crowd Falcon Field to watch the fireworks. In another thriller, Neshaminy hangs on to bank a 14-13 win, their second straight one-point win over the Falcons.
1965 − Finishing 10-0-1 the Redskins earn their 14th straight LBC title and the third title in three tries in the East Penn league. Dick Dougherty of the Courier-Times refers to Neshaminy’s football field as “Heartbreak Ridge” and it sticks. And it’s a banner season for many reasons as in one game in Allentown 14,000 people pile into J. Birney Crum Stadium to see the ‘Skins beat Allen, 19-7 (it’s the most fans to watch a Redskins game to that date). All time win number 200 was earned that year too (against LaSalle in a 7-0 triumph).
Expanding their horizons by looking for new teams to play, discussions are had with Massilon, Ohio’s Washington High School but schedules conflict and the Tigers decline. Instead, Altoona is invited to Langhorne. They accept and the Mountain Lions are routed, 27-6. Upstate New York powerhouse, the Johnson City Wildcats, also visit Neshaminy that year. Just like Altoona, they are sent home losers, 35-6. Against Easton the Redskins trail 27-19 with three minutes in the game. Neshaminy scores twice in one minute, including a 61-yard run by Colbert that dazzles the fans. They then hang on and stop the Dogs at the goal-line to preserve a 33-27 win.
The 8-0-1 Redskins also host a powerful 6-1-1 Pennsbury later that year. In another first for the Redskins, the Saturday afternoon game is televised on WFIL-TV while 10,000 plus fans pile into Neshaminy’s stadium. With the game tied 0-0 late in the 4th, Neshaminy’s Gerry Barr rips off a 48-yard run that ends with his dive for the “flag” as Pennsbury’s speedy Jimmy Neeld tries to drive him out-of-bounds. The refs signal a TD and the score propels the ‘Skins to a 7-0 win. Tape replays of the game, played on WFIL’s channel 6 the next day, lead to years of arguing over whether Neeld had actually pushed Barr out at the one-foot line. The team receives a .538 rating from Dr. Roger Saylor’s “Saylor Ratings” which is the highest ever for a Redskin team (the Uniontown Red Raiders outside of Pittsburgh come in at .571 that year which is the highest ever for any team in Pennsylvania as the high .530s and low .540s normally represents the best team each season).
Following the season Petercuskie retires after 6 years. He carved out a 59-1-5 record which included a run of 51 games in a row without a loss. Colbert is named first team all state by the UPI and 2nd by the AP. A solid passer who pitched 7 TD aerials in ’65, his running skills were also on display that season too as he rushed for over 900 yards and scored 15 TD’s on the ground. He attends Penn State but several serious injuries curtail his career with the Nittany Lions.
1966 − Neshaminy, unbeaten in 51 straight games and having suffered just 3 losses in its last 86 games which stretch back through the 1958 season, loses its opener to Bishop Egan, 41-0. On the schedule since 1960, the Eagles had lost all six of the previous games and the win sets the tone for their season. The ‘Skins loss was prophetic too as it was a tough campaign without the departed ‘Cuskie as the team suffers a losing year for the first time since 1951. A series of injuries and close losses plague the club all season.
As to Egan, the Eagles fashioned a 12-1 record as they captured the Philadelphia Catholic League title and the Philadelphia City Championship too. A solid club featuring Larry Marshall, who played seven seasons in the NFL, Egan was ranked by one scholastic magazine as fifth in the country at the end of the year. On a bright note, Colbert and Fred Conger play in the Big 33 game which is the first time two Neshaminy players were selected to participate in the same year.
1967 − Pete Cordelli, Sr. becomes head coach and helps right the ship after the tough 1966 campaign, the first without Franks or Petercuskie in 14 years. Cordelli helps to get the team back on track, despite a losing campaign punctuated by another series of close call losses as in ’66. Cordelli retires after the end of the campaign.
1968 − Swartz is named head coach and his first move is to call Allison up from Carl Sandburg junior high to serve as his right-hand man. It works too as the ‘Skins post a turn-around 7-4 season during Swartz’ first season. A game club, a one-point loss to William Tennent is a heart-breaker while a 17-13 loss to a 10-1 Pennsbury team (which may have been number one in Pennsylvania if not for its only loss, 13-12, to Easton), suggests the ‘Skins are on the way back. Looking for a place kicker during the season after his kickoff and extra point man, fullback Ed Romanowski, breaks his leg in a game, Swartz grabs junior soccer player Chris Bahr to fill the role. Swartz’ “move” starts a trend at Neshaminy that has lasted to this day. Bahr goes on to play for Penn State before enjoying a 14 year career in the NFL which included appearances in two Super Bowls.
1969 − The ‘Skins finish 7-4 for the second straight year. Another bright spot is the play of sophomore Dale Forchetti who is an immediate sensation. In fact, Forchetti’s electrifying 86-yard touchdown on a return of an Egan kickoff sets the tone for his years at Neshaminy. And after three straight losses to the Eagles the ‘Skins are happy to have him as they are down 12-0 before Forchetti’s return. Still down 24-14 at the half, it seems not enough; however, the second half sees the great Steve Sroba punch two across to lead the comeback as Neshaminy prevails, 27-24. The ‘Skins also play Bensalem on Thanksgiving Day of that year. It represents the last time the they will play the Thursday afternoon holiday closer against the Owls (which had been almost yearly since 1946). It’s also the last time Neshaminy plays a Thanksgiving game against any team. Sroba earns Mr. Redskin honors that year and then heads to a solid career at the University of Virginia.
1970 − Delivering a 9-1-1 record, only a 22-6 loss to a Mike Hartenstine (of Penn State and Chicago Bears fame) led Bethlehem Liberty, and a 7-7 tie to the Falcons in a water soaked field, mar the team’s campaign. The Pennsbury game is also scheduled as the last game of the regular season for only the fourth time in the 40 year rivalry between the two schools. With the two schools obviously sensing something good, in the 42 seasons that have followed (through 2012), there have been only three years that a school other than Pennsbury has ended the regular season for the Redskins.
As a result of its efforts on the field, the team earns the LBC championship for the 17th time in school history while the defense, a large part of the team’s success, allows only 67 points all year (just 6.09 a game). The iron fisted Mike Emanuel anchors the defense from his linebacker position and in the post season he is named first team all state by both the UPI and the AP, the third Redskin to accomplish that feat. He attends the University of Kentucky where he letters three years. He also earns multiple honors and awards, both league and school. And with the population of the district still increasing (to over 55,000 in 1970, up over 15,000 from 1960), and the appearance of continued growth at the same pace well into the future, a decision is made that will lead to what is known as “The Split” in just another few years.
1971 − At 11-0-0, the Swartz coached team posts the best record ever by a Redskin team. In the pre-statewide playoff days, the UPI votes Neshaminy number one in the state while Kiski Area outside Pittsburgh gets the nod from the AP while the Saylor Ratings have the Cavaliers at .544 and Neshaminy at .537 which are the two highest in PA that year. Three Redskins are named first team all state (Pete Cordelli, Dale Forchetti and Chuck Lodge) with three 1st team all state selections from one team not only a first for Neshaminy but also a first for any Pennsylvania club. A fourth player, Bruce McHale, earns honorable mention, with the total of four “all-staters” the most ‘Skins in a single season to that year. McHale was also honored as a center in 1970 and then as an “end” in the 1971. He is the first Redskin to be selected all state at two different positions. Cordelli throws an LBC record 24 touchdown passes and Forchetti wins the scoring title as a receiver, a first in Lower Bucks. Forchetti is also the third Redskin to earn scholastic all American recognition.
The team takes the LBC championship, number 18 for the ‘Skins, while also claiming the Big 7 league title and which then consists of Allentown Allen, Allentown Dieruff, Bethlehem Liberty, Bethlehem Freedom, Easton, Pennsbury and Neshaminy. Particularly satisfying during the season was a 33-6 win over Bethlehem which had ruined the previous year with its 22-6 win in Bethlehem. In the season-ender, against a bruising 9-1 Pennsbury team that had dropped a 6-0 game against Bethlehem in the rain, 15,000 fans jammed into Neshaminy’s stadium setting a record for the most fans at a sporting event in Bucks County. The crowd was left breathless as the ‘Skins rallied from a slow start and 10-0 deficit to take the game, 21-17.
Following the ’71 season eleven of its starters, three juniors and eight seniors, will eventually be offered University Division (now D1) scholarships, while six of them will earn all state honors (juniors Joe Sroba, younger brother of Steve, and Mark Strawbridge garner the nod in 1972 when they are seniors). Cordelli goes on to a long coaching career including serving as an assistant coach on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team while Lodge plays at NC State and then Villanova. He sees action in several major Bowl games with the Tarheels while later earning all-East honors as a Wildcat. McHale is a member of Penn State’s 1974 Orange Bowl team. Other schools that see Redskins from its ’71 team include Southern Miss, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Yale, Cincinnati and Army.
1972 − The pre-season looks bright but then opens with an upset loss to Bishop Egan, 18-7. The team follows up by getting back on track and ripping off nine straight before meeting a 10-0 Pennsbury in Fairless Hills in what is billed as “Super Bowl II” (along the way running back Sroba is featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in The Crowd” when he scores 38 against Easton). And once again nothing else seems to matter as all eyes are on the game against the Falcons when the teams meet. In a see-saw battle, the ‘Skins are down 23-21 with under a minute to go in the fourth. Driving for the win, Neshaminy is inside the Falcon 20, and setting up for a chip shot field goal by future NFL All Pro, Matt Bahr, when quarterback Bob Grupp throws to Sroba across the middle. Drilled by Pennsbury’s Ron Dudala just as he grabs it, the ball comes loose and is fallen on by a Pennsbury player. The argument between the refs of whether it was an incomplete pass or fumble goes to Pennsbury and the team ends the year at 9-2.
Sroba goes on to star at the University of Virginia while Grupp does the same at Duke before he is drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs where he serves as their punter during the late 1970s. He also plays in the 1980 pro bowl. Bahr played 17 seasons in the NFL and appeared in multiple Super Bowls. Fullback Lenny Barker was a two sport star, playing baseball for Neshaminy in addition to football. He is drafted by the Texas Rangers and will play in the majors for 11 years. In 1981 he throws a perfect game for the Cleveland Indians becoming one of just 23 players to so do. With the win he joins another former Redskin, Bill McCahan, in an exclusive major league group of special pitchers. Admittedly, Barker’s club is somewhat smaller as McCahan’s 1947 no hitter has been matched by 237 other major leaguers. Swartz retires after the season with a 43-11-1 record in his five years as the head man (he is replaced by Allison). Swartz had been a coach at Neshaminy for 18 years.
1975 − Neshaminy is split into two schools, Neshaminy Langhorne and Maple Point, beginning that year and will remain so until Maple Point is closed and Neshaminy is once again a single school in 1983. The population explosion of the last 25 years is behind the school board’s decision that another school is necessary to serve the district. Unclear whether it was true the two school set-up does water the talent down and it will become apparent on the field in the coming years.
But the ’75 team still earns an LBC co-championship, the school’s 19th, and they finish 7-4. Steve Shull leads the team all year long from his position as end. He then goes on to play at William & Mary and is drafted and plays for the Miami Dolphins thereafter. He co-captains the 1983 Dolphins team in the Super Bowl, a loss to Washington, 27-17. He is one of four Redskins who play in the “biggest game” with the others being Schuh and the Bahr brothers, Chris and Matt. Allison retires after the season and is 17-16 during his three years. He is the last of the men who came to Neshaminy, and then guided the Redskins, during the “Golden Age” that the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s had been for the team. Going back to 1952, the first year for Franks, the combined record he established along with ‘Cuskie, Cordelli, Swartz and Allison, is 191-45-8 or just a hair under an 80% winning record over almost a quarter-century.
1977 − Finishing the season at 7-3, the Redskins play a game that year where they are listed as visitors at their home field for the first time (they take the eastern side of the field during the game). Suiting up against their sister school, the Maple Point Cougars, they two teams flip-flop as they trade “home and away” status during the years that Maple Point exists. The ‘Skins also participate in their first post-season playoff game in ’77 as the LBC looks to end “co-championships” on the field. And despite a convincing 42-14 Neshaminy win during league play, the Bensalem Fightin’ Owls take the one-game playoff for sole ownership of the LBC championship, 12-7.
1980 − In a “strike-shortened” season which saw the team go 4-2-1 in seven games, the Pennsbury game is cancelled. It represents the only year the next door neighbors have not played as “Neshaminy versus Pennsbury” from 1950 through the present. Because that year of 1980 was also to be played in Fairless Hills, the next year of ’81 was a make-up for Pennsbury which remained as the home team in Fairless Hills. Thus, the “odd-year home, even-year away” series with the Falcons is flipped around and it remains so to this day. And on a “growth” note, the district’s population has finally begun to “slow down” as it adds only 5,000 residents during the ’70s to around 60,000 overall. Considering the expansion from 10,000 people in 1950 to 55,000 in 1970, the addition of the latest decade is hardly noticed.
1981 − The Lower Bucks League is disbanded at the end of the ’81 season after 47 years in existence. The Redskins were the only team that was a member for every season of its existence and claim 19 championships during the LBC’s almost half-century of ruling the roost in Lower Bucks.
1982 − Neshaminy becomes a member of the Suburban One League and remains so to this day. And although the SOL was first set-up as a league in 1923 which featured teams more to the southwest of Philadelphia, by the ’80s its members had become the schools of the northwestern suburbs. Other traditional LBC teams, including Pennsbury, Bensalem, Harry S. Truman and Council Rock, also make the move to the SOL. In perhaps its worst effort during “The Split”, the team goes 1-9 but the sole victory is noteworthy, a 21-14 win over Bensalem, as it’s number 300 for the ‘Skins.
1984 − Dick Bedesem, the head man of the Bishop Egan Eagles for over a decade in the late ’50s and ’60s before heading to Villanova, takes charge of the Redskins and begins to turn Langhorne around as his first team goes 7-3. It’s obvious that Bedesem’s firm hand is just the tonic for a rejuvenated Neshaminy that can’t be happier about the end of “The Split” and their new coach. And with the honeymoon season of ’84 a successful one, the players, the community and the fans can’t wait for 1985 and what they expect will be more of the same. Not one to disappoint, Bedesem will soon enough be delivering Neshaminy its first SOL championship with more to follow as the mid- to late-’80s will bring good grid years to Langhorne.
1985 − Neshaminy’s Football Wall of Fame is established. The inaugural class that year includes Franks, Petercuskie, Schneider, Baxter, Cameron, Carber, Cloak, Colbert, Schuh and Stricker. And Bedesem continues to deliver as his ’85 club earns an 8-3 record on the field.
1986 − Finishing 8-3 for the second year in a row, Neshaminy grabs its first SOL National Conference co-championship in Bedesem’s third year with the club. It’s the first championship for the Redskins since Allison’s group took the LBC co-title in 1975. And perhaps feeling he had done his part, Bedesem steps aside after the season ends to take on the head coaching duties at Delaware Valley College. His record at Neshaminy, during the 1984 though 1986 years he bossed the club, is 23-9.
1987 − John Chaump becomes head coach following Bedesem’s departure. First arriving in Lower Bucks in the late ’60s, where he started coaching at Woodrow Wilson, he also was the head coach at Maple Point and Morrisville before taking the top slot in Langhorne. Playing schoolboy football at West Pittston high located near Scranton, he had then attended Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre. Playing football for the Colonels, he was an integral part of the group that posted a streak of 32 straight wins in the late ’60s (fourth longest in college football at the time). He is also the brother of former Naval Academy and Harrisburg High coach, George Chaump, and is a football man through-and-through. With his background paying dividends, and not missing a beat, Chaump’s Redskins post a 9-2 record in his inaugural season with the resurgent team then looking for more.
1988 − Chaump directs the team to a regular season record of 11-0-0 which is Neshaminy’s second team to win all 11 of its 11 regular season games (the other team was the 1971 group). The 1954 club was perfect as well as it went 10-0-0 during its regular season (ten games was the “norm” at that time) and ironically the three teams were sequenced on 17 year cycles leading to speculation that 2005 would follow suit.
Even with its terrific regular season, the 1988 group wasn’t quite done following its 49-14 victory over Pennsbury to close the year. And that was because post-season saw the Redskins selected to participate in the first ever PIAA statewide 4A playoff. Four teams were involved and were picked by a point system with two from the east and two from the west. Pittsburgh Central and Brashear are matched while the ‘Skins draw District 3’s Cedar Cliff Mustangs. But with the air soon let out of their balloon, “Chaump’s Charges” end the year on the wrong side of a 24-0 score. Meanwhile PCC tops the Bulls, 19-14, in the western semi-final and then edges the Mustangs in the final, 14-7. The Vikings are then crowned the first playoff era 4A football state champion in PA history (the story is not over, though, as Neshaminy will eventually meet up with PCC for the title; however, it won’t be for 16 years when they are both in Hershey for the 2004 title game).
With any number of strong players, including underclassmen, on the ’88 squad, Brian Moser stood out as he had helped anchor the team from his linebacker and fullback positions. Following the season Moser went on to play at Penn State and letters in three seasons.
1989 – In Chaump’s third year the ‘Skins look loaded as the junior class from ’88 is expected to continue their work in 1989. It doesn’t pan out, though, as the team delivers a sub-par 7-4 season. But two stalwarts, quarterback James Franklin and defensive end and linebacker Mike Frederick, go on to the next level. After Frederick stars at Virginia he then plays for Baltimore, Cleveland and Tennessee in the NFL. Franklin starred as a quarterback for East Stroudsburg while he then decides coaching is his calling. His long career since his graduation in 1994 eventually leads to his selection in 2011 as the head man at Vanderbilt of the SEC.
1990 – Some backroom turmoil in Langhorne is evident on the field as the team is 9-13 in ’90 and ’91 despite a solid group of players. With the “administration” then perceiving that a change was necessary, Chaump relinquishes the reigns after assembling a 36-19 record in his four years. Meanwhile, the District adds about 7,000 or so people during the ’80s with almost all of them in Middletown Township which saw a mini-building boom during the decade (the total is then around 67,000 residents in all). But with available and build-able raw land at a premium, and with local citizens realizing what is “left” should be preserved, the addition of new residents will no longer be as easy – or expected – as it once was.
1992 − Bedesem returns to Langhorne after Chaump departs following the 1991 season. But after nearly 40 years of coaching, the old master will finally call it quits after just three more seasons. With the team 10-21 during his final years as a coach, and for any number of reasons, Bedesem decides the time was ripe for a new face and retires from the game. With his career spanning 40 years, Bedesem had begun at the high school level in the mid-’50s through 1970 which included his incredible run at Bishop Egan. He then continued on to stints at Temple, Villanova, Delaware Valley and Pittsburgh. With championships the norm, more all state players then can be listed and eight NFL players mentored under his direction, he will always be recalled as one of the greats of the game.
1995 − Mark Schmidt is named head coach of the Redskins following the retirement of Bedesem. A local talent out of Lower Moreland (he was a star for the Lions and while there played on “Heartbreak Ridge” against Maple Point in the late ’70s), the firebrand Schmidt brings a wealth of coaching skills earned in both the high school and college ranks (just what Langhorne was looking for to get the burners relit). Following high school Schmidt starred on the field at Ursinus and after graduation, in 1982, he heeds the siren call of coaching. Schmidt enjoyed stints as a coach at Norristown High as well as the University of Kentucky, Temple University and Lock Haven prior to his arrival in Langhorne. And although his first year was a bit rocky as the team earns but one win, fans will soon enough realize that a second “Golden Age” had begun at Neshaminy.
1996 − Finding his footing, and with the players “buying in”, Schmidt guides the team to a 7-3 finish as his zeal and energy help the ‘Skins post their first winning season of the ’90s.
1997 − In Schmidt’s third season the team comes out on top against Abington in a track meet that ends 69-36. An offensive whiz, Schmidt’s ability to put together “high scoring” clubs will be one of his hallmarks. In fact, the Abington game represents the most points scored by a Redskin club in a single game while the 105 total points is also a record for “most points” by both teams in a single game. The ‘Skins are 7-3, just as in ’96; however, two of the losses are by just three points each as Schmidt’s abilities are demonstrated by the team’s on-the-field results.
1998 − The team comes in at a disappointing 3-7 but Antoine Lovelace is named first team all state as a receiver. He is Schmidt’s first player to be selected to the statewide post-season all star team.
1999 − In the “Dirt Game”, Neshaminy lugs some grass and sod from “Heartbreak Ridge” and secretly spreads it on Falcon Field during warm-ups. The charm seems to work as the Schmidtmen take the game, 17-14, to break a jinx that has plagued the ‘Skins in Fairless Hills for decades. The team finishes 8-2 with its two losses to Central Bucks West and North Penn who were ranked number one and two in the state that year. Chris Vincent leads the backfield charge and goes on to play for the Oregon Ducks before becoming an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons. Lovelace plays in the Big 33 game during the summer and will be the first of ten Schmidt coached players to participate through the 2012 game.
2000 − In a so-so year the ‘Skins put a 6-4 record in the vault. But the underclassmen led team will be making a lot of noise in just another short twelve-months. The team also earns its 400 victory that year with a 35-12 win over North Penn. The Pennsylvania Football News holds a statewide fan vote that season to select first, second and honorable mention all-20th Century Pennsylvania scholastic teams. There are 80 players selected and four of them are Redskins. Only two schools, Altoona and Connelsville, have more players with five each. The four Neshaminy players are Schuh, Baxter and the Bahr brothers. Meanwhile the school district reaches just over 69,000 residents in total as the expansion and building years that fueled its growth during the post-war years have clearly run their course.
2001 − Leaving no doubt that Neshaminy was back on top, the team finishes the 2001 season unbeaten at 15-0 and establishes the best ever record by a Redskins team. They earn their first D1 title, Eastern Championship and PIAA 4A title along the way. At season’s end they are ranked 9th in the country by USA Today. Masters of Houdini-like escapes from “death”, the club rallies from fourth quarter, two touchdown deficits in four separate games that year. Twice the winning TD was scored with under a minute to go while once the scoreboard clock had run to 00:00. Considered serious “dogs” to a Woodland Hills team led by Steve Breaston (and which had mauled its regular season and playoff opponents), the ‘Skins were unbowed as they took the Wolverines down, 21-7, in the state title game.
Jamar Brittingham became the first Lower Bucks running back to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season that year (he finished with 2,565 yards on the ground and 30 touchdowns) while five players earned all state honors including Brittingham, Keith Ennis, Steve Brett, John Koch and Jay Collins. It’s a record for the most Redskins named all state in a single season, surpassing the four honored in 1971. Brittingham later plays at Bloomsburg University where he established 27 school and conference records including Bloomsburg records for career rushing yards (5,689) and total points scored (516). He is signed as a priority free agent by the Atlanta Falcons before being later released. Other players go on to make contributions at the next level as well. Schmidt is named Coach of The Year in almost every poll.
2002 − The ‘Skins finish the season at 8-2 and head to the playoffs for the second straight year. Losing to Ridley on the road in Round One, 17-16, Neshaminy’s three losses that year are by 1, 2 and 3 points. Winners of the first three that year, though, the 18 straight unbeaten and untied games, stretching back through 2001, equal the record that was set by Franks’ 1952 and ’53 squads. Brittingham and Ennis play in the Big 33 making it the third time two Neshaminy players are in the contest the same year. They also represent Schmidt’s second and third players in the classic.
2004 – The Redskins make it to Hershey for the second time in 36 months but Pittsburgh Central Catholic is too much as Neshaminy “settles” for silver as they finish 13-2. The team scores 466 total points breaking the record of the 1960 team which had put 436 points on the scoreboard. The team’s win over Easton in the Eastern Championship game is Schmidt’s 70th which eclipses Franks’ record of 69 for a Neshaminy head man (Franks tallied the wins from 1952 through 1959). Five players earn all state status tying the record for most players in a season set in 2001. They are Georg Coleman, Kevin Kelly, Tom McEowen, Kevin Staub and Joe Moutoux. Coleman rushes for 2,168 yards and is the second Redskin player to log over 2,000 ground yards in a season. Kelly’s four years as a varsity starter (2001 − 2004) is the first time a player makes that claim since Wayne “Inky” Schneider (1942 − 1946). Kelly goes on to play four years at Penn State (2005 through 2008) where he becomes the all time leading scorer for the Nittany Lions with 376 points. He is also the all time leading kick scorer in the Big Ten. Bob Willits starts the Neshaminy football website.
2005 − The ’05 Redskins score 448 points in 12 games as they average 37.33 points a game which puts them in second position all time for “average per game” (behind the 1960 team’s 39.63 average). They move ahead of the 1954, 1961, 1962 and 1971 teams which had previously rounded out the top five. Schmidt coaches his 119th game during the season which breaks the old mark of 118 set by Beck who bossed the ‘Skins from 1929 through 1942. Kelly plays in the Big 33, the fourth Schmidt player. The team finishes 9-1 during the regular season ending the 17-year cycle of perfect regular season teams dating back to 1954, and then 1971 and 1988. The playoff loss to Downingtown East, 45-38, is an instant classic (despite the loss). Led by their all star quarterback, Pat Devlin, the Cougars rallied from a 38-28 deficit in the final six minutes of the game. Devlin went on to Penn State and then Delaware before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins where he is their backup QB.
And with Neshaminy claiming its own “super-star” quarterback that year in Andrew Flogel (2004 – 2006), whose running abilities were second to none, the fans were reminded of another great running QB from 40 years earlier, Jimmy Colbert. Then throwing the equally prolific ground efforts of senior running backs and twin brothers, Justin and Jarred Kinney, into the mix, the Redskins’ year long average of over seven and one-half yards per rush is easily understood. A talent laden team, four of the ’05 players were named all state including Tom McEowen, Scott Schiavo, Jarred Kinney and Chris Daino.
2006 − A strangely off year for the Redskins, the team finishes 6-4. Chris Daino and Tom McEowen play in the Big 33 which is the fourth time a Redskin duo makes the classic. They are also the fifth and sixth players to earn the honor under Schmidt. The game is special too as Schmidt serves as its head coach. He directs the Pennsylvania stars to a wild 61-42 win over Ohio’s premier players. Over the years Schmidt also serves as the head man, or assistant coach, in the Bucks County, NJ v. Northeast, Chesapeake Bowl and US Army post-season high school all-star games.
2007 − The ‘Skins finish 11-2 and score 449 points which is second only to 2004’s 466 output. Running back Jason Ulmer heads into what will ultimately be the last game of the season, against Ridley, with 186 total points and needing just one TD to break Bob Baxter’s 191 single season point total record; however, Neshaminy is stopped by the Green Raiders, 27-7, and Ulmer fails to score but is still second in the all-time single season point total category. Brittingham is third with 180 points. Ulmer’s 1,854 yards rushing yards puts him at third place for a season behind Brittingham and Coleman. Ulmer is selected all state and goes on to star at Kutztown University.
2008 − The team finishes 12-2 with its last game of the season, the District One Championship, against its newest “rivalry” team, the North Penn Knights. Closer than the score indicates, the ‘Skins trailed just 7-0 halfway through the third. Several tough breaks then let the game slip away and it ends 28-0 for the Lansdale club. Still, with the ’08 group a tough and hard-nosed bunch, led by Dan Shirey, Paul Carrezola and Jay Colbert, they showed their mettle multiple times that season especially in game 13, a District One semi-final contest against the Garnet Valley Jaguars. On the road in the frozen “Ice Bowl” game, the ‘Skins immediately fell behind 14-0 before rallying to take a stunning 21-14 win in weather conditions that were brutal. The squad also secured a measure of satisfaction that year with strong playoff wins against Downingtown East, 24-6, and Ridley, 31-3. The Cougars had topped the ‘Skins to end the 2005 playoff run in the 45-38 thriller at “Heartbreak Ridge” while the Green Raiders shut Neshaminy down, 27-7, during the playoffs the previous year. Shirey heads to Villanova after graduation while Carrezola accepts a ride to Rutgers. Colbert chooses the University of New Hampshire. All three will contribute significantly to their respective schools during their football careers at the next level.
2009 − Schmidt coaches his 15th season. It is the most ever by a Neshaminy head coach breaking the 14 year record of Beck set nearly seven decades in the past. The team finishes 9-3 that year and it helps the Redskins post a 93-29 record during the first decade of the new millennium (the decade “measuring system” used is the 0 through 9 years as in 2000 through 2009). The .723 winning percentage during that period is only topped by the .792 for the 1950s and .780 for the ’60s. Dan Shirey and Jay Colbert play in the Big 33. It’s the fifth time two Redskins make the ranks of the best of the best while they represent players number seven and eight during the Schmidt years. Carrezola plays in the East West all-star game (started in 2001 it’s the “other” classic statewide post-season game and he is the tenth Neshaminy player to participate in the game). Shirey also starts as a freshmen for the Villanova Wildcats as they finish 14-1 and win the 2009 Division 1 FCS football national championship beating Montana, 23-21.
2010 − The ‘Skins begin the new decade on a high note as they finish 12-2. They make the District One championship for the fourth time in ten years (2001, 2004 and 2008 were the other squads); however, North Penn proves too much in a one-sided game final. Another highlight is when Neshaminy joins a special club as they earn their 500th all time win with a 41-13 playoff victory over Upper Dublin. Four players are named all-state (Corey Majors, Ryan Katona, Charlie Marterella and Dwight Williams). The district population has remained stable over the preceding decade (just as it had in the ’90s). Coming in at about 70,000 residents there is actually a slight decline in its student population due to a trend to establish smaller families instead of the large groups that was the norm in the ’50s and ’60s.
2011 − Finishing 8-4, the Redskins see six of their players earn all state honors, the most in a single season. They include Bobby Marterella, Kiser Terry, Chris Kutsubos, Bryan Reice, Nicolas Tucci and Sean Ulmer. The multiple selections eclipse the record of five as set in 2001 and then again in 2004. Corey Majors suits up for the Big 33 and he is the ninth under Schmidt to so do. He attends prep school before joining Dan Shirey at Villanova where the two are expected to be integral in 2013.
2012 − The ‘Skins finish 9-4 as they make a run to the D1 semi-finals before being turned back by Coatesville. At the end of the year Schmidt has extended his total season record as Head Coach to 18; total games coached to 212 games; and finally, most wins by a coach at 148 (over double that of Franks’ 69). Nate Hall finishes the year with 1,842 ground yards putting him at fourth position for single season rushing yards honors just behind Ulmer. Luke Carrezola and Hall are both awarded Honorable Mention all state honors by the PFN/Coaches poll and represent the 52nd and 53rd Neshaminy players selected all state since Schuh started it off in 1959 (almost one player a year during the 54 years following). Kiser Terry plays in the Big 33 and is the 19th ‘Skin to suit up in the classic (he is a prep school attendee for a year before moving to Temple for the start of the upcoming 2013 season). Ten of Neshaminy’s 19 Big 33 players are from Schmidt coached teams. Schmidt is also inducted into the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association “Hall of Fame”. He is the third Neshaminy coach so honored with Petercuskie and Bedesem the other two.
Neshaminy ends the year with its football team at 519-306-34 all time for a 63% winning percentage during its 85 years. The Redskins have scored 15,863 points since Paxson caught a pass for the first TD in 1929. They have allowed 11,120. Assuming an average of 2,500 fans a game during their 859 contests it produces an estimate of over 2,100,000 folks having watched the Redskins play football over the years.
2013 – ???
Well, there you have it. Eighty-five years of “milestones”. And I will admit some might not seem positive, mention of a loss, for instance, while others may also seem a bit disconnected (population statistics, as an example) but they still represent milestones, in my humble opinion. Plus as I also said at the beginning, if I missed anything it wasn’t on purpose. In fact, I think every team, play, coach, player, college scholarship, band member, fan, parent, cheerleader, touchdown, field goal or what have you should be on the list (but that might make it a little too long, don’t you think).
So finally wrapping this effort up, although the list above is finite, at the end of the day, one “thing” that isn’t finite is the future Redskin “milestones” yet to come. For as sure as the sun comes up every day, the Redskins will continue to accomplish new feats, set new records and climb new mountains. And you know what – that’s why we love them. We love them because they keep coming back every season and giving us fans more of the same which is great teams, great players, great efforts, great entertainment and great fun!