Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raising a Glass to the Cerise and White Football Team.

Early this week, Lourdes Regional entered into a co-op agreement with Mount Carmel for football and baseball ended nearly 50 years of Lourdes Regional football. Although, not unexpected it is a little bit of a shock.  The Red Raiders finally got caught up in a numbers crunch where fielding a team became a safety issue. 

Shutting down the football team and co-oping with MCA is a wise decision.   When I entered the halls of Lourdes Regional in the fall of 1980, 550 students were in grades 9 through 12.  Now a high school class averages from 20 to 30.  It's not that students deserted Lourdes Regional.  Working families fled the area that feeds the high school.

Over the years, Lourdes Regional did have some success on the field in different decades.  The 1972 team was undefeated in the old Central Penn Catholic League which featured team like Bishop McDevitt, Lancaster Catholic and Trinity.  The 1974 team went 10-0-2 and tied West Scranton for the Eastern Conference Class A crown.  The '74 team was part of local "golden age" where Mount Carmel were champs in '73, then Lourdes in '74 followed by Shamokin's magical '75 team.

The 1983 team went 9-1 and was narrowly edged out for a EC division crown by Southern Columbia who went to win the first of many EC, District and State titles.

Although most of the Red Raiders glory years were absent of playoff games and wins but some of the highlights include:

1974 - 12-12 tie with Mount Carmel
1974 - 14-14 tie with West Scranton for a share of EC big school title.
1974 -  26-19 win over Shamokin in first game between the schools.
1983 -  20-8 win over Shamokin for first win against the Indians since 1974.
1984 -  20-14 win over Shamokin on the "Reiprish to Olear to Witt" hook-and-ladder in the final minute.

Some of the top players for the Red Raiders over the years include Rich Reiprish who went on to earn a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints.  Ron Gryzbowski who starred at North Carolina and had a try out with the Dallas Cowboys. Dennis Zmudzin who was a star at Penn State.  Dr. Martin DeFrancesco who went on to Brown University. Finally, Judge Tom Vanaskie who starred at Lycoming College.

Leo Mulhall was the first head coach at Lourdes Regional.  Michael "Gish" Klembara had two different stints and still remains the face of the program.  Bob Oravitz, Ron Gryzbowski, Bob Chesney, Ken Shedleski, and Corey Houser round out the group of head coaches.  I may be missing a name or two from the 60's.

I played for both Gryzbowski and Chesney.  Both were men of great integrity.  Many things that I learned from them and their coaching staffs, I apply in my daily life.  I can honestly say, without them, graduating college would not have been possible.

If this is the final whistle for the football team, it will not be measured by wins and losses or trophies in the case.  It will be measured on the character of men it produced and how they affected and helped the lives of others.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

Nice post, Ed. Very nostalgic -- brings back so many wonderful memories!

Lourdes Regional and the people who passed through the hallowed halls of Lourdes will always have a special place in my heart!

~Mrs. Fisher