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Northwood Football: '54 and '55

Northwood Football: '54 and '55

By Stephen Reed

When I published an earlier article on teams from the seventies coached by Bruce Colon, Tom Bucken, and me, I received some mail from those from earlier decades recalling their squads. Mark Runge passed along some reminiscences from Bill McCluskey, who coached in those years. This is my first offering in a short series of his recollections beginning with the ’54 and ’55 teams: 

1954 

Jim Fullerton was the head coach and I helped out with the line. It was a very trying year – the team had lots of spirit, but no wins. Bob Stephens and Dave Coseo were tops in the backfield. The season was typified by Coseo breaking his ankle in the Mineville game just before we tackled Lake Placid.   

1955 

Tony Pell and Bob Taitt were the captains of the ’55 team; Pell was the quarterback as well. We started off well, defeating previous year’s champs, Port Henry, by a touchdown. The euphoria ended the next week when Plattsburgh stomped us 31-0. Then we played Ticonderoga and were in a dogfight until we discovered that they were absolutely baffled by the most ancient of trick plays, The Statue of Liberty. Coach Holt and I had added it to our repertoire just for fun. I think we ran it more than any game in previous American football history (Pell to Rojo) and won by a point.  

Then we got stopped by MAI and got really stomped by St. John’s, 53-18. That made me vow that Saint John’s would never do that to Northwood again. They had a great halfback, Ron Dukette, more of him later. We tied Mineville – they were not polished football players but were always tough kids. The highlight was Tony Pell and Paul Clare making a colossal crashing tackle and all but knocking each other out. 

The highlight of ’55 was a drubbing of Lake Placid, 24-6, and we all ended up in Mirror Lake. I can still remember how cold the water was.