To the editor,
As someone who considers himself an avid newspaper reader for many years, I want to commend the Gloucester Daily Times and specifically, Times Sports Editor Nick Curcuru for a terrific series on “The Top Twelve Gloucester High School Football Teams of All Time” that ran over a two-week period recently. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these stories each morning and looked forward with anticipation to every article that came next. The reporting and researching was, I suspect, time-consuming and tedious, but well worth it in my opinion.
I grew up in neighboring Rockport, so the names of the student athletes popped out of the page as I can still remember watching many of them playing at Newell Stadium. Who could ever forget Jay Palazola? He played his heart out and was clearly one of the best football players to come out of this area. Palazola, team of ’74, went on to play at Notre Dame University and Boston College. To this day, he is rightfully treated like a sports hero in Gloucester, even though four decades have passed since he played quarterback for Gloucester High School.
The 1956 state championship team that went on to play in Miami remains legendary on Cape Ann and beyond. The late Larry Harding and Peter Hickey, two football standouts, certainly would have been justifiably proud that their team was selected No. 3 of all time.
The 1987 team was highlighted as well. People who followed football in Gloucester remember quite vividly the final drive of the game against Chelmsford High School. It ended in controversy as Gloucester lost in a heartbreaker. Being a college foreign exchange student studying in Paris then, I was unable to see the game. Days after, I got a beautifully written letter from my late father, who attended the game, detailing the excruciating loss. He loved watching high school kids competing in athletics, particularly football.
So often today, we read and watch television documentaries of corruption and violence in our society. We read about athletes who have acted inappropriately and sometimes criminally. We read of politicians who have gotten themselves into significant trouble by allowing their massive egos to get out of hand and by thinking that rules don’t apply to them. Amidst all of that, it was wonderful for me, and I imagine, so many people on Cape Ann to read this series. It may have somehow reminded us of happier times. This series couldn’t have come at a better time.
Paul F. Murphy
Editor’s note: The writer is a Rockport selectman, and assistant principal of Manchester Essex Regional High School.