The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence… Regardless of the chosen field of endeavor ---Vince Lombardi
50 Years of Friar Football - Gene Giello
When people think Bonner football most think of former NFL players Al
Atkinson who played for the New York Jets or John Cappelletti who won the Heisman trophy at Penn State--before he played for the L.A. Rams and San Diego Chargers but let's go back to the real beginning.
The slogan found in the 1957 edition of the Bon-Aire yearbook is - “A Variey of Persons, Places and Things Accounts For Our Spirit found Within”. Actually the Class of 1957 started their high school careers in 1953 at Archbishop Prendergast while Bonner was being built. While under construction it was hailed as the first high school with a college campus easily accessible from Philadelphia by bus; or by the Red Arrow trolley line out of Upper Darby's 69th St terminal serving the outlying suburban areas.
Havertown's Dr. John N. Negrey , who played on Bonner's first football team reflects on what it was like to be one of the first students to attend this new high school and to play for a team that only had freshmen. ”It was a great experience because we were starting a team from scratch. There must have been over 150 kids that went out for the team. I remember that it was such a diverse group of guys from all areas from the Main Line to Darby and Sharon Hill. There was some terrific players on our first team. We were called Prendergast in 1953 but our colors were dark green and white just like today. We didn't have a level field to practice on and guys would get hurt a lot on the fields behind Prendergast. But we persevered and we were very competitive even though teams we were playing had seniors playing against our freshmen and sophomores those first couple of years.
Head Coach Jack Ferrante , who had played for the Eagles, got us games all over the place since we were not in the Catholic League yet! We played in Red Bank, New Jersey and in South Philly against Neuman. We even went up to the coal regions in Pennsylvania and played those teams. Wherever we could get a game we would play. Ferrante was still friendly with the Eagles and would get Steve Van Buren and other Eagles to help out with the team. ( Hall of Fame player Van Buren was an assistant coach and is in the first team picture)
I got my break when one of the coaches Joe “Hap” Appalucci called me over and said he had seen me play CYO ball at Sacred Heart in grade school. I got a chance to play halfback and also played defense. One of the best players was Dave Truitt who was our end. He made All-Catholic in 1956 and got a scholarship and played at Penn State. We had halfbacks Nick DeAngelis and Jim Belfie and linemen Tom Connelly and Tony Radano who also made the All-Catholic team that year. It was our first year in the Catholic League. So you can see we had some good players back then. I know we had a winning record that year. (Bonner was 5-3-2 in their first year in the Catholic League.) I can truly say that they were some of the best years of my life”.
The first player to score a touchdown for Bonner (Prendergast) in a varsity game (September 1954) was Collingdale's halfback Willie Giallonardo. He lives in West Chester now and has been a painting contractor for the last 25 years after a 13 year teaching career in the Interboro School District. He spoke of his affection for his Bonner football and head coach too.
“ Ferrante liked Delaware County guys. Because he had started out playing football in the sand lots until he tried out for the Eagles he was a very down to earth guy .
( Bert Bell who owned the Eagles at the time sent him to the Wilmington Clippers where he became their scoring champion. He finally made the Eagles in 1944 and was a star end until 1950 ) I love the guy. He was more like a “father” figure than a coach. He taught us to be “the best” whether it was on the football field or any other thing we tried in life.
Besides the Eagles that showed up at practice he had other guys that played College football in the area show up and help too. We had a line coach Dick Bjorklund, who had played at Drexel (Drexel had a football team back then) show up and really helped our line with blocking assignments. We became a very solid team running the ball. Those are the things that I'll never forget “.
I asked Willie if this guy was still around. This year's Eagles could probably use him.
Coach Jack Ferrante went on to post a 40-14-4 record in the Catholic League as Bonner's first coach. His teams won the Catholic League Championship in 1959 against LaSalle 6-0 then shut out Central 54-0 in the City Title game. And again in 1961 when they beat LaSalle 13-6 for the Catholic Crown and beat Southern 20-13 to give their retiring coach his 2nd city title in 3 years. He was truly the architect for future Friar teams. He is now retired and living in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Ferrante's All Catholic players included:
1956---OT Tom Connelly, G Tony Radano, E Dave Truitt, RBs Nick DeAngelis and Jim Belfie, 1957---RB Dave O'Donnell and OT Fred Capello, 1958---OT Tony Scarelli , G Tony Coll, E Dick Cioni and RBs Bill Grubb and Charley Ricevuto,
1959---C Tony Dolcemore, E Warren Winterbottom, RBs Russ Hendricks and Gary Wolfe, 1960---OT Al Atkinson, G Gerry Metcalf, C Charles Moore, RB Russ Hendricks and E Henry Nowak, 1961---OT John Levi, C Joe McGilligan and RB Pete Padley
Following Coach Ferrante was:
Al Postus 1963-1964 record 8-9-1 -- All- Catholic
1963---C Neil McCrossan, 1964---OT Mike Guerin, C Neil McCrossan, OT Dominic Salotta and E Joe Luchetta
Jack Gottshalk 1965-1970 record 32-21-4 - All Catholic
1965---C Butch Benjamin, RB Frank Bennett, 1966---RB Sean Meagher and E Tom Matthews, 1967---E Bill Mingey, 1968---QB John Cappelletti, OL Gerry Ward, Jim Delaney and RB Steve Phillips, 1969---RB John Cappelletti, OL Paul Lutz and E Drew Doorey
And in the first year Defensive players were recognized in the Catholic League DB Joe Dollymore also was an All-Catholic player, 1970---OL Jim Minnick, LB Joe Dollymore and DB Jim Hughes
Joe DeVito 1971-1973 record 16-12 --All Catholic
1971---OL Mike Finneety, DB Frank Lynch, 1972---RB Mike Lombardi, OL Joe Scopczynski, LB Bill Tidmarsh, 1973---DB John Jones
Joe Motta 1974-1977 record 17-21-1 - All Catholic
1974---OL Mike Cangi, DL Paul Magee, DB Bill Minnis, 1975---DL Ernie Carsia, LB Lou Tomasetti, 1976---RB Mike Sherlock, OL Ken DeFeo, DL Ernie Carsia,
1977---C Tom Dunn, OL Ken DeFeo, LB Paul Brown
Vince Knoll 1978-1984 record 38-33-1 - All Catholic
1978---WR Wally Rutecki, RB Kevin O'Sullivan, OL Steve Minnick,
DL Joe Whinnery, DB Tom Leonard, 1979---RBs Kevin O'Sullivan and Pete Kirlin, OL Vince Jasinnas, DE Russ Hendricks, LB Rod Meer, DBs John Rutecki and Mike Farren, 1980---K Jim Chupein, RB Ralph Lamarra, C John Schmitt, OL Pat Spellman, DE Dan Horan, LB Jim Hennelly, 1981---OL Dan Brodeur, K-P Jim Chupein, RB Ralph Lamarra, OL Mike Hussey, WR Bill Scanlon, LB Tom Abram, DBs Jim Hennelly and Matt Senior, 1982---RB Larry Bilotta, OL Fran Mitros, DE Ed Monaghan, DL Neil Dabagian, LB Mike Hussey, DB Bob Craskey, 1983---RB Paul McNichol, K Mike Kollhoff, Ol Fran Mitros, DE Tony Amoroso,
LB Ed Monaghan, DBs Jerry Hunt and Tom Gallia.
1984---Ed Monaghan made All-Catholic as an Offensive Lineman and Defensive End, QB Tom Colvin, WR Joe Coll, DL Pete Ruggieri, LB Joe Gallagher,
DB Jerry Hunt
Sparky Faries 1985-1988 record 27-14-1 -All Catholic
1985---OL Jerry Coughlin, C Frank Peaschek, RB Larry Clark, K Chuck Chupein, DE John McSorley, DL Pete Ruggieri, LB Joe Gallagher, DL Mike Jones
1986---OL Jerry Coughlan, RB Larry Clark, DE Jerry Atchison, DB Pete Klein
1987---RB John Staiber, OL Marvin Fowler, DE Dan Summers, LB John DeFuscio, DBs Ron Zuccato and Tony Gallagher
1988---RB Lou Cristinziani, DB Bob Frazier, DE Tom Fitzpatrick, DL Pete Coppola, Tony DeSante, and Roger Reilly, LB John DeFuscio
Mike ”Stumpy” Coyne 1989 to present 83-72 -All Catholic
1989---RB Lou Cristinziani, OL Gene Stickley, C Jim Carrigan, K Dan DiRita, DE Kyle Kollmar, DB Kevin Miller
1990---QB Tom Caruso, RB Brandon Fickenscher, WR Mike DeLacy, OL Bill Whalen and Gene Stickley, K Steve Wright, DE Bob Byrne, DB Joe Slavin
1991---QB Jim Corkey, RB Jeff Morelli, TE/ P Harry Binck, C Brian McCoy, OL/DL Brian Campbell, K Steve Wright, DL Wendell Parker, LB Mike Hemmert, DBs Greg Venuti, Tony Stabilo, DE Greg McEntee
1992---RB Greg Kirwan, OL Dan Palmer and Shawn Bell, LB Mike Hemmert, DL Brain Noll, DB Greg Venuti
1993---WR Chris Hemmert, TE Anthony Becht, DB George Myers, OL John Garrity, P Tom Shull
1994---QB Mike Mitros, WR Chris Hemmert, TE Anthony Becht, RB Dave Bradley, C John Whalen, OL Brian Morrow, P Jon Bystrek, DL Brian “Sluggo” Fleming, LB Tom Oropeza, DB Pat McKenna, OL Jason Hotchkiss, DE Chris Beaty
1995---RB Matt Giello, LB Bill Collins, OL Brian Morrow, DE John Schiazza, WR Scott Hunter
1996---C Jim Asciutto, TE Jim Davie, OL Leon Armour, DL Jermaine Johnson, DE Fran Nelling, LB Mike O'Neill, DB Scott Hunter
1997---QB Dan Ryan, TE Jim Davie, WR Fran Nelling, DB Gerry McElhenny, OL Steve Bernard, DB Dennis Moran
1998---DB/ RB Ryan Benner, WR Chris Hopkins, P John Stauffer, OL Dan McLaughlin, DL Brandon Paige, LB Ralph Richetti
1999---OL Tom McHugh, P Bert Wentzel, DL Chris Wentworth, DB Ryan Benner
2000---WR/DB Kevin LeSage, RB Paul Kollhoff, OL Tom McHugh, DL Eric Bayliss, LB Joe Boland
Mike Coyne - Named “Coach of the Year” in 2000 in the Red Division as Bonner makes it to semi-final game against St Joe's Prep before losing.
2001---WR/DB Kevin LeSage, TE Joe Boland, K Chris Schrader, QB Mike Stauffer, C Mike Whalen, RBs Paul Kollhoff and Jason Smith, DL Mike Kozak, LB Dom Armdeo, DE Pat McCarthy
Kevin LeSage -Named “Co-MVP” with St Joe's RB Kyle Ambrogi in 2001 in the Red Division.
Current Head Coach Mike “Stumpy”Coyne has carried on the Friar tradition and is actually the longest tenured coach Bonner now entering his 15th year. Last year's team did made it to the Red Catholic League Championship game before losing to St. Joe's Prep 31-6. (Bonner's only other loss last year was also to St. Joe's Prep)
Stumpy's record coming into this season is 83-72.He has formed a group of young coaches who were players on the 1994 team and won the “Big Game”. They helped Bonner get there last year. Hopefully they will win it the next time. This could be the year it happens for the Green and White.
The 1994 Friars were the last team to win a Catholic League Championship against Archbishop Carroll 21-0 ending a 33 year drought. That team had 13 players go on to play college football. Anthony Becht, who played at West Virginia, made it to the NFL as a first round pick and is the starting tight end for the New York Jets.
Bonner News Highlight
The Annual Hero Bowl was called the Delaware County All-Star Football Game and actually didn't have a sponsor for the first five years it was played from 1957 to 1961. It was resumed by the Knights of Columbus De LaSalle Council 590 in conjunction with the Delaware County Coaches Association in 1977. It was the first High School All-Star football game in Delaware County since 1961 and was played in memory of Joe Cappelletti, the younger brother of Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti, who died form leukemia in April 1976. The proceeds of the game went to further cancer research. In 1979 proceeds from the event went to the Eagles Fly for Leukemia Fund. The Hero Scholarship Fund of Delaware County Inc assumed sponsorship of the event in 1981. All proceeds from the game now go to the Hero Scholarship Fund, which benefits the children of fire fighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel who die in the line of duty.
Bonner Record Holders
Passing yardage in a season- Mike Mitros 2,288 1994
Passing yardage in a career - Mike Mitros 4,929 1992-1994
Passing attempts in a game - Mike Mitros 36 1994 vs. Upper Draby
Passing attempts in a season- Mike Mitros 274 1994
Completions in a season Mike Mitros 150 1994
Completions in a career Mike Mitros 315 1992-1994
Touchdown passes in a season Mike Mitros 24 1994
Touchdown passes in a career Mike Mitros 42 1992-1994
Receiving yards in a season Kevin LeSage 812 2001
Chris Hemmert 799 1994
Anthony Becht 757 1994
Chris Hemmert 663 1993
Receptions in a season Chris Hemmert 62 1994
Receptions in a career Chris Hemmert 109 1993-1994
Receiving yards in a game Wally Rutecki 244 1978
Kevin LeSage 222 2001 vs. St. Joe's Prep
Longest TD runs with kickoff Matt Giello 95 1995 vs. O'Hara
Steve Phillips 92 1968 vs. O'Hara
Reds O'Connell 86 1957 vs. West Catholic
Mike Lombardi 86 1972 vs. Roman
Mark Melito 85 1978 vs. Neumann
Leslie Johnson 82 1962 vs. North Catholic
Longest TD runs with punt Lou Cristinziani 98 1989 vs. Academy Park
Rushing Yardage in game Mike Sherlock 305 1976
Chuck Raech 304 1978
Mike Lombardi 290 1972
Lou Cristinziani 269 1989 vs. Haverford
Jeff Morelli 237 1991 vs. O'Hara
Greg Kirwan 233 1992 vs. Academy Park
Rushing Yardage in season Mike Lombardi 1556 1972
Jeff Morelli 1,386 1991
Greg Kirwan 1.335 1992
Lou Cristinziani 1,277 1989
Longest Field Goal Jim Chupein 49 1980
Field Goals in season Jim Chupein 9 1982
Field Goals in career Jim Chupein 13 1980-1982
Longest Punt Rich Unipan 72 1963 vs. West Catholic
I would like to thank the Delaware County Daily Times Terry Toohey, John Lohn and Ted Silary from the Philadelphia Daily News for helping find this information about Bonner Football. Some vital information about Bonner's early years was extracted from the Bonner yearbook archives thanks to Director of Development Dee Vaughn.