By Bill Stewart
The greatest period of Saugus football lasted from 1938 to 1950, in my estimation. During this period, the Sachems won three state championships, numerous North Shore Championships and two Exchange Bowls trophies and had many area All-Stars and State All-Stars and a couple of players who went on to play professional football in the NFL. We will have to read this in installments; it is too much information to fit in one column. We will start with the period of 1938 to 1941 and follow further in consecutive weeks.
The team was 5-5 in 1938, but some young players were starting their career. The next year the team went 10-1, then 7-3 in 1940, and 10 wins and a tie in 1941.
Stackpole Field was dedicated on Friday, Sept.16, 1938. Governor Charles F. Hurley attended as a guest and introduced the flag raising ceremony, and over 5,000 people attended. Mike Harrington was a sophomore back then, and he ran a kickoff back 78 yards to set up a touchdown, but Saugus fumbled. Mike intercepted a pass and ran into the endzone to put the Sachems ahead to stay. Among the players were Pratt, Warren, Ray Mansfield, Flaherty, Del Pitman, Merrithew, Vatcher and Earl Hanson. Harrington also played baseball. The Sachems had Cheerleaders and a Ski Club.
The 1939 season started with a 12-0 loss to Medford, a Class A team. Saugus was in Class C. From that point on, with the exception of a tie, the Sachems defeated all – except for a tie with another Class A team, Melrose. The Sachems also defeated Class A teams Cambridge Latin, Woburn and Salem. They brought down Class B teams Wakefield, Gloucester and Danvers. Beating a Class A team earned 10 points in the standings, and a Class B victory was worth 8 points. A Class C win gained 6 points. The Sachems had 77 points, which gave them the Class C Championship. Art Statuto played his first season and eventually went all the way to the NFL, where he played center for the L.A. Rams. Shipulski started his Sachem career here. Harrington earned the title “Iron Mike.” The team added two Wladkowski brothers and included most of the group from the prior year. The baseball team went 10-8-5.
The 1940 season was slightly lower with 6 wins, a tie and 3 loss record. A big addition to the schedule was Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to Stackpole, and the Sachems won 20-7. This season was the last for “Iron Mike,” but the first for Eddie “Shipper” Shipulski. New student teams were added this year for the Sachems. Girls Basketball and Boys Hockey were introduced, and the Sachems continued Golf, Track and Baseball.
We had new coaches in 1941; Hank Toczylowsky, who earlier was the Boston College quarterback, installed a system that brought another Class C Championship to the Sachems. The team went 9-0-1, beating Chelsea and Woburn, tying Leominster, then beating Gloucester, Amesbury, Melrose, Revere, Swampscott, Marblehead and Wakefield. The Sachems shut out Chelsea, Woburn, Amesbury, Melrose, Revere and Marblehead. Swampscott was the highest scorer against Saugus, but their 13 points were overcome by the Sachems, who scored 34. Shipulski had an outstanding year and Eddie Koschei started his career.
The boys added a Basketball team. The Girls’ Athletic Association was formed this year and played Field Hockey, Basketball, Bowling, Volleyball and Badminton. The boys’ Cross-Country team won the North Shore Invitational Championship.
This period was the start of things to come, which we will look for next week.
(Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, who is better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” writes a weekly column about sports – and sometimes he opines on current or historical events or famous people.)