Old Forge (Class of 1942)
East Stroudsburg (Class of 1950), degree in physical
school athletic career:
Played football, basketball and baseball.
Was a 210-pound offensive lineman and nose guard.
"When you're slow and Polish, they put you on the
school coaching career:
Was Neshaminy's defensive line coach in 1954 and
assistant head coach from 1955-59. He was head coach
from 1960-65, finishing 59-1-5, with the only loss
coming in 1961 when Easton scored the winning
touchdown with 36 seconds to go. The Redskins won 51
games in a row at one point. During the streak, they
averaged almost 30 points and posted 26 shutouts.
"It was fun. We just played, and suddenly, we won a
lot of games. We had a good staff and good players."
Defensive line coach at Dartmouth (1966-68),
defensive coordinator at Boston College (1969-72)
and Princeton (1973-77), defensive line coach at
Harvard (1987-88) and defensive line and special
teams coach at Liberty (1989-94).
Professional coaching career:
Defensive line and special teams coach for the
Cleveland Browns from 1978-84.
Is a member of the following halls of fame:
Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches
Association; Neshaminy; Scranton; East Stroudsburg;
and Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.
Turned 80 on Jan. 31, 2005. A half dozen of his former
Neshaminy players attended his mini-party. "It was a
total surprise. It was a great reunion. We had a
Centerville, Mass., on Cape Cod Family: Wife of 56
years, Dorothy; sons John, Jerry (an assistant
football coach at Boston College) and Gary; seven
grandchildren, ages 4-25; and a 2-month-old
great-granddaughter, Grace, who won $100 in a Super
Bowl block pool. "I was rooting for the Eagles," her
Retired. Keeps active playing golf, woodworking and
babysitting his grandchildren. "I keep busy. The day
doesn't drag by." This weekend, he's in Myrtle
Beach, S.C., with about 40 former Neshaminy football
players, playing golf and reminiscing. Current coach
Mark Schmidt is among the group. "We have a good
time, the old guys and the new regime. (Schmidt) is
doing a fabulous job."
Simply watching players at all levels achieve their
potential. "I just enjoyed football. I enjoyed the
practices and pay day, which was game day." The high
school years hold a special fondness. "My love for
Neshaminy is great."
who had the greatest impact:
As a youngster, Old Forge football legends such as
Louis Tomasetti and Chuck Cherundolo, both of whom
played in the NFL. "We used to carry their helmets
to practice." Also, Elio Ghigarelli, who hired him
as an assistant football coach at Old Forge.
Coaching colleagues Pete Cordelli, Jack Swartz and
Bob Hart. Bob Blackman, who hired him at Dartmouth.
And Sam Rutigliano, whom he coached under with the
Browns and at Liberty.
"Life has been good."
A ceremony was
held in honor of Coach Petercuskie and a bronze statue of
the coach was unveiled as part of the new wall of fame which
was also erected this year. You can read about the event
Bronze Statue of `Cuskie is unveiled.
2018 "Neshaminy football coach John Petercuskie remembered for his impact on others"
Bucks County Courier Times April 26, 2018 – Article by Ed Krancz
He had a 59-1-5 record while at the school, but his influence on others went well beyond how many games he won
Mourners poured into Massachusetts from far and wide on Wednesday, some making the long drive from Bucks County,
others coming in from Memphis or Virginia or North Carolina. For others, it was easier, as they made the shorter ride into Cape Cod.
They came until the John Lawrence Funeral Home in Marstons Mills could fit no more. The overflow crowd then
spilled into St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Cotuit. Not even the rain could keep them from coming.
It was, as they say in the sports world, standing-room only.
They had all come to pay their final respects to John Petercuskie, who died at the age of 93 last Friday.
It's an age where, more often than not, there are very few of your peers left to pay their final respects
other than assorted children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, which Petercuskie had plenty of.
It was in the world of sports where Petercuskie left his mark, specifically as a football coach,
with his first stop at Neshaminy high school. For five years he was the head coach for Neshaminy,
after spending 10 years as an assistant to Harry Franks. During the five years Petercuskie spent in
charge at the Lower Bucks school, the football team went 59-1-5 and put together a 51-game winning streak.
"We were good friends until we were playing each other," said former Pennsbury coach Chuck Kane,
who roomed with Petercuskie during coaching clinics in Atlantic City. "Our games, there were no holds
barred. We were determined to outcoach each other, but afterward, we were good friends again. He was an
excellent coach. He worked hard and that made you work hard."
Even now, Petercuskie's presence graces Harry Franks Stadium. A bronze statue of him was placed at the entrance to the stadium in 2010.
"He provided a way out of Levittown and Feasterville for so many of us," said Ernie Forchetti,
who played quarterback for Petercuskie before moving on to play the same position at then-West Chester State College.
"A lot of us got football scholarships. It changed my life. I went to college. I got a doctorate.
I coached for 10 years. I have a very nice life in part because of coach 'Cuskie."
Forchetti, who spent time on the staff at the University of Arizona, made the five-hour
drive north from his New Jersey home for the funeral.
Petercuskie carved a coaching career that spanned 42 years and took him to college coaching
staffs at Dartmouth, Boston College, Princeton, Harvard, and Liberty. He ultimately spent
eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns and was on staff when the Browns won the AFC Division
Championship and, that same season, he coached the AFC Pro Bowl team in Hawaii.
"He was the best, the best I ever played for and that included prep school after Neshaminy and four years of college,"
said Jack Stricker, who was a standout tailback at Neshaminy then played the same position at Temple University.
"He was one of the greatest coaches I ever had. It was just his demeanor, what he stood for, and how he taught you.
He was the consummate teacher."
He was known as "coach," but, really, he was more than that. He was a health and physical education
teacher at Neshaminy, and could remember the names of every student he ever taught, according to Stricker, who
resides outside of Charlotte, N.C., and made it a point to see his former coach every year since the two were
inducted into the Neshaminy Football Hall of Fame together in 1985.
Petercuskie was an impactor of people, and that is why so many people from all
over the east coast wanted to say good-bye.
"He always had time for everybody," said Jerry Petercuskie, one of three sons born to John and his wife Dorothy.
"All his golfing buddies, they could hardly walk anymore, but they showed up. He always had time for you whether
you were the janitor or the president of the (golf) club, he had an ear for you and a caring way about him that made
you feel special. I think he made you feel like you were his best friend."
Jerry was the middle son, between older brother John and younger brother Gary.
The impact father left on son Jerry was that of a coach. It was the coaching business that
Jerry got into and spent 40 years doing, spending time on the same staff with his father at Liberty from 1989-1994.
"I'll never have (a statue) for me, though," said Jerry, with a laugh.
If there were a statue for just living life the right way, well, Petercuskie would have one of those, too.
He never forgot anyone, especially Carol Ridge, who still resides in Bucks County and was the Petercuskie's babysitter.
Ridge receive a birthday present two days before Petercuskie died.
"Dorothy told me John would never let me forget you; he loved you," said Ridge, who had Petercuskie
for health class in seventh grade.
In his retirement, Petercuskie would sit on his back deck with a cigar and a Manhattan surrounded by family and friends.
He would always have an apple waiting for the paperboy when he delivered the news.
At the local recycling plant on Cape Cod, he would bring his recyclables and always had two cans of
Coke for those working there. Even the recyclable personnel showed up for the final farewell to Petercuskie.
"His relationship started with them when he went there in 85 degree weather, there was no AC,
it was hot there, and he brings them two Cokes," said Gary Petercuskie. "He did that for 15 years.
Now, I'm bringing them two Cokes. I said to him, 'Why do you bring them Cokes?'
"He told me a story that when he was at Neshaminy and he had to make extra money before the start of football season,
he got a job as a flag man for a construction company. One day a guy stopped that he didn't know and the guy didn't
know him, but he said he looked thirsty and handed him two waters. That speaks volumes about the kind of person he was."
It speaks to why the hundreds of people he impacted and were still able to do so came to say good-bye.