1971 Team of the Century

 

 
 
 

Pennsylvania Football News, November 12, 2004

Great Pennsylvania Teams

 
Hl Wlson

Hal Wilson

Neshaminy 1971

Acclaimed the "Team of the Century" in Lower Bucks County, the 1971 Neshaminy Redskins were a great offensive squad with superb running and passing skills. The aggressive defense was outstanding as well. Winners of the Big Seven and Lower Bucks County Section One titles, the Redskins won eleven straight games, averaging nearly 35 points. The Big Seven included the five big schools in the Lehigh Valley plus Pennsbury − a tough league with big games every week.

This wonderful season opened against neighborhood rival Bishop Egan. Before a home crowd of 12,000, Quarterback Pete Cordelli, on crutches a week earlier and halfback Joe Sroba led the attack and Neshaminy won 27-8.

Two trips to Allentown resulted in wins − 33-7 over Allen − fullback Bruce Traney scored four times after the Canaries got on the board first − and 26 − 8 over a physical Dieruff team.

Another 13,000 saw the Redskins gain revenge against a strong Bethlehem Liberty team which had spoiled a perfect Neshaminy season in 1970 in a game in Bethlehem. The convincing 33-6 home victory took the Redskin record to 6-0.

Against Bensalem, All-America split end Dale Forchetti caught a screen pass, reversed his field four times and went 80 yards for a score. His blockers found themselves in on multiple hits as the play progressed. The Redskins won 49-0.

In the season-ending showdown with arch-rival Pennsbury, loser only once, Neshaminy turned the ball over three times in the first half, twice on interceptions and one more time on a fumble. The Redskins were behind after the Falcons cashed a field goal and touchdown. Neshaminy Trailed 10-0 and only a last second TD, scored on Cordelli's six yard sprint around right end, made it 10-7 at the half. The Redskins then ground out two second half touchdowns and completed the perfect season with a thrilling 21-17 victory in the "Super Bowl" of Bucks County.

Little Mike Pannucci had replaced injured starter Pete Schupakus. He, Cordelli, and hard-hitting Traney led the way. Pannucci paced all rushers while Cordelli was 11 for21. 15,000 witnessed the game at Langhorne.

Neshaminy never punted in this game.

Guard Joe Chamberlain recently called 1971 a "dream season". The Neshaminy faithful were pessimistic at the start, but the enthusiasm for this team grew as the season progressed. Chamberlain related, "We said a pre-game prayer − that we would play to the best of our ability and no one would be hurt. We never wanted to disappoint ourselves and our fans."

Center and linebacker Chuck Lodge remembers the camaraderie of this team. "There was no hint of any problems; no 'me first'. It was all for the team. This atmosphere was pervasive."

Quarterback Cordelli, split end and defensive back Forchetti, and center and linebacker Lodge were each named to the first team All-State offense. The combination of the left-handed throwing Cordelli and Forchetti, who had great moves, speed and hands was lethal to Redskin opponents. Forchetti was on the field for every play until game outcomes were assured - offense, defense and special teams.

Lodge, Cordelli and defensive tackle Dan Meier went to North Carolina State

to play for Lou Holtz. Cordelli stayed with Holtz after graduation and worked with him at Arkansas, Minnesota and Notre Dame. He then became head coach at Kent State. He is now a sports broadcaster in Memphis. Meier has coached three Virginia scholastic title teams. Lodge moved to Villanova where he was an All-East center for the Wildcats.

Fullback Traney played at Georgia Tech. Sroba and halfback Pete Schupakus joined the Virginia program where Joe's brother was on the squad. Schupakus later moved on to Temple. Bruce McHale was a member of Penn State's perfect record 1974 Orange Bowl champions. Sroba works now as a sports agent, while Traney is an attorney in Los Angeles. McHale is a guidance counselor for delinquent girls and Schupakus helps handicapped children.

Other starting Redskins who went on to college programs included Mark Strawbridge at Clemson, Bart Smith at Yale, Dave Pyle at West Point, and Joe Neky at Cincinnati. Still others played at smaller schools.

Jack Swartz, the coaching master behind this outstanding team, was a native of Moosic, just outside Scranton. He had played at Carbondale, then East Stroudsburg State, starring in both football and basketball. He became head coach at Neshaminy in 1968, following Cordelli's father, Pete Sr. Swartz came to Neshaminy in 1955 after serving as head mentor at Carbondale the previous four years.

Chamberlain describes Swartz as a complete coach and tough disciplinarian. Swartz employed a multiple offense, including the winged T, and an aggressive 52 "Oklahoma" defense. He instructed this team to "play with pride

and respectability - the wins will take care of themselves"

The high-scoring starting Redskin offense:

E 14 Dale FORCHETTI      5-11     170

T 77 Jerry CONIGLIO         6-0       205

G 66 Charles CONGER      5-9       170

C 50 Chuck LODGE            6-2       205

G63 Joe CHAMBERLAIN    5-8      170

T 67 Ben WATSON            6-0       190

E 43 Bruce MCHALE          6-2       192

Q 10 Pete CORDELLI         6-1      195

H 41 Pete SCHUPAKUS     6-3       210

H 32 Joe SROBA                5-10    175

F 33 Bruce TRANEY           6-2      205

On The few occasions when Neshaminy had to punt, 35 Rich MCINTYRE handled the chore.

Forchetti was the kickoff and extra-point man. 1971's capable defenders included:

E 80 Joe NEKY                    5-11      175

T 71 Dan MEIER                  6-2        210

G 42 Dave PYLE                  6-0        180

T 70 Mark STRAWBRIDGE   6-2        210

E 83 Steve GALE                 5-11      165

LB 50 Chuck LODGE        6-2       205

LB 43 Bruce MCHALE      6-2       192

CB 14 Dale FORCHETTI  5-11     170

CB 23 Bart SMITH            6-3       175

RV 13 Dave SIDMAN        5-9       175

S 21 Jeff SHENEFELT      5-10     165

 

The defense occasionally shifted to a 4-3, with Pyle becoming the third linebacker.

 

Neshaminy's super

season record:

 

27  BISHOP EGAN  0

46  PENNRIDGE  14

34  EASTON  16

33  ALLENTOWN ALLEN  7

26  ALLENTOWN DIERUFF  8

33  BETHLEHEM LIBERTY  6

49  BENSALEM  0

34  WOODROW WILSON  6

34  BETHLEHEM FREEDOM  8

34  COUNCIL ROCK  0

21  PENNSBURY  17

 

* Article by Hal Wilson, reprinted by permission of the Pennsylvania
Football News.

Undefeated

Teams

 

2001

Mark Schmidt

15-0

 
 

1971

Jack Swartz

11-0

 
 

1965

J. Petercuskie

10-0-1

 
 

1964

J. Petercuskie

9-0-1

 
 

1963

J. Petercuskie

9-0-1

 
 

1962

J. Petercuskie

10-0-1

 
 

1960

J. Petercuskie

10-0-1

 
 

1956

Harry E. Franks

9-0-1

 
 

1954

Harry E. Franks

10-0

 

 

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