Piedmont Bowl Champions
It was a magical time in the history of America - 1951 the beginning of the fabulous 50's.
Harry Truman was winding down his only term as an elected president. The television age had dawned. Dairy Queens and Bowling Alleys were popular hangouts. The bloody Korean War mercifully ended, giving way to the chill of the Cold War. Locally, the mighty Concord High School football team sounded volleys of musket fire up and down the East Coast, all the way from Concord to the shore of Miami.
En route to an unbeaten, untied season (9-0-0) and a victory in the prestigious Piedmont Bowl, coach Bernie Megin's powerhouse flattened nine straight opponents, beginning with a 26-7 victory over Stoneham in the season opener. Victories over Needham, Maynard, Hudson, Rindge Tech, Belmont, Framingham and a Thanksgiving Day whitewash of Lexington completed the perfect regular season.
Clearly the biggest win of the regular season was a 33-12 route of Class B power Rindge Tech of Cambridge. Concord, a class C school, moved up one division to tackle Rindge. Despite entering the game in the midst of a 33 game unbeaten and untied roll, the Patriots were underdogs to the deep and talented Brown and Gold.
The game was played on October 20, 1951, a golden, sun-kissed fall Saturday which drew a crowd of over 5,000 to Emerson Playground. With writer from every major Boston-area daily, Concord clobbered Rindge to serve notice who the real beast of Boston was.
On the opening Kickoff, a jarring by Bruce Woodworth, Concord's 230-pound tackle, forces a fumble which the Patriots alertly recovered. On the first play from scrimmage, Dick Ryan, who eventually became the town's fire chief, took a handoff from quarterback Leo McKenna and scampered 20 yards to paydirt. Rindge never recovered, and the Meginmen easily outclassed their bigger and more experienced, street-smart foes from the inner city.
The trademark of the '51 team was speed, quickness and execution. In QB McKenna, the Maroon and Gold was blessed with a cerebral field general, an accurate passer and ballhandler who later captained football at Dartmouth College.
In Ryan, Lyle Carlson, Bob Zumwalt and Kenny Olsen, Concord had a stable of pony backs with speed to burn. How talented were the running backs. Olsen, the fair-haired boy, Hall of Famer and brilliant three-sport star who dripped natural ability, didn't even start. That speaks volumes about Concord's backfield prowess.
McKenna and Dick Lyons, pound-for-pound one of the best players in school history, were the co-captains of the '51 team. Lyons, who anchored the line at center, later captained VMI and came within a whisker of making the Washington Redskins Roster. Woodworth named one the tackle spots with unheralded guard Sal Silvio, Richard Arthur, Robert Arthur, Bob Queen, Dick Loynd, John Coughlin, Harold Couvee and Jack Finan.
Following the regular season (which was limited to eight games due to a rainout with Punchard (Andover) High which was not reschedule due to Punchard's refusal), Concord was invited to play New Hanover High in the Piedmont Bowl in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for a second straight season. The year before, the Patriots lost to R.J. Reynolds High School of North Carolina in a heartbreaker, 14-13. Many, to this day, feel that the 1950 team, which was led by co-captains Frank Curran and Tommy Prendergast, was a stronger club than the '51 team.
The Concord-New Hanover bowl game was played on December 7, 1951, the 10-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor, before an overflow crowd of 15,000 at Bowman Gray Stadium. Despite being outweighed on the line by almost 20 pounds per man (except Woodworth), Concord bolted to a 140 lead and withstood a gallant New hanover comeback and won, 20-13. Concord touchdowns were scored by Ryan, Zumwalt and Olsen, on a screen pass from McKenna. After New Hanover had pulled to within a point at 14-13, the Meginmen engineered an 84-yard drive in the fourth quarter to score its third and clinching touchdown.
1951 Concord High School results (9-0-0)
CHS 26 Stoneham 7
CHS 20 Needham O
CHS 35 Maynard 13
CHS 19 Hudson 7
CHS 33 Rindge Tech 12
CHS 39 Belmont O
CHS 35 Framingham 14
CHS 20 Lexington O
CHS 20 New Hanover (NC) 13