To the editor:
Thanks for the article about the 1957 Southington High School football team. Yes, we did become Class B state Champs to everyone’s surprise…but ours.
As Walt Merek said “We were all about team play. We were all like brothers.” But we did not just appear on stage that season. The core group (7) of us played together since 1953 on the freshman team and another eight or so joined us on the 1954 freshman team.
In 1954, there were two undefeated football teams at SHS—the varsity and the freshman teams. We started team bonding and learning to run the single wing under Joe Orsene on these freshman teams. In 1954 we beat all the freshman teams we played and did a good job against the junior varsity team, as I recall. But then we were ready to really learn our craft.
In 1955, we began to scrimmage against the varsity team that consisted of some of the starters who were on the SHS 1954 undefeated state championship. We took our lumps—and maybe gave a few—but that team trained us well. They were helped by Walt Lozoski and sometimes Jay Fontana who would be yelling what you were doing wrong, and how to do it right.
In 1956, we were now joined by our other team members from our 1954 freshman team, and we were able to field scrimmage teams on offense and defense to continue bonding and learning. If another team should have gone undefeated, it was the 1956 SHS team. They, like us, had played together since eighth grade and had very talented individuals. Unfortunately, they faced a lot of injuries but still had a winning record.
So in the summer of 1957, we fielded about 17 players for practice. We couldn’t field an offense and defense to scrimmage, but Walt Lozoski got Rodney Fazzone and Jim Gura to come out. (They were in Cheshire schools the year before.) He also got out others from SHS to get us up to the 32 sitting in our team photo.
Our core group worked with all the new team mates, along with Walt and Joe. It would be hard to single out any of our teammates at this time, but my co-captain Pete Brooks needs to be mentioned here. Pete and Walt Merek became all state picks that year and well deserved. Some of our team has passed on now, but I will say that this honor into the hall of fame is very much appreciated.
As Joe Orsene said, our team ran the single wing with few flaws. We had been doing this now for five years, and some of us had to play at several positions on offense and defense due to injuries or other factors. We ran the single wing in a right formation or a left. We confused our opponents as much as possible. We even threw in forms of the T formation to utilize some of our different assets.
So as you can see, we did not just appear on the field in 1957. We worked to get there.
Ron Romano, co-captain of the 1957 SHS football team