A few years ago, I came upon an old scrap book the meager and random contents of which include a two-sheet (front and back) edition of The Hermonite, as it was then known, dated November 22, 1967 (think of that — just four years to the day after John Kennedy’s death). The front page brandishes on over-sized headline in blood red and the byline of one Brian Atwater: “Gridmen Vanquish Deerfield”. It goes on to report a 24-14 victory, the result of “a dramatic display of power, speed, teamwork, and depth.”
But you have to go to the back page to get the scoop really worth having. Under the plain title of “Junior League Football,” the unnamed reporter tells of a “tough battle” at Deerfield that took place on November 15, in which “Coach Sanborn’s griders” succumbed by the score of 20-14. A long pass from John Witty to Richard Durwood (surely they meant Tom) set up a touchdown run by John Gordon. Then a short-run touchdown by the redoubtable Witty (who also converted the extra point) gave us a 14-12 halftime lead. But Deerfield struck back by recovering a blocked punt in the end-zone, and long touchdown runs by Witty (again) and Cornell Hills were nullified by penalties. The heartbreaker ended with our guys on Deerfield’s three-yard line, where, given a few seconds more, Witty or Gordon or Hills or Robinson or Kwok or Durwood or Walker would certainly have busted through again.
Oh, well. It was fun.
I have vague, impressionistic memories of this famous contest from my usual vantage point riding the bench. As it happens, playing for Deerfield’s Greenies that day was a guy who five years later became one of my roommates and best friends in college. Squash those artichokes!
I feel very lucky to have known Mount Hermon in 1967. Our experience was a mixture of entrenched tradition and tumultuous change. We had one foot in an English-style boys’ boarding school (the outgrowth of a school for missionaries’ kids and farm boys from the Connecticut Valley) and another in the world of Sargent Pepper’s, Cambodia, Gene McCarthy, and all the rest of it. But that late autumn game on ancient playing fields on the banks of the Connecticut River was both timeless and beautiful.