December 03, 2021


121st Pirates-Cavaliers football clash on hold until spring

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How would the headlines have read and who would have been the star had the Ottawa and La Salle-Peru football teams indeed met as originally scheduled at Howard Fellows Stadium for the 121st time this past Friday night?

It's unfortunately a question that has no answer, as the pandemic has put the historic gridiron rivalry on hold until March 26.

Even though a new chapter will have to wait, here's a dive into history and a recounting of some of those interesting matchups, viewed a decade at a time:

The early years

In 1900, La Salle-Peru defeated Ottawa 12-6, and the following year the teams split two games, the Cavaliers winning 6-3 and the Pirates grabbing a 12-6 victory. The 1920 matchup saw L-P lead 27-0 at the half on the way to a 48-7 triumph on Nov 11 on Armistice (now Veterans) Day at King Field. L-P had its way again in 1930 and 1940, scoring in every quarter in shutting out Ottawa 31-0 in '30 and scoring a 26-0 home victory in '40 behind touchdowns from Jack Harker, Ray Gapinski, Ludwig Hrovat and Ed Cassidy.


In a defensive battle in front of 5,000 fans at King Field, Tony Raccuglia's 13-yard scoring dash around right end and Jim Preiser's extra-point boot midway into the fourth quarter gave L-P a 7-0 win to snap a two-game losing streak in the series. Coach Butch Nowack's Cavs held an 11-2 advantage in first downs and a 192-41 edge in total yards, including holding coach Bill Novak's Pirates to minus-25 yards on the ground.


The Pirates were looking to defeat the Cavs for the first time in 12 years at King Field, but the visitors played solid throughout and drove back west with a 14-6 win. L-P's running attack of Dave Ivlow [23-101] and Jim Morel [16-98] helped the Cavs to a 237-78 advantage in rushing yards, while Ottawa quarterback Bud Bernardoni was 12-of-20 passing for 128 yards. L-P's points came from a second-period TD run by Walt Moreland, a short TD dash by Ivlow in the fourth and extra points by Bill Pelkey and Ivlow. The Pirates' lone score came on Dick Raber's 27-yard run late in the final quarter.


Pirates' star halfback Gary Vicini posted 23 carries for 168 and a TD, while QB Brad Riley finished 11-of-16 for 136 yards and three scores to help Ottawa to a 28-22 victory in front of 4,000 at King Field. Riley's scoring passes went to Vicini [four extra-point runs], Tom Miller and Rod Smith. L-P was led by the running duo of fullback Tom Kramarsic [31-156] and halfback Phil Grubich [20-133], the former scoring the game's opening points, the latter adding a pair of TDs and XPs. Vicini's one-handed, 36-yard reception from Riley in the final minutes proved to be the winning points.


Ottawa topped La Salle-Peru 16-14 at Howard Fellows Stadium on John Leighton's 24-yard field goal with 11:28 left to play. The Pirates stopped a pair of Cavalier drives in the final minutes, with Ron Arroyo's interception in the final one clinching the win. The Pirates also scored on QB Dennis Hollohan's 4-yard TD run in the first and Arroyo's 38-yard run in the third, both followed by Leighton XP kicks. Arroyo registered 140 yards on 20 carries. Dave Gibson ran 19 times for 66. L-P fullback Camillo Valle's 52-yard TD run on the third play from scrimmage opened the scoring, and in the third period Kevin Duchaine made an over-the-shoulder catch on a 51-yard TD pass from QB Jim Pistono.


The Pirates trailed 12-7 at halftime, but rallied for 22 unanswered second-half points to grab a 29-12 triumph, their third straight in the series. It also marked the first win for Tom Jobst as Pirates' head coach. Ottawa's Jesse Guerrero rushed 19 times for 104 yards and a pair of TDs, while Gabe Heredia added a 23-yard second-quarter score and Don Damron a third-period recovery of his own fumble in the end zone. The Cavs' points came from a Mark Boucher 13-yard TD run in the first and Bill Sparling's 1-yard plunge in the second. L-P's Cory Kotowski recorded 10 catches for 102 in the contest.


Ottawa TDs came from Matt White's first-period 9-yard dash and Dustin Ahearn's 69-yard scoring reception from QB Matt Clair. The Cavs closed to five after Matt Edgcomb's 30-yard run followed by Matt Fletcher's extra-point boot late in the first half. The teams played a scoreless second half despite each club producing drives deep inside enemy territory to give Ottawa a 12-7 victory. Ottawa's Aaron Rick posted a team-best 69 yards on 17 carries, while Edgcomb paced L-P with 87 on 16 tries.


Ottawa scored a 34-20 triumph over L-P at Howard Fellows. L-P led 13-7 after the first quarter with Luke Kowalczyk scoring from the 4, QB Zack Cinotto hitting Tyler Jaske on a 23-yard strike, and Ottawa countering with 6-yard pass from Neil Hanley [10-of-15, 131 yards] to John Schiffgens. It was all Pirates in the second quarter, as Taylor Ostrowski and Mark Hernandez scored on short runs, and Hanley hit Matt Lambert from 59 out to lead 27-13 at the half. Each team scored once in the second half — Hanley hitting Schiffgens again, this time from 7, and L-P's Marty Riva catching a TD pass from Chris Bozonelos.

Brian Hoxsey

Brian Hoxsey

I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016. I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.