Leominster Hall of Fame honors gridiron legends

LEOMINSTER — The Leominster High School

Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural

induction ceremony, held at the Elks Lodge in Leominster Thursday

night, was the community’s first chance to honor individuals who

made significant contributions to the sport in the city.

The inductees included athletes, coaches and one special team

that went undefeated.

“This was an easy one,” said Mark Bodanza, who organized the

Hall of Fame with help from Gil Donatelli. “Some of these people

are just legends. It was either because of their contributions to

Leominster

football or because of their playing

days or because they were coaches with amazing records.”

Inductees for the inaugural class were Bernard W. Doyle, Lou

Little, James “Red” Barrett, Charles Hazard, Ray Comerford, Charles

Broderick, Ronnie Cahill, Elio Torcoletti, Leon “Huck” Hannigan,

and the 1932 LHS team.

Comerford coached the Blue Devils to back-to-back wins over

Fitchburg High School in 1928 and 1929, the first time that feat

had happened since the early 1900s.

Broderick holds the record for longest tenure for a coach at

LHS, leading the

football team for 34 years. He was

the coach of the 1932 team that went undefeated and the 1933 team

that won all of its games except a Thanksgiving Day loss to

Fitchburg.

Hannigan, who coached in the 1960s and 1970s, is the group’s

member with the most recent accomplishments.

Little coached LHS

football directly out of high

school, but his heyday came as head coach of Columbia

University, leading them to a

victory over Stanford

University in the Rose Bowl in 1934.

He was also instrumental in helping LHS boys get scholarships to

Columbia.

Barrett was one of the early significant players in LHS history.

He went on to become the captain of the Harvard

University

football team in 1929, a major

distinction at the time, according to Bodanza.

Doyle gave the program a lift in hiring Comerford as well as

building Doyle Field.

Hazard was the captain of the

football team in 1928.

“Leominster was pretty forward-thinking because Charles Hazard

was not really the star of the

football team, but apparently was

the guiding force and could be counted on. He was also of African

American descent,” said Bodanza.

The NFL was segregated completely from 1933-1936.

Cahill is arguably the best player to ever play for the Blue and

White, according to Bodanza, who also serves at Leominster’s

historian. Cahill played at Holy Cross before playing

professionally for a year with the Chicago Cardinals.

Torcoletti was inducted for his support of Leominster youth

programs and Leominster

football through the years.

“He was always there for the youth of Leominster,” said

Bodanza.

Torcoletti played for LHS and is also credited with starting the

Leominster Pop Warner program and local baseball leagues.

“Leominster has a great

football heritage and this is a

good way to preserve not only the heritage of it but to educate the

youth of the city as to what went before them,” said Bodanza.

It is Donatelli’s hope that a second story will be added to the

field house at Doyle Field to house the

Football Hall of Fame. For now, at

least, the Hall will be housed at the Leominster Historical

Society.

Frank Novak, a 1956 Leominster High School graduate and a

16-year coaching veteran in the NFL, was on hand as the guest

speaker.

“I’m proud to be from Leominster,” Novak said. “I’ve been to a

lot of places since I left here and started coaching. This is my

home, make no mistake about that. I’m proud of this community. I’m

proud of their efforts they made with the

football program here.

“If your actions inspire others to do more, to dream more, to

learn more and to become more, you can be a leader.”