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
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
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
Barrett was one of the early significant players in LHS history.
He went on to become the captain of the Harvard
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
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
Frank Novak, a 1956 Leominster High School graduate and a
16-year coaching veteran in the NFL, was on hand as the guest
“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.”