NHS Hall of Fame Profile: The 1937 football team, part two

By Tom Rowe

Sun Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: Today we complete the profiles of the 2012 Norwich Sports Hall of Fame induction class with the second part of the 1937 football team article.

Scrimmage (13-6) – Tuesday, Oct. 26: In an effort to keep their team sharp before Saturday’s trek to Binghamton North, the second sub-par club to face the Purple in succession, the Norwich coaching staff held a practice game, played under regular-game conditions at Alumni Field.

When the dust had settled, the Tornado varsity came away with a hard-fought, 13-6 triumph over their second-team counterparts. Scoring first was the varsity, but the second team tied the score early in the third quarter – the only time their grid was invaded all year – on a pass from Tom Mirabito to Annesi. Who else but Toots Mirabito put the varsity back on top for good, with a fourth-quarter run.

After the contest, head coach Beyer said the game was close and hard fought throughout all four quarters, and that the work of Caezza in the second team line was outstanding. Beyer added that Byrne played a bang-up defensive game in the varsity line.

Comprising the varsity lineup were Wassung and Yank Robertson, ends; Byrne and Mowry, tackles; Rotundo and DiStefano, guards; Panaro, center; Tom Mirabito, Toots Mirabito, Burdnell and Palmatier, backs. The second team was made up of Annesi and Ramaccia, ends; Odenkirchen, Harvey Boyer and Cushman, tackles; Caezza, Ed Downey and Boyer, guards; Farnham, center; Elmo Robertson, Zaia, Dennis O’Neil, Alan Scott, Morris, Johnson and Dominic A. Zieno, backs. Panaro and Farnham changed teams at the half at center, and Elmo Robertson switched at halfback with Tom Mirabito. Morris went to the first team in the fourth quarter in place of Palmatier.


Binghamton North (41-0) – Saturday, Oct. 30 (Away): Despite the successful scrimmage just four days prior, Norwich’s play against the out-manned Indians bordered on the edge of raggedness, both defensively as well as offensively. All told, the Purple chalked up a half dozen six-pointers, but too many fumbles and uncharacteristic mistakes kept the tally from being greater.

Leading that scoring brigade was Toots Mirabito with four touchdowns, while Tom Mirabito and Morris added one apiece. Rotundo booted four extra points and Burdnell hauled in a PAT strike from Toots Mirabito to round out the math. Toots began the arithmetic with runs of 48 yards and one foot in the first quarter, and tacked on two more in the closing period from eight and three yards out. He also teamed up with Tom Mirabito on a 10-yard reverse to make the halftime count 27-0, while Morris broke off tackle for a 30-yard bender in that same second quarter.

Because of the lopsided nature of the game, Beyer and his staff were able to flood the field with many substitutes. Mowry spelled Odenkirchen to start the game at tackle, and he was followed over the course of the day by the likes of Annesi, Boyer, Caezza, Cushman, Johnson, Panaro, Ramaccia, Scott and Zaia.

Johnstown (34-0) – Saturday, Nov. 6 (Away): In order to ward off the slovenly play that plagued the Purple during their victory over Binghamton North, Beyer and his associates moved practice to the Cortland Street playground, where lights not only permitted longer sessions but a respite from the early-setting sun.

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