New Utrecht football — going back in time
They may be looking forward – and rightfully so – but anytime there’s a Hall of Fame and Alumni reception, the stories usually revolve about the past.
New Utrecht High School will host their Football Alumni and Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday (Oct. 8th) at the school (1601-80th Street).
As for the present, the current Green and White footballers will host Bayside after the affair, at 2 p.m.
Let’s give the group something to talk about.
One of the top football alums – although he didn’t play – was the late Art Modell. He attended New Utrecht – left school at the age of 15 to help support his family.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Modell worked in advertising, public relations, and television production in New York City. He purchased the Cleveland Browns in 1961 for $4 million, investing only $250,000 of his own money. He borrowed $2.7 million and found partners to cover the rest.
In fact, when monies were tight, Modell sent old Browns’ uniforms to Utrecht for use.
And who can forget Allen Leibowitz? The emcee for Saturday’s event. His involvement with the Green and White began in 1956.
“I was in a gym class as a Utrecht sophomore,” he told the New York Times. “The football coach came by and saw me running and said, ‘Why don’t you come out for football?’ I said I wasn’t sure, because I didn’t know if my mother would let me.”
Leibowitz played that year and the next two, earning All-City honors as a halfback and leading the city in scoring.
He played at the University of New Mexico for Marv Levy – the former NFL Hall of Fame coach for the Buffalo Bills – and earned all-Skyline Conference honors for the Lobos.
After college, he returned to New Utrecht and coached his former team for the next 15 years. Later, he became the school’s principal, and served as Football Commissioner for the PSAL.
And after turning the pages of the Brooklyn Eagle – and tremendous assistance from a Hall of Fame inductee who heads the New Utrecht Football Alumni – Tom Ferrante – The Utes weren’t called the “Utes” back in the day.
Yet, they were undefeated Coty Champions in 1918 and champs again in 1924.
Legendary Track Coach Barney Hyman won several championships and high school teams back then were chosen to play in the Rose Bowl.
The football coach at the time, Dave Sehres was a quarterback for Utrecht during his playing days. He went to star at NYU and the NFL’s Staten Island Stapleton and Brooklyn Dodgers.
He refused to wear a helmet while playing at NYU.
Utrecht finished 5-1-2 in 1914 – and was called Bay Ridge High at the time. They wore maroon and challenged Adelphi Academy to play a championship game, but were turned down.
Th school changed the name to New Utrecht in 1915, they went 4-3 in football, and after the season changed the school colors to green and white.
Utrecht went 3-5 in both 1916 and 1917. Herman Shulman coached in 1917.
And no nickname yet; drop kicks were common and most games were played at Ebbets Field as part of tripleheaders.
Top players those years – “Dutch” Karlson, RB; Tom Grace, End, who would later coach the team; Billy Grace, End; Walter Caddell, Tackle and Chester Washington, Tackle and first Black player at New Utrecht.
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In 1915, a new high school opened in Brooklyn, Public School 101 and many students from Bay Ridge High School – 67th and 4th Avenue (closed in 1985) – migrated to this new school.
Bay Ridge, which was co-ed became an all-girls school when the new school opened – all the boys transferred to this new school for the sports programs.
In November, 1915 residents of the community, which was predominantly Dutch, asked the Board of Education to name the school, New Utrecht – and their request was granted.
After 1915 the football coach D’Elliscue made the decision to change the colors to green and white.
Utrecht (5-0-1) and unscored upon in 1918 and was crowned co-city champs with Poly Prep (6-0-1).
The co-champ crowns didn’t come without controversy – an opposing coach thought Utrecht played an easier schedule. Utrecht and Poly Prep did consider a game to decide – but it never came to fruition.
Utrecht was coached by their captain George Smith, a junior qb/rb. Two weeks prior to the season, their coach went to work for government services and had to quit. The team was led by Smith, Howie Sadler, end; Dave Sehres, fb and running back Jerry Hetrick.
After the 1918 championship season, three of Utrecht’s best players – all juniors – transferred to Poly Prep (Hetrick, Smith and Sadler. An 0-7 season followed in 1919.
In 1922 (5-2-1) and 1923 (4-1-3). Notable players included: Jim Meyers, end; Wolff, rb; Wexler, fb; Neville, tackle; McBride, center. (First names not available).
Then came 1924 – (6-0) City Champions, 129 points, six points against. The team practiced mostly at Ulmer Park; Tommy Grace was the head coach – he played on the 1915 team when the school was called Bay Ridge – he didn’t get paid for coaching.
Top players: Walter Winnick, end; Bob Bobowick, guard; Stanley Rosen, qb; Americo D’Amore, end and center David Adelman.
In November, 1924 the school moved to its present location on 80th Street and 16th Avenue, with 2,300 students. In February of the following year, girls were admitted.
The first location of the school was a wooden building on 86th Street and 18th Avenue, and it had a population of 35 students. Irving Hazen was the founding principal, and he adopted the green and white colors of his alma mater, Dartmouth College, as the colors of the school.
Least not we forget tomorrow’s history – this year’s New Utrecht High School Football Hall of Fame inductees:
- Lenny Hershkovitz, LB, QB, TE ’61- ‘62
- Anthony Gennaro, OT, DT ’68- ‘71
- Tom Ferrante, OT, DT ’86- ‘88
- Basim Grant, OT, DT ’91- ‘94
- John Burke, Head Coach ’82- ‘94
- Phil Menna, G, DT ’59-‘62
- Sy Rapp, Head Coach ’56-‘67
- Phil Katz, OT, DT ’67-‘70
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR
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