Remembering Revere’s Golden Days of Sports

June 27, 2012
By

The May 2nd edition of the Revere Journal under its fascinating ‘Through the Years’ section featured a picture of two football players kneeling in front of our coaches and the fathers of the seniors of our 1963-64 Revere High School (RHS) football team taken at the old Paul Revere Stadium.

In that photo, I am # 50, the co-captain of that team, and I’m pictured with # 20 Bill McCarthy.

That was 49 years ago. A magical time.

The other 18 seniors – and many of their fathers, including mine – pictured were: Steve Fedora, Joe Sennewald, William Butler, Joe Lavalle, Joe Stasio, Richard Shute, John Thompson, Ross Spagnolo, John Fox, Joe Principato, Bill McCarthy, William Epstein, Charles Guarino, Lou Tasso, Jim Jouve, Bob Misiano, Mike Picariello, and Mike Bloom.

Coach Silvio Cella was my uncle. He was Athletic Director and stepped up to return to RHS as head football coach. Our Thanksgiving game drew thousands of fans, lining the field, filling the bleachers. It was a community event, a very big deal for the city. The seniors on this team dedicated themselves to an undefeated season.

Accompanying this article is a photo taken that same year, with the senior players and our mothers, taken on Thanksgiving Day 1963. The core values we learned during these years are the richest legacy we baby boomers can pass along to our children and grandchildren.

On that cold Thanksgiving day, after our mothers left the sidelines with proud smiles and a corsage, a group of young men led by a dynamic high school coach played for their hometown. We pummeled our archrival, St. Mary’s of Lynn, by a score of 33-8.

We played rivals like Chelsea, Lynn English and Lynn Classical at Manning Bowl as well as Somerville, New Bedford, Leominster and Stoughton. In 1963, we beat them all but for a fumble in the closing minutes, losing to New Bedford in 16 – 14 loss, a crushing blow since this team was a Class A team at the time, and we were in the Class B league. Those of us who played will never forget that Thanksgiving Day football game.

And, we will never forget our football coach, Silvio Cella, who taught us life lessons that, to this day, help chart our course each and every day. Silvio was a standout at RHS, going on to become a two-way starter and an All-American at Boston University. He also served as a decorated Marine. Silvio returned to Revere and made countless contributions to high school football and student-athletes during his 49 years as athletic director and head football coach. He coached two undefeated teams (1964 and 1973), won five Greater Boston League championships and, in 1973, his RHS Patriots played in Super Bowl II. Coach Cella had great pride in his city, his players and his family. He was the first one to volunteer his time to support a local cause or to lend a hand.

With his passing in 2010, his family established the Silvio Cella Family Foundation, to honor Coach Cella’s legacy, to help give high school football programs the support needed to be successful on the field and to prepare young men for college, careers and family. In just the past two years, the Silvio Cella Family Foundation has donated nearly $25,000 to high schools throughout Massachusetts, including special donations to RHS football.

On July 23, we will host our 3rd Annual Silvio Cella Family Foundation Golf Tournament at Ferncroft Country Club. It’s a great day of golf but, more importantly, it’s a day to pay tribute to the important role high school football can have on young athletes. We also remember Coach Cella and help the Foundation make a difference for thousands of young athletes across the state.

I still cherish my friendships with the legendary “Fearsome Fivesome” offensive line, comprised of Bob Misiano, Mike Bloom, Jim Jouve, Mike Picariello and myself. We still believe, as we age together, that we were “indisputably” the best offensive line in the history of RHS. We often told our quarterback Jim DelGazio, a former NFL quarterback who I snapped the ball to on every play as center, that we helped launch his NFL career and that we were the best things that ever happened to him.

A few weeks ago I was visiting a client in Revere and stopped to talk with a group of younger guys to ask directions. They told me they went to RHS in the 1980s, and I told them I had played high school football with the ‘Fearsome Fivesome.’ It was a great moment for me when they said they had heard of the legends!

In the 1960s, those of us who wanted to play “ball” were a crazy bunch that suffered through punishing double sessions, leather helmets with no thoughts of concussion-proof standards. Old -fashioned sweat, blood, and tears led by a fearless Marine and our leader, Silvio Cella, along with his assistant coaches who also were also our classroom teachers, Ed Manganiello and Justin Capodilupo and my freshman coach Rocky Malfitano, who later became Superintendent of Schools. All to this day are classy, intelligent gentlemen.

I had the privilege of competing against some of the great ones that came out of RHS, including Paul Lavagna, our former City Clerk John Henry, John “Red” Paladino, Chuckie Beatrice, and talented athletes like Billy Cataldo, Harold Page and the Lanza brothers, and my all-time nemesis, Paul Caputo.

Us old guys look back at these moments in time and reflect on what it meant to grow up in a city like Revere with its profound sense of pride, commitment and loyalty.

Tradition never graduates and the fact that our football pictures still appear in our local community newspaper 49 years later evokes such prideful memories of a place and time that only those of us who grew up in Revere can fully appreciate.

These were the times when loyalty, commitment, hard work, and pride of city were the hallmarks of family values.  My father would have been 94 if still alive today. He was president of his senior class at RHS. And, on Mother’s Day, I reflected on the values my mother instilled in me growing up in Revere.

For me, being “born and raised in Revere” is a proudful statement. My son, Matthew, who is a partner at a Boston law firm, and his wife and their two children now own and live in my parents’ house in Beachmont. It’s a great feeling to have another generation growing up in Revere.

Revere is all about who you grew up with, the relationships formed, loyalty is what measures character. Mental toughness is not being a phony. I think of all the tremendous athletes and people of all different professions and walks of life I have had the privilege to know  – all born and raised in Revere – that I played football with, including Billy Cintolo, Alan Drover, Vic Mancini, John Stasio, John Searle, John DelGazio and Steve Sabbag (who I knew so well and were great athletes and warriors).

I’m also proud to be on the board of directors of the Silvio Cella Family Foundation, along with Coach Cella’s son, Michael, and his wife, Pam (Corbett), and his daughter, Gina, my wife Lee (Connolly), and the former RHS Athletic Director Bob Lospannato — all RHS grads who were born and raised in Revere.  I urge anyone connected to Revere sports, especially football, or interested in remembering a worthwhile legacy to visit our web site at www.silviocellafoundation.org or contact Gina at ginacella@comcast.net. The Foundation has done tremendous work to support high school football and is keeping the tradition, the memory alive.

I thank The Revere Journal for stimulating fond memories of growing up in Revere and urge each of us – whether we played for Coach Cella, cheered the RHS Patriots or simply appreciate the value of high school athletics – can come together and support the Silvio Cella Family Foundation and make the statement that we’re proud to be born and raised in such a great city. We all should unite some day to share the glory days and rekindle wonderful friendships for the future.

*Alex L. Moschella (RHS `64) is an elder law attorney and partner at Moschella & Winston, LLP in Somerville. Alex has represented many Revere families in asset protection and long-term care planning matters. He is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and a board member of the MA/NH Alzheimer’s Association and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Suffolk University Law School for over 20 years where he teaches elder law.  Alex may be reached at am@moschellawinston.com or 617‑776‑3300 and welcomes contact from anyone who was” born and raised in Revere,” and has an interest in this article.

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