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Newsday’s 1966 East Islip-Central Islip game story

East Islip quarterback Fred Heller calls signals behind

East Islip quarterback Fred Heller calls signals behind a line that paved the way for a 39-point effort against a Central Islip defense that posted four shutouts and allowed only 31 points in its other seven 1966 games combined. Credit: Courtesy Alan Van Cott

How Newsday covered the 1966 East Islip vs. Central Islip football game.

East Islip — The East Islip High football players look small — even with shoulder pads. In the dressing room they look even smaller, but on the field, the Redmen think they’re giants. They are.

If you doubt it, you were not among the 7,000 persons who paid and an estimated 2,000 more who watched from outside the field and saw East Islip end Central Islip’s 39-game unbeaten streak yesterday. The 39-0 victory clinched East Islip’s first undefeated season and League III championship.

East Islip coach Ron Rescigno, smoking a big cigar, said, “We’ve always been a winner, but nobody ever notices that we’re around. The papers always write about Central Islip or Copiague. But this league is the toughest and we won the title. So, we must be the best, right?” Right.

East Islip drove from its own 48 yard line to Central Islip’s three with the opening kickoff. On a fourth-down play Charles Norden tackled East Islip quarterback Fred Heller for no gain and no score. That is not unusual, since East Islip had not dented Central Islip’s goal line in three games.

The unusual came on East Islip’s next series of downs. Heller, on a third-down play from his own 32, turned the left side and sprinted 68 yards for a touchdown — the longest run he ever made.

“It was an option play,” Heller, one of many East Islip stars, explained. “I had the choice of pitching out to Bill Donaldson or cutting back in. I saw someone coming up on Bill so I kept it.” It was only one of many excellent decisions Heller made.

Heller completed nine of 12 passes, but those statistics do not reveal how good he was. Three of the completions went for touchdowns. The other six were good for first downs and five came on third- or fourth-down plays. The three unsuccessful passes were dropped.

East Islip Plays ‘Catch’

“When you have a split end like (Jerry) Loviglio you just play catch out there,” Rescigno said. That’s what the combination did. Heller hit Loviglio seven times for 144 yards. Donaldson caught the other two, for one for a touchdown.

Rescigno feels Loviglio is the best end in the county and he may be right. He had gained 463 yards on 18 receptions going into the game, but Rescigno said it could have been more. Heller agreed.

“He’s the best there is,” the senior quarterback said. “I haven’t gone to him so much because (Ed) Smith and Donaldson have been going so well on the ground this season. But today we needed him.” Loviglio was always there.

In the second period Heller hit Loviglio for the end’s eighth touchdown pass. Two minutes later the game began breaking open as Werner Eckert scooped up a fumble and ran 29 yards to score. Loviglio followed with his third extra point. He missed the rest, but by that time nobody cared.

Loviglio does not normally do the place kicking, but Dick James, East Islip’s punter, tight end and extra-point man, was home with a temperature. Bob Henke took over the punting chores and Eckert, who is only 145 pounds, went both ways.

Another small guy in the line was John Mazzochi, a 145-pound guard, who kept Central Islip’s line off Heller. Mazzochi had predicted a 34-0 victory for East Islip on a schedule he keeps in his locker. Oddly enough, it was 27-0 when Mazzochi threw a key block that enabled Heller to complete the touchdown pass to Donaldson to make the score 33-0.

Smith Sets Record

Almost unnoticed among the scoring was Smith’s 15th touchdown, a two-yard run that broke the school record of 14 Doug Hanlon set last year. Smith battered Central Islip’s line for 90 yards in 24 carries.

The pressure East Islip’s line put on the trio of quarterbacks Central Islip used never let up. Eckert and Chris Saliani, a 160-pound playing the opposite end, forced the trio into completing only four of 20 passes.

Al Van Cott racked up tackle after tackle and defenders like 145-pound Mike Mistretta and Carl Despagni, Dave Masuta, and Don Adams, all 150-pounders, blanked Central Islip for the first time since a scoreless tie the teams played last Thanksgiving.

Victory Cake was not for Eating

Unless the janitor who has to clean up the East Islip locker room has a sweet tooth, he did not like his job yesterday.

Some girls in the East Islip band, never doubting their team would win, had a huge cake waiting for the team. Some of it was eaten, but most of it was thrown at people, including coaches, reporters, and well-wishers.

The scene in the locker room back at Central Islip high was much quieter. Most of the emotion wore off on the bus ride back to school, but second thoughts were still to come when the defeat, the first time any members of this Central Islip team had ever suffered while on the varsity, finally sank in.

“I’ll tell you one thing” said Central Islip coach Dave Goldstein. “We were beaten by a better team.”

Goldstein credited all of East Islip’s team, but he felt that Fred Heller’s passing was the biggest factor. “We didn’t do anything different just because of (end Jerry) Loviglio,” he said. “Loviglio was good but a Johnny Jones could have caught the ball the way Heller was laying in them in there. I don’t think he missed a receiver.”

East Islip coach Ron Rescigno added his praise about the Central Islip line, led by Brad Melius. “Their line is one of the toughest,” Rescigno said. “That’s why I’m so proud of the game our kids played. I want you name them all. Don’t deny one of them.”

“When did I think the turning point came? The opening kickoff. We were denied last Thanksgiving, but we wouldn’t be today. This is the biggest thing that ever happened to me in football, but you know, I told my wife last night that it was going to go big.”

Heller also had last year’s game on his mind. In that one he had a third-down pass intercepted when his team was on Central Islip’s two-yard line.

“Sure I thought about that,” Heller said. “I’ve thought about that play ever since it happened, but I’d call it again if the same situation developed.”

Heller is one of a family of 13 children. Four are older and two played varsity football before him. Frank, the next oldest, played on East Islip’s undefeated junior varsity team this year and there are five more brothers behind him.

Not as many spectators turned out to watch Patchogue and Port Jefferson have their traditional go, but the crowd, estimated at 3,500 to 4,000, also had something to talk about after watching Patchogue quarterback Dom Mercurio.

Mercurio hit on seven of 10 passes in his final varsity game. Two went to Warren Deedy, an end who became Mercurio’s favorite target in midseason. Deedy’s receptions covered 48 yards.

Two juniors gave Patchogue followers something to look forward to by scoring their first varsity touchdowns. Bob Whittenben, a tackle, recovered a block punt in the end zone and halfback Bob Figueria ran one over.

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