The 1966 Bishop Feehan Shamrocks were led by the school’s first Head coach and Athletic Director, Harold “Chet” Hanewich. He was assisted by Paul O’Boy, then a young assistant coach and later the long-time head coach and athletic director. The Captains were seniors Peter Cosgrove and Bruce MacDonald.
Expectations were high and the large number of returning seniors and juniors would produce a dominant defense and an explosive offense. In only its fourth year of varsity ball, the young school was out to prove it could play with the league powerhouses such as Attleboro and North Attleboro in the long established Bristol County League (BCL).
In the nine game 1966 season, the Shamrocks defense produced 7 shutouts (over Taunton, Coyle, North Attleboro, Cumberland, Mansfield, New Bedford Vocational, and Attleboro). The defense, led by Pete Cosgrove, Bruce MacDonald, Dave Kirby, Pete Johnson, Dan Blake, Ben Bilello, Jerry Flanagan, Brian Nerney, Jim Parker, Pete Phipps, Charlie Deschenes, and Paul Sullivan, allowed only 37 points all season.
Feehan’s shutout streak came to an end in the fourth game against Durfee. With the Shamrocks trailing in the fourth quarter 12 to 7, they responded with 20 points in the final quarter. The winning TD was a John Shea to Dave Kirby pass. The game ended with a Jim Parker interception in the end zone on the final play. Coach Hanewich called it “the Most Fantastic Game I Ever Saw”.
Final score: Feehan 27 - Durfee 24.
The Shamrock’s vaunted offense scored 223 points, extraordinary for the time. The offense was led by Ray O’Brien, Tim Cronin, Rick Thorpe, Mike “Stadium” McGrath, Jim Perkoski, Paul Leddy, John Shea, Peter Cullen, John Desilets, and Paul Merry. They joined two-way players Cosgrove, MacDonald, Kirby, Johnson, Parker, Phipps, Nerney, and Flanagan.
Only one starter on either side of the ball tipped the scale at or above 200 pounds, but they were gamers. The team members included some great all-around athletes, and many of these had good ball handling skills. Quite a few continued their successes that year in other sports.
The culmination of the ‘66 season was played at Haywood Field against Bishop Stang for the BCL championship. Because it was so widely anticipated, it was televised on channel 6. For only the 2nd time all season, the Shamrocks found themselves trailing at the half. Stang had vowed to stop the run, which they did all day. But the Shamrocks would not be stopped; QB John Shea threw for 196 yards to a variety of receivers: Kirby, Parker, and Phipps. In the end, it was a screen pass to RB Tim Cronin, where observers swear he bounced off all 11 Stang defenders, that set the tempo for the second half charge. Feehan scored the next 15 points and the defense completely shut down the Stang. Feehan’s 22-13 win capped the perfect season and brought the Shamrocks their first league championship.
Many other teammates not mentioned here contributed in 1966 to the school's first undefeated football team. Unfortunately, after 50 years some of our teammates, mentioned and unmentioned, are no longer with us, but they live on in our hearts and memories. For those who were part of it, to say that the ’66 team was truly a band of brothers could not be truer. They have remained lifelong friends.