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West Babylon Football Helmet…


“The Past Builds Tradition”

 

1956 saw the inception of West Babylon’s Varsity football program.  It was also about this time that the districts rapidly growing student population necessitated the switch from a K-9 academic program to a complete K-12 scholastic program.  (9th grade graduates would routinely go to the Babylon School district to complete their secondary school education.  One year these students attended Amityville High School).

 

Wilbur Legerlotz was the districts first athletic director and football coach.  As he was a graduate of Babylon High School, he asked Babylon’s Athletic Director (and friend) Walt Williams if it was possible to “find” enough uniforms to outfit 20 or 25 eager young athletes.  The answer, of course, was an emphatic “I’ll do anything to help!”

 

The “old” Main School, which was located on the site of the current Holiday Square Apartments on Great East Neck Road, was home to the 1956 Eagles football team.  It is interestingly to note this team was comprised mainly of sophomores and juniors.  West Babylon lost the opening game in its history to Seton Hall – away – (and no longer in existence!) 40 to 6.  The final game of the ’56 season saw the Eagles prevail at home on a very wet and muddy field against Sayville – 12 to 0!  Season’s record 1 – 7!

 

Coach Legerlotz had Matt Wilensky as his assistant for the team’s first varsity season.  “Legs” as he was affectionately known turned over the reigns of the 1957 team to Roger “Dutch” Ouderkirk – who had as his assistants: Matt Wilensky, Paul O’Brien and Al “Doc” Ritacco, father of the current Eagle football coach.   West Babylon graduated its first senior class in June of 1958.

 

West Babylon – the schools and the community began growing at a furious rate.  It seems that a new building opened every other year.  Finally, the district comprised of six elementary schools, one (junior) middle school and lastly the High School.  When the 1957 season began, the Junior High School athletic field had not been completed!  Every game that year was played away.  The schedule was bore rigorous and exhausting: East Hampton, West Huntington, South Hampton, Riverhead, Greenport, Smithtown, and Patchogue!

 

As the years flew by, success, pride, along with tradition and school loyalty became an integral part of the West Babylon scene.  The Eagles have played a large majority of Suffolk County schools and several Nassau County schools as well.  All schools would agree, I’m sure, that an Eagle player is a composite of strength, tenacity, and devotion and with total knowledge of the game.

 

It should be known the 1964 squad coached by Dutch Ouderkirk, the 1974 team coached by Richard Krumholtz, the 1998 team coached by Ronald Langella and, of course, the 2004 squad (only undefeated team in schools history) under the direction of Al Ritacco Jr. won divisional Titles.

 

By Matt Wilensky

(The man the Game Field is named after and also former: Superintendent of Schools, English Teacher, Class Advisor, and Football Coach)

 


A Tribute to the 2004 Team

(Class of ’05)

 

I ask you to look back to our 2004 football team, a season where many positive and many thrilling moments occurred.  Two great come from behind victories, probably one of the finest high school football games up to this point against North Babylon at North Babylon.  Down 19 – 0 in the third quarter, the Eagles came back to win 29 – 27.  What a thrill as the seconds ticked away, to see so many people take part in that victory.  Then who could forget the come from behind victory against Riverhead on 11/13/04, a home playoff game.  Once again the Eagles did not quit, the final score 37 – 20 earmarked their entire season.

 

This team not only had the capability to score, it had an innate ability of finding a way to win, of not quitting or pointing the finer at one another.  The team stuck “TOGETHER” and earned “RESPECT” of so many.  The character, intensity and leadership rests within the captains of this year’s team: Alton Lucas, Kevin Hennessy, Jovan Belcher, and Dan Viera.  Their leadership was not one of commanding a player to do this or that, it was one of follow me, I will do what you do and we will win “TOGETHER”.  As a coach I cannot tell you how proud I was of this team or how much it hurt to lose to North Babylon at Stony Brook University in the semi-final playoff game.  But that is life and like life, nothing comes easy and anything worth striving for comes with hard work.  These players worked hard in the off-season; weight room, pre-season summer camp and throughout the regular season.  They gave me and you something to not only to be proud of but something to watch on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

 

I personally thank this team for everything they have done for me and for our high school and our community.  It goes without saying I truly enjoyed the time I have spent with this team.  53 players from start to finish, willing and able to achieve something that was never done at this school.  An undefeated varsity football team, with Two All Long Island Players, One All Long Island Team Two Player, Five All County Players, Nine All Division Team One Players, Four All Division Team Two Players, One All Academic Player, One Boomer Award Winner, and One MVP Player in our semi-final playoff game.

 

“Saying goodbye to the Class of 2005 is not an easy task.  You see, your spirit, has driven me for four years.  I will miss the conversations on and off the field.  Yes, your accomplishments are many!  But it’s your character and respect for the game that I shall cherish!  As you walk up and receive your High School Diploma on Mathew Wilensky Field in June of 2005, I ask you to look at the scoreboard and to the tower, understand that you have left a lasting impression on many people.”

 

Remember; “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the fellow who thinks he can.”  “Excel and you shall have known purpose, loyalty, and honor.”  Why because “ONCE AN EAGLE…ALWAYS AN EAGLE.”

Coach Ratt

Al Ritacco Jr.

Scoreboard after each game in ‘04…

 

9/18/04         @ Bellport                 WIN    29-14             

9/23/04         @ Riverhead             WIN    35-14

10/1/04         vs. Centereach          WIN    14-0

10/9/04         @ North Babylon     WIN    29-27

10/16/04       @ Bay Shore             WIN    33-7

10/23/04      vs. West Islip             WIN    21-7               HOMECOMING ‘04

10/30/04      vs. East Islip              WIN    14-6

11/5/04         vs. Newfield               WIN    57-33

11/13/04       vs. Riverhead            WIN    37-20            Playoffs Round 1

11/20/04       vs. North Babylon                22-23             Suffolk County

Championship @

Stony Brook University

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