My brother, Eric, captained Exeter’s JV football squad that beat Andover the same year, 1952, that our varsity crushed them 59-0. As they watched the varsity game from the bench, he said Exeter’s subs were awestruck by how quick our guys were off the ball, how hard they hit, how well they executed. When he carried water during a timeout, he observed the Red and Gray’s secondary anxiously comparing notes as though they feared the next play would be their last.
In his pep talk to his team the following year, Exeter’s coach recalled their humiliation in ’52 and wept. This time, they regained their pride and only lost 14-7. In that game, my brother was on the field at center and outside linebacker. One of our guys took him out with a block that broke a bone and that was it.
But what burned itself into his memory from the play wasn’t the injury. It was our talented halfback, Hort Smith, coming at him on an end-around sweep. An irresistible force about to meet an immovable object -- Eric was invited to training camp by the Baltimore Colts when he played college ball. As he went down, he saw a look of iron-willed ferocity in Smith’s eyes. He knew then that he was about to meet his Maker.
We couldn’t see it up in the stands but my brother could. Testament to what it was like on the field to be playing us. Testament to the football team that we were then: a force that would not be denied. Cheer up, Exeter. The worst is yet to come!