In the late afternoon at Trinity, the masterpiece was done: Undefeated, untied, Little Three champs, the New England college division championship (Lambert Cup), Coach of the Year honors for Don Russell and four players elected to the All-New England team.
It didn’t start that way.
Predictions for the ’69 Cardinals were 4-4, maybe 5-3. The team was young with few starters returning .
The season in a nutshell:
Middlebury at home: down 14-0, Wesleyan rallies for a 21-20 win.
Bowdoin away: Wesleyan wins 21-10 but it was closer than the score.
Wesleyan hosts and beats winless Coast Guard 16-7 with good defense.
At Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI) ,Wesleyan capitalizes on fumbles to turn a 7-7 tie into a 21-13 win.
The season changes at Amherst. Wesleyan “stuns”, “slams” and “upsets” a strong and widely favored Amherst team 28-13. Wesleyan was 5-0 and for real.
Wesleyan hosts Hamilton and converts fumble recoveries and interceptions into a 24-8 .
In the final two games the Cardinals would save the best for last, but just barely.
With Wesleyan’s beautiful Homecoming atmospher tinged by racial tension, Williams powers its way to 14-0 lead. The Cardinals awaken and storm back for an 18-17 win in the last minute of play. Little Three champs.
In the final game at Trinity, Wesleyan is trailing 18-6 in the third quarter. Again the Cardinals wake up. Inspired defense and big offensive plays result in the final 15 points and, a 21-18 victory.
An improbable but most perfect season.
People asked how they did it. Coach Russell has said, “ The team’s success was due mainly its unity, poise and to the job done by the team’s non-stars. It was the players who did not get the headlines or the individual glory who made all the difference this year."
In the above photograph:
Front Row L to R: Bill MacDermott (offensive coordinator), Sandy Tucci, Don Graham, Bob Bastress, Jack Meier, Mike Mastergeorge, Frank Waters, Jeff Diamond (captain), Bob Allen, Roger Sullivan, Charlie Holbrook, Tim Martin, George Glassanos, Jim Lynch, Harold Selesky (manager).
Middle Row L to R: Steve Witkowski (head trainer), Don Russell (head coach), Norris Clark (defensive line coach), Dave Revenaugh, Pete Clark, John Burns, Gary Burnett, Tom Dwyer, Mike Carlson, Brendan Marinan, Carey O'Laughlin, Mike Kishbauch, Mike Blake, Brian Hersey, John Glendon, Grant Hawkins, Jerry Martin (student assistant freshman coach), John Edgar (head freshman coach), Walt Grockowski (assistant trainer), Gene Reilly (backfield coach).
Back Row L to R: Herb Kenny (assistant freshman coach), Ed Tabor, Leslie Burton, Bob McKeel, Lewis McCreary, Jeremiah Gadsden, Marc Bloustein, Joe Keller, Gary Walford, Rick Scoggins, Blake Allison, Bob Medwid, Casey Walters, Greg Forbes, Pete Panciera, Peter Kostacopoulos (assiciate head coach).
Not Pictured: Paul Mack, Dick Wallett