All sorts of karma and energy, some of it of this world, and maybe some of it beyond – all of it good – is circulating around this high school football game.
Athletic Hall of Fame member, Mike Bumpus, is flying in tonight from his home in Illinois to be at Gillette Stadium tomorrow morning to watch the 7-4-0 OA Tigers take on the 12-0-0 Concord-Carlisle Patriots in the Eastern Massachusetts Div. 3 Super Bowl.
Kickoff is at 9.
Mike (OA ’86), the high school All American lineman at OA and standout at Boston College, has more than just a tie to his alma mater at stake. You see, his nephew, Henry Bumpus, the son of Jim Bumpus, another OAHS Athletic Hall of Fame member, plays for the 12-0-0 Concord-Carlisle Patriots.
Henry Bumpus is a blue-chipper, a wiry 6-6 tight end and defensive end, who is the Duel County League MVP. A senior, he also stars in basketball and lacrosse, and has committed to Brown University, where he hopes to join his brother on the football team (more on that below).
Jim Bumpus (OA ’82) had a stellar career at OA, and his star continued to rise at the University of New Hampshire, where he was an NCAA Div. 1AA Honorable Mention All American lineman for the Wildcats.
Jim has been married for 20 years to the former Sue Goode, my Boston College track & field teammate, and a fellow BC ’85 grad. Sue was a champion pentathlete and versatile point scorer for the Eagles.
Jim and Sue Bumpus aren’t only gifted athletically, but they are also very smart. So it would seem about right that they would have children who are athletic and smart – and that is the case.
Jim and Sue have three children. Their oldest, John, was a superb athlete at Concord-Carlisle, and a heck of a student – he is a sophomore at Brown University, where he plays varsity football, seeing playing time both at defensive end and on special teams.
The youngest Bumpus child is Natalie, 10, a fifth grader who dabbles in theater, sports, dance, and other activities. Sue tells me that Natalie hasn’t found her passion yet, but that when she does she will go after it “full force.”
In addition to being the father of an all-star Concord-Carlisle player, Jim Bumpus, the OA guy, by extension, presents another challenge on Saturday for the Tigers. You see, Jim and Sue moved to Concord 10 years ago, and a couple years later, Jim and other fathers in Concord and Carlisle started the Concord-Carlisle Pop Warner Football program.
Concord-Carlisle has one of the most storied traditions in Massachusetts high school football history. There was a time, way back, when Oliver Ames High School had a streak of several seasons in which it was one of the most successful football programs in the state.
Easton and Concord and Carlisle are all “colonial towns” – all settled in the late 1600s – and all which had sons who fought in War for Independence
Both schools are small schools and have been playing football for a long time.
There are other connections.
My father, Valentine P. Muscato, who coached Oliver Ames High School football for 20 years, and who is enshrined in the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, is a native son of Concord.
My dad is also in the Oliver Ames High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Concord-Carlisle Hall of Fame. He was the starting halfback on the 1946 Concord High football team (then called the Minutemen) which went 9-0-0 and outscored their opponents that season 427-12.
Val Muscato, who was one of the senior co-captains of the team along with quarterback Eddie Dee, accounted for 72 of those points, scoring 12 touchdowns.
(A little history: Concord High School was technically a regional school back when my dad played; both Carlisle and Acton kids attended Concord High then.)
Indeed, my dad was in his football uniform, playing in a game for Concord High, when a young woman named Rita Creighton, who was from Maynard - a town that bordered Concord - first saw him. Val Muscato and Rita Creighton were married in 1957.
Under coach Bernie Megin, who played quarterback at Notre Dame, the Minutemen ran a superbly orchestrated and creative "Delaware Wing-T" attack (the basic set that Concord-Carlisle uses more than 60 years later). It also used a full-house backfield constituted of a quarterback and three running backs.
Now, here’s the thing. My dad was a track star who in the winter of 1947 won the Eastern States 600-yard championship at Madison Square Garden, and later that spring the Massachusetts high school championship at 440 yards. Yet, my dad always maintained that out of the four backs in the Minutemen backfield, he was the fourth fastest at 40 yards.
This 1946 team – which was named Massachusetts Class D champs – launched the Concord 59 game consecutive undefeated streak (there was one tie during the streak), still a state record (Acton-Boxborough holds the state consecutive “win” streak at 52).
Bernie Megin was the coach throughout that era of Concord-Carlisle dominance.
Recruited by more than 100 colleges, for track, football, and baseball, my father chose to run track at the University of Notre Dame, in large part because of the admiration and respect he had for Bernie Megin.
My father also had the opportunity to play major college football, including for the University of Nevada, who wanted him as a wide receiver for its “Wild West” offense and its quarterback, Stan “Slingshot” Heath, who would be one of the five players nominated for the Heisman Trophy in 1948.
My dad became the co-captain the track & field team at Notre Dame, and was an internationally ranked middle distance runner.
The Muscato connection to Concord goes way back to the early 1900s when the Muscatos started arriving in the town from Sicily.
My godfather, Walter Carew, a man of the highest moral caliber, World War II combat hero, standout athlete, legendary coach at Concord-Carlisle, is in the Concord-Carlisle High School Hall of Fame.
My father served as best man in the wedding of George Fenton, who was in the backfield with him in 1946, and himself is in the CCHS Hall of Fame.
Fr. John Pierce, a priest in the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, is a man my dad revered highly. John Pierce, a CCHS Hall of Fame member, graduated from Concord High in 1950; he was a big-time producer on both sides of the ball for CHS football teams that went 20-0-0 over his three varsity seasons. He played football at St. Bonaventure.
When my father passed away in 1991, a High Mass was held at in Easton, with Fr. John Pierce presiding.
One of my dad’s best Concord buddies, George McNally, had a son, Brian McNally (nephew of Father Pierce), who stood out in multiple sports for C-C. He is in the CCHS Hall of Fame. Brian went on to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where he was a record-setting All Yankee Conference quarterback.
There was a lot more football in my dad’s life after Concord High School.
At Oliver Ames High School, with Willy Nixon as his smart and strategic thinking assistant, my father coached football teams that won two Eastern Massachusetts Class D championships, six Hockomock League championships, tied for a seventh. His also coached four teams that went undefeated for the season, with three of these teams also untied.
For many years, my dad ran at a football camp that brought in some of the top college coaches in America, many that went on to success in the pros, including Bill Parcells.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1990, when Valentine P. Muscato Stadium was dedicated, my dad stood near the 50 yard line of facility, and told the crowd how honored he was, and that in high school he played at Emerson Playground in Concord (named for a Concord guy, Ralph Waldo Emerson). And then my dad added, "I'm not sure what position he played."
Yes, all sorts of good karma and celestial and psychic energy flowing around this game.
It should be a lot of fun for everyone – and a day to remember forever.
Oliver Ames versus Concord-Carlisle … at Gillette Stadium … in the Super Bowl.
It is one of those events which brings honor to sport, and which makes sport so special.