The Other Wall
Ashland High School has its “Wall of Fame” where graduates are honored for making an exceptional contribution to our American way of life. Who knew that so many would emerge from AHS? It is certainly a reflection of the commitment and dedication of our educators and administrators.
While the wall honors achievements in academics, there is no mention of excellence in athletics unless the recipient excelled in both. There is always a trophy case, but it fails to profile the people behind the award.
This is probably the appropriate time for this article with the fall sports season about to begin, and, of course, the new athletic fields behind Ashland High School. Sports are big in Ashland as witnessed by all the activity on East Union St. and with the recent acquisition of Warren Woods. I’m sure the Open Space Committee has been contacted by the various sports organizations in town for a piece of Henry’s farm.
Anyway, back to the wall. For today’s story, I would like to cover Ashland Clocker football, and the players and coaches that put Clocktown in the record books. We are fortunate enough to have outstanding players that eventually became great coaches. Along the way, these players were taught by the best, and the first name that comes to mind is Harold “Grump” Walker. We visited Grump in this column a couple of years ago but it is important to set the time-line for Ashland’s dominance on the gridiron. Grump’s first season began in 1930. His captain for that season was Hugo Giargiari, father of local sports legend Scooch Giargiari, and a name that appears frequently in Clocker football for the next 50 years. Grump quickly established a winning program, and by 1932 celebrated his first undefeated season under Captain T. Ferdenzi. Not a surprise, two of Ferdenzi’s key players bore the name Giargiari: Nesty and Mando.
Grump went on to enjoy two more undefeated seasons. The next was in 1943 under Captain Bud Kokins, and again in 1952 under Captains Bill Hebden and Dave Phipps. Key players in the 1952 season were Scooch Giargiari and Bob Shaughnessy. Grump also coached the longest winning streak of 19 games from 1951 to 1953. Pretty impressive stuff for a coach. Good enough to secure his place in history by his induction into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1964 with a 67% winning record. (for more info: http://www.mhsfca.net/).
Ashland would enjoy one more undefeated season. Under Coach Scooch Giargiari, Captains Jim Norton and Gary Gilman led the Clockers for a perfect record in 1977. This season also included the second best winning streak under Scooch at 18 games. Obviously he learned from his great coach. In 1991, Scooch was inducted into the MHSFC Hall of Fame with a 65% winning record. During Scooch’s 1977 season, Ashland Coach Clem Spillane was also inducted. I remember Coach Spillane mostly for baseball, but his coaching skills earned him accolades in other arenas. He moved back to Wareham many years ago and continued coaching until his passing. There is a field named in his honor on Rt. 6. Clem Spillane Field.
Today’s visit was strictly football, but Ashland excels in all sports. Great teams come and go whether it be baseball, soccer, track and field, basketball, you name it. With all these new fields under construction, and more on the way, I hope our legends are remembered. Walker Field still exists at the Middle School, but the new ones are yet to be named. There are a lot of names that certainly qualify and it’s a tough job for the school district to decide.
I’m confident they will choose wisely.
Steve Leacu for Ashland Directions