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The History of Jesuit Football, Part III

The History of Jesuit Football, Part III

The 1947 season was the worst Jesuit ever played in its history, amounting to only two wins and four losses. Despite their new coach, Ed Maher, and various strategic implements, the Rangers would still require better forms of leadership, charisma, and passion before they could rise up and face their opponents on equal terms.

1948 proved to be a more promising year for the Rangers.  Coach Don Rossi led them to a strong start with a victory over St. John’s 37-6. This new season redemption was ultimately thanks to the combined efforts of every Ranger in play. Thanks to a 35 yard pass (Bill Ewen to Jim O’Reilly) the Rangers obtained a quick seven points, a lead which was rapidly increased again by a 30 yard scoring run by Paul Ruwaldt.

The longest play of the game resulted in a 61 yard scramble for yardage by Johnny O’Brien, which motivated his comrades further. The Rangers soon found themselves on the losing end of the stick, when they faced Gainesville and lost 18-7. The game was hard fought and the first half saw no score by either team.

1948 Football Team
1948 team

The second half was jam packed with action as the Rangers entered the red zone five times but to no avail. Capitalizing on their opponents’ inability to score, Gainesville completed two pass attempts which allowed for the first score of the game. The Rangers quickly retaliated and managed to score with Jim O’Reilly diving over the middle and providing Jesuit with its first and last touchdown of the day.

Gainesville quickly used what little time was left in the game to score twice and ultimately place the final nail in Jesuit’s casket. Jesuit then faced North Dallas with a similar problem as the week before, an inability to score within the red zone, this time there were four occurrences in which the Rangers couldn’t finish their drive successfully. Eventually the Rangers scrounged up a 19 yard touchdown pass from Bill Ewen to Neil O’Brien. The Rangers would once again be unable to stop their opponents and North Dallas would reign supreme with a final score of 14-6.

Jesuit faced Forest and ultimately more tragedy followed the beloved Rangers. The game was once again a hard fought battle of mere inches and seconds. Despite outplaying its opponent in the first half, the Rangers possessed nothing to show for their arduous encounter, and the score read 0-7 as the referee sounded his whistle to end the bitter squabble.

Finally, rebounding from its two previous encounters, the Rangers ousted McKinney 21-19 in an exciting and last minute 47 yard pass from Bill Ewen to Paul Rudwaldt.  The Rangers secured victory and turned the tides and rough waters which had plagued them with a number of misfortunes that had hindered their performance for the past two weeks.

The Lions, coming out of a four game winning streak, believed they would easily steam roll the pitiful Rangers. For a time this presumption appeared true1947 football ticket as the Rangers would eventually trail at the half 12-0. The kickoff to McKinney was then used to make yet another touchdown. The Rangers now trailed 19-0.

However, the Rangers wouldn’t be defeated; they managed to rally one of the greatest comebacks in Jesuit’s history. Gino Biasatti managed to break out from the 30 yard line and sprint his way into Lion’s territory, culminating in a score by Larry Magner. Later after a stop by the Ranger defense Bill Ewen completed seven of twelve pass attempts to gain 126 yards passing, moving the Rangers closer for their next score, eventually attained again by Paul Magner.

Now trailing by only 5 points, the Ranger defense would be tested yet again, and it just so happens that not only would they be tested again, they would succeed again. The last score came through a pass from Ewen connecting with Rudwalt who then entered untouched. The two week dry spell had ended and the Rangers could go home, their moxie once again intact.

1948 Season ticketThe charisma and energy of this game would later carry over into the next week’s match up against St. Edwards, ending in a Jesuit victory of 33-7. A well-executed Jesuit offense shredded St. Edward’s defense, first with Gino Biasatti charging his way for a pickup of 45 yards, leaving the Rangers with perfect field position only 7 yards away from the untouched end zone. The rest of the game, the Jesuit Rangers worked like clockwork and continued to dominate their opponent till the final whistle.

Jesuit later faced Laneri who proved to be far weaker than in previous years. The Rangers bulldozed their way to victory, scoring on the third play of the game when Gino Biasatti ran a screen pass 61 yards for the Rangers. Gino would later block a punt which would lead the Rangers to their next score from the 11, resulting in a touchdown pass to Billy Walsh. The Ranger defense prevented Laneri from scoring and the Jesuit Rangers won their homecoming game with a score of 25-0.

1949 football alumni undefeated
1949 Alumni–the undefeated team

Jesuit’s last game of the 1948 season would prove to be slightly more challenging. Faced against Sulphur Springs, the Rangers and Wildcats would duke it out until the fourth quarter during which the Rangers would quickly score two touchdowns. The Wildcats attempted a comeback but could muster only enough strength to score one touchdown and PAT. The final score read 12-7. Jesuit and the Rangers ended their season 5-3, a tremendous turnaround from a mere 4 weeks prior.

Finally, after years of preparation, perseverance, blood, sweat, and tears, the Jesuit Rangers accomplished their greatest feat. They achieved what few sports teams ever do.  They attained what many deem one of the greatest accomplishments an athletic team can ever attain and which serves as the greatest vindication of all the misfortunes and pains undergone and endured throughout the season. The Jesuit Rangers attained a perfect season defeating the following: Nacogdoches (21-0), St. Johns (19-7), Gainesville (13-6), Sulphur Springs (32-7), Bonham (35-0), Silents (35-0), Van (49-6), Holy Family (44-14). They tied with McKinney (7-7). The Rangers managed to defeat every obstacle they encountered and finished the 1940s with a reputation that would need defending and preserving in the following decade.

Photos courtesy of Jesuit Archives