Bay's 1954 championship football team
“We are the champions, my friends." Finishing undefeated and untied in our 1954 season, the Bay Rockets swept the new Southwestern Conference. (Bay hasn’t accomplished this feat since.)
It was an exciting time. From the start, everyone thought we would have a good football team. We knew “our boys,” the players, had talent. Each week there was something to look forward to as the team got ready to play another game. You see, this was my senior year and these were our guys.
The three head coaches were Jack Llewelyn, Bob Kitzerow and Cy Lipij. They sure knew how to get the best out of the players in a winning way.
We played nine games that year, starting with Strongsville and ending with Clearview. Only three teams scored against us: Fairview, North Olmsted and Medina and that was only 25 points all season. Bay scored 166 points that year. (The score of the Strongsville game was 2-0. That doesn’t happen often.) We also played Rocky River, Oberlin, Olmsted Falls and Westlake.
The school was electric with excitement for each Friday to arrive. Posters and paper footballs with team members' names on them were hung on the lockers around the school. Large banners were hung over the doors. Everyone wore blue and white on Friday and there was a pep rally in the gym. Potlucks were held around the village before the games.
The Rockets won the Spang Trophy that year. This trophy belonged to the first school, Westlake or Bay, to win two games in a row from the other school. In 1953 and 1954, Bay won and received the trophy. (I don’t think this trophy exists any more. Maybe it morphed into the Brown Jug.) Jim Redinger won the Otto Graham Award for outstanding football player.
There was an awards ceremony in the gym and the coaches received pictures of the team. A large team composite was made to hang over the doorway leading into the gym. (I know that because my sister, Gay, and I made the composite.) I understand it has been updated today and our “artwork” is no longer part of it.
A banquet was held at Lakewood Country Club and the team was allowed to bring a “date.” Gay and I both were invited and it was a wonderful time and fun to participate in. There were speeches and we all patted ourselves on the back for a job well done.
The 1954 football team was inducted in the Bay High Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
I know I will never forget that fall at Bay High. Who knows, maybe this year it will happen again. It is a record to be broken.