Governor Livingston Football Hosts North Plainfield Saturday; Highlanders will Honor Former Coach Jack Bicknell at Halftime Ceremony

Celebrating the "Bicknell Era" on Saturday as Gov. Livingston hosts North Plainfield at 1 p.m. Credits: Courtesy Photo

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston Highlander football team will be making its first appearance on their newly renovated field this Saturday at 1 p.m. when they welcome the visiting North Plainfield Canucks in a Mid-State 38 gridiron matchup. 

The Highlanders seeking their first win of the season will be looking to knockoff the Canucks for the fourth consecutive season. Many former players, alumni, and members of the community will also be on hand as Governor Livingston High School will honor former Coach Jack Bicknell and celebrate the 50th anniversary "Bicknell Era (64-67)" of Highlander football.

Highlander Football Game Preview

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A young Gov. Livingston squad which was hit hard with graduation losses on both sides of the ball has dropped its first two games of the season to Voorhees and Rahway. They will be looking to right the ship against a 0-2 but dangerous North Plainfield squad.

Returning senior QB Pat DeAngelis heads up the Highlander offense and along with halfback James Snyder and wide out Matt Schuman will attack a Canuck defense which has yielded 75 points in 2 games. Gov. Livingston defensively has three year starter senior Mike Magliacano and senior John Jeffords anchoring the line with a trio of junior linebackers Jake Pencek, Drew Rittman, and Chris Bruno looking to slow down North Plainfield's senior speedster Brandon Smith who has rushed for a whopping 357 yards and three scores in the Canucks first two games. 

Senior lineman DJ Gonnelli and Brandon Gyory, who join fellow seniors, Magliacano, Schuman, DeAngelis playing both sides of the ball will also be counted on to control both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Celebrating the "Bicknell Era"

The Gov. Livingston Football Alumni Association has commissioned a bronze plaque which will be dedicated at Saturday's game and placed permanently on display at Frey Field to recognize the distinguished legacy Coach Jack Bicknell left at Gov. Livingston High School.

Coach Bicknell was the Highlander football coach from 1964-1967 where he amassed a 28-6-2 record. After going 4-4 in his first season the 65' GL team went 9-0 and captured the school's only state football championship. Bicknell's teams over the next three years won 24 of 28 games losing just two times and tying two. After an undefeated 8-0-1 67’ season marked by a memorable 7-7 tie with co-Watchung Conference Champion Westfield HS, which kept the Highlanders from winning their second state championship in four years, Coach Bicknell moved on to be an assistant at Boston College. He later became the head coach at the University of Maine for five seasons before returning to Boston College as the head coach in 1981.

At Boston College in the 1984 season, Bicknell led the Eagles and Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie to a 10-2  record which included winning the prestigous Cotton Bowl and a fifth place national ranking. Along with Doug Flutie, "Cowboy Jack Bicknell” brought big personalties and meaningful football back to Boston College.

Coach Bicknell finished up his professional career coaching in Europe (14 seasons) primarily with the Barcelona Dragons where his team won the World Bowl Championship and played in several NFL Europe championship games. Both of Coach Bicknell's sons played for him at BC and both went on to become coaches in the NFL.

Gov. Livingston HS will unveil the Jack Bicknell plaque honoring his Highlander legacy at halftime of Saturday's game. Prior to the game, all former players, Alumni and friends are invited to the GLHS Alumni tent located next to the girls' softball field to reconnect with classmates. There will be an informal postgame get- together held at Delicious Heights restaurant (428 Springfield Ave, Berkeley Heights) immediately following the game.

If you would like more information about the weekend events please contact Jim Hambacher ‘67 at 704-578-9276, or Mark Pomo '74 at 908-752-8854,

If you’d like to support this special Highlander football anniversary, including the Coach’s plaque, get in touch with the GLFAA—the GL Football Alumni Association—through Adam Perle, 665 Baltusrol Way, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. Checks can be made payable to the Highlander Booster Club — Memo line: Bicknell.

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