Summit has recently created an athletic Hall of Fame.   The first class of inductees will be a class of 17 individuals and teams.   One of those will be the 1963 football team.   The 1963 squad won back to back Conference and State titles and was Summit High’s first undefeated, untied team.    This fall is their 50th Anniversary and the team will be honored at Summit’s home opener against Cranford on Friday night, September 27.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are,” said Mike Vernotico, a member of that team.  “I saw my first SHS game at Memorial Field in 1958.  They had great teams back then with Darnell Mallory and Sol Steplight among others.   Tatlock was still a dream at that point.  We  played our first freshman game at Memorial and beat Verona 42-6,”

“We are being honored in the Hall of Fame three times,” said Mike.   “Our Coach Howie Anderson of course has been named, our team and Johnny Mallory, #22.  Our team was something special.   Johnny Mallory at Safety was all state in football, basketball and state champion in the 100 yard dash.   Sidney Rhines, the state high jump champ at one corner and Brent Cromwell the state hurdler champ at the other.”

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“As I recall, 8 of us went on to earn varsity letters in college.   Johnny starred at West Virginia where they retired his number 22, also retired by SHS.   Johnny then went on and played pro ball with the Eagles and then the Falcons.  Brent played basketball in college with Earl “the Pearl” Monroe,” added Mike. “Sidney had a great career at Rutgers and I played at Princeton.”

The real highlight of the season was the fifth game against Madison at Tatlock.   Both squads were undefeated and Madison had Pete Jilleba, the state’s leading scorer.   “They called him “Superjet Jilleba,” said Mike.  “We’ll, we shot down the Superjet with a 13-0 win.”

“We expect Johnny, Sidney, Brent and John Martini to be with us on the 27th.  Johnny and I have been on Tatlock lots of times as coaches, but this will be special, very special,” said Mike.   “This is about tradition and Summit Football is tradition at its best.   We are grateful to Coach Kostibos for making this happen.”


Mike Vernotico