By Dan Shine
WHHS Football 1968
An Autumn to Remember
Sometime after Tom Lavery’s father passed away, the family discovered that he had saved all of the newspaper clippings from the WHHS 1968 football season, and had carefully underlined his son’s name in each article–for such is the way with proud fathers. No doubt there were a number of other parents who carefully recorded those proud and significant moments in their sons’ lives as well.
Ultimately, West Haven High School’s 1968 football team finished the season undefeated, and was ranked fifth in the nation. As a result of that memorable year, the players on that team were subject to great acclaim, and many opportunities that would not have been available under other circumstances. According to Ted Williams, linebacker/tackle. “As the only member of the state championship team to be selected to the All-State roster, I ultimately had the benefit of attending and graduating from Harvard University, which has enabled me to have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve had success in the business world–both commercial and government –that has afforded my family and me a comfortable standard of living. Certainly the discipline and work ethic of my parents were the nucleus of my moral code. But I believe it is safe to say that Westies football added to that work credence.”
Ted’s story is not unusual among this remarkable group of well-seasoned football players. Many of them credit their experiences with the 1968 team for their later successes in life.
Today, the boys of the WHHS 1968 football team are retired or in the twilight of their careers; and their hair has thinned, and turned to grey. In their homes are the keepsakes of that special season, and in their hearts are the unforgettable memories that live on and on.
And they have chosen to give something back to the community that supported them: Three years ago, they formed the nucleus of a new organization, the West Haven Football Alumni Association. This group also includes WHHS alumni from other years. The group raises money to send students on the team to football camp, upgrade the WHHS weight room, and provide college scholarships to deserving athletes, whether they play football or not.
The group holds three major events each year: in March here is a dinner to roast or honor former players; in August they hold a golf tournament, and in late summer a picnic in Painter Park. This picnic is open to the public.
This year, the group has hosted numerous current and former military members for a “veteran’s night out” whenever West Haven has a home game. Their guests, some of whom live at the VA Hospital have been treated to a pizza dinner, and have gotten to watch the West Haven-Hamden game at Ken Strong Stadium.
One veteran who served in Iraq, and who is presently receiving care from the VA Hospital said, “It means a lot to see people who want to give back to us…it’s a good feeling.”
So, to West Haven’s 1968 Football Team, and to the West Haven Football Alumni Association, we say, well done!