Last week’s Sault Legends column focused on the 1972 Sault Steelers football club, their players and their run for the conference and Ontario title.
This week I was able to talk to the head honcho, who bashfully would probably not liked to be called but anyway, the head coach of the team from ’72 to ’78, Len Monico.
He gave me enough material on the team to tide me over ’til rapture and I am very thankful for it. It really helped me to grasp the legacy that these men offer to the city.
Len started out: “over a hundred came out to practice… I kept 48,” he said like he wanted to keep more for the team. There’s a love there that shines through.
“It was really a lot of fun.”
Len was 31 at the time and probably wanting to play himself, coaching must have been a hard decision.
“But the players, the players are most important,” he said.
“It was an amazing thing because everyone worked so hard. I always remember the play that got us started… it was a cold, cold day and we had two huge tackles, Steve Whalen and John Mason… they would pick up the quarterback and the ball carrier and throw them down!”
This was from that famous London Lords game for the Ontario title.
Monico said he could hear the quarterback from the sidelines yelling “get the heat off me man! Get the heat off me.”
He named off a few players like Rudy Reschke and George Bell. “We kept them off the scoreboard.”
He remembers the London Lords team making bets in the stands.
“We had pressure defense and they really responded. Derek Orr had an outstanding game,” Monico said. “In the second half we knew exactly what they were doing and they had no idea what we were doing.”
Don Mei he said made a 40-yard single to win the game. “No shoe… sock foot in the mud.”
Monico said the game started with 150 people in the stands and ended up with thousands.
“We had a lot of fun,” he recalls.
“And the team was so gracious, gave of their time. It’s a great love, this football.”
He was also saying how Peter McGill and Peter Kotyk, who they snagged from Laurentian, went on to be great members of the community. “Just outstanding people,” Monico said.
Doug Bradford did the logo for the team.
Look for more Sault Steelers history in the coming months.
This column is for the local people who may not have made the pros but do in our hearts.
Here is an old insert from the player lineup in those days.