SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

December 7, 2013

Like grandfather, like grandson; Mahoney followed in some legendary football footprints at St. John’s

Logan Mahoney recently wrapped up a pretty nice football career at St. John’s Prep. He was a team captain, named to the all-Catholic Conference team and intends to keep playing in college.

But he’s not the first member of his family to make those claims.

Mahoney, a senior wide receiver for the Eagles this past season, kept up a family tradition that began with his grandfather, George Gagnan, a captain and all-star for St. John’s Prep 58 years ago.

“When I heard Logan was an all-star, I cried,” said Gagnan, who grew up in Peabody and is spearheading the re-dedication of Arthur Cronin Memorial Stadium next year on the 60th anniversary of the former SJP football player’s tragic death. “My wife was always telling me not to try to influence Logan about where he’d go to high school, but I was so happy when he picked St. John’s. When I was a kid my mother told me I was going to the Prep and that was that.

“In those days they had boarders and day hops. I was a day hop, and Mike Kennedy used to pick me up every day. I lived in Gardner Park and one of my closest friends was George Smyrnios (the former Peabody track coach and athletic director), who was an outstanding football player for Peabody High.”

Mahoney is delighted to have carried on the family tradition. He decided he wanted to attend a private school and looked at both Bishop Fenwick (where his father Mark played hockey) and St. John’s.

“I considered Fenwick and because of my body type (6-feet-2, 200 pounds) I probably could have played a lot sooner. But I wanted to challenge myself,” said Mahoney. “I know that made my grandfather happy.

“He started throwing the ball around with me in his backyard when I was 5 or 6 years old and always pushed me to become a better player. I started going to Thanksgiving games with him at St. John’s when I was 7 or 8, and he’d tell me all about the history of the field.”

Gagnan was a sophomore starting at middle linebacker for St. John’s when tragedy struck at the field later named for his teammate, Arthur Cronin, a senior defensive back from Beverly.

“I’ll never forget it,” said Gagnan. “Arthur was little, about 140 pounds, and I was on the field when he died. He was hit in the head with a knee and never got up. They think he broke his neck; you took one look at him and could see he was turning blue from lack of oxygen. They took him to the hospital and didn’t tell us he had died until later. It was just awful, and that funeral at St. Mary’s in Beverly was the biggest one I have ever attended. It was a very sad time for all of us.”

Gagnan will chair the event to rededicate the field, and said it will be a big day for Eagle alumni. He has been contacting former football captains, trying to get as many as possible to commit.

“The saddest part is finding out how many of them are no longer with us,” said Gagnan. We’re trying to get 60 captains together. I’m not sure of the details yet, but the day will start with a morning Mass.

“I’ve had a storied life because of football. I coached at Salem, Peabody and Malden Catholic. In my day all the St. John’s captains went to Holy Cross or Boston College, but I was a rebel. I went down to the University of Miami along with (Salem’s) Andy Konovalchik . Later I was the defensive coordinator at Salem High, and also coached with Andy Thain at Kennedy Junior High in Peabody.”

Thain, Gagnan, Jerry DeLucca and Glenn O’Brien all were on the coaching staff with Konovalchik at Salem High.

“I was there the last time the city raised money to send a team away. They came up with $50,000 to send the team to Bermuda after a very good season,” he said. “Later Billy Ransom (of Beverly) and I went to see if we could turn around the football program at Malden Catholic, but we failed. Back when I was playing, Malden Catholic always had very good teams.”

Mahoney is well aware of the rich football tradition in his family. He has learned a lot about the game from his grandfather.

“It’s nice to follow the family tradition,” said Mahoney, who caught 12 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown this season. “There’s one big difference; I never played defense. Even when I was younger I was always on the offensive side.”

St. John’s Prep head coach Jim O’Leary decided not to name captains prior to the 2013 season, but rather relied on the seniors for leadership and chose to have game captains instead. But before the state playoffs started, Mahoney along with teammates Michael Geaslen, Sean Lovett and Michael Fawehimni were designated team captains for the way they had guided the Eagles throughout the season.

That’s a minor difference as far as Gagnan is concerned. He is most proud of the fact his grandson is also a very good student, who has Colby College and Bentley University at the top of his list —  although he wouldn’t have objected if he decided to go to Miami.

“Logan’s a good kid and he’ll make the best decision for him,” said Gagnan. “When I was at the Prep it was much easier to play when you were an underclassman; now the team is so loaded with talent, you have to wait your turn. There’s great camaraderie in the sport, and I’ve made so many close friends both in high school and college through football.”

 

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