With just one starter, tri-captain Mickey Abate at quarterback, back in the fold, Beverly took Eastern Mass. football by storm. Behind the great Billy Ransom (a transfer from Danvers) and Kessaris at the halfback spots, captains Mike Toomey and Don Berry and fullback George Accomando, not to mention a dominant line, Beverly crushed any and all opponents. It pitched six shutouts in nine games and gave up just 20 points (a BHS single season record) on the season while piling up 253 of their own.
Kessaris, a baseball and basketball star at BHS as a sophomore who didn't play football until his junior year because his parents feared he'd hurt his bad arm, can go reminisce six decades-plus and remember those games as if they occurred yesterday.
"It was just a wonderful season with a wonderful group of guys and great coaches (Walsh, Pelonzi and assistant John Bochynski)," he said. "A special time, indeed."
Where everyone knows your name
The 1949 season was disappointing in that almost everyone was back from the previous year, but Beverly lost two of its final three games, including a huge upset by Salem, to finish at 6-2-1. A similar mark went into the record books at the start of the new decade before Walsh's squad ramped it up again in 1951, losing only to Haverhill on opening day to finish at 8-1.
"And we should have never, ever lost that game," said Manuel, a senior on that team who still burns at the memory of that setback. He played in a BHS backfield that included fellow halfback Pinky Scobey, junior fullback Red Wallace and Jimmy Duffy at QB. "We had two dropped passes in the end zone and ended the game on their 2-yard line. We had no business losing; it should have been an undefeated season."