, Salem, MA

September 4, 2010

How did our great coaches fare — against each other?

Salem's Perrone the big winner in head-to-head matches

Matt Williams

The ranking of the 11 Greatest Football Coaches in North Shore History was based on a lot of things. Wins, championships, longevity, consistency, success of players after high school and many other factors were considered as we at The Salem News ranked the men from 1 through 11 to come up with our final list.

What if it was entirely based on head to head results — against each other?

Using the records kept by the News dating back to World War II, I compiled each of our honorees' records against one another. Suffice to say the list would have looked very different if this were the deciding factor.

Salem's Ken Perrone, who was the 11th greatest coach in our estimation, was the big winner. The Master from Maine who coached the Witches from 1973-1994 piled up 19 wins against the other coaches we chose —more than double any other coach.

Perrone had a healthy rivalry with Beverly's Billy Hamor, as the pair went an even 6-6 against other in the annual Thanksgiving showdown. Perrone's Witches went 4-3 against Swampscott teams coaches by Stan Bondelevitch, the greatest North Shore coach in history, in our estimation.

Add in an impressive 7-4-1 mark against Ed Nizwantowski's Peabody teams and a 2-1 mark against fellow Tanner boss Arthur Adamopoulos and Perrone's total record against the coaches we honored was 19-15-2. The only coach he faced and didn't beat was Fred Glatz and St. John's Prep.

Archrival Hamor, who to the delight of Garden City residents edged Perrone by one spot in our rankings, was second in terms of wins against fellow greatest coaches. Aided by the 6-6 mark against Salem, Hamor's Panthers teams were also 3-1 against Swampscott clubs coached by Bondelevitch for a total 9-7 mark.

Speaking of rivalries, it was in "The Game" in 1949 that two other coaches had their only match-up against a fellow greatest coaches honoree. Salem's Bill Broderick — the legend who is second all-time in wins in Massachusetts — had his final season for the Witches in 1949 and defeated Charlie Walsh's Beverly team.

Technically, Broderick wasn't on the sidelines that Thanksgiving Day because he'd left the team midway through the season due to illness. He is credited with the victory, though, and went 1-0 against the other coaches on our list. Walsh was 0-1.

Amazingly, in the 362 games he coached at Ipswich, Jack Welch had just one game against another coach on our list. It was in 1986, Bondelevitch's final year at Swampscott, that the Tigers and Big Blue met with Swampscott taking home a 21-12 decision. So Welch, whose career winning percentage was .627, was 0-1 against the coaches on our list.

Bondelevitch himself was 6-8-1 against the other coaches on our list including a 3-4 mark against Perrone, the win over Welch, a 1-3 record against Hamor, and an even 1-1 against Glatz. But his eight undefeated teams was more than enough to make him number one in our eyes.

The only coach who never had a single game against another man on our list is Swamspcott's Steve Dembowski, who has been in charge of the Big Blue since 1999.

St. John's Prep's commander of Eagles, Glatz went 5-7 against our greats. He was 3-6 in a heated rivalry with Adamopoulos and Peabody, split with Bondelevitch's Big Blue and beat Perrone's Witches in their only meeting.

Speaking of the Prep-Peabody rivalry, Jim O'Leary went 2-1 against Nizwantowski in his only games against fellow coaches. Of course, the loss was the only Super Bowl meeting between the coaches we chose: The legendary 1993 showdown at Boston University in which the Tanners steamrolled the Eagles, 36-0.

As for Niz, he went 5-9-1 against the men on our list with the trouble coming against Perrone's Salem Witches (4-7-1) in addition to the 1-2 mark against O'Leary.

There you have it, exactly how our coaches stack up against each other head-to-head. Certainly the sample sizes aren't equal and some rivalries were better than others. But it was a lot of fun to think about, and we hope our readers enjoyed the series as much as we enjoyed producing it.

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Matt Williams is a staff writer at The Salem News. Contact him at or call 978-338-2669.