Doin’ Dunmore: Thanksgiving Day Football Memories

By Steve Svetovich

A new Thanksgiving Day rivalry emerged Thursday, Nov. 22, 1945, when Dunmore defeated West Scranton, 6-2.

The Dunmore win nailed down the Lackawanna Conference title for first-year head coach Tommy Silvano and the Bucks.

Dunmore finished 9-0 in the conference, but had to settle for second place in the Northern Division of the EIFC. 

Larksville represented the division in the championship game after finishing with a 6-0 record.

Former Sunday Scrantonian Tribune sports editor Guy Valvano, Dunmore, wrote a book, “Thanksgiving Memories,” in 2009.  

According to Valvano’s book, there were 7,500 fans on hand Thursday afternoon, Nov. 22. 1945, at Athletic Park. 

Valvano wrote Guy Ardizoni, one of the most talented running backs in the history of Lackawanna County high school football, ran 14 yards in the mud in the closing minutes. The score offset a 2-0 lead from a safety that had been held by West Scranton since the first quarter.

Valvano wrote Ardizoni was hobbling on a painful right knee that had been injured the previous game. The touchdown enabled the fleet-footed senior to finish the season with 114 points in 10 games, according to Valvano.

That eclipsed the record of 102 points he had set a season earlier, added Valvano.

Tech defeated Central, 6-0, on Thanksgiving morning that very same day at Athletic Park. Billy “Ging” Weiss, the smallest and lightest player on the mud-covered field, cut off tackle and scored on a 17 yard run for Central, wrote Valvano.

Five years later in 1950, wrote Valvano, Dunmore won the Lackawanna Conference championship by defeating West Scranton, 18-0, before 5,500 fans at home on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, to finish with a 7-2-2 record, 

Dunmore had been hopeful of representing the Northern Division in the EIFC championship game, wrote Valvano, but the honor – much to the chagrin of Dunmore School District officials – went to Swoyersville. 

The Luzerne County school, wrote Valvano, nosed out the Bucks after being allowed to use the record of an opponent that had not played a minimum of five conference games as required by the EIFC. That opponent was Ashley, which was 0-1-1 in the conference.

The final standings showed Swoyersville as the first place team with Dunmore as the runner up. 

Swoyersville’s loss was to Southern Division member Coal Township, a team that was held to a 7-7 tie by Dunmore one week before the Bucks played West Scranton on Thanksgiving Day. Coal Township handed Swoyersville a 26-13 setback in the EIFC title game.

Coaches from Coal Township had looked at Dunmore as their potential opponent in the EIFC title game, wrote Valvano. The coaches of the Southern Division champion were scouting Dunmore that Thanksgiving Day, wrote Valvano.

When some Dunmore fans at the Bucks-Invaders game on Thanksgiving, wrote Valvano, asked Coal Township head coach Walter Marshall why his staff was not scouting Swoyersville that day, his response was that he expected the Purple Demons to be playing Dunmore in the title game.

In the 1950 Thanksgiving Day game played on the snow-covered field, wrote Valvano, Dunmore’s touchdowns against West Scranton were scored by Matt Soranno, on an interception return; Lou Costanzo on a one-yard run; and Pat Ferraro, on a 14-yard run.

The win gave Dunmore head football coach V. James Gatto his second Lackawanna Conference championship. 

The late Chic Feldman of The Scrantonian reported Dunmore had put the finishing touches to the most grueling regular season schedule in school history. The losses were to Lock Haven and Berwick, two quality football programs, at the outset of the season. Dunmore then went through the rest of the season without a loss.

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