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September 27, 2010

Plymouth State Football to celebrate 40th Anniversary

Panthers to host Nichols in repeat of first varsity game 

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football program will mark a significant milestone in its history this Saturday when the school celebrates its 40th Anniversary as a varsity football program.

Al Wool returns the opening kick-off for a touchdown in 1970.             The first varsity football game in Plymouth State’s history was on Saturday, Oct. 3, 1970, when the Panthers hosted Nichols College.  Plymouth State’s Al Wool returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown (see photo, right), but Nichols went on to win the game, 41-13.  That was the start to a successful legacy of Plymouth State Football that has established the program as one of the top small college programs in New England with an all-time winning percentage that ranks among the tops in all of NCAA Division III.

            This Saturday, Oct. 2 at Currier Field, 40 years later almost to the day, Nichols College will be at Plymouth State for the 40th Anniversary Game (2:00 p.m.) during the annual Homecoming weekend.  PSU will recognize the event with a pre-game reception for all returning team members, and a special halftime presentation that will include Walter Murphy, the head coach of the first Plymouth State football team; Sheila Arold, widow of former Athletic Director and assistant coach Paul Arold; and Mike Currier, son of former coach Charlie Currier, for whom PSU’s home field is named.  Coaches Murphy, Arold and Currier were three of the key people that brought football to Plymouth State.

            Several members of the 1970 and 1971 teams are expected in attendance this weekend.  The 1970 team played just three games in its inaugural season, finishing with an 0-3 record under Coach Murphy.  The Panthers joined the New England Football Conference for the 1971 season and lost their first three games, but rebounded with five consecutive victories to finish with a 5-3 record, including the first victory in the progam’s history, a 39-27 triumph over Western Connecticut on Oct. 9, 1971.

            Plymouth State was a member of the NEFC from 1971-91, winning or sharing nine titles in those 21 seasons.  The Panthers won or shared eight straight NEFC championships from 1981-88, led by former Heisman Trophy candidate and Sports Illustrated cover boy Joe Dudek.  PSU was also a member of the now-defunct Freedom Football Conference from 1992-2003, winning FFC Championships in 1994, 1995 and 2001.

             PSU entered the 2010 campaign with the 12th-highest career winning percentage (.644) among NCAA Division III football programs. 

             Below is an article that appeared in the Plymouth Record on Oct. 1, 1970.

 

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