Seventeen-year-old Max Beyrodt has his own way of putting 50 years of football at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School into perspective. “My dad just turned 50, so he’s an old man,” said Beyrodt, a senior wide receiver for Mercy.
Now, age may be relative and “old” can be a subjective term, but a 50th anniversary is significant. Mercy celebrated its varsity football golden anniversary Saturday with a gift to itself: a 16-0 homecoming win over Wyandanch. Former Mercy players, including several members of the inaugural 1967 team, took part in the pregame coin toss and posed for photos at halftime.
“Fifty years, it’s pretty incredible,” said athletic director Melissa Edwards. “We’re very lucky. We’re rich in tradition and history and we’re hopefully going to continue to grow that.”
Mercy football was born on the same Harold T. Murray Memorial Field that the Monarchs currently play on.
“Here we are, still on grass, keeping it old school,” Edwards said, laughing. “We did have lights.”
Indeed, Mercy was a pioneer of sorts, with one of the first lighted fields in Suffolk County for Friday night games.
Mercy coach Jeff Doroski wasn’t born until seven years after that inaugural season, but he recalls walking to the field as a youngster to watch the Monarchs play. He later played for Mercy himself and coached at the school. He figures his association with the school to be around 21 years, so he has seen a big chunk of Mercy football over the years.
“During that time I’ve seen some tough times,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of 0 and 8 seasons. I’ve seen 1-7, 2 and 6, and I’ve seen some seasons where we’ve had some success whether I was playing or coaching, but to be able to carry all of that on for that length of time, it’s impressive for the people who have come before me and have been in this position.”
What does the 50th anniversary mean to the current Monarchs?
“It’s very special to us,” junior running back Anthony Bossone said. “Coach Doroski was talking to us about how important it is. I think it gives us an extra push in practice or in games or anything. It’s very important to us.”
Junior quarterback Ryan Razzano said: “It’s crazy. Actually, it brings something to the team, I think. I think we all look at it differently, seeing that everybody before us kind of set the paving stone for us. We want to prove to the Mercy people that came here 50 years ago and started it first that we still look after football.”
Football is a big part of the Mercy culture. It’s at football games where alumni meet and fans catch up with one another.
“Mercy football is a big part of our community,” Edwards said. “It really is. This is where you get everyone to come out on a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon, you know, hang out, enjoy their time spent together and enjoy some decent football.”
Mercy, the smallest football school in Suffolk County, responded to the occasion with a victory that brought the team’s record to 3-2.
“This is a special team,” Beyrodt said. “We got a lot of great guys that play, a lot of people that play with heart, and they just have a passion to play this game. It was really good to see how they reacted to today and how they came out here and they worked their hardest and as Coach would say, they clocked in and they clocked out.”
Edwards believes it was also good for the current Monarchs to see some of the former players who came before them.
“We like to bring them around here and honor them, to thank them for paving the way for the student-athletes that we have today,” she said. “I know our coaching staff always brings back people whenever they can. It’s important for the guys to see who’s been here, who’s played here and where they are coming from.”
• Up next
Mercy will be home for its next two games against Hampton Bays (2-3) Friday and Bayport-Blue Point (3-2) Oct. 20 before going to Center Moriches (3-2) to close out the regular season on Oct. 27.
Photo caption: The Bishop McGann-Mercy football team, led by seniors Gabe Boro (58) and Matt Paglia (79), run onto the field Saturday when they celebrated 50 years of football at the school. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)