Though the school no longer has a football program, Boston University fielded several competitive teams in the 1960s. The 1969 team had a 9-1 record and an invitation to play in the Pasadena Bowl. A former Trinity High School player, Dick Devore, was a linebacker for the Terriers.
A farmer from Lone Pine, Devore never thought he would play college football in Boston.
“Dick loved baseball, but he also loved the competition that football presented,” said Bill Devore, Dick’s younger brother.
Dick Devore lost a battle with diabetes and died several years ago.
He played football on the 1965 Trinity team that went 8-1, the only loss coming against Uniontown in the last game of the year. Trinity was voted a share of the Western Conference championship because it had played six conference opponents while the Red Raiders played only four.
Devore was a lineman and a successful kicker who was highly recruited.
Ralph Jelic – his son Chris was a standout athlete at Mt. Lebanon High School in the early 1990s and played football at Pitt – recruited the area for Boston University and landed many athletes from Western Pennsylvania.
“We loved the kids from Western Pennsylvania. They were tough, aggressive, and compared to some kids in the New England area, they were fundamentally sound, Jelic said.
The coaching staff at BU was led by such athletes as future Pitt head coach Foge Fazio, Jerry Sandusky and Jay Wilkinson, the son of Hall of Fame coach Bud Wilkinson.
“It was not an easy task to convince Dick to come to Boston and visit our facilities,” Jelic said. “He grew up in the country, and I think the thought of playing in a big city like Boston was intimidating.
“While taking a tour of the town and campus, he fell in love with the city and the school.”
Jack Cambest, who played his football in Western Pennsylvania, met Devore when both were freshmen at Boston.
“I didn’t know he was a kid from Washington,” Cambest said.
“Dick loved to listen to (disc jockey) Porky Chedwick,” said Jelic. “It’s funny, the kids from New England couldn’t believe the music that he played.”
Devore and a number of BU football players from WPIAL schools also grew up listening to the program.
“I started the weight program at the school,” Jelic said. “We had a simple motto for the kids’ parents. Send us your boys, and we will make men out of them.”
The BU football roster was filled with some great talent.
Fred Barry, an outstanding football player from Wash High, was good enough to make the pros and play for the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bruce Taylor had a standout career playing defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers. Then, there was Reggie Rucker, who had some great years with the Cleveland Browns.
Boston did not play in a conference, but it’s 9-1 team finished second to Penn State in the voting for the Lambert Trophy, given annually to the top team in the East.
The Terriers, led by Devore, headed to the West Coast to play in the Pasadena Bowl – the game was played in the Rose Bowl.
“We played San Diego State, which was coached by Don Coryell, later a head coach in the NFL,” Cambest recalled.
“Our defense knocked out their starting quarterback, Dennis Shaw, who went on to play quarterback for the Buffalo (Bills).
“We liked our chances, but their backup quarterback came in and threw a couple of touchdown passes. The backup was a young kid named Brian Sipe, who later played for the Cleveland Browns. We got beat 28-7, but it was a good experience for our team.”
When asked who was the hardest-working player on the team was, Cambest and Jelic did not hesitate.
“Dick Devore was a hard-working grinder. You could not knock him off his feet. One tough kid. He kept improving in college. His senior year, he won the most improved player award,” Jelic said.
Bill DiFabio writes a bi-weekly Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter about local sports history.