There was an eye-popping 4-0 start, some costly injuries leading to a 5-4 overall record, not one but two future NFL players, an Irish kid with what was then considered a bizarre soccer-style kick, and a flashy, southpaw signal-caller named Randy Hart who was the Joe Namath of the area right down to his white cleats.
Yes, that 1970 Lawrence High football team won’t soon be forgotten.
“They named us the Cardiac Kids and The Elastic Band Defense, Joe Murphy and Max Bishop and Russ Conway at The Eagle-Tribune,” recalled Hart, a local realtor who these days is probably better known for being the father of former North Andover and Brooks softball pitching sensation Britt Hart.
It still seems surreal that an area public school would produce two future pros but Ray Preston played nine years at linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and Dave Rozumek played four years at linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Not too bad for guys who were undersized, to say the least. “Roz,” the longtime Salem High AD, was a junior and just 6-0, 175 pounds. Preston was just 5-11, 185, a pipsqueak compared to his son, 6-5, 320-pound center Raymond Newton “Duke” Preston III, who played six years in the NFL.
“Roz was just coming into his own,” said Hart.
“He was a great tight end but really skinny. I never thought he’d go further. Ray was a great linebacker and a great running back.”
You still can win a few free rounds at some Lawrence establishments with the trivia question: Who was MVP of that 1970 team, Preston or Rozumek?
The answer is none of the above.
It was Hart, who scored six TDs and threw 10 TD passes in an era when that was an impressive total. His coach, Fred Dennen, called him the best QB in the state.