Area fans who’ve seen an awful lot of football say few did it any better than Bill Gosselin.
“What a great football player he was at Central Catholic,” recalled Charlie Samataro, 79, of Derry, a Salem High Hall of Famer. “He was tough as nails. Oh, my God, was he tough. I remember him at linebacker. One game he had over 20 tackles. He hit like a ton of bricks.”
Walter “Skeets” Scanlon, 88, of Lawrence, a member of the Mass. Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, said, “(Legendary Central Catholic coach) Dick Moynihan said he was the best player he ever coached in high school.”
Gosselin, who had been in failing health the last year, passed away last Saturday at age 84. He was remembered as a humble war hero, a loving family man, gifted athlete, a hard-working coach and a respected athletic director. He is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Irene Berube Gosselin, seven children and 10 grandchildren.
“He was a real nice guy, a straight shooter,” said Scanlon, the longtime Methuen High baseball coach and one of Gosselin’s dear friends. “He could do almost anything he wanted to do as far as sports. He was an all-conference center, linebacker and split end at Arizona State. Week to week, he’d change positions and do a tremendous job. He was one great guy. He’d do anything for you.”
Mild mannered off the field, the former Central Catholic class president was tough as a player and as a coach.
“He was 29 and I was 21,” began Samataro about their days coaching football at the old Woodbury High in Salem. “Woodbury had no budget. I was going into the Marines the next year. He asked if I wanted to coach the JVs. Bill coached like he played. He was tough as nails and disciplined. It was repetition and do it right.