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Making the Case for the ’71 team

The team that cemented Reynolds as THE dominate program!

This is the 2nd installment of a review of the 1970's as part of a leadup to the Annual BBQ Picnic.

Get your picnic tickets online here or conatact a Legacy Club member

The Senior class of 1971.

The 1970-71 team is perhaps when Reynolds started to show that they can be THE dominant program in the county and District 10. Yes, we had those great teams in the mid-70’s and mid 90’s through today. But (and I know I am biased) I think this team would have been competitive with just about any of those Raider teams. Unfortunately, the “one-and-done” tournament structure of the day obfuscates the amount of talent of this team.

In the previous five years, Reynolds had four undefeated teams and three Section team titles and this team’s confidence, built on the shoulders of its predecessors, was at a new high. The previous teams knew they could be undefeated and win sections. But with 8 of 12 returning starters from an undefeated team and the addition of transfer Pete Calenda, the ’71 team knew that they would be undefeated and win sections.

The only close match was, of course, Greenville with their very talented team. But even then, the individual bouts went as expected and the outcome seemed pre-ordained to those of us on the team.

The ’71 Senior class was the first to remain undefeated over their four years, posting a 53-0 record. They regained the top spot in Sections after a two-year drought by crowning six individual champions (Denny Emph, Larry Shipton, Walt McClimans, Larry Smargiasso, Pete Calenda & Chuck Coryea) and a few more finalists - a level of domination that was unusual in that era. To win his title, Shipton defeated Brian Raub, perhaps the top-rated wrestler in the state.

The team roster was so large, the Yearbook staff had to

make separate pictures for starters and JV.

None of the Raiders progressed past Districts that year but if a few situations had been called differently we could have had 3 or 4 District champs (e.g., both Smargiasso & Calenda pancaked their eventual D10 champ opponents for 5 point moves in the 3rd period of their matches but were called out of bounds by the Erie County referees, with only the opponents ankles and feet over the line). McClimans lost to a future state and college D1 NCAA champ, Jim Bennet and Coryea lost a one pointer to the eventual state champ and future NFL running back, Woody Thompson.

Thus, I stand on the claim that the 1971 team had the talent and depth to be considered among the great teams in Raider history. They just didn’t have the same opportunities to accomplish those titles as teams in later years .

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Jul 03, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This team was the number one “bad ass“ team in my mind. They could have been in any cage match and in any genre and come out on top. I worshipped them.

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