Semi-Pro Football

Early 1940’s 

Every Sunday  over 3,000 people would attend the games which were held at the Boonton  High School football field. In an age before television, everyone went  to the Panther games.

The South Boonton Field Club sponsored a  team in 1940 called the Boonton Panthers also known as “The Black Cats”.  This team played from 1940-42, and from 1946-50.

This picture  is believed to be the 1940-42 team. Can you help name the players whose names are cut off from this clipping? If so, please send an email to: Boonton Committe.

Row one: fifth from left (#50) – Fred ?

Row two: #12 - ?

Row three: first player, Kline?

A second Semi-Pro team sprang up in Boonton in 1941. Father Thomas H. Murphy, assistant pastor at Our Lady  of Mt. Carmel Church, introduced his Cross Club team. They were coached  by Al Beradino with assistance from Coach Shriner of Boonton HS.

Boonton Panthers, entire team sitting with names of players

1946 - Boonton Panthers Are State Champions

In 1946, the Panthers achieved the “Impossible Dream” – Undefeated, untied, and unscored upon!

The November 29, 1946 edition of the Times Bulletin, states, “The Boonton Panthers, one of the greatest gridiron combines ever to come out of North Jersey, compiled the amazing feat of playing twelve games during the season just ended against top-notch gridiron teams of the State and defeating all their opposition to remain undefeated, untied and unscored upon.”

During a span of five years (1946-50), the Panthers records 39 wins, 7 losses, and 3 ties, annexing three North Jersey football titles, and losing but one league game in three years.

The Panthers scored 885 points during  that span, allowing their opponents but 194 (about 4 points/game). Over  the years, the Panthers were coached by Tony Ciardi, Bill Flynn, Butch Fortunato. The team was made up mostly of Boonton and Morristown men.

Boonton Panthers - New Jersey Football Champions of 1946; entire team sitting and their names listed

1946-1950 Teams Wins the First Championship Title

From 1946 to 1950, the Cross Club/Crusaders complied a respectable record  with 36 wins, 11 losses and 5 ties. They won the first  championship  title Morris County Football League title in 1947, going undefeated. In  1948, the name and sponsorship were changed to the Crusader AC. Other  coaches other the years were Hank Benjamin and Mike DeArmott.

the Cross CLubs/Crusaders team sitting on bleachers with their coach

Front row (based on the lineup below): Doc Wiggins; Simms; Carey; Bob Benjamin; Mahoney; Bill Barnish  (Captain); John ‘Birdie’ Hopkins; Sova; Nick Bevacqua; Bob Carter;  Warren Gifford; Conover; Hank Benjamin (coach)

Middle row: Eddie ‘Pumpkin’ Hopkins (behind #15); Bernie Benjamin (behind #26)

Do you recognize anyone? If so, send an email to: Boonton Committee.

Detailed Crusader roster with player names