The Best AHS Football Players in each of the last ten decades

The Amsterdam High School Football program started in 1927 when head coach Jack Tracy led the first Varsity gridiron team in school history to a 6-1 finish. So the current decade is the tenth decade the school’s gridiron team has competed. I thought it would be fun to try and name the greatest AHS football player from the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, etcetera, right up till this current decade. Now I realize high school football especially here in Amsterdam has never been about an individual player. Teams win games and championships and it is so hard to compare the accomplishments of so many players competing at so many different positions. But since I’ve been paying attention to AHS Football from right around 1965 or so, I thought the comparison of players and teams from different eras would make interesting reading. You can let me know if it does or not. Here’s five of my ten picks for Players of the Decade:

2010-2017 – AHS record during this decade – 46-22
Player of the DecadeBryan Stanavich
The current decade started with the final two seasons of Pat Liverio’s outstanding head coaching career and since 2012, the program has been in the able hands of his successor, Doug Edick. During this eight year period, the name “Stanavich” has become synonymous with a very strong Rugged Ram running game. The oldest of the three Stanavich brothers, Brett and the youngest, Dale each had outstanding careers for the Purple and Gold but it was middle brother Bryan who rewrote Amsterdam’s record books by breaking Justice Smith’s 25-year-old rushing record. Bryan ran for 4,202 yards during his three year career. Keep in mind that Smith started four seasons in Amsterdam’s backfield, making Stanavich’s accomplishment in three even more noteworthy. He also set program benchmarks for both touchdowns and scoring and was a brilliant return man during his stellar career.

2000-2009 – AHS record during this decade – 79 -26
Player of the Decade – To be revealed in my upcoming book

1990-1999 – AHS record during this decade – 79-20-2
Player of the DecadeJosh Beekman
Who else but the only player in Amsterdam High School football history to earn All-American honors at the Division 1 (Boston College) level plus play and start for an NFL (Chicago Bears) football team. Beekman was a rock on Amsterdam’s O- and D-lines for five straight seasons and became the first player in history to earn first team honors on the Albany Times Union all-Capital District team for four straight seasons. He earned High School All-American honors from Prep-Star in his senior season.

1980-89 – AHS record during this decade – 68-24-5
Player of the Decade – To be revealed in my upcoming book

1970-79 – AHS record during this decade – 63-21-6
Player of the Decade Bobby Gutowski
He started for varsity as a sophomore during the 1969-70 season and really came into his own during his junior year. In addition to leading that team in tackles, averaging 11 per game, “Gutter” had an uncanny ability to disrupt and contain plays back into coverage. He was the leader of that 1970-71 squad’s defensive unit and it was that unit that led the Rams to their first Class A League title in 22 years. The following summer, Bobby went under the knife to repair a knee injury. Then he put the pads back on, went back to Lynch Stadium and had one of the greatest seasons in the history of Amsterdam football. By then, the game plans of opposing coaches could be summed up in four words; “Stay away from Gutowski.” He still led the team in tackles with 70 and when the season was over, Amsterdam had won its second straight league title and his head coach, John Los called Gutter the greatest high school lineman he had ever seen. In addition to making every all-star team in the capital district area, Gutowski was also selected as one of the top 14 best high school linemen in the entire country by Gillette. He also happened to be a superb offensive weapon at the tight end position. In addition to being the best blocker on the team, Bobby had great hands and in his senior year, he caught 17 passes, gaining over 300 yards. He ended up playing college ball for Northern Colorado and becoming one of that school’s all-time defensive lineman.

1960-69 – AHS record during this decade – 34-41-3
Player of the Decade – To be revealed in my upcoming book

1950-59 – AHS record during this decade – 9-50-1
Player of the DecadeMike Angelo
The 1950’s was a lost decade for Amsterdam High School’s football program. How bad was it? The school did not win a single football game for four full seasons from 1950-through-1953. It didn’t get much better either. They won just a total of nine games during this entire ten-year period. The most wins any of the fifties teams had in a single season was two. So picking the best player of this era was tough for me, especially because I was born in 1954 and never saw the team play during during that decade. But I did find this two-way lineman. Mike Angelo played for AHS in his junior year of 1954 and then captained the ’55 squad in his senior season, starting at center and earning the team’s most valuable player award. But what really sold me was the fact that he ended up going to Ithaca College, made the football team there, became a two-way starter and in 1958 earned Associated Press Little All American honorable mention honors for a 6-1 Bomber squad. Angelo only weighed 230 pounds but the Ithaca College coach told Recorder sports editor Bob Wischmeyer that Angelo dominated the interior of the line in every game. This guy was actually scouted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Winnipeg franchise of the Canadian Football League!

1940-49 – AHS record during this decade – 14 -24-2
Player of the Decade – To be revealed in my upcoming book

1930-39 – AHS record during this decade – 23-33-1
Player of the DecadeMickey McGuire
The 1936-37 Amsterdam football team coached by the late Axel Perman was led on the field by star quarterback John “Mickey” McGuire. McGuire had taken over as AHS’s QB during his junior year. Perman’s squad won their last two games that year and then in 1937, became the first team in the school’s history to finish a regular season undefeated, winning six games and tying another. Jack Minnoch, the Recorder Sports Editor during that era loved this squad and nicknamed them “the fighting Tarzan’s.” He also loved McGuire’s game and predicted the kid would become a big-time college player. As the Lynch Class of 38’s Graduation Day approached, the rumor was that he was headed to Syracuse but instead McGuire accepted a scholarship to a pretty prestigious prep school in Manlius. The football coach there, a former Colgate football star named Winnie Anderson, specialized in turning great high school players into great college ones. McGuire would spend the next two years at Manilus, starring on Anderson’s team and ending up heading to Ithaca, to play major college football for Cornell University. At Cornell, McGuire studied mechanical engineering. In 1941, he was inducted into the US Army and later the US Air Force.

1920-29 – AHS record during this decade – 16-5
Player of the Decade – To be revealed in my upcoming book

I will finish writing the profiles of the five other Ram Players of the Decade in time to get them in my upcoming book which is scheduled for release later this year. In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to my free monthly Amsterdam Top Ten Newsletter for previews and reveals of more Amsterdam Top Ten Lists. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

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