There have been some great Amsterdam High School football teams over the ninety-plus year history of that school’s interscholastic gridiron program. Whenever a discussion about which of those team’s was the very best, Frank Derrico’s 1986 Class A Section II Championship squad is always given top consideration. They finished with a 10-0 record, outscored their competition by a 296-48 margin and completely demolished a previously unbeaten Saratoga High School 35-0 in that year’s Super Bowl, rolling up 428 yards of offense and holding the much heralded Blue Streak’s to just 28. Perhaps never has a purple and gold football team had so many outstanding players on it’s roster. But for certain, these 1986 Rugged Rams had the greatest starting running back tandem in AHS football history.
Kevin Billington and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant were the first and only pair of Amsterdam running backs to finish in the top three in Big Ten League total yards rushing in the same season. They had been running out of the same backfield together since grade school, when their Maroon Wildcats Little Giants team was demolishing the opposition up at Amsterdam’s Veterans’ Field. Russ Dickson was strong and quick and the type of player who could do everything well and at full throttle. He ran over and through people.
I can’t believe Dickson turned fifty-years-old today. It seems like just yesterday I was leaning against the wooden snow fence that used to surround the western end zone up at Lynch Stadium watching this kid put every ounce of effort into every carry. He spend his time nowadays buying and selling real estate, riding his motorcycle, hanging out with his family and going the gym. He looks like he could still take a hand-off from his old QB Aaron Cotugno and run fifty yards over and through people. Happy Birthday Russ Dickson and thanks for all those great Friday night memories all those years ago.