Remembering Valley’s First Victory


Contributed by Bob Venusti

Pascack Valley football player and 1956 graduate Bob Venusti donated a wooden section of a torn down goalpost from the 1955 Thanksgiving Day football game, in which Valley earned its first ever win in its inaugural season against Northern Valley. Venusti has kept it for over 60 years, but has now decided that it is time to bring it back to Valley to honor the past and inspire future football players.

By Spencer Goldstein and Katie Mullaney

It was Thanksgiving Day in 1955. Pascack Valley’s football team was winless in its inaugural season, set to take on Northern Valley on the road with one game to go. Valley supporters packed the bleachers in hopes of witnessing school history – and that’s exactly what they did, as Valley defeated Northern Valley 34-0 for its first-ever win.

That night has always resonated with football player and 1956 PV graduate, Bob Venusti.

“It meant a lot to us, it really did,” Venusti said. “It was the first win, and it was a big win. We just loved it and were very happy. The whole team was just ecstatic.”

Venusti also recalls specific details from the win.

“If I remember right, it was our ground game that got them,” Venusti said. “Us linemen did our job and so did the running backs. We didn’t have a kicker so all extra points were runs. Keep in mind that we didn’t have a home field, so we practiced on [Valley’s] backlot without field markings or goalposts.”

Earlier this month, more than sixty years removed from the team’s first-ever win, the Indians beat Northern Valley again (now called Demarest) in the North 1, Group 3 sectional quarterfinals on Nov. 8. Venusti couldn’t make it to the game due to family matters, so at halftime, his sister –a 1957 PV graduate – and her husband presented and donated a piece of Venusti’s memorabilia from the 1955 football game: a wooden section of the torn-down goalpost.

Ariela Alfonso
During the halftime of the North 1, Group 3 sectional quarterfinals on Nov. 8 this year, Venusti’s sister and her husband presented the piece of memorabilia that is now on display in Valley’s trophy case.

This piece of Valley history is now on display for the PVHS community in the school’s athletics trophy case, in honor of Venusti’s former coach Joe Talamo, his senior teammates Frank Farmilette, Franny Forwalk, Gene Morgan and Tony Scarangella, as well as his father Otto Venusti. “It was an honor to get a message from Bob Venusti about the goalpost artifact,” current head coach Len Cusumano said. “[Venusti] held onto this piece of PV football history for a very long time, and it’s very special to have it back home here in Hillsdale. We are going to display it with pride in our trophy case for many years to come.”

Venusti’s obtaining of the artifact was possible because the jubilant Valley fans crowded together to shake the goalposts back and forth until they came down. A number of fans took pieces of that goalpost for themselves, including Venusti’s father, while the football players were getting back onto the bus.

“My father grabbed that piece [of the goalpost],” Venusti said. “He gave it to me, and I’ve kept it ever since.”

After holding onto the memorabilia for long enough, Venusti decided it would be better suited in Pascack Valley’s halls.

“I got to the point in my life [where] I know that I’m not going to be around forever, and I thought Pascack Valley was a good place for it,” Venusti said. “The kids in the school will appreciate it a lot more.”

By donating the piece of the goalpost back to PV, Venusti hoped that he was able to inspire the football team for its state sectional final game against Ramapo this past Friday, Nov. 22, and for future football seasons. Venusti’s contribution was not made without appreciation from the team.

“We want to thank the Venusti Family for sharing this special piece of PV history with us,” Cusumano said.

This story was originally published on The Smoke Signal on November 27, 2019.