|Local Access Brings High School Football Home|
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Bartlett High School football, the leading sports program on Webster local access television, Channel 13, will return Sept. 10 for a 10th consecutive season.
Ted Avlas, the play-by-play announcer, and his color and analysis partner, Edward S. Kunkel Jr., have been in the Webster Memorial Athletic Field press box since 2001, also reporting from out-of-town venues.
They’re a solid broadcast team, recognized by BHS fans and backed by cameraman Luke A. Olmstead, another experienced hand.
Televised broadcasts have an added importance in Webster because Bartlett is an old name on the regional football scene, back to the 1920s, and its followers include an increasing number of senior citizens who enjoy coverage from the comfort of their homes.
Mr. Avlas, the Webster School Department’s assistant superintendent of schools for business, and Mr. Kunkel, who held the same office before retiring two years ago, might be described as local access loyalists. They climb up to the BHS and out-of-town press boxes 11 or more times every football season. There’s no personal gain for either man, and going on 10 years of service can only be seen as a true avocation.
“Well, we got a free breakfast to show for our nine years,” said Mr. Avlas on a recent morning, revealing that he and Mr. Kunel were honored in May by the Central Massachusetts Football Hall of Fame for their media efforts.
“We’re certainly proud of that honor,” says Mr. Avlas. The locals were nominated by Mike Vendetti of Dudley, the retired football coach and athletics director at Nichols College and a legend in his own right.
The local announcers have earned straight A’s over the years for enunciating local names, and even the identities of visiting players. While there’s probably a Bartlett tinge to their behind-the-mike efforts, Avlas-Kunkel recognize quality performances by opposing players. They both played the game themselves.
They’ve got an extra name to master this season: Dane LaBoissonniere is the new head football coach at Bartlett. He’s a teacher at the school.
The local access schedule reads: Sept. 10, David Prouty; Sept. 17, Millbury High; Sept 25, at Worcester South; Oct. 1, at Quabbin Regional; Oct. 8, at Shepherd Hill; Oct. 16, at Leicester; Oct. 22, Auburn; Oct. 29, at Tantasqua; Nov. 5, Nipmuc Regional; Nov. 12, at Northbridge; Thanksgiving, Southbridge.
The same trio, Mr. Avlas and Mr. Kunkel, announcers, and Mr. Olmstead, cameraman, annually cover many Bartlett High School boys and girls varsity basketball games.
Turning to “Just Because Inc.,” 940 AM on the radio dial, the Webster outlet will open its grid broadcasts with Shrewsbury at Auburn Sept. 9.
Announcers Matt Morway and Pete Geanis will cover 16 games this season, including David Prouty at Bartlett Sept. 10 and the Thanksgiving morning game against Southbridge at Memorial Athletic Field in Webster. Bartlett at Shepherd Hill Oct. 8 and at Leicester Oct. 16 will be aired by Geanis-Morway, as well as BHS home games against Auburn Oct. 22 and Northbridge Nov. 12.
WGFP mikes will be at Dudley’s Shepherd Hill field Sept. 10 and 17, when the Rams host Gardner and St. Bernard’s. The Hill gridders will visit Auburn on Oct. 29 and entertain Northbridge Nov. 5.
Several Bay Path games will be aired from the vocational school’s home turf, starting with Oxford Sept. 25 and followed by Blackstone Valley Oct. 9, Assabet Valley Nov. 13 and Worcester Technical Nov. 20.
Oxford will get home team coverage Oct. 15 when they line up against David Prouty. Morway and Geanis are part-time sportscasters, working full time as educators in the Dudley-Charlton Regional School District.
There’s a three-initial business in town — JAF — advertised on the doors of the company pickup. It’s housed in the former Mothers Supermarket building off North Main Street.
The initials recognize its late founder, Joseph Aloysius Furey, says Gregory A. Furey of Dudley, owner and manager of the screenprint engraving business.
JAF mostly serves the textile and wallpaper trades, according to Gregory. His father’s identity took me back to another Joseph A. Furey, a judge in Palmer District Court who, it turns out, was Gregory’s grandfather.
I was a kid starting in the news business and Judge Furey was still on the Palmer Court bench, also serving other district-level jurisdictions, including the former Webster-Southbridge District. Sessions were in Webster on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and in Southbridge on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Schedules were consolidated in Dudley after the district courthouse was constructed there.
Judge Furey was on the local bench quite often in the year before Judge Louis O. Rieutord retired. He was tall and lean, a wiry type, with a steady voice, seemed patient, fair and compassionate, and insisted on decorum in the courtroom.
Now that I’ve met JAF owner Gregory A. Furey, I’d say that he bears some resemblance to his paternal grandfather.
Dan Healy got to measuring the yet-to-open Webster to Dudley bridge at Perryville, and I listed spans connecting the two towns, falling flat on Chaseville, or what was once “The Three Red Bridges.”
Barry Thompson was quick to the draw. I mentioned five bridges, he came up with six, adding Chaseville. This bit of print dialogue brought challenges from Omer Duval and Thomas M. Szynal.
Mr. Duval says the bridges from Tracy Court and Peter Street, linking to Shields Packaging Co. properties, are still open to pedestrian traffic, like the French River span on the grounds to the old American Woolen Co. The walk is now from Shields to various South Village properties. Omer also points out that the converted railroad bridge from Dudley-Oxford Road in Dudley to the North Village mill yard in Webster still appears in service.
Mr. Szynal wonders how many bridges there are in Webster, excluding the connecting spans; and ditto for Dudley. This begs a question: What is a town bridge? Conduits have been installed in some streams over the years and roadways simply continue over them, like The Narrows to Birch Island.
Mr. Szynal would call this a bridge, remembering when a wooden span separated an opening to the lake from the swamp behind Birch Island. He’d also mark the fairly new crossover from Mill Brook to the French River in Bigelow Road as a bridge.
Maybe somebody who knows a lot more about water crossings in Webster and Dudley, like a Sportsman, might offer a count?
Telegram & Gazette
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