John J. Burns Library

Teams of Destiny: the First Fifty Years of Boston College Football

Virtual Exhibit: Fall 2001


1940

The 1940 team is perhaps the greatest football team in the history of Boston College. Expectations ran high in 1940, after the previous year's team earned the school's first appearance in a bowl game (Boston College lost to Clemson in the Cotton Bowl). The 1940 team became known as the "team of destiny." In his second year at Boston College, coach Frank Leahy had a team of great talent. Charlie O'Rourke was the quarterback and his backs included veterans Frank Maznicki, Lou Montgomery (Boston College's first African-American football player), and Captain Henry Toczylowski. They were joined by a talented newcomer named Mike Holovak. The team also had wonderful receivers including Henry Woronicz, Gene Goodreault, Ed Zabilski and Don Currivan. The team was undefeated outscoring its opponents 320 to 52 and held six teams scoreless. Boston College impressed the sports community by defeating Tulane University (considered the second best team in the nation) 27 to 7 in the second week of the season and defeating Georgetown 19 to 18 (snapping Georgetown's streak of twenty-two consecutive wins). On January 1, 1941, Boston College defeated Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl 19 to 13. The Eagles earned a number five ranking in the 1940 AP National Poll and laid claim to the National Championship.





The Sugar Bowl squad (from left to right). BOTTOM ROW: Gene Goodreault, John Yauckos, George Kerr, Chester Gladchuck; Joe Zabilski; Joe Manzo; Henry Woronicz. TOP ROW: Frank Maznicki; Henry Toczylowski; Mike Holovak; Charlie O'Rourke.





At left is Coach Frank Leahy in a photograph taken by photographer Arthur Griffin. Leahy was one of the most successful coaches in the history of Boston College football. His teams had a combined record of 20 wins and 2 losses. More importantly, both of his teams earned bowl game appearances: the 1940 Cotton Bowl and the 1941 Sugar Bowl. After the 1940 season, Leahy left Boston College to coach at Notre Dame for eleven seasons and had five national championship teams. In 1970, Leahy was inducted into both the Boston College Hall of Fame and the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.





This is a photograph of players Captain Henry Toczylowski (Class of 1943), Charlie O'Rourke (Class of 1941) and Mike Holovak (Class of 1943). O'Rourke later played professional football with the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Colts and the Los Angles Dons between 1942 and 1950. Mike Holovak played professional football for both the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears between 1946 and 1948. He later coached the Boston College football team from 1951 to 1959 and the Boston Patriots from 1961 to 1968. All three men have been inducted into the Boston College Hall of Fame. Holovak and O'Rourke were also inducted into the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.





Pictured here is a cover of a souvenir program from the seventh annual Sugar Bowl game. The Eagles were underdogs in the match with the Tennessee Volunteers. Before a crowd of 73,000, Boston College staged an upset victory. The teams were tied 13 to 13 with only three minutes left to play. Charlie O'Rourke rallied the team down the field and ran twenty-four yards for the game winning touchdown. The final score was 19 to 13.





Here Charles Darling (right) is handing players Henry Woronicz (left) and Theodore Williams (center) a bowl of sugar at South Station as the Eagles board their New Orleans-bound train. Darling (Class of 1925) was a legendary player from the early twenties. The image illustrates the loyalty and support that past Boston College players and alumni give to current athletics. 75,000 to 100,000 enthusiastic fans greeted the victorious Eagles upon their return to Boston. Later, 1700 people attended a victory banquet held at the ballroom of the Hotel Statler. The great team of 1920 sat together as a unit and toasted the newest team of destiny. Eagles past and present were united by a love of sport and a love of Boston College. A tradition that continues to this day.

Introduction   1899   1920   1928   1940


Virtual Exhibits

URL:http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/ulib/Burns/1940team.html
John J. Burns Library, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3801
Updated: July 13, 2001
Questions or comments contact Burns Staff