June 15, 1980
When Scott Chamness skated onto the ice four years ago his first varsity hockey game for Archbishop Carroll High School, he gathered his teammates around him, and announced, “We’re gonna tear this league apart.”
The league Chamness was referring to was the Inter-County Hockey league and, although nobody knew it a the time, he was right. The Inter-County League, and area hockey in general hasn’t been the same.
His contributions are more than just the staggering point totals he has amassed, Chamness, more than any other player made hockey a major scholastic sport in Southeastern Pennsylvania. That may seem an overstatement. He is, after all, an 18-year old just one week out of high school. But Chamness created the one thing that hockey in local schools always lacked – the media interest to put the sport on a par with the established sports. When school opened in the fall of 1979, Scott Chamness was “only” a great hockey player. When school closed last week, he had become the second-leading rusher on the football team, and a cleanup hitter on a baseball team that won Carroll’s first Catholic League Southern Division title in seven years.
For his accomplishments, both on and off the fields and on the off the ice, Scott Chamness has been selected The Inquirer’s Athlete of the Year. Chamness was the Wilt Chamberlain of his sport, the guy who set new standards for everyone else to try to match. Chamness, like Wilt, set them so Hight it is unlikely they will be beaten for a generation.
In his four-year career, he scored 271 goals in 67 regular season games, an average of four goals a game. He scored a scarcely believable 89 goals in just 17 games as a junior, a better than five-a-game average that may never be broken. His career total reflects only regular-season goals, counting playoffs, his total is believed to be close to 330.
But to get a true idea on how great a scorer Chamness was, you have to compare him to his peers. Before Chamness, only three players in memory had scored 50 goals in a season, an none had scored 60. Chamness scored 66 as a sophomore, 89 as a junior and 69 this year. Five area players got 40 this year, but none got 50. Chamness, like Chamberlain, is a generation ahead of his time.
But that’s only hockey. This fall, without having played football on the high school level, he won a starting job at halfback and was Carroll’s second-leading ground gainer, with more than 600 yards. He made the baseball team in the spring of 1979, but a broken shoulder in the hockey playoffs kept him out all season. So he hadn’t played baseball on the high school level, either, but he won a starting job this year at baseball’s most demanding position, catcher, and hit .290. He is a member of the National Honor Society, and will attend Canterbury Prep School in Connecticut next fall. He appears likely to wind up in an Ivy League hockey pogram in two years. “I think the thing I’ll probably remember most about this year was the school retiring my jersey,” Chamness said. “I didn’t know they would do that. I was at school las week and saw it hanging up and it kinda hit me.”
Carroll retired Chamness’ No.10 in March, at an assembly held for the presentation of the Flyers Cup, symbolic of area hockey supremacy. Chamness led Carroll to wins over Archbishop Ryan and Malvern Prep for the Cup, and won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player. “I took tremendous pride from what the team did this year,” he said. “After winning the Flyers Cup, it choked me up. Half of the people on the team were new. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Then, after we won our first seven in a row, we started saying, “Hey, we’re not as bad as people thought we’d be. Then we got whipped by Radnor, 8-0. That was the turning point. We worked as a team after that.”
The Carroll hockey situation last winter was fascinating. Two-thirds of the greatest team ever assembled in these parts left the school, including a silky-smooth center, Greg Arnold, who had helped make Chamness the scoring terror he is today. Only Chamness and stalwart defenseman Carmen DiGiandomenico remained from a 1979 team that hadn’t lost when it had its starting lineup intact. That put a lot of pressure on Chamness, already a marked man because of a junior season that resulted in a picture in Sports Illustrated. “I had to adjust to a whole new system,” he said. “This year, the idea was to get me the puck, where last year we could get it to anyone. I had a lot more responsibility.”
“In a way, it did affect me. I had a good start, then I got frustrated. A lot of teams put their best skater on me the whole game. It was effective at times, but it didn’t work out too well at other times.” Not too well at all, as the 69 goals he scored this year is the second-highest in area history. Chamness is more than a jock, as his grade attest. He willingly drove miles in snowstorms to help put on clinics for younger players. He also has that undefinable star quality encountered only occasionally. Watching him entertain a herd of reporters after the Flyers Cup final, it was hard to remember he was just a high school kid. But what a kid he was.
The Inquirer also selects Athletes of the year in South Jersey and Delaware. The Jersey athlete in Glenn Moore of Deptford. An all-area halfback last fall, and one of the greatest ever, he was South Jersey’s premier-400-meter das man this spring. Dwayne Henry of Middletown in Delaware, twice was named the all-state quarterback. He is the fourth-leading scorer in Delaware basketball history, and was the finest pitcher in Delaware school ranks the last two spring. His fastball has been timed at 93 miles per hour.
CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer