In the 1980 season the PIAA mandated that all cross country courses for boys and girls were to be set at 5K (5,000 meters) in length. Until 1985 our home course was called All-Gates on the property of a former estate off Coopertown Road. The new course was located at Coopertown Elementary School. The first version of the course was slightly different than the current (2017) version as the gym had not been built.
The 1980’s decade was one in which the boys’ team never suffered a losing season. In dual meet competition they recorded a 79 – 16 record including three undefeated seasons (1981, 1982, 1988). These 3 seasons were extra special as the girls’ team also had undefeated teams for the same period.
The early 1980 teams were known as teams with great depth and little separation between the # 1 -5 runners. These teams lacked superstar front runners as only two runners from 1980 to 1986 made trips to states, those being Dan Clark in 1982 and Doug Schmidt in 1984. The 1980 team was led by sophomore MVP Alf Cromwell (All-Declco & All –Central) and junior Steve Blakeslee in a 7 – 3 season. In 1981 the team finished with a 10 – 0 mark, league championship, and Delco runner-up honors. Team MVP Dan Clark had ample support from Alf Cromwell, Jim Boyle, Jeff Spicer, Steve Blakelee, and Mike Grant.
By 1982 the team had a 20 meet win streak on the books with another undefeated season. MVP Alf Cromwell, Mike Repetto, Mike Grant, Mark McTiernan, Ted Hodgins, Pat Welsh, and Scott Cobb were the top 7 runners..
In 1983, despite having only one returning varsity letter winner the team had a very respectable 7 – 2 record. A first time cross country runner, Ralph Giannakon, was team MVP. Supporting Ralph were varsity runners Mike Boyle, Hank Gray, Gary Klinger, Doug Schmidt, Jon Jensen, and John Choi The following season, 1984, Doug Schmidt was named MVP and set the tone for hard work and dedication. Again the team’s trademark was excellent depth. Most team scoring, behind Schmidt, was from Hank Gray, Gary Klinger, Sean Duffy, John Woodman, Jon Jensen, Torsten Jenkel, and Gian Gonzaga. In 1985 the team had its’ third consecutive 7 – 2 season but its’ top 4 runners were all underclassmen. Junior Mike Smith emerged as the team MVP. The normal #2 – #4 scoring positions were held by Dave Ocenas, Bob Bond, and Gian Gonzaga. Seniors Jon Jensen, Sean Duffy, John Woodman, John Choi, and Dave Schneck provided ample backup.
In 1986 the Fords defeated all opponents sans Penncrest, a team that finished 3rd at states, and settled with a 9 – 1 record. Gian Gonzaga was named team MVP. Mike Smith, Bob Bond, and Dave Ocenas ran in positions #2 – #4 and with the emergence of a strong #5 scorer, Jake Hollenbach, , the Fords had a well balanced squad.
1987 was a pivotal year in which Gian Gonzaga (MVP) placed third at the Central Leagues and 13th at Districts to earn a trip to states. He also was a mentor to promising freshman Josh D’Angelo who placed 6th at Centrals, 10th at Delcos, and 28th at Districts.
Since Josh had not trained the summer leading into his freshman year Gian took him aside and said that he had made the same mistake his freshman year (running only 57 summer miles total). Gian explained that to reach one’s potential he had to put in the summer training. Gian added that he had put in 618 miles of summer training and that’s what got him to states as a senior. With Jake Hollenbach also earning All-Delco honors (12th) the team had a competitive 1, 2,3 punch but due to a minute gap before our 4th scorer would finish the team had another 7 – 2 mark.
As the 1988 season broke area runners witnessed the beginning dominance of the Josh D’Angelo era. Taking the advice of Gian Gonzaga he arrived very fit in his sophomore season as he finished first in every central league race. He would do the same in his junior and senior year. He took the county by surprise with a 17 second win at Delcos using his strategy of attacking the course as soon as the starting gun fired. This victory was followed by another title, Central League champion, soon after. At Districts he pushed the pace throughout the race and had a slight lead at the 3.0 mile mark. Two runners outkiked him and he had to settle for a 3rd place finish. Unlike last season the team had the depth to register a 10 – 0 record. A big plus was the running of Jared Colflesh who came out as a senior with some excellent track credentials. Jared placed 3rd at Delcos, 4th at Leagues, and 16th at Districts to join D’Angelo at States. Jake Hollenbach placed 6th at Delcos, 14th at leagues, and 26th at Districts. At that time only the top 25 at Districts qualified for States so Jake was one second short in his quest for States. The team finished 6th at Districts. The Fords had plenty of depth as well. At the Cenral League Championships they placed 5 in the top 18 (D’Angelo 1st, Colflesh 4th, Pat Cromwell 8th, Hollenbach 14th, and Dave Watt 18th). Other runners that ran varsity were Brian Grob, Joon Kim, and Ryan Farrell.
In finishing the decade the 1989 team couldn’t replace the graduating seniors. This year D’Angelo again swept all the dual meets, Delcos, & Central Leagues. He placed 5th at Districts and won his first state medal with a 20th at States. Rapidly improving Pat Cromwell ran very well in the #2 slot followed by freshman Chris Duckworth. Team depth fell off at this point and the team finished with a 6 – 5 record.
After splitting “the Shoe” 5 wins and 5 losses with UpperDarby in the 1970’s the Fords won 6 times versus 4 losses in the 1980’s.