The Post-Journal

Malinoski Went From 6 To 11 At Mayville

Coached County’s Last six-Man Football Sectional Champions


Six-man football flourished in Chautauqua County in the 1940s and the early 1950s, but by the end of the 1950s it was a dying sport.

“We were reduced from about a six or seven team league down to a three team league,” said Francis “Doc” Malinoski about six-man football that he coached at Mayville from 1954 to 1959 and then 11-man squads 1960 through 1983. “There were three of us left – Clymer, Sherman and Mayville.”

Other schools such as Bemus Point, Ripley, Pine Valley had already dropped six-man football.

“It got to the point of where we couldn’t even find non-league games to fill out a schedule,” Malinoski said. “We filled out schedules by picking up schools such as Park School or going into Pennsylvania. It got the point where you go to 11 man football or you just lose football.”

The 1959 Mayville team was the final six-man squad and it was also the end for the other two remaining teams. And Mayville went out with a bang as it won it’s second straight Section 6 Class B title.

The Eagles, who finished the regular season at 4-2 and 3-0 in their league, pulled off an upset by shutting out previously undefeated Cattaraugus, 10-0.

That was quite a bit closer than in 1958 when Mayville won it’s first sectional championship by hammering Cattaraugus 51-25.

“They were heavily favored and even in six-man they were doing a lot of two platooning while most of our kids went both ways,’ Malinoski said about the 1959 game at Cattaraugus. “We figured they would wear us down, but stayed with them.’

Mayville opened the scoring with a safety, which was worth four points in six-man football. But late in the game Cattaraugus moved inside the Mayville 10 yard line.

“If they would have stayed on the ground there’s no question they would have scored,” Malinoski said, “For some reason they went to pass and we intercepted it.”

Ricky Potter picked off the pass for Mayville and returned it 50 yards to the Cattaraugus 20 yard line to set up a touchdown to clinch the win.

An interesting sidelight is Potter later worked as a mechanic for the Richard Petty racing team.

“So we won that thing we weren’t expected to win,” Malinoski said.

Not only was Malinoski happy to win, but also relieved because he was the sectional chairman with the duty of presenting the trophy to the winning team.

“I forgot to take the trophy so if we had lost to Cattaraugus I had no trophy to present to them at the end of the game,” he said. “The Lord was looking down on us and we won.”

“It was also a sad time for Malinoski because it was the end of six-man football.

“I always felt six-man was more difficult to play and more physically hard on the kids than 11 man because there were only six opposing six and generally it was a one-on-one situations and of course it was wide open,” he said, And when kids came together, they came a longer distance and when they hit, they hit hard. And there was an awful lot more running.”

He added, “I think it was easier (to coach) because you didn’t have the guards and the tackles to deal with. As a one-man coach you were pretty much on top of the entire situation.”

That’s because there was no assistant coach or coaches.

“I was the only guy,” Malinoski said. “As a matter of fact, when we went to 11, I had only one helper and it was that way for years.”

Malinoski arrived at Mayville in 1956 after coaching six-man football at Delavan-Machias (which later merged with Arcade to become Pioneer) for five years. And one of the favorite plays he brought to Mayville was called “scatterpass.”

“I blew some of the guys right off the field the first year I used it,” Malinoski said.

Then he explained how the play worked.

Everybody went out, including the center,” Malinoski said. “The ends would crisscross, the center could buttonhook right over the middle and the two backs would go flat behind the line of scrimmage. Now somebody’s got to be open. Either that or you let your passer sit back there all day and wait and wait and wait because they didn’t rush him.”

That’s because in six man football no one tried to blitz the quarterback.

“If you experienced any kind of pressure from the defensive line that meant somebody out there in the flank was open,” Malinoski said.

As for the defense, “Generally you had two linemen and a middle linebacker and your middle linebacker better be a pretty good football player. Not only in physical ability, but also in anticipation of where the play was going. So if you had a good middle linebacker, your defense was strong.”

The strongest team in Chautauqua County six-man football had been Sherman, under Harry Brosius who was the first coach in the county to win 100 games. He began the program in 1940 through 1959 he had a record of 107-67-5.

They had two players and they were like two jackrabbits,” Malinoski recalled about a couple of Sherman’s top teams. “They could run like deer and of course that was important in six-man football because if you got by one man you had access to a lot of yardage in front of you, it was just a matter of getting there.”

Sherman was undefeated in 1946, 1947, 1952, 1957, and 1958. Then for the last two years of six-man, Mayville was the kingpin.

But in 1960 there was the big change to 11-man football and Malinoski noted, “The increase in size was very difficult. It wasn’t from the lack of having enough participants, it was a lack of funding. We had to sell 11-man football.”

And Malinoski was trying to sell it to the school board and recalled one board member saying, If you go to 11-man you’re going to have to pay for it our of your present budget.”

“He added that, “My present budget wasn’t anything spectacular, but we decided we’ll do it.”

And it wasn’t easy in the early years.

“There were times when a kid would come off the field and he’d have to give his helmet to another kid going into the game, Malinoski said. “Or sometimes that would happen with a jersey situation.”

And adjusting to the 11-man game on the field was also a challenge.

“It was more overwhelming and there was more to deal with,” Malainoski said. “Our first game was at Cassadaga Valley (which had been playing 11-man) and we played against (Coach) Joe Annarella and they laid it right on us. They were experienced and they wre bigger than we were. We were amazed, astounded and bewildered.”

But not for long.

“It took us probably five years to get our feet on ground after the conclusion of six-man and picking up 11-man,” Malinoski said. “I think it was 1965 before I came up with some athletes who started putting the whole game together.”

In their first three years of 11-man football, the Eagles won only one game in each season. But like Malinoski said, things really improved; in 1965 with a 5-1-1 record. And two years later Mayville was 7-1 in 1967 to win its first ever 11-man football championship.

But in 1960 when the eagles switched to the 11-man game, Malinoski took care of more than football.

“When we went into 11-man football, I actually instructed our cheerleaders as how to cheer in what situation,” he said, “The girls were so unaware of 11-man football they didn’t even know how to cheer properly.”

But Malinoski still has a soft spot for the old six-man game, “Six-man was a great game,” he said, “It was fast and we had some great rivalries that were knockdown ball games.”

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