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Fiorentino was first Cyclone to go pro


Al Fiorentino was part of one of the most famous and successful Watertown High School football teams in the program's long and storied history. But unlike most Cyclones alumni, Fiorentino's football career extend long past his high school days.

Fiorentino was short in stature, 5-foot-7 and 200 pounds when he ended his high school career. He was nicknamed "Dumpy." But his ability took him to Boston College, where he was a starting lineman for three years on the varsity, and then to the Washington Redskins of the National Professional Football League, now the NFL.

Fiorentino became the first Watertown native to play with a professional football team.

He started as a standout lineman for coach Bill Graf's Cyclones for three seasons, playing at offensive tackle and on the defensive side. He was captain of the 1936 team, which was known as one of the top high school teams in the Northeast. That team, which also included eventual pro football player Rocco Canale and future Syracuse player Leo Canale, traveled to Clearwater, Fla., to take on the four-time sectional high school champion from that area. The Cyclones won 23-7, and Fiorentino blocked two punts.

Fiorentino was ineligible to play for WHS in 1937 because he was too old, according to New York State Public High School Athletic Association rules at the time. So Fiorentino went to Florida and played for Clearwater for a season. He then enrolled at the University of Florida for a semester, before joining Boston College and leading the Golden Eagles, along with his WHS teammate Rocco Canale.

Fiorentino, who started at guard at BC, played in the Sugar Bowl, a victory over Tennessee for BC on New Year's Day in 1941, and the Orange Bowl, a Boston College loss to Alabama on New Year's in 1943.

He then signed with the Redskins in 1943 and played for two seasons at guard in Washington, blocking for famed quarterback Sammy Baugh. He played two seasons for Washington, then moved onto the Boston Yankees of the NPFL, where he was reunited with Canale.

Fiorentino ended his career after the 1945 season and continued in the restaurant business. He eventually became director and manager of the Touchdown Club, a country club in Washington, D.C., a job he held throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

He lived in the Washington area as well as Silver Spring, Md., and Wheaton, Md., and later in Butler, Pa., where he died at age 83, on Jan. 28, 2001.

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