One measly point kept the 1962 Salem Wildcats football team from an undefeated season. Unfortunately that 7-6 loss to Flora in the third week of the season not only kept the Wildcats from an unbeaten season, but an NEC championship as well.

The Jolly Green Giants, as they were nicknamed by former Salem Times Commoner sports editor Bill Larimer, used a punishing defense to shut out three opponents (Olney 18-0, Carmi 54-0, and Mt. Vernon 26-0) and limit two other opponents to a single touchdown (the 7-6 loss to Flora and a 35-7 win over Mt. Carmel).

Salem allowed just 84 points for the season, just over nine a game.

Coach Joe Thomas’ crew could also win the high scoring affairs as well, as their 28-25 Shrine Game win over Centralia attests.

The team’s other wins that season were 34-12 over Bridgeport, 25-19 over Fairfield, and 38-14 over Lawrenceville.

Salem had a powerful offense that season that averaged 371 total yards a game. It was especially effective on the ground where it averaged 293 yards per game.

For the season, the Wildcats had more than twice as many offensive yards as its opponents, 3343-1649.

NEC First Team picks included halfback Dennis Finney and guard Terry Brasel. Halfback Greg Vieira and fullback Mike Heninger were NEC Second Team picks.

Quarterback Tom Hopkins, center Kevin Kane and Bob Summersville, who was the team’s leader tackler, all received NEC Honorable Mention.

Finney led that team in rushing with 791 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 9.0 average per attempt. Heninger rushed for 603 yards and seven touchdowns. Vieira rushed for 536 yards and seven touchdowns. Hopkins passed for 630 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran for 311 yards. Reggie Henson added some exciting plays, as he averaged 13.8 yards a carry on his 21 attempts.

Finney was the leading receiver with 13 catches for 344 yards.