Galloping Gnome Gatto Amazes '69 Football Fans
GAINS 168 YARDS IN TWO PLAYS
When halfback Vic Gatto takes a handoff, he hits the line at almost his full running speed. Churning into the opposing secondary, he dupes one defender with a smooth body fake and changes speed two or three times.
Just when one of the safeties seems to have him down, his short, thick legs pump a little harder and Gatto is loose for another long gain. There are faster backs and stronger ones, but the quick start and fluid change of direction have spelled success for Gatto.
Gatto is captain and leading ground-gainer for the Harvard freshman football team, and he is having quite a year. Last Saturday against Princeton, he returned a kickoff 95 yards for one touchdown and toted a screen pass 73 yards through heavy Tiger traffic for another score.
He has scored five touchdowns this year, with two games still remaining, Against Tufts, Gatto romped for two scores of 50 and 75 yards.
Gatto said he chose Harvard over the football powers because he wants an Ivy League education. That does not mean he would rule out pro football if he received an offer, but at 5'6" and 180 pounds he doesn't expect the pros to be interested in him.
Gatto's father, Vic Sr. '40, greatly influenced his decision to come to Harvard. No one else connected with Harvard made any real attempt to convince him. "Recruiting isn't very big in the Ivy League," he admits, "and Harvard did none for me."
Princeton flew Gatto to its campus for a weekend and Dartmouth bombarded him with pamphlets. Boston College sent Gatto a pre-paid application but he didn't return it.
Homer says it is a rare man who is as good as his father, and the maxim should be twice as true for grandfathers. Vic Gatto scored 15 touchdowns during his senior year at Needham, Mass. High, but he fell three shy of the school record set by his maternal grandfather.
Gatto's father didn't play football at Harvard, but he boxed for Henry N. Lamar, who now coaches Vic Jr. in freshman football.
The transition from high school to college required the star runner to concentrate on new aspects of football. "In high school, I just ran the ball," he says. "Here I work on all phases of the game, especially blocking." When his Needham backfield coach saw him play here, he was most impressed with Gatto's newfound blocking skill.
Gatto played both ways in high school and almost never missed a minute of action. With the freshmen, he has been seeing plenty of defense action, but he is rested after long runs, kickoff returns, and sometimes just to give other backs a chance to run. He never had these rests in high school, and he says the difference in his condition during the game is noticeable.
Gatto is willing to guess about his fate next year. With Bobby Leo, Pat Conway, and other experienced backs returning, he doesn't expect to rush much, but he hopes to run back kickoffs and punts. Gatto would be glad to roam the defensive backfield, but his lack of height might work against him there.
"I'd rather play offense," he says, "although on defense you can it harder." The stocky freshman smiles when he says that. He is almost rhapsodical about hitting hard