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It was like being a five-year-old again at Christmas only it was late June, when I opened the envelope for the River Ridge 2024 Football Record Book.  As I stated in my last blog: BOSCOBEL…PLAYING THE GAME (wihifootball.com)  I was very impressed with what Jimmie Kaska had sent me.  His Media Kit is a wonder but I was even a more impressed in what Wade Winkers, Head Football Coach/Athletic Director at River Ridge had produced.  I was amazed at the detail.  It showed pride in the school program as well giving me history that I hadn’t imagined. 


There were 12 pages of recaps of the 2023 season then a Championship/Awards section.  There were full page pictures/and stats for each conference champion squad.  It was then that I discovered that River Ridge hasn’t always been known as River Ridge.  Back when I was first starting to cull the microfilm files at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, I discovered that Bloomington had a powerhouse team going 9-0-0 in each of the 1970 and 1971 season.  They were led by Greg Hermsen the school’s fullback who is the all-time leading scorer and is #2 all-time in rushing. Hermsen earned 2nd team All-State honors in both seasons and ended up leading the state in scoring in 1971 with 211 points.  Quarterback Earl Patterson was also a three-year starter and is listed as the school’s career leading passer.  The story moves on with other conference champions then to individual honors…All conference, WFCA All-Region, WFCA All-star game participants, an all-time listing of team captains and those who played college ball.


The football program began in 1902 but the record book really covers player and coaching records beginning in 1960 when Bloomington began playing 8-player football.  In 1967 they moved to 11-player when the other members of the Blackhawk Conference did the same. There were years that Bloomington didn’t field a team.   The book has a few seasons prior to 1960 going back to 1902.  Each season has scores for all the games played.


The next section covers team and player stats for 64 pages.  Yes, 64 pages.  There are breakdowns of every 100-yard rusher in a single game, 150 yards in a single game passer and 100 yards in a single game receiving and more.  And yes, EVERY 100/150-yard games.   Wade lists all the single season performers.  There are lists for punt return, kick-off return, interception, punting, tackles and tackles for loss.

Then it moves on to the coaching records with the afore mentioned season individual game scores.  As well as all-time records vs. opponents.  Finally, there are pictures of almost every team.  Throughout, there are many color photos. 

So, why did I mention Bloomington when the book is from River Ridge?  Well, Bloomington was the first area high school.  There are a lot of very small villages in the area and their students attended Bloomington and so the name was just that but from 1986-1994 the schools official name was changed to Bloomington/West Grant.  The school was in western Grant County so hence, the slight name change.  But in 1995 the name changed again and became River Ridge as the school district expanded to include other villages and the River Ridge School District was formed.  Combined, the schools have a 308-234-2 record between the three versions of the school district.  In the early part of the 1900’s Bloomington played, sporadically over many sessions, 11-player football until they moved to 8-player between 1960 and 1966.  Like a lot of early teams many of their records are lost.  Wade was able to accumulate some pre-1960’s records.  Football had been discontinued in 1932 but his records for the earlier years is 6-29-6.  Not counting the  8-player years brings the combined school 11-player record to 314-260-7.

With this fine book that Wade has produced I asked him where he got the idea to do such an expansive book.  The idea came when he talked with and then read The Lancaster Record Book written by Jason Nihles.  Jason works for the Platteville Journal newspaper, he’s a graduate of Lancaster High School and plays adult basketball and softball with Wade.  Through Wade I made contact with Jason who sent me a copy of his book.


Jason wrote the book that I received back in the early part of 2013.  He hasn’t made an update since even though he has done additional research on the school’s teams since.  Family and work keep him busy.


The Lancaster Record Book is full of even better details than the River Ridge book.   And why not?  Lancaster had won six WIAA state titles and 25 conference championships up to 2012.  There are individual pages dedicated to each conference and state champion beginning in 1937.  The pages have a recap of the season, team stats, rosters and the “Key Players”.  Coach John Hoch contributed his All-Time team with a brief biography of each player.  Pages with recaps of the teams’ appearances in the state title games and individual pages on the school’s conference MVP’s and All-State players and all of this is in the first 104 pages out of 178. Page book.  There are some additional 10 pages with advertising that he sold.

Of the remaining 74 pages out of the total 178 contain similar player stats that I mentioned above with River Ridge.  The early part of the book is full of Lancaster history and even though you may not be from the area a history reader would find the info very interesting. 


When I posted my May 10 blog:  WISCONSIN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PROGRAMS WITH THE MOST WINS AT THE END OF EACH DECADE…1890-2023 (wihifootball.com) I left out something at the end of the story.  I had tracked Lancaster as a possible entry for the story but the records I found were incomplete.  The school library only had yearbooks that went  back to the 1969 season.  The local library had only a few older yearbooks and through looking at those issues and doing a bit more research I found a few more very early season records.  With the info that Jason has on the Lancaster program starting in 1937 (He actually has the 1936 season w/l/t but not the game scores).  Adding the season records Jason had up to the end of 2013 and then adding the season totals (2013-2023) taken from WISSPORTS records the record is 609-265-22. After I wrote this blog Jason sent me additional information to help confirm my totals. The known above record totals for the school of course doesn't include some missing seasons. Also, Lancaster, like a number of schools was forced to discontinue the sport for some years (1909-1914) because of financial problems or a lack of players. The 609 wins would have placed the school in the #4 spot on my previous blog, one win behind Marinette who has 610. If I had known Jason’s totals previously the school would be on the list, and I will look for more to see if Lancaster can move up a bit higher.


If you think about it, Lancaster (609 known wins), Darlington (715 confirmed wins) and the Platteville (566 known wins) have a combined 1,892 all-time wins.  Remarkable for schools only 55-miles apart and often playing each other.


I highly recommend that you are interested in getting your own copies that you contact Wade Winkers… winkerswa@rrsd.k12.wi.us and/or Jason Nihles…ports@theplattevillejournal.com if you are interested obtaining a copy of their books.  There are very limited editions of each.  They will tell you the cost of the book plus postage.  I think they are masterpieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to send in the 11 and 8-player records update to be posted.  I usually send them to Travis Wilson at WISSPORTS in July, to post on the WFCA web site just before the preseason football workouts.  I had gone through all the emails sent after the last January updates to make sure I had entered the new info when I received several emails from Jimmie Kaska (Pronounced Ku-ska) that were filled with a lot of information.  Two years ago Jmmie sent me an email with a file that he had done on Boscobel football records.  He asked me if I had any old information and I replied that I did not.  I looked at the file and wished him luck on his search.  What he just sent me was a great updated file that held a lot more information.  Read on.


What Jimmie sent changed several of my seasonal leaders lists.  First, my yearly list of passing leaders for 1968 changed.  Tom Bauer of Durand had been the season leader going 106-66-3-1,182 -16 but Boscobel quarterback Steve Randall took huis Bulldog team to only the fourth conference title since 1940 as the team romped through an 8-0-0 season.  Randall passed 150-84-2-1,197-16.  Bauer earned 1st team All-State and Randall earned 1st team All-SWAL (Southwest Wisconsin Athletic League) and honorable mention All-State.

The Bulldogs earned the #2 final press poll ranking in both the Associated Press and the United Press International ratings.  After going through a 1967 4-4-0 season the JV, who posted a 5-1-0 record, bolstered the 1968 squad and they reached the schools highest heights.  In 1967 Boscobel lost to Platteville 39-13 but they revenged that loss in the second game of the season with a 34-12 victory.  Darlington had only allowed 12 points all season until the two schools matched up in the season finale battle of the undefeated conference foes.  The Bulldogs were clearly the best team winning 19-7.

October 3, 1968, Boscobel Dial Newspaper


The other record that changed was on the 1946 scoring champion list.  Lake Mills tailback Bob Petruska had been listed as the season scoring champion with 120 points, scoring 20 touchdowns.  Petruska was a highly rated back who led the L-Cats to a 6-2-0 record.  Bob carried the ball 99 times for 1,401 yards and a 14.1 average per carry.  But research by Jimmie Kaska found that Boscobel’s Jerry Schaefer scored 25 touchdowns and kicked 12 extra points for a season best 162 points.  Both Petruska and Schaefer were named to the second A.P. All-State team. 

    Nov. 12, 1946, Capitol Times Newspaper 1st team All-State   5’10, 180  


The record that Jerry broke was the SWAL scoring record as he scored 143 points (22 touchdowns and 11 extra points) in seven conference games.  Jerry played for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and upon graduating he moved to California and started a chemical company that also specialized in water purification.  In 1996 he donated money along with others toward supplying the school athletic department with workout equipment.  A plaque with his name and fellow contributors is in the weight room of the school so students using the machines know something about Jerry.


There was another email that gave me information on Mile Brown, a three-time All-State punter.  Punting stats are often overlooked by coaching or newspaper reporting.  It was mentioned in a Madison newspaper in 1946 that Bob Petruska of lake Mills averaged “nearly 50-yards per punt” but no official records are available.  What makes Mile Browns records impressive is the fact that he averaged 43.1 yards per kick for his career, second on my all-time list.  But it doesn’t stop there.  In 1988 his average was 43.1, in 1989 he averaged 43.21yards and in 1990 he averaged 43.09 yards per kick.  Talk about consistency.  Mike went on to kick for the University of Minnesota.  He ranks #6 on my season punting records and #2 in career average.   


The final record that Jimmie sent was one led to the creation of a long overdue category in the record book.  I had the longest touchdown run which would never be broken performed in 1899 when the football field was 110-yards.  It was a run by Reed Shepard of De Pere vs. Seymore when he ran 100-yards for the score., Well, the new category is Longest Touchdown Pass Completion.  Why I never included a passing category like this I don’t know.  Now I have Brian Waterman passing to Jamie Matthews for 99-yards in a 14-6 Boscobel loss to Riverdale in 2013.  I ask all readers who know of a 99-yard touchdown run or pass completion to send me the information so I can add it next time to the record book.

With all thus success you might think Boscobel was a power house but Boscobel High School football is not the typical program that I write about.  They don’t often win conference titles.  Four since 1924…1940, 1954, 1955 and 1968.  The school has an all-time record of 278-508-23.  Far from the other programs that I wrote about in my story from May 10, 2024…WISCONSIN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PROGRAMS WITH THE MOST WINS AT THE END OF EACH DECADE…1890-2023 (wihifootball.com)


There have only been five first team all-state players from Boscobel since the 1924 start with Jerry Schaefer in 1946, his running mate from that season, Len Richter who was a junior that year but earned the first team in 1947.  And, Mike Bown, the great punter who was first team in 1988-1990.  Work is being done to put a plaque on the football field to honor Rex Foster, the schools only WFCA HOF coach (1948-1955):  Rex Foster - Cuba City / Boscobel (wifca.org)  Foster posted a 43-15-5 record while at Boscobel.  The current players look to them as they will celebrate the school’s “official” 100-year anniversary of the sport. The season opener in 2024 against Hillsboro will be the schools actual 800th game.  They have 11-forfeits in their overall record.


 Jimmie pointed out to me that the team had a 33-game losing streak 1996-1999.

 After winning a game they went on a 17-game skid during 1999-2001.  That’s going 1-50 from 1996-2001.  They had other long losing streaks as well.  The school lost 25-games in a row, including 9 forfeits, from 2002-2005, 23 loses in a row in 2010-2012, 21 in a row from 1958-1960 and 20 consecutive losses in 2017-2020.  They are currently on a 14-game losing streak that dates back to 2022.  Losing seems to be the norm at Boscobel, but things just might be changing.


What makes this program stand out is something like many schools playing the game of football.  The students play for the love of the game.  A chance to succeed and in Boscobel’s case, they don’t often succeed but the team tries and sometimes they do succeed.


With 508 losses there have been few winning or breakeven seasons.  The history that Jimmie Kaska sent first was an extensive spread sheet: Boscobel Football History - Google Sheets

Jimmie is using 1924 as the start of the program. The local newspaper, the Boscobel Dial has repeatedly over the years states that this year, 1924, is when the program official started.  In truth, the school played football on and off from sometime in late 1890 or early 1900. 

Boscobel HS 1898

Boscobel HS 1903


Thanks to Travis Winker from Darlington, who sent me a file three years ago with game-by-game scores of the school’s histories.  The two schools, Boscobel and Darlington, played in 1920 with the Bulldogs losing 51-0.  Jimmie has a few other early scores from this time period as well but these scores are not included in the overall total. Like a lot of record keeping the school or the local newspaper didn’t retain information or cover the sport in print.  The school may have dropped the game in the early years due to financial considerations


Boscobel is like a lot of schools these days.  Trying to fight low numbers, trying to garner student and local population support and trying not to either co-op or drop down to 8-player football.  There is nothing wrong with the last two aspects of the sport but there is pride in trying to go it alone and play 11-player ball.  These schools are also pressed because of students playing other sports like soccer.   


Jimmie Kaska and his wife along with their two young boys moved to Boscobel in 2020.  His wife is from Riverdale and they moved to be closer to her family.  Jimmie has a degree from UW-Superior and is going to work on his Masters at UW-Platteville.  But in the meantime, he has embraced the area he lives in.  Why else would someone take on the creation of an extensive record book for a school that didn’t have that so called, winning tradition.  People like Travis Winkers of Darlington, Jonathan Walters of Franklin, Patrick Froan of Milwaukee Marquette University High School, Nick Raasch of Clintonville, Tanner Wallom of Belleville and Troy Andreshak of Edgar, to name a few, have created a school record book, something long overdue.  Tanner’s file is currently just offensive stats but he will be expanding to include whatever defensive records he can acquire.  Another school with a record book has been printed by Wade Winkers, the head football coach and athletic director at River Ridge.  I’ve just ordered it and I’m looking forward to reading it. 


Jimmie is a radio announcer for Civic Media doing radio sports announcing for all athletics at the school.  He also calls the Isthmus Bowl game for the top non-playoff qualifiers of the WIAC and CCIW held in Sun Prairie. But he didn’t stop there when he moved to Boscobel.  The football team needed assistants and he volunteered by helping out in many capacities.  He became the “go to” guy when other schools needed information.  He’s written the football game reports for the Boscobel Dial as the paper had no one to cover the games.  He ran for and was elected to the school board and helped get a multi-million-dollar referendum passed to expand the school and update the facilities.  This year he will be the special teams coach, all this by a guy who claims to be one of the state’s all-time worst athletes.  Jimmie played sparingly on the 1999 Cadot state championship team and then his family moved and he played for Flambeau.  Both schools had HOF coaches…Pat Rothbauer from Cadott and Darell Gago from Flambeau.   Pat Rothbauer in particular influenced Jimmie to stick with sports.  As it turned out, Rothbauer’s college teammate, Mark Stamper, was the defensive coach at Flambeau for Darrell Dago.  Stemper is now the principal at New Lisbon and helped Jimmie stay involved in extracurricular activities.


This is not to say that Jimmie is the only person trying to turn Boscobel around. Head Coach Marc Chiefari, assistants Kevin Bright, Todd Bell, Justin Sparrgrove, Steve Smith, Taylor Halvorson and Josh Deiter are all dedicated in making positive changes.  They spend long hours with the players in practice and in clinics to move forward.  They are proud of what they do. Boscobel’s season record for the past few seasons has been dismal…0-9 in 2019, 1-4 in 2020 (COVID season), 2-8 in 2021, 1-9 in 2022 and last year, 2023, the Bulldogs went 0-9.  But you wouldn’t know they went 0-9 if you looked at the 62-page year end recap that Jimmie printed up for the team and coaches:  2023 Boscobel Media Media Kit 2023 RECAP.pdf - Google Drive


Last year the team had 23-players.  Several got hurt and several had grade problems   They practiced during the week with maybe 17-19 players with the coaches’ filling positions in practice scrimmages.  They lost each week but if you look at this media kit you might never really know it at first glance.  You might have thought that they were the state champions.  This media kit instilled some real pride in the school and the community.  They are fighting numbers but going into 2024 they already have about 36 players signed up to play football, the most players since 2015.  This is a start. 


A final thing. Jimmie was so impressive with his presentation of his team’s media kit to the other conference coaches at the annual meeting to select the all-conference players, he was voted conference Assistant Coach of the Year.

Not bad for an unpaid assistant coach/media specialist who is truly a Bulldog.

Every school should strive to collect records.  Search the yearbooks at the school and public libraries. Spend time going through the local newspaper.  Look at stats from the last 15-years on WisSports if they are there.  BUILD A LEGACY THAT THE PLAYERS ON YOUR TEAM CAN BE PROUD OF.  Don’t just have the records in a file that isn’t accessible for the public to see but post them attached to the school athletic pages so anyone on the outside can reference them.


Here’s the lesson of this blog: Not every team can win a state title, but each school can strive to impact their program with enthusiasm and maybe their own media kit to help pave the way.  Think about it and give it a try.


 

It seems to many like Muskego has always been a powerhouse in football as well as in other sports.  True, the school has, in its 67-years posted a 389-250-4 football record.  The Warriors have appeared in the WIAA playoffs 24 times.  In their 67-years the team has had only 17 losing seasons and in four others they broke even with either a 4-4 or a 5-5 record.  Almost always in contention for a conference title, the school has won two Division 1 titles and even posted a 45-game win streak from 2018 through part of 2021.  They might have had a third consecutive title in the COVID season of 2020 but the season was cut short and they ended with a 9-0 record that year after going 14-0 the two previous campaigns.  Their 45-game streak might have stretched to 50.  The streak is the sixth longest in state history, behind Kimberly’s 70-game streak (2013-17), Manitowoc (1983-87) and Waunakee (2009-12) both with 48 consecutive wins.  In fourth place is Stratford (2003-06) with 47 wins and Wausau (1940-46) with 46 victories   Winning has become a tradition for Muskego but the last 10-years has been the schools best victory stretch.


In order to understand how Muskego has become a football as well as an overall area sports power, you must first understand a bit about the growth of both Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties.


The area was first home to the Menomonie, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Native American tribes.  A treaty with those peoples were, as would happen again and again, be ignored by the white settlers as the Federal Army forcibly removed the Indians in 1836.  In the early 1830’s a few former New England settlers moved into the area.  It was a slow growth of population as while the Fox River supplied water it was not a very good waterway for trade.  The region was part of what was called the Michigan Territory.  Originally part of Milwaukee County in 1834, prior to the land being split into two parts and Waukesha County was formed in 1838.  A vote to decide which town would become the county seat was held in 1840 and the town of Waukesha beat Pewaukee by only two votes.  The hamlets of Muskego, in the newly formed Waukesha County and Norway, part of Racine County, were just southeast of the town of Waukesha.


With the Native Americans removed the county began to increase with farming as the main industry.  The extension of the Watertown Plank Road from Milwaukee through Waukesha, Pewaukee and Oconomowoc fostered county growth and then the first railroad heading west from Milwaukee, eventually leading to Madison, arrived in the 1850’s to Waukesha and added easier ways for settlers to get to the newly opened farm lands.  Move forward 90 years and by 1940 the county had a population of just under 63,000 people with Waukesha having just over 19,000 residents.  Following World War II, the country really began to grow and by 1950 there were 85,901 people living there.  People moving out of Milwaukee County caused the growth of the county and by 1960 the population ballooned to 158, 249 residents.  The rapid growth led to the creation of cities like Brookfield, New Berlin, Menomonee Falls, Pewaukee Mukwonago and Oconomowoc, which before had been quiet little bergs.  Prior to 1950 there were few high schools in the county with Waukesha, Delafield St. John’s Military Academy, Mukwonago, Pewaukee, Oconomowoc and Menomonee Falls supporting the high school population.


In 1950 there was a school district to the south of Waukesha called Norway-Muskego.  The growth of the county forced the new cities to create their own high schools.  Older students from the Norway-Muskego school district, according to Wikipedia, attended Milwaukee high schools but I think some went to Waukesha or to the West Allis schools as they were closer.  New Berlin Eisenhower, Greenfields Whitnall and Brookfield Central were built in this timeframe.  Finally, the people of the Muskego-Norway (The name changed) school district decided to build their own high school and in 1956 the school opened.


The first football season, 1957 under the direction of Cwynn Christenson who took a core of new players and some who had played for a few other schools prior to beginning the Muskego program.  For years, many new schools started with, first, a freshman team then a JV or sophomore squad then finally a first-year varsity.  Muskego started varsity play right off the bat with no JV team in 1956 and they were good, going 5-2-0 in the Braveland Conference.  The Warriors followed up in 1958 with a wonderful 8-1-0 record, winning the Braveland, while losing only to Brookfield (Later to be Central) 7-0.  Christenson moved on and the Donald Yahr era at Muskego began.  It had a bumpy start going 2-20-2 in his first three seasons before directing the team to a 5-3-0 record in 1962.  Yahr’s best season was in 1967 when Muskego posted a 8-0-0 year playing in the Parkland Conference.  Yahr spent 16-years at Muskego as a football coach as well as the being the wrestling coach, being the physical education instructor as well as athletic director.   He was later principal at Whitnall High School.


 A few seasons later with Don Kangas as the new head coach the Warriors again won the Parkland in 1971 with an 8-1-0 record.  Their only loss that season was in a non-conference matchup with a very good Milwaukee Rufus King, 8-6.  Kangas would win two more Parkland titles in 1974 (8-1) and 1975 (9-0).  His final year was 1979 as his team went 8-1.  After 19 years as a physical education and health teacher besides being the football coach, Din moved on to become the principal at East Troy High School and later Superintendent of the school system.


WIFC Hall of Fame coach Dennis Johnson replaced Kangas and took his first team in 1980 to the playoffs and ended with a 9-1 record.  Johnson spent 19-years at Muskego winning 112 games and losing 72.  His best team was the 1994 Division 1 runner-up group that went 12-1.  His teams had a few up and down seasons with only five losing records in his 19 years. 


With so many fine coaches at Muskego over the years, the next great one is their current leader, Ken Krause.  Ken replaced John Sterner in 2008, who had coached the 2006-07 seasons.  It took Krause two years for him to turn things around after going a combined 3-15. He was building his staff as many were from his previous coaching position as the head coach at West Allis Central. In 2010, after going 6-3 in the regular season Krause led the Warriors to a 20-12 victorious opening round of the playoffs, beating a very good and previously undefeated Milwaukee Riverside team.  The next week they lost to an eventual 9-3 Kenosha Tremper squad as Muskego ended with a 7-4 record.  Since then, he has had only one losing season, going 3-6 in 2013.   But it’s the last 10-seassons that I alluded to earlier as Muskego has posted a 98-19 record earning the schools two WIAA championship trophies and capturing seven conference titles, added by a 45-game win streak.  But things have even better the past six years as the Warriors have gone 67-6.  Kimberly has posted a similar 67-7 record in the past six years but has won only one title.  Muskego and Kimberly are the only two D-1 schools to make it to the final 8 in state each of the past six seasons.


The 45-game win streak:


The 45-game win streak was great for the players, the coaches and the school.  It helped solidify the program in the eyes of many who thought that they were often a good program but now they were a looked upon as “the team to beat”.  Yes, you always have had to look at Muskego as a tough opponent but now they had a bigger reputation.


In 2023 Coach Krause became eligible for the WFCA Hall of Fame and he was inducted but he would tell you that getting to the top isn’t a one-man job.  It takes a lot of help and commitment.  Coach Krause and his staff are team builders.  Always moving the players forward toward a common goal of just not winning but improving in all aspects of the game. Blessed with great talent the Muskego Warriors, like other teams, set their goals and in their case, they achieve.  To me, that’s the way it always seemed to be in my research of the program.  They may stumble but they get up and try to move forward and that’s all you can ask of your team.  Honestly try.

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