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No year received more attention in my book, The Great Teams, than 1942 with 6 different teams being profiled. Wausau was in the midst of their 46-game winning streak. Coached by the great Win Brockmeyer who directed his Cardinals to a 7-0-0 record, a team that was not only undefeated and untied but unscored upon. They were considered the top public school in the state. Another prominent program was Delafield St. John’s Military Academy directed by Edison Lerch who posted his third mythical state title (Tied with Wausau) with a 8-0-0 record as the Lancers also won the National Military Prep Championship trophy while scoring 217 points and giving up only 47 points.

In my book I also profiled the Milwaukee Washington Purgolders, coached by Hall of Famer Lisle Blackbourn who had a 8-0-0 record as they scored 326 points while allowing only 25 while having five shutouts. Milwaukee Marquette was the top Catholic high school in the state with a 9-0-0 record and coached by Robert Cummins for only that one year. The Junior Hilltoppers scored 212 points on the season with allowing only 20 points and they had five shutouts. The Northeast was represented by the Green Bay West Wildcats. Not a high scoring team, the Cats only scored 112 points but allowed only 25 points during their 7-0-0 season. Lars Thune was the coach at West. The best small school in the state was the Blanchardville Eagles, coached by Francis Sheehan, that soared to a 9-0-0 record while scoring 278 points and allowing only 26 points with seven shutouts.

These teams were coached by a group of top coaches. Win Brockmeyer was voted in 1993 to have been the state’s all-time best coach in the Milwaukee Journal poll. Along with Brockmeyer, Lisle Blackbourn and Francis “Fran” Sheean are in the WFCA Hall of Fame. Edison Lerch has been overlooked, for some reason. 10 years are required to be part of the HOF and Lerch coached 11 seasons before World War II took him away from coaching football. Lars Thune was on his way to a HOF career when he had to step down after only seven seasons due to poor health. 1942 appears to be the only season of record for Marquette’s Robert Cummins. He, like other young teachers/coaches, went off to war and fate had other plans. Many failed to return to their old professions after returning home.

There were two other teams that I failed to include in my book and they both came from the Suburban Conference. This brings the total number of undefeated teams in 1942 to no less than eight schools. The Shorewood Greyhounds had a 8-0-0 record but only scored 118 points. Coach William “Whitey” Ketelaar’s defense, like Green Bay West’s, was super as they allowed only 19 points with six shutouts. The Suburban Conference added a new team that year, West Allis Hale, and some schools had to drop long term rivals for that year to include the new school in the conference schedule. Since the conference was formed in 1924, Shorewood and Waukesha had always met but not in 1942. Why all the members of the conference didn’t all play each other is a mystery. Besides Shorewood and Waukesha the other teams were: Cudahy, South Milwaukee, West Allis, West Allis Hale, Wauwatosa, West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay. With nine teams in the conference some schools played only an eight game season and others a nine game season but they all scheduled just six conference opponents and two non-conference opponents. If they had each dropped a non-conference opponent they could have scheduled a complete conference schedule for a nine game season.

In 1945 the Suburban teams did switch to a conference only schedule. The old, longstanding early season non-conference games went away. At the time most schools in the state only scheduled eight games and continued to do so on into the 1960s. The move to an eight game season may have had a lot to do with the war and the economics of acquiring enough gas for transporting the teams as rationing was taking place so that may have been a factor. So, eight games was maybe the accepted scheduling limit.

Another note about Waukesha’s rival Shorewood. This was not the school of the 1980s and 90s that set the state record with a 63-game losing streak or the current co-op team of Shorewood and Messmer that has struggled on the gridiron as of late. The 1940s were very good to Shorewood as the school often dominated the Suburban Conference and once posted a 39-game unbeaten streak (A 37-0-2 stretch) from 1940-1944 along with several football conference championships after that. You may hear more about the Greyhounds glory days sometime in a future blog.

Coach Clifford Goerke and his Waukesha Blackshirts were coming off a 5-2-1, 1941 season. That one tie was against Suburban Conference champion Shorewood. There were a number of returning lettermen for the new year and expectations were high. Coach Goerke got the team primed for the conference battles with three weeks of drills followed by matchups with two Milwaukee City Conference foes, Pulaski and Boy’s Tech. Those two teams didn’t play each other in the season but posted identical 1-7-0 records, 1-5-0 in conference play. Evidently not tough competition for Waukesha. The City Conference was composed of 11 schools and they played a six-game rotating schedule plus two non-conference games, usually against teams from the Suburban Conference. They were no match for the Blackshirts who rolled over them by identical 33-0 scores.

Now, on to conference play and the new school, Nathan Hale was first up. The game followed the same score as the first two, a 33-0 win for Waukesha. As usual, Wauwatosa was a difficult opponent and the 19-0 win proved to be the teams closest scoring game.

Next up was Whitefish Bay and the easiest victory of the year, 38-0. The next week Bay would lose only 6-0 to Shorewood. The win over the Blue Devils by Waukesha earned the team their fifth consecutive shutout. Another would be the next week as the West Milwaukee Mustangs went down to defeat, 26-0. The yearly homecoming game was sort of a disappointment as West Allis became the first team to score on the Blackshirts. But, it was still a 27-7 win and now a traditionally tough opponent was to be faced for the final game. Waukesha finished off South Milwaukee with ease in a 33-3 victory.

The usual lineup had:

Ends Ged Gosa and Ralph Greb

Tackles Bob Robertson and Ray Plehn

Guards Tom Sinkovits and Joe Tenke

Center Louis Bucci

Quarterback Len Meola or Charles Joy

Halfbacks Bill Beitz and Fred Patrinos

Fullback Al Hanke

Hanke mad first team all-Suburban and was the conference’s leading scorer. Joe Tenke made first team at the guard position along with end Ged Gosa who often ran end-around plays that picked up key yardage. Bill Beitz made the second team all-conference team as a halfback. The players mentioned above were part of what Goerke called his “Iron-Man” team as he seldom substituted. It wasn’t until the next season that the rules changed and it became easier to substitute a player. Len Meola was the offensive quarterback but was substituted for on defense by Charles Joy.

As with St. John's Edison Lerch, Shorewood's William "Whitey" Ketelaar and Marquette's Robert Cummins, the military came calling for Clifford Goerke. This would be his last season as coach as he entered the Navy in 1943. As a teacher at Waukesha he instructed students in accouting. He started to teach again upon being discharged in January of 1946. Soon after he returned he was appointed vice-principal of the high school and shortly thereafter became the school's principal. He stayed in that position until he retired in the early 1970s.

In 1922 the WIAA issued a directive that no school could schedule a “championship” game. That directive didn’t stop teams from playing “post season” games that newspapers would declare as a title matchup. That would end after the 1926 season. In my research for my book, The Great Teams, I found that many teams scheduled additional late season battles, after their regular season ended, usually on Thanksgiving Day. The press would declare a winning team to be the unofficial, mythical state champion. That occurred in 1926 when the press awarded the title to 8-0-0 Marinette who beat Superior 24-0. This wasn’t a true title game, a matchup of unbeatens. Superior would end with a 3-3-3 record but was considered the top team in the northwest.

So why wasn't Waukesha considered as the champion or co-champion? I think the likely reason was publicity, or the lack of it. I recently made a trip to the Wisconsin State Historical Society to look up in information in the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel about the 1926 Waukesha team. These two very large newspapers boasted thousands of readers but like some of the other papers around the state they didn't cover much in the way of high school sports. There was no mention of the team. In fact, the two papers, with few exceptions only covered the Milwaukee City Conference and then only small game stories. In fact, I found two, three line stories about Shorewood vs Chicago Latin, Kenosha vs Beloit, Octono vs Oconto Falls, a basketball schedule for Oconto and a basketball schedule for Chippewa Falls but that was about it for high school sports coverage. So, outside of the Waukesha newspaper and the other members of the Suburban Conference, no one knew of the team's success.

In 1926, teams now scheduled, for the most part, Thanksgiving Day opponents before the season began. It was often a rivalry game. That year there were games between the likes of Waukesha and West Allis and a battle between Madison East and Madison West. But some schools held out for a big season ending game like La Crosse against Kenosha or the aforementioned Marinette vs. Superior. So, a true title game couldn’t be played between Waukesha and Marinette unless they set it up for before Waukesha’s Thanksgiving matchup with West Allis. The WIAA, no matter how it looked or was stated, wouldn’t have sanctioned an early December game. Between Waukesha’s November 8 game against Cudahy and the November 24 Thanksgiving game vs. West Allis they had a long stretch of inactivity. Surely Marinette could have met Waukesha sometime in that open timeframe and not played Superior for a poor excuse of a title game.

Due to losing eight starters from the 1925 team not much was expected of the 1926 Waukesha’s squad despite coming off an undefeated year. Based on the lead story in the Waukesha Daily Freeman previewing the Saturday opener, a non-conference game, against the Wauwatosa Aggies (the nickname of the Milwaukee County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy, located in Wauwatosa) it was supposed to be a tossup. But, maybe coach Lee Saubert was hiding the team's true talents and suckering opponents into not taking the “Red and White’s” too strongly. Then again, he only had three returning starters from the undefeated, untied and unscored upon 1925 team. Saubert had toyed with moving tackle Ray Braeger to a backfield spot but then changed his mind during the five weeks of preseason drills. This was Sauberts seventh season at Waukesha. He was an accomplished basketball coach as well and a beloved physical education instructor. He knew his players well and they were ready. The Cardinals, as was the Waukesha nickname at that time, came out on fire and blew the Aggies away, 61-0. Not all of the formal first names of the players are known but I was able to get most of them or their nicknames from the yearbook. The roster usually looked like this as the team was lucky to avoid serious injuries throughout the season:

Right End Johnny Weaver Center Harold Tonn

Left End Al Dillingofski Quarterback Herb Thiel

Left Tackle Ray Breager Fullback Clifford Goerke (Capt.)

Right Tackle Harold Able Halfback Bill McFarlane

Left Guard Warden Halfback “Cow-boy” Kuntz

Right Guard “Slim” Bassett

Other lettermen and main substitutes were: Guard Bill Pancratz, fullback Dawson Mann and halfbacks Frank Ruckert and Wayne Hallgareth.

Wherever he played, team captain Clifford Goerke was the main star. He plunged into the line as a fullback, hauled in passes as a halfback, returned kicks and did the teams kicking. His father was a blacksmith as well as the first postmaster of Storyville, later changed to Blodgetts Corners and then changed to Goerke’s Corner which was along the old Watertown Plank Road in what is the west side of Brookfield and where 'The Corners of Brookfield' are now located. In the opener that took place on September 25 at Frame Park in Waukesha, he scored three times and kicked seven extra points. Kuntz also had a big day scoring three touchdowns while Thiel had two of his own. However, the big story in the Monday Freeman (the paper didn’t have a Sunday edition) wasn’t the football game but the world heavyweight boxing victory by Gene Tunney over Jack Dempsey. Tunney’s face was all over the paper. The smaller story of the win was just right for coach Saubert who was trying to keep his team unknown to other teams so they wouldn’t be prepared for his players.

The following Saturday the Cardinals again played a second non-conference opponent, Marquette High and the Jr. Avalanche (Marquette University was nicknamed the Avalanche then and the high school took on the nickname) was crushed 30-6 (newspapers listed it as 31-6) as captain Goerke hauled in two touchdown passes from Thiel. It should be noted that the final scores in the newspapers differ a bit in several games from the yearbook. I am using the scoring information from the 1927 yearbook A third non-conference game was played next against Beaver Dam and Waukesha trounced them 45-0 (44-0 in the newspaper). This was the only game that Goerke didn’t score at least two touchdowns. He had one score and three extra-point kicks but this time it was the passing combination of Thiel to Braeger. The end caught two touchdown passes and scored two other times on defense. It was now mid-October and the team was about to start their conference play and they were ready.

They opened league play against South Milwaukee who was crushed 39-0 (paper had the score as 33-0). This was the only game that Goerke was limited to a single touchdown. Thiel scored twice and passed for two touchdowns. Shorewood was next up and it was a 68-0 blowout with Goerke scoring three times and kicking eight extra points. Kuntz and Thiel each had two touchdowns. Halloween and homecoming fell on the same day, October 30. Wauwatosa high was the opponent and they fell 72-0. Thiel and Goerke were the scoring stars with four touchdowns and three touchdowns with six extra kicks. The story of the game was not totally about football. It seems that in the festivities prior to the game there was a horse drawn hearse, yes a hearse ridden by someone to Frame Park, Something spooked the horse that ran onto the field and the game had to be stopped while the animal was corralled. The hearse was an omen for Shorewood as they were slaughtered by the Cardinals. By the way, the Cardinals or the “Red and White” are the nicknames used by the local paper and the yearbooks at this time. The team did wear black shirts in a few games and they later became known in the 1930s as the Blackshirts, a nickname still used by Waukesha South high school. The school mascot is a picture of a cardinal wearing a red and white sweater.

The next week, Cudahy went down in flames in a 45-0 loss. Thiel again had a big game as he passed for two touchdowns and scored three times. Goerke plunged for two touchdowns and kicked three extra points. Now, game eight had to wait 17 days as there was a big layoff before the finale on Thanksgiving Day. Many people urged coach Saubert and others at the school to schedule a game in the interim and an open letter in the Freeman asked that Marquette high school be contacted. It was turned down by the coach and the school and so the players had to wait for the Thanksgiving showdown with West Allis. Instead of playing Marquette they should have approached Marinette but there is no indication the coach of the school did so.

Waukesha closed out the season with a 20-0 win before 4,500 fans including 1,500 from West Allis. The game was notable not only for the fine play of the Cardinals but also for several fights by spectators with police. Two West Allis residents were arrested for punching police who were trying to keep the fans off the field. Not a good way to end the season for West Allis but it was a good victory and a great season for Waukesha.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a season recap in the Waukesha Daily Freeman from which draw additional information but I’ve totaled the scoring for the players the best I can and to no one’s surprise Clifford Goerke led the team with 18 touchdowns and kicked 32 extra points for a total of 140 points. Herb Thiel scored 13 times and threw for eight scores while “Cow-boy” Kurtz scored nine touchdowns. At the season ending banquet held for both the Carroll College and Waukesha football teams a name from the past was the main speaker. It was George F. Downer, the coach of the 1898 Milwaukee South Side High School, a team that was undefeated, untied and unscored upon. Now a sports reporter for the Milwaukee Journal and future publicity director for the University of Wisconsin, Downer praised the Cardinals for their intensity, their grit and overall awesome performance. Fine words from a knowledgeable person. His 1898 team was not only the state champion but is recognized as the second national mythical champion (the 1897 Madison High school was the first national champion. These are the only Wisconsin schools accorded these honors).

Coach Saubert would coach football until 1937 when he would be replaced by a former star, Clifford Goerke.

When Lee Saubert arrived on the doorsteps of Waukesha high school in 1919, neither he nor others would expect the results he would achieve in all facets of the school’s athletic life. Born in LaFarge, WI in 1893, Lee attended La Crosse Normal School and received a degree in physical education in 1917. He taught at Dunkirk, NY for a year followed by another year at West Salem. During World War I he served in the army as a machine gunner. Following his discharge he taught at West Allis high school. Then, he moved to Waukesha where he spent the next 40 years as a coach and later athletic director for football, basketball, track and tennis. As a football coach he posted a 83-37-9 record in 17 seasons and as the school’s basketball coach for 33 years, winning the WIAA state championship in 1945. Saubert was instrumental in the building of the Haertel field that is used for football and track. When a proposal was made to build a new school gym he pushed forward a successful program to build a field house for multiple sporting events.

In 1924 he helped organize the Suburban League which was the forerunner of the Suburban Conference. Waukesha would finish first in the league 1924-27 and then win three more titles in the 1930s before he stepped down as the football coach in 1937. After several slightly above average seasons, the 1924 team posted a pedestrian 3-3-0 year. Not a great year record wise but Saubert was building for the future. One of the websites I use for research ideas is E-Yearbooks.com. Unlike Newspapers.com they don’t send out notices of a new yearbook edition being added to the site, so I check the web site every few weeks. This past weekend I ran across some newly added yearbooks including some of Waukesha High School's books from 1929 and the 1930s. In the 1929 yearbook there was a story on the school’s recent football successes. The story mentioned the 1925 team that was undefeated, untied and unscored upon. That team scored 220 points and posted seven shutouts. The 1926 squad was undefeated, 8-0-0 as well and scored 370 points and allowed only 18. Unfortunately, the 1926 and 1927 yearbooks weren’t available online so I contacted Waukesha South high school where the school librarian, Mary Beth Hass, was very helpful in sending me pages from the 1925, 1926 and 1927 yearbooks. Newspapers.com doesn’t have the 1920s editions of the Waukesha Daily Freeman so I also went to the city library. I got the scores and a few bits about the team. The paper mainly only gave game stories, but I was able to piece the season together. The yearbooks gave me some of the starters' first names which the papers from that era didn’t provide. But with the added information, beyond just the scores, there was a big question to be answered. Why weren’t the two teams considered statewide as the mythical state champion? I have the answer, I think. But first, a bit of history for those of you readers who don’t know much about Waukesha County in the 1920s.

Back in the mid-1920s Waukesha was out in the country away from Milwaukee. Looking west from Milwaukee into Waukesha County there was little population other than farmers and their families. The drive from Milwaukee to Waukesha took you along pastures and farmhouses unlike todays main route along Blue Mound Road, now loaded with shopping plazas and fast-food restaurants. It was then part of the Watertown Plank Road. The road swung around a bit from where Blue Mound and Barker Road now cross near the current I-94 at exit 297 (Goerke’s Corners) in the far west part of Brookfield. Waukesha was a city of about 15,000 residents. Other members of the Suburban League were from similar size communities. In 1920, Wauwatosa had 5,800 residents but the city would jump to 21,000 by 1930. Shorewood had only 2,000 citizens in 1920 but jumped to 13,400 in 1930. South Milwaukee had about 8,000 people in 1926 while West Allis had around 25,000 and Cudahy had around 9,000. Migration after World War II saw the beginning of cities like New Berlin and Brookfield, still unincorporated farmland in the mid-1920s. Driving to play an opponent was an adventure with no big, wide roads or interstates like today. An away game could take as long as an hour and a half or more instead of today’s 30-45 minutes.

In 1924 coach Saubert had the 3-3-0 average team but he used more than just his starters and a few substitutes which was different from the era for most teams. The substitution rules were restrictive so often a player was only replaced when a teammate was injured. Only five starters returned for the 1925 season but most of the other six starters had plenty of experience because Saubert freely used the substitution rules to his advantage.

Right End Earl Blasing Center Martin Zollnar (Capt.)

Left End Bob Shortell Quarterback Stan Winde

Right Tackle Joe Adashek Fullback Clifford Goerke

Left Tackle Raymond Braeger Halfback “Zip” Hey

Right Guard George Wilber Halfback Tony Natalizio

Left Guard “Slim” Bassett

All but Braeger, Bassett and Goerke were seniors. Some future stars for the next season who gained valuable experience were juniors Harold Able, Harold Tonn, Bill McFarlane and Frank Ruekert plus freshman Al Dillingofski who played tackle in 1925, end in 1926 and fullback in 1927 and 1928.

After five weeks, yes, five weeks of hard practice, new starters were put into place and the team jelled. The team had good speed as Hey and Natalizio were known for their long scoring runs of 30, 40 or 50+ yards. Occasionally, Blasing would carry on end-around plays or even from a halfback spot. Against West Allis he took the ball 90 yards for a score. Winde was a splendid passer and tossed eight or nine touchdowns for the season. Goerke was a line plunger usually plowing between Braeger and Bassett. Braeger was nicknamed “Five yard” Braeger because he could be depended on clearing a big hole for the backs. In the Thanksgiving Day game Goerke scored a touchdown, kicked five extra points and drop-kicked a 45-yard field goal. On the season he scored seven touchdowns, kicked 24 extra points and two field goals for a total of 76 points to lead the team.

This great performance by the Waukesha team will be added to the list of 18 other squads in state history that finished undefeated, untied and unscored upon having played six or more games. This was truly one of The Great Teams and I wish the information had been made known to me prior to my book being published.

Now, to answer the question as to why this team wasn’t considered as a state mythical champion it boiled down to one thing. Publicity.

Outside of the city of Waukesha and other members of the Suburban League, hardly anyone knew about the 1925 and 1926 teams' performances. The 1925 state champion team was Green Bay East with a 9-0-0 record, the same as they posted in 1924. In 1926 Marinette was the champion with a 8-0-0 performance. That team only scored 165 points but gave up just 10 points with six shutouts. 1926 was the last year for season ending matchups not scheduled at the beginning of the year. Waukesha’s traditional season ending game was against West Allis. Marinette had won seven games in 1926 and looked for a worthy opponent and met up with. Superior, the supposed champion of the northwest with a pedestrian 3-2-3 record. Marinette won 24-0.

Beginning at the end of the 1922 season the WIAA banned season ending matchup “championship” games, which were usually scheduled on or around Thanksgiving Day. While that ruling prevented the schools from calling it a championship, that didn’t stop the local newspapers from hyping the 1926 Marinette vs Superior matchup. The Marinette, Superior, Green Bay and Eau Claire newspapers called that game a championship event. I cannot find a single newspapers story outside of Waukesha that printed a mention of the fine seasons the school produced in those years. In a November 19, 1946 edition of the Waukesha Daily Freeman the first mention I can find about the school claiming a mythical state title and that is for the 1926 season and this was in a story about coach Saubert’s basketball coaching prowess. These two teams were really “under the radar” for their time. I hope that in some small measure this blog brings them more attention.

Next up: 1926 Waukesha High School.