top of page
1897 madison team picture.png

In Wisconsin, probably no other decade saw so many changes in the game. I can think of at least seven-ten major events or rule changes that occurred. 1965-1966 timeframe seems to be a good starting point:

The first was the loosing of the substitution rules. There had been two-platoon rules and substitution changes for many years but in 1965 high school followed the NCAA’s lead and after limiting player changes when the clock had stopped in 1964, they, the NCAA, went with unlimited changes in 1965 and high schools followed suit.

Next, with the changes the AP and UPI All-State team lineups also changed. In the past there may have been a 33-45 player team then it was changed to 3-4 11-player squads…a first team, second team, etc. The honorable mention listings had showed ends, tackles, guards, etc. but no difference in offense or defense. In previous postings of their 11-player squads for the All-State Teams the two polls listed four “Backs”. They were not differentiating between positions. There might be a quarterback or two) and the same for a halfback, fullback or a tailback. Just listed as “Back” to the 11-player squads until 1965 when the teams had an official quarterback along with three running backs. In 1966 the two press organizations also broke the honorable mention lists down to add a difference between offensive and defensive linemen and added the linebacker and defensive back designations. They would then offer both a first and second offensive and defensive team and later in 1966 the UPI added a special mention for the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.

1965 was the year that the Associated Press joined the United Press International in posting weekly football polls. The AP had the first poll during the 1947 season but didn’t follow up with another until 1965. The UPI began doing polls in 1958. They seldom agreed, as mentioned in my two previous blogs, but to start in 1965 the two both did a Large (Or Big or Big 10) school and a Small (Or Little or Little 10) school poll. They agreed on Oshkosh as the top large school. Go back and look at the posting of the polls in my blog: “Crazy Press Polls…Part 1” and you will see that they totally disagreed in the Small School polls.

Moving toward the end of the decade Ted Weaver of Milwaukee North Division earned second team All-State in the 1967 UPI posting as he became the first Wisconsin player to throw for 2,000 yards (2,018 yards). Weaver also became the first African American to earn either a first team or second team spot on an All-State team at the quarterback position.

Then, the big changes happened in 1969.

First, the state adopted the National Federation of State High School Association’s rule for moving an extra point run or pass reception to count for two-points instead of the one -point that had been the rule for many, many years.

Second, the WISAA (Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association) was created by a merger of the old Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (Catholic schools) and other private high schools. Overall, the WISAA would be in existence from 1928-2000.

Third, the WISAA instituted a playoff. This changed the football landscape in Wisconsin and also helped other surrounding states to begin offering playoffs. Votes were taken and four schools qualified for the first athletic association playoff. A five-member screening committee would select the schools based on a point system. Selection was based on team’s schedules and those of their opponents. Milwaukee Pius, Chippewa Falls McDonell, Prairie du Chien Campion and Manitowoc Roncalli were chosen to participate with the first title game being played at Lambeau Field. Madison Edgewood and Kenosha St. Joseph's just missed making the cut. Pius drew the most points from the committee with 28.5, followed by McDonell with 27.5, Roncalli and Campion both had 27 points followed by Edgewood and St. Josephs each with 26 points.

The WISAA even made provisions if there was a tie in the semi-finals. A winner would be determined on 1) Most penetrations of their opponents 20-yard line, 2) Most first downs, 3) Net yards of total offense and, if they tied in the other categories, 4) A coin toss. It was decided that the championship game ended in a tie, then the two teams would be declared co-champions. 5,255 fans showed up to watch the championship game on a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon at Lambeau as Roncalli beat McDonell 28-8. Playoff history in Wisconsin had been made. The WIAA and other states would watch the WISAA football playoffs for the next few years and then begin their own. The WIAA would start the public-school playoffs in 1975.


Honorable Mention:

1961 (7-1-0) & 1962 (8-0-0) Whitefish Bay, ranked #2 in the UPI Small School poll in 1961 and then #2 in the Big School poll of 1962. 1961 Weyauwega (8-0-0), only earned honorable mention in the UPI poll but was undefeated, untied and unscored upon. 1963 Waukesha (8-0-0), ranked #2 in the UPI poll. 1966 Madison Edgewood (8-0-0), ranked #2 in the UPI poll. 1966 Durand (8-0-0), #1 Small School in both the UPI and AP polls. 1967 Madison LaFollette (8-0-0), ranked #1 in the UPI poll and #2 by the AP. 1968 Greenwood (10-0-0), ranked #1 Small School in both polls. 1969 Chilton (8-0-0), ranked #8 in the AP and #11 in the UPI polls as they went undefeated, untied and unscored upon.


#11 1961-1963 Appleton Xavier

Led by all-time great Rocky Bleier who earned first team All-State on various teams…All-Catholic or on the UPI and AP squads. Coached by Gene “Torchy” Clark the Zephier’s would have a 31-game winning streak, while going 27-0 in the 1961-63 seasons. I included all three teams only because it was too hard to pick between them. Each season Xavier averaged over 33 points a game and allowed only just over four points each game with 14 shutouts in 27 games.

#9 (TIE) 1968 Oshkosh (8-0-0) and 1968 Madison East (8-0-1)

Oshkosh would finish #1 in both polls followed by Madison East in the #2 spot. All season long Madison La Follette was ranked #1 until the team lost in the season’s final game, 17-14, to Madison East. With that loss Oshkosh vaulted into the top spot but what was surprising was that the 12th ranked East squad jumped into the #2 spot in both polls La Follette had been ranked #1 in the UPI and #2 in the AP and was riding a 19-game win streak when they lost to East, a team that had voters reevaluate their thoughts of the squad’s overall performance. On the other hand, Oshkosh dominated the Fox River Valley Conference and each week the voting between them and La Follette was close.

#7 (TIE) 1965 Oshkosh (8-0-1) and 1965 Green Bay East (8-0-1)

All season Oshkosh was ranked #1 in both polls. Then another topsy turvy event happened. Green Bay East tied the Indians in the final season matchup. Oshkosh had cruised through the season until their matchup with East, a team that had also played well in the FRVC, just not as dominating. More about the two in the section dealing about “THE BEST GAME”.

#6 1960 Green Bay West (7-0-0)

With only seven games on their schedule, Green Bay West was still voted the top team in the state and earned high praise from many college coaches and newspapers who thought this was “the perfect team” because of the way they were coached and how precisely they performed. HOF coach John Biolo directed the team. On the first team All-Fox Valley team the entire backfield was honored, consisting of quarterback Jim Hennog who led the conference in rushing and scoring, halfback Allan Reichwald, halfback Ron Schafer and fullback Fran Hyska.

#5 1961 Eau Claire Memorial (8-0-0)

Eau Claire Memorial, ranked #1 in the UPI by a wide margin, was led by Scholastic Coach Magazine All-American quarterback Dick Hanson who was 99-59-8-1,216-12 passing and 66-610-9.4-7 rushing. He also returned two kickoffs for 169-yards and two touchdowns plus he intercepted three opponents passes. Along with scoring nine total touchdowns, Dick also kicked 18 extra pints. Against La Crosse Logan Hanson racked up 551 all-purpose yards. Considered one of the greatest athletes in school history. As a starting guard on the basketball team, he guided the Old Abe’s to the state finals before losing by a score of 93-80 to one of the state’s all-time best hoops squads, the 1962 great Milwaukee Lincoln (26-0) team. He led the team in scoring and assists. He also pitched and played shortstop on the 1961 and 1962 state baseball champions. He was the winning pitcher in the 1961 state title game against Oshkosh. An avid skier, Hanson placed fourth in the National Junior Ski Jumping Championships. The football team scored 236 points and only allowed 44 points. No team scored more than one touchdown against the team. Besides Hanson, Dick Arnold caught 23 passes for an incredible 664-yards and nine touchdowns (10 scores overall for second on the team with 60 points). This season would be Cy Bergs crowning coaching job. The school last had an undefeated season in 1933 when Dick Hanson’s father, Arnie, who played halfback, led the team to a 9-0-0 record and a tie with Delafield St. John’s for the mythical state title.

#4 1962 Wausau (8-0-0)

High school All-American running back Art Kuchl led the Lumberjacks with 127 carries for 1,140 yards, a 9.0 yards per carry average and scoring 163 points. As a team Wausau scored 337 points, the second most in the coach Win Brockmeyer era while giving up only 43 points and posting six shutouts. This was his first and only state title by a press poll after earning seven other acclaimed mythical titles.

#2 (TIE) 1964 Oshkosh (8-0-0) and 1964 Superior Central (9-0-0)

Had there only been one high school in Superior I have no doubt that that school would have produced one of the state’s all-time best squads. But Superior East opened in 1964 and the two schools split the city’s talent. Central would play seven Minnesota schools with Antigo and Wausau as their only instate opponents. East (7-1-0) played three Michigan schools and two Minnesota teams. They didn’t play any common opponents nor each other. Their only loss was to the #1 ranked Minnesota team, St. Paul Cretin. The two teams would have 19 of the 22-players named to the All-City team (there was a Catholic high school, Cathedral, in Superior at the time).

Central was coached by Marv Crowley and was led on the field by junior Bob Olson, a 6’3, 235 fullback/linebacker (the biggest player on the team) who led the team in rushing and scoring while making first team All-State in 1964 and 1965. The team scored 350 points and allowed only 52. Like Olson, Ed Paquette was an honorable mention All-American as well as earning All-State honors. Future Minnesota Viking Doug Sutherland garnered honorable mention All-State. Two players from East would earn All-State mention.

Coach Marv Crowley presenting an award to Bob Olson

So, if Superior was so good, why were they the #2 team in the state according to the polls in 1964? Because they played so many Minnesota schools, they weren’t in a conference like the Big Rivers which had Eau Claire, Wausau and La Crosse Central. Travel to those places would be a difficult process for a full season. They preferred Wisconsin schools travel to their field. So, now on to Oshkosh, the #1 team in the state.

Led by honorable mention All-American fullback Roger Lienhard with 145 carries for 780 yards and 13 touchdowns, the Titan marched through the FRVC scoring 253 points and allowing only 31 with five shutouts. This was coach Harold “Hal” Schumerth’s best team and the school’s first state title after earning four mythical titles between 1906 and 1912. 1964 would be the first of three poll titles during the 1960’s as the Titans dominated the polls in most seasons.

#1 1966 Neenah (8-0-0)

Expectations for coach Ben Meixl’s Rockets were high coming into the season as they had 28 seniors returning, almost all letterwinners from 1965. Their opening game, a 19-13 win over Monona Grove was their only close affair as they would average 43.6 points a game in the next seven efforts while allowing only 2.8 points on defense. Gary Loose was sought by many colleges to play quarterback for their team. Loose directed the attack as he passed 93 times with 41 completions, only four interceptions and gaining 822 yards and tossing 11 touchdowns. Loose would earn first team All-State honors, high school All-America honors and go on to play in Madison for the Badgers.

Chuck Wismer led the running attack gaining 728 yards on 80 carries while scoring 14 touchdowns. Guard Jim Fetters and linebacker Bob Pierce were also All-Staters. Junior Dan Jankowski caught 13 passes for 196 yards and four touchdowns while kicking 31 extra points. He made All-Conference both as an offensive and a defensive end in 1966 and then first team All-State and honorable mention All-America in 1967. This was truly a team blessed with talent as they dominated the Mid-Eastern Conference. They had been ranked #7 in the first UPI poll of the season and then climbed to #3 in the second poll and then, in week four they were in the top spot to stay.

Now with several Special Notes.

First: About Superior. It’s true that Superior is the largest city in that corner of the state. Travel to and from other Wisconsin schools was difficult back in those days without a wide, well paved road like there is today and the distances were great. And yet, teams in the Big Rivers Conference (Wausau, Marinette, Menominee (MI), Eau Claire and La Crosse Logan and La Crosse Central) had just as far to get to a game and they made it work. Superior played games down in the St. Paul and Minneapolis areas many years. I’m just not sure the real reason they didn’t play many Wisconsin schools. Look at the distance from that city to Wausau and look at an old road map. Those two schools often played each other during the 1950’s and 1960’s but not in 1964.

Second: A mention about some conferences but pertaining mainly to Oshkosh in this time frame.

The FRVC had eight members in 1960. Besides Oshkosh there was Green Bay East, Green Bay West, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Appleton, plus Sheboygan North and South. Seven conference games plus a game or two, usually one of a non-conference squad with Oshkosh playing a team from Madison. By 1969 the conference had grown to 12-teams (Sort of like what I had mentioned in a blog last year about the Milwaukee City Conference) as the added Green Bay Preble, Neenah, Green Bay Southwest, Appleton East and West (Appleton HS was no longer as the school split into two locations). The schools played only an eight-game round-robin conference schedule each season. Split into two divisions of six teams each with three cross-over games. This would change in the 1970’s.

Next up, the Top Game of the Decade, The top Coach and the Top Players

While there were somewhat crazy 1966 and 1967 polls., 1968 outdid them. 1966 showed that Neenah was #1 in both of the polls in 1966 but the UPI had Madison Edgewood as #2 while the coaches in the AP poll rated D.C. Everest in that spot for Big Schools. They didn’t differ on the top two small schools placing Durand and Denmark as #1 and #2. 1967 was a little different as the UPI rated Madison La Follette as #1 and Milwaukee Boy’s Tech #2 while the AP switched them around. The small school polls were different as the UPI had Durand at #! and Bloomer was #2. The AP placed Kohler as the #1 team and Stratford was rated as #2. I could have focused on this season but I chose 1968.

Again, the semi-final poll is on the left and the final poll is on the right. Below are the AP Big School polls.

Madison La Follette lost their final game to Madison East to end a 20-game win streak. Oshkosh vaulted to the top spot and East jumped five places to #2. Durand, the #1 1967 UPI small school champ was ranked in the AP big school poll this season and was ranked #10 in the semi-final poll. For some reason they dropped to the #11 spot as Racine Horlick jumped into the #9 spot.

The final Small School AP polls are as follows:

So, you look at the polls and the names in the polls didn’t change. Only four games were played by the top 10. So why the change? There seems to me that this was silly to rank a team differently when nobody, but Mondovi lost. How did Gale-Ettrick and Waupaca switch places? Maybe because Waupaca won their final game after Gale-Ettrick didn’t play.

Now wait until you see the UPI polls.

As I wrote above, LaFollette lost to Madison East and fell down to the #8 spot. Durand, now in the Big 10 poll ended tied with Two Rivers for fourth place. The UPI didn’t do a Private and Parochial poll as in the past, so those schools were part of the 1968 Big 10 rankings. Madison Edgewood moved up three spots and Appleton Xavier ended in the #9 spot. Milwaukee Pulaski dropped to the #10 spot after losing their final game and they tied with Sparta who moved from the “Second 10” to tie with Pulaski. What is also strange, to me, is that D.C. Everest (Listed as Schofield) didn’t play another game after the semi-final poll as they ended with an 8-1-0 record and fell from #9 to #13.

The name for the Small Schools changed the title to the Little Ten and the polls for the UPI had their own questionable changes. First, Auburndale was ranked #15 in the semi-final rankings but jumped to #9 in the final. Mondovi was 7-0-0 and #2 in the early poll but a loss and a tie giving them a 7-1-1 but they only fell to the #3 spot. Bloomer, Gale- Ettrick and Westby all tied for #5. The big loser was Kiel who was ranked #3 and 6-0-0 before the finals but then they were wacked by Chilton 38-0 and then came back to beat Oostburg 34-20.and seemed to back on track. There were three weeks between the semi-final and the final polls. Some teams played eight and others played nine. Kiel’s final game was a disaster as they fell and fell hard to Valders 54-6. They ended 7-2-0. Things like that happened each season where teams failed at the end of the year.

Looking at the “Second 10” in the semi-final poll you will see that a few of the undefeated schools dropped out of the final “Second 10” …St. Croix Central, Westfield and Unity…all went down to a loss or two and were cut from the poll. Darlington also lost but maintained a spot in the Second 10.

The AP semi-final polls were usually two weeks apart while the UPI were usually released three weeks apart. While 1968 wasn’t a crazy as 1965 the differences between the AP and UPI were very different. Both polls agreed that Greenwood and Boscobel were the top two teams but there were a lot of differences after that. The biggest was example is the #3 team in the UPI, Mondovi, who finished #10 in the AP. Obviously, the coaches were more impressed with the Buffalo’s than the sports writers.

You can see that the saying, “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary” seemed to hold true. The two news services certainly made things interesting and as it turned out, each season through the press poll era brought a lot of discussion amongst fans. The polls made things exciting each year.

I mentioned last time, in the blogs on the 1968-71 Auburndale team, about some of the crazy things that happened in the press polls.

What did poet Ezra Pound, auto maker Henry Ford and industrialist (Known mostly for chewing gum and owning the Chicago Cubs) William Wrigley, Jr have in common? They are all attributed as saying “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary”. That could have been said of the Associated Press and the United Press International high school football polls. Not that they sometimes didn’t agree on who was the #1 or #2 team some seasons but often their polls were real head scratchers from week to week.

The AP was made up of 7-9 members of the press from the largest newspapers from around the state. They were often from Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, Green Bay and a writer from the Wisconsin River region plus occasionally a writer or two from other areas of the state. They would vote on Monday or Tuesday by phone, with calls to Milwaukee and the results would be posted in the press on Wednesday or Thursday. In 1947 the AP did the first high school football press poll, but they didn’t start up again until 1965.

The UPI began polls in 1956 with their poll. The coaches selected at random each season to represent the state was made up of 30-37 members each season. Sometimes a coach would vote one week but for some reason not the next or their votes didn’t get turned in time to the person (s) doing the tabulating. Often a voter would feel another team that didn’t make the top ten listing deserved a #1 placing and the next ten teams receiving voted weren’t always printed, depending on the newspaper. The UPI poll would be printed, usually in the Thursday or Friday editions of local newspapers.

On Saturday’s many papers would print an AP recap of the top games from the night before. A reader could learn about a game from Kenosha, Milwaukee, Madison, Sheboygan, Wausau, Durand, Hillsboro, West Bend, Mariette and other locations. In addition to the polls, the AP and UPI would cite a player-of-the week and a list of other top performances, often in conjunction with a story about the rankings. In 1961 the UPI polls reflected one weekly listing for the top largest schools and one for the smallest ones. When the AP debuted, they followed suit with two polls as well. The polls went by different names like Big 10, Little 10, Big Schools, Little Schools and later Big, Large, Medium and Small schools. Often the press poll would change the names throughout the season from Big to Large and back to Big. The UPI also, occasionally conducted a “Private and Parochial” poll while the AP included those schools in their writings when they began in 1965. By 1968 the two press organizations included those private schools in their polls.

While looking at the polls for the 1968-71 seasons for Auburndale I came across a few strange postings. I could spend hours recounting each year, but I decided to point out how different the two sets of polls were for just two years, 1965 and 1968, to give you an idea of what I found.

First, the 1965 AP polls:

The week before the final posting on the left and finals on the right.

Oshkosh and Green Bay East tied in their final game so East jumped up in the finals. Don Bosco lost their final game and dropped four spots. The other schools remained the same. Note that Granville High School no longer exists, and its school district was later split with some moving to Milwaukee as some of the area was annexed and the other part became Brown Deer.

Now the UPI ratings and again, the semi-final poll is on the left and the final is on the right:

The UPI waited several weeks before announcing their final poll and you can see that Milwaukee Boy’s Tech dropped to the #3 spot in the final and Green Bay East jumped from #5 to the #2 position. When looking at the UPI polls you can count the number of first place votes. In the semi-final listing Oshkosh had 29 of the 30 votes while in the final they still had a commanding overall point total but only received 13 of the 31 votes cast.

Now for some really crazy small school rankings. First, the AP:

Not a lot of shifting in the polls overall but the sports writers (AP) differed greatly with the coaches (UPI) as they thought very highly of Lomira and not as much of Barron’s record. Luck was higher in the UPI than in the AP by a wide margin. But the big difference was that the AP liked Randolph for the #! Spot where the UPI voted then to the final #6 spot, down from a tie for #4, even though their record stayed the same.

Now, the UPI final Small School polls:

Please look at the UPI poll closely. It shows a (6) 8-0 record or a 6—8-0 record for Barron and some other teams have a () number or a similar #--record. If you count the numbers in parentheses or the numbers before the – you get the first-place votes. The AP didn’t list their first-place votes. When the semi-final UPI poll for the small schools was recorded there appeared to only have been 26 voters participating. However, they didn’t release their “Also receiving votes” part of the poll so when the final results were tabulated you can count, including those schools in the dark print, 22 first place votes for teams in the top 10 and 12 first place votes for schools in the lower tier. #2 in the semi-final poll Holcombe stayed undefeated but dropped to the “also” category. #6 Alma jumped to the #2 spot without playing any additional games and a few other schools switched positions. If 34 voters were part of the semi-final and final polls and only 26 first place votes were recorded in the semis, then another 8 votes were for lower “also” teams.

As mentioned, the UPI published a Private and Parochial poll whereas the AP included those schools in their rankings. There were 32 coaches who voted in this final posting. Milwaukee Don Bosco finished in the top spot of the UPI and #7 in the overall AP poll while Wisconsin Rapids Assumption followed in the #8 AP spot.

As mentioned, the UPI published a Private and Parochial poll whereas the AP included those schools in their rankings. There were 32 coaches who voted in this final posting. Milwaukee Don Bosco finished in the top spot of the UPI and #7 in the overall AP poll while Wisconsin Rapids Assumption followed in the #8 AP spot.

Next time, 1968.

bottom of page