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Newman players hoisting the 8-player championship trophy after beating Belmont in 2022

Back in January, after the state records were updated on the WFCA web site I got an email from a father of the star quarterback for the Wausau Newman Catholic Fighting Cardinals. The three or four additions I had erroneously omitted were quickly added. I was pleasantly surprised that I had received so few new additions after the posts that I had overlooked overall for both 11-player and 8-player. I guess I had made the updates correctly and I felt good.

I’m not sorry that my attention is 98% focused on 11-player football but I do need to pay more attention to the 8-player side of the game and add a few more stories.

While adding the missing records I noticed that Newman really had quite a record from when they switched to 8-player in 2017. In fact, they have the best record for the past six seasons of any Wisconsin football team with an incredible 63-2 record over the past six seasons. This includes two state titles (2021 and 2022), an undefeated COVID shortened season in 2020 (5-0), two state runner-up seasons (2018 and 2019) and a great initial 8-player season in 2017. The Cardinals won the Jamboree, a precursor to the official start of the 8-player state championships, with a 10-0 season, that year. This was after the team went 1-9 in their final 11-player season in 2016.

In 13 seasons, 2004-2016, Coach Paul Michlig had only been able to compile a 45-80 record with two brake-even 5-5 seasons and only two winning seasons (7-3 in 2009 and 7-5 in 2010). A 1996 grad from Newman, Michlig attended UW-Eau Claire and then returned to Newman as an assistant coach. He spent two seasons in that position and then became the head football coach. Things were tough with Newman being placed in several of the WIAA formed conferences (First the Marawood and later the Cloverwood) from 2000-2017 with tough competition against top teams like Stratford, Edgar and Abbotsford. After being a middle of the road team in the old Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference under the former WISAA format the transition to the Marawood was tough. Prior to joining the WIAA the school had endured a 27-game losing streak. Never having a large school enrollment and having to deal with the likes of Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, Marshfield Columbus, Eau Claire Regis and Chippewa Falls McDonell year in and year out in the WISAA things were tough for the Wausau school.

When the move to 8-player football was first discussed it was thought that maybe the school could co-op with Wausau East and remain in the 11-player format, but things didn’t work out. To me this was a surprise that the Wausau schools have been “down” for so long in the sport after the heyday of Coach Win Brockmeyer. But, since 1970 with the introduction of new schools to the area and new school boundaries being drawn up it’s been hard for Wausau East and Wausau West to compete in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and the Valley Football Association. Newman opened in 1951 but found it hard to draw good players from Wausau High with Brockmeyer in charge.

When the 2016 season ended and the decision to move to 8-player Michlig and his assistants put their nose to the grindstone to learn all they could about the game. They went to the Iowa football coaches annual clinic, picked a lot of coach's brains and spent time with their players planning for the next season. They obtained film and studied the game hard. In Iowa there is rule that if the school has fewer than 115 students, they have to play 8-man (Yes, it is called “man” in Iowa as well in some other states) football. The move was natural for Newman for player safety. Michlig had his share of injuries to his players over the years and this caused the team to be shorthanded against bigger schools. He might have had 22-25 players on his squad but some with limited experience or nursing an injury. The move to 8-player made sense.

The move was helped by the development of a very good quarterback, Ben Bates. At 6’2, 185-pounds, Bates stepped in and tossed the ball for a career record 7,022 yards and 95 touchdowns with only 12 interceptions leading the Cardinals to a three-year record of 33-2. Bates ranks #1 as the all-time 8-player passing yardage leader.

The 2017 season was a surprise after past years but with the more wide-open game and fewer injuries they had the right players to do the job. Michlig and his staff helped develop brilliant receivers like Elliot Samuels, Charlie McCarty and Joe Stephen who all had seasons of 1,000 yards receiving or more from 2017-2019. Running backs stepped up and several picked up over 1,000 yards in a year. Kelly Kaliface ran for 1,236 yards in 2018. The biggest rushing yardage was achieved in 2019 by freshman Tom Bates who picked up 1,757 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. This was his biggest season but he was always a threat while gaining a career total of 3,547 yards on the ground and accounted for 84 overall touchdowns. His totals would have been more had he not missed multiple games with a torn ACL in 2021. He was also an outstanding linebacker.

After Ben Bates graduated the quarterback reigns were turned over to Dylan Ackerman who had backed Bates up for the previous three seasons. As a junior backup in 2019 Dylan threw for 855 yards and 10 scores. In the five game COVID shortened 2020 season he threw for 1,110 yards and 19 touchdowns

In 2021 and 2022 the leader in the offense was Conner Krach who was the 2022 8-Player of the Year. Conner ended up passing for 4,016 yards and 63 touchdowns as a two-year starter as well as rushing for 1,681 yards and 29 scores. As a senior in 2022 he was a regular on defense for the first time and intercepted 11 passes. Krach led the Cardinals to a 13-0 season in 2021 and a 12-0 record in 2022 as they won the state title twice. The Cardinals blasted Luck in the 2021 title game 49-6 and Belmont 54-0 in 2022 Kickers Charlie McCarty (2018-2020) and Matthew Hamilton (2021-2022) also have been bright spots in this department. They rank #1 and #2 on the all-time extra points career charts as well as #1-#4 on the single season extra point list.

While I’ve been writing about offense it was the play of the defense that really shown brightly in making a difference. Utilizing a 3-3-2 defense Coach Michlig and his staff found that you needed two good defensive ends to keep the opponents outside rushing game in check. They needed a good middle linebacker as well and good deep defenders. Sometimes they switched to man-toman coverage, assigning a defensive player to shadow a particular player as in 8-player even the center could be a potential receiver.

Michlig and his staff also picked the brains of some great Wisconsin coaches who had been successful 11-player coaches, in particular Terry Laube of Owen-With and Robin Rosenmeyer of Gilman. Both have made the transition to 8-player and been successful in their own right. Michlig’s staff consists of long-term assistants Karl Thorpe, Joe Ackerman and Nate Brill and they have been key factors to the team’s success. Consistency on the playing field as well as those directing the players is very important.

I asked Coach Michlig about 8-player kicking. I noted that few teams chose to try kicking field goals as well as extra points and I asked why his players had been successful. He said that in 8-player the edge game makes it hard to be consistent in the kicking game so many teams just go for it on fourth down instead of trying a field goal and in kicking the extra points they go for two points. Newman has not followed other schools in going for two-points as they have been successful in defending the edges for the extra points but it’s harder for field goals.

In what I expected to be a 35–45-minute phone interview turned into a great, informative 75-minute talk. I learned a lot about 8-player football. Much more than I had before we talked. Coach was free to praise his players and his staff. I admit that I haven’t ever seen an 8-player game in person, but several 2023 games are on my radar to attend. After reading about the game online I understand that it can be like a video game. Lots of shifting with different players eligible for a pass. Games are just intense as 11-player. I know that some 11-player coaches feal that 8-player isn’t “real” football. I other states, besides 11-player and 8-player football some offer 6-player or 9-player and of course, in Canada they play 12-man. The fields vary but most of the regular rules in 11-player are followed in the other formats. For the most part the trimmed down game seems to be safer with fewer injuries.

Paul Michlig…Wausau Daily Herald

I’m a purist and I think 11-player is best. The 2022 game between Washburn and Mellon with a 114-94 game was an aberration. There are high scores in any format but in this day and age super high scores are few and far between. I hope when I view in person 8-player games in the future the scores are like 28-24 or 35-21 not 200 total points scored.

After posting a fabulous record in their first six seasons of 8-player football they have to replace several key players for next year. I’m sure they will be successful in 2023. Coach Michlig and his staff seem to have things in place to keep winning.

Okey, I am behind posting some informational answers by my readers. I had over 300 emails in my football saved file and a week or so ago I decided to weed out messages that no longer were needed to be saved. I also found some messages I should have replied to and just never got to or follow up. Sorry.


Back in February of 2022 a reader, Matt Hoffman, sent me a question that I thought had been forwarded to Cliff Christl, a great newsman who has been the official historian of the Green Bay Packers for a while. I figured he was the best source to answer the main question. Well, I didn’t send it on to Cliff until I began weeding my messages. Here’s the story:

Matt had come across several early Green Bay Packer players who he thought, after graduating from high school, came back to their former high school team to play for another season. There was confusion over when or if they really graduated. Could they have been “red shirted” or just come back as “ringers.” Matt had a lot of documentation to present and question whether or not Rigney Dwyer of Green Bay East or Gustave Rosenow of Menasha had played beyond their high school eligibility. The problem was that the prevailing eligibility rules between the 1890’s and the 1920’s were not always enforced. Plus, for many years some schools held graduations in January and in May/June.

First, in the beginning there were no rules as to who could play on a high school team. When the sport was introduced in 1884 coaches would sometimes play with their team. In 1890 the Rev. Sidney Smythe of St. John’s Military Academy was injured in a game against Beloit College and would walk with a limp for the rest of his life. G. A. Chamberlin, teacher and coach at Milwaukee East Side (Today’s Riverside) played end on his 1893 team This was when the Milwaukee City Conference was just beginning.

Look at the very first blog I posted. It recounts the 1897 mythical champion team, Madison High School. Some of their players were only occasional students. Ages couldn’t be confirmed but their opponent for the first mythical national championship claimed that several Madison players were 24–25-year-old.

Chamberlin and Smythe helped form the WIAA in 1896 and a loose set of rules were included in the formation of the organization. Age 20 was the set age for the oldest an athlete could be to compete. One of Madison High’s opponents for 1897 and 1898 was to be Milwaukee South Side (South Division) but South cancelled both games beaus they felt that Madison wasn’t following the WIAA guidelines. The WIAA at that time could basically only caution schools. It took a few years to finally take firm control of the public schools' athletic programs.

In my book I list the ages of several team’s players. One example was the 1909 champion Chippewa Falls team with several 20-year-old seniors and an 18-year-old freshman. Age 20 was the oldest you could be eligible to play sports. By 1920 the age limit had been dropped to 19 but that year Appleton used two 20-year-olds in a game against St. John’s. Even though private schools were not allowed to be part of the WIAA. The fact that St. John’s had helped found the organization, the private schools followed the WIAA and national rules. Appleton chose to use the two players who had been recently become ineligible to compete because, as the school put it, St. Johns wasn’t affiliated with the WIAA so in their mind the two men could play against non-member schools.

So, back to Matt Hoffman’s question, did Dwyer and Rosenow play for their high schools after their eligibility had expired? This gets complicated but here is Cliff Christl’s answer:

“Rigney Dwyer played football four years at West, 1913, '14, '15, '16. So, his last football season was the fall of 1916, and he is pictured in the 1917 Yearbook with a capsule of his four-year football career on p. 76. Yearbooks are dated to coincide with the spring graduating classes, not football season. That said, Dwyer was listed under the title seniors in the 1916 yearbook as was Orlo McLean, another of the original Packers, and both were again listed as seniors on the football team in (the fall of 1916), the 1917 yearbook. Both also played basketball in the 1916-17 season.”

“I don't have copies of the yearbooks, just Xerox printouts of the football section and class pictures of the original Packers. I did note on my copies that Dwyer was listed as a senior in both yearbooks but didn't write down any explanation. This is perceptive on Mat's part, and I might have erred by saying he graduated in 1917. This raises the question in my mind: Did Dwyer graduate from high school?"

"Here are my guesses and that's all they are. No, I can't imagine East or West using ringers at that point. Maybe late 1890s, early 1900s. But not by 1916, '17. As you have may have come across researching the Milwaukee City Conference schools, they had mid-year graduates. So technically those athletes were first semester seniors in the winter/spring of one school year and second semester seniors in the fall/until graduation date in January of the next school year. In the '20s or '30s, I forget which or maybe both, East High would lose key basketball players almost annually to graduation in January of their senior years. But doing a quick newspaper search I couldn't find any mention of mid-year graduations when Dwyer was in school. That doesn't mean they didn't have them, but Dwyer was still playing in February 1917.”

“Here's something else to keep in mind, flunking kids was not that unusual back then. Maybe Dwyer was scheduled to graduate in the spring of 1916 and didn't, so he was back in school in the fall of 1916. Again, you've maybe come across this, but I believe the age limit for athletic participation back then might have been 20. So, Dwyer would have been eligible to play football. The military draft could have been a factor, too. By the fall of 1917, Dwyer was in the Army. So perhaps he was drafted before he could graduate in the spring of 1917. Again, I know East lost basketball players during the season to the WW II draft call-ups. I wish I knew the answer but determining whether people graduated from high school or not back then is sometimes impossible. There was a case in the '30s where East had a three-year basketball star who would play basketball and then drop out of school after the season.”

So, Matt, this was the best I could come up with. I know that Cliff’s message only follows up on Dwyer, but I think this applies to Rosenow as well. It just was a confusing time in the history of the sport.


Another reader, Thomas Schaefer, sent the following after reading my posts on Waukesha High School and I’ve been remiss in making mention of the information. The email came after I had done several blogs on Waukesha. This was a response to my May, 2021…yes, I’ve failed to post this in nearly two years. I put it away and would occasionally try find a spot to post. Then I got to my email file and so here it is. This is good, first-hand information:

“ Re: The Blackshirts of Waukesha (The blog was entitled “The 1938 Blackshirts”) I recall a much different reason for the Cardinals of Waukesha to change their name to the Blackshirts. As I was growing up my mother and father as well as my grandfather would explain that the Blackshirts started wearing black after the formation of the Suburban Conference in the late 20's or early 30's. Four of the teams; Waukesha, Shorewood, South Milwaukee, and Wauwatosa all had red or scarlet figure prominently in their school color scheme. As the athletic directors worked late into the night to complete the formation of this new conference none of them wanted to change their schools color scheme. This would be very expensive. The Athletic Director of the Waukesha school district, tired of the impasse and wanting to go home, declared his teams would wear black, this solved the uniform issues and the meeting soon ended. It also afforded a cost saving to the Waukesha school because black uniforms (especially football uniforms which had to be cleaned more often) could go longer between washings. Since then, Waukesha, and now Waukesha South has worn black and their cardinal mascot dressed in black has been known as "Blackie Blackshirt". I have not heard the story about the cost of red dye inhibiting the purchase of red uniforms until very recently and wonder if this were indeed the case why so many smaller districts, South Milwaukee, and Wauwatosa to name two, would not have made similar moves. My father, Ernie Schaefer, played for Lee Saubert who was the longtime football, basketball, track coach and Athletic Director at Waukesha from 1920 to 1960. This was the era when the name was changed from the 'Cardinals' to the 'Blackshirts'. In fact, he married Lee Saubert’s daughter, Suzanne, who is my mother. My sources for this history have a pretty solid provenance. There are many explanations for where the name and change to black uniforms came from. This is the one that Lee Sauberts children and grandchildren have heard many times over the years.”

Thanks Thomas. I wish I had had this at the time I was writing about Waukesha as it surely would have been integrated into the stories.

These are just two of several messages I will address on my blog and there are several that don't require a blog posting. I will try and be more proactive in responding to inquiries.

There were so many good teams and players in the 1950’s and there were some very good games to choose from. It seems that Kenosha was part of it all.


Kenosha won the conference title in 1950 (8-0-0), 1951 (7-1-0), 1955 (8-0-0),1956 (8-0-0) and 1959 (8-0-0) while placing second in 1952 (7-1-0), 1957 (7-1-0) and 1958 (7-1-0) and third in 1953 (6-2-0). Only 1954 were the Red Devils out of contention with a 5-3-0 season. Yes. I know there was a season-by-season chart in Part 1, but I wanted to show the consistency again. The team had several win streaks of 20+ wins during the decade and one of them ended with an upset loss to Madison West in 1957. Well, that season ending loss really wasn’t an upset, the team just played poorly. Very poorly as the final score was 47-14. The two teams were rated to be even, undefeated with good offenses and defenses, a battle for the conference title. But when you turn the ball over seven times (Four fumbles and three passes intercepted) against the eventual mythical state champion you should expect to lose. The Kenosha fans were dazed by the wide margin of the loss. Kenosha would extract revenge in 1958, winning 20-13.

Now there were several other games to choose from, most notably between Green Bay East and Green Bay West but one game stood out.

It was against Madison East that the best game, in my estimation, also occurred in 1958. The week after the West game, the two teams met in a season ending battle. In the first quarter East scored a touchdown and led 7-0 until early in the fourth period. That’s when Bill Jaskwhich, the coach’s son brought the Red Devils to life. He passed 22-yards to Jack Schultz for a touchdown, but he missed the conversion kick. When east scored with five minutes to go on a26-yard run by a Steve Underwood play. The extra point kick was good, and everyone thought that Kenosha was done. Some fans headed for the parking lot, but the Kenosha spirit was not finished. The Red Devils took the ball on their 40-yard line and pounded out the last 60 in 13 plays. Jaskwhich sneaked over from the two-yard line with one minute, 11-seconds to go. He kicked the extra point and his team trailed 14-13. Kenosha only had one chance to get the ball back and they did on an onsides kick. The play worked, bouncing off of an East player, and Kenosha tackle Tom Dinges recovered.

With 48 seconds to go the Red Devils moved like lightning down the field. Jaskwhich passed 10 yards to end Roger Martin and Joel Morrison ran for 13 yards. Jaskwhich then passed to Carl Bergeron who was knocked out of bounds after a nine-yard gain. With nine seconds to go and the ball on the nine-yard line coach Jaskwhich had to make a decision as what to do. Coach sent in orders to try a field goal. A field goal!! This was an era where even kicking extra point was a novelty for some teams. It had been at least 10-years since Kenosha had tried one. Veteran referee Jerry Gunville later told the Wisconsin State Journal that in 19-years of he hadn’t worked a game with a field goal attempted. The kick by Bill Jaskwhich was good and Kenosha was victorious, 15-14. Coach Jaskwhich said that this was his best team ever, going 7-1-0. They were down at half-time in five of their seven conference games and yet were able to come back and win. Their only loss was to champ Racine Park earlier in the year, 20-7.


As mentioned in the 1940’s blog (“The Greatest Generation begins to Shine “) the press polls began for one season in 1947 with an AP poll but the UPI began their regular season polls started in 1958 and Superior Central was that year #! pick. Kenosha was the top pick in 1959. The AP came back with their polls starting in 1965. While there were no official polls until 1958, Scholastic Coach Magazine listed their top teams beginning in 1950. Those stories helped me form the mythical state champions for the decade.


There were many great coaches during the decade. Most were mentioned in Part 1 as I talked about the best teams. But one stood out amongst the others. It is Chuck Jaskwhich. Surprised? Of course, you aren’t. The most wins in the decade and the most titles. He was an easy choice.

Jaskwhich graduated from Kenosha and played quarterback at Notre Dame for Rnute Rockne. Chuck coached 15 seasons at Kenosha going 89-28-2 there and prior to World War II he coached at New Orleans Holy Cross posting a 28-5-2 record and winning two state titles there. He had stints coaching as an assistant in several colleges and the military as well as being the backfield coach with the professional All-American Football Conference from 1946-48. In 1980 Jaskwhich was named to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1980 as part of the initial and largest class of 26 greats to be honored.

Coach Chuck Jaskwhich with quarterback Mario Bonofiglio…1950


Seven Kenosha players made the 17 members of the All-Decade team, and the top player was Alan Ameche. The 100+ coaches and sportswriters who voted for the 1993 Milwaukee Journal Team of the Century named him as the all-time best player and he deserved it.


With 16 players on the All-Decade team, I didn’t do an honorable mention list. It would have been quite long but one player I would like to make note of. Albie Le Claire Jr. of Manitowoc Lincoln who in 1957 converted 23 of 24 extra points. Yes, kicking comes up again. “Automatic Albie” did it the old-fashioned way. Drop kick!! Albie played halfback and quarterback for “The Ships”. He did not attempt a field goal.

Well, there you have it. The 1950’s and it was All Kenosha from start to finish.

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