top of page
1897 madison team picture.png

Updated: Feb 7

NOTE: This blog has been revised. Asa of Saturday, January 27 I have just found an earlier picture than the one for 1898 so it has been added to the blog. More about this in a later story.

1898 team picture from the Grant County Historical Society

I am working on several blogs, one dealing with some notes on early football games that wouldn’t have made for a blog of their own but combined I think they are very informative.  However, sometimes a story jumps out at me and demands a wider scope.  This is one such story.  I’ve expanded to include some non-Wisconsin high school football to put, in my mind, some perspective.


Football in Lancaster goes back to the late 1890’s but economics, like for a lot of schools, held the program back for a few years.  It weas back on in 1905 as some newspapers touted the squad as a possible title contender when they won their first and only for games by shutting out Platteville 16-0, Cassville 15-0, Prairie du Chien 49-0 and Dodgeville 5-0 as several schools cancelled in fear of the Arrows (Later named the Flying Arrows).  But finances would cut deep into the school’s efforts to put up a team in future seasons.

Lancaster didn’t have a football team from 1908-14 but the sport resumed in 1915 thanks to a ringer/coach.  Oak Park High School (IL) was declared the mythical national champion from 1910-13.  A player who stared on the 1912-14 squads was Everett Royal, the starting right end on the 1914 Oak Park squad and team captain. 

Note from the November 28, 1914, edition of the Boston Globe

While visiting Dr. J.H. Fowler, a Family friend in Lancaster, Royal offered his services to assist in coaching the team.  He helped Coach H. F. Gay as an assistant. Besides being a coach, Royal actually played in several games during a 3-3-1 season.  Coach Gay may have also played although the yearbook and newspapers don’t mention it but he had previously played at Lawrence University.  Like the early Port Washington teams (Part of that forementioned blog on early teams that is coming soon) and many like them, there were few players to choose from, but Lancaster appeared to only play with high school students, except for Royal and no grade schoolers (As you will read about the Port Washington snippet).  The 1916 yearbook showed only 119 students with three male seniors and a total of 44 males in the school.  The yearbook, then known as "The Storm Center" , had a picture that showed the starting eleven, four substitutes, a young male mascot and two coaches.  The names of the players are listed below the picture, but the names of the coaches and the mascot aren’t included.  I suspect that Mr. Gay is the man in the coat and tie on the upper left and Royal is on the upper right. 

Photo of Everett Royal from the Oak Park team picture as posted in the November 28, 1914, edition of the Boston Globe

1915 Lancaster football from the yearbook the "Storm Chaser"

 When you look at the player’s names below you will note that Orton is listed as the right halfback.  All the other players list what grade they are in, but Orton is listed as “Special”.  Looking through the yearbook I couldn’t find his picture anyplace with any of the classes, so I don’t know what “Special” signifies.  The newspapers listed him as “Skip” Orton and he was a pretty good player, according to the papers.  By my tally he scored at least six touchdowns and kicked at least three extra points.

However, like many old yearbooks there were recaps of each game instead of a scoreboard of the team's schedule and the recaps showed Coach Royals name all over the place as a great tackler and runner.  No opponent seemed to not have a problem with Royal playing even though it violated the rules of the WIAA, long after the rule for high school eligibility and outlawing adults playing in games. Before you write me that in the 1915 newspapers of the Grant County Herald or the Lancaster Teller Royal is only mentioned as a coach, I would say you are correct.  However, the yearbook told me a different story as against Platteville Mining School (UW-Platteville), Royal had a 75-yard touchdown run (Orton scored from 45-yards out as well).  The team also faced the Keewatin Academy, an Indian college preparatory school in Prairie du Chien and lost 74-0 but the Lancaster yearbook said that Royal was the only Lancaster player who could tackle Guyon.

That player for Keewatin was a halfback named Joe Guyon who had played with the great Jim Thorpe at the Carlisle (PA) Industrial School in 1912-13.  He then attended Keewatin to become college eligible from 1914-15 and then went to Georgia Tech.  He had a great career there and went on to play pro football.  He was also a very good baseball player and after pro football became the head football coach at different times at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.  Later he coached baseball at Clemson University as well as several minor league teams.  In 1969 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The name Everett is known to national high school football historians.  Both Everett Massachusetts and Everett Washington can claim the title of Mythical National Champions.  Everett (MA) is considered the 1914 and 1915 title holder while the 1919 and 1920 squads from Washington are listed as champs.  The 1914 Everett (MA) team is often considered to be the best high school football team EVER…HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL'S BEST TEAM MAY HAVE BEEN EVERETT, MASS., 1914 - Sports Illustrated Vault | 

 In 1912 Oak Park (IL) played Everett (MA) for the “National Title” in a game played in Boston at Fenway Park.  Sophomore right halfback Everett Royal was listed by The Chicago Tribune in a story the before but for some reason he was left off of the starting roster the day of the gams as noted in the Tribune and the Boston Globe.  Oak Park won 32-14 before, what the Chicago Tribune called a “monster sized crowd”.  The two teams again matched up in 1914 and Everett destroyed Oak Park 80-0.  Oak Park is considered to be the 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1920 (Tied with Everett, WA) national champs. 

After the 1915 season Everett Royal left Lancaster, returning home to Oak Park. I'm sorry to say that I can’t find additional information on him after going back to Illinois.

I hope you liked a little of national perspective. I hate to keep teasing on future blogs but I'm waiting on some information to finish several stories, but I'll post them soon. Thanks.

The record book has been updated with, of course, some new additions as well as a few new categories. 

11-Player Stats

Leading the way is Colton Brunell of Columbus, the new state all-time leading rusher with 7,416 yards.  His 106 career rushing touchdowns places him in second place, behind Random Lake’s Luke Hagel (1995-99) who scored 112 times (All rushing).  Colton had 109 overall touchdowns in his career and places in the fourth spot on the career list with 656 points. Burnell fits into multiple spots on the records lists among them was his becoming only the second player to ever gain 2,000-yards in each of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.  He ties the effort of Mike Firkus of Hilbert (2000-02). 

To me, one of the quietist careers was that of Two Rivers star Chase Matthis who didn’t get as much attention as Burnell but put up some terrific numbers.  Chase gained 5,991 career yards (7th all-time) and scored 90 touchdowns on the ground and 103 overall and 631 overall career points (5th place).

Senior Demetrius Bergmann of Pepin/Alma put up some great numbers in 2022 and 2023 as he gained 3,171 yards out of his 3,862 career yards as well as 72 of his career 83 touchdowns.  In 2023 he ran for 20 of his career 26 two-point conversions to place 4th in single season conversions.  He tied with two others for the single game record of five two-pointers.  The other two, Ezra Hitz of Milwaukee Ronald Reagan and Trenton Owens of Mount Horeb/Barneveld each had five conversions this year. 

Two-point conversions were “the thing” this year.  In the records category of “Most 2-Point Conversions in a Single Game”, out of the now 24 mentions, 14 occurred this season.   10 teams converted 25+ conversion runs and five passed for two points.

Passing seemed to be down as well as receptions and yardage.  Onalaska’s Adam Skifton was the only quarterback to make the single season passing list and his top receiver, Brodie Mickschl, led the state with receptions )86).  Skifton passed for 39 touchdowns and 2,944 yards.  Besides Skifton, Duke Shovald of West DePere were also the only passers to make the career passing yardage list with 5,635 yards as well as tossing for 69 touchdowns for Skifton and 6,128 yards for Shovald.

Sean West of Homestead tied for second on the “Most Field Goals In A Season” with a kicking performance of 15 field goals made out of 19 attempts.  Racine Lutheran freshman Max Contreras kicked 10 extra points out of 12 attempts in an 82-22 win over Dominican.  He’s one of nine players to kick 10 or more extra points ever in a game.  Max was 28-35 on the season and he has three more seasons to go.

Keagen Jirschele of Mosinee put together a fabulous 2023 season and career.  Keagan was a top receiver as well as a defensive back.  Check here for a recap:

If the last name Jirschele sounds familiar his father is the Jeremy Jirschele, the head baseball coach at UW-Stevens Point and his grandfather is Mike Jirschele who was profiled in my blogs on Clintonville…A MULTI-SPORT FAMILY OF STARS…PART 1 ( and A MULTI-SPORT FAMILY OF STARS…PART 2 (  And like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather his favorite sport is baseball and is a college and MLB prospect.

There are several additions to some of the lists of yearly leaders, mainly the older years so check those out. One new category is “Longest Run from Scrimmage”.  Reed Shepard of De Pere ran 100 yards for a score in 1899 (The field at that time was 110-yards long).  Among the newly created categories is the season leaders by class…the most yards by a freshman, sophomore, etc.  This is only in the 11-player record book for now, but I’ll be working on it for the 8-player for next time.

8-Player Stats

Several quarterbacks made some noise this past season.  Jared Kaufman of Three Lakes/Phelps tossed for 5,071 career yards and ran for 1,879 more for a career total of 6,950 and 103 total scores, both career totals are all-time 8-player records.  Another one was Denzel Sutton of Thorp who passed for 1,823 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 1,178 yards and 18 more scores.  3,001 total yards.

Among some of the top quarterbacks are four additional to note.  Moving up the career passing charts is junior Grant Smiskey of Chippewa Falls McDonell who in three seasons has 4,697 yards and 54 touchdowns and he has one more season to go.  He has only run for 305 career yards but has crossed the goal line 14 times.  Jesse DeBauch of Gillett also has one more season to go and has 4,025 career yards. Jared Schultz of Northwood/Solon Springs has piled up a lot of yards.  In 2023 he passed for 1,323 yards and ran for 1,695.  He led the state in rushing this past year.  So far, after two seasons and one more to go Jared has 2,730 yards passing and 2,947 yards on the ground for 5,677.  He has thrown for 36 td’s and run for 43 with more coming next year.   Junior Braden Kita of Gibraltar had a big game against Wausaukee where he threw for 461 yards and seven touchdowns.  He also was a junior and has 2,452 career passing yards and 43 touchdowns and has run for 957 yards and 14 more touchdowns.  Look for good things for these players in 2025. 

Brock Naesson of Shell Lake had a great season as the junior carried the ball only 118 times for 1,559 yards, a 13.2 average (#6 on the single season rushing average list).  He scored 30 rushing touchdowns.  Against Northwoods/Solon Springs in the season opener he carried the ball 24 times for 366 yards, 14th best in single game rushing and eight touchdowns plus 2 2-pt. conversions for 52 points, tied for #4 on the single game scoring list.  Naesson led the state with his 30 touchdowns and 11 2-pt conversions for 204 points.

Tryg Mollman of Phillips only carried the ball 59 times in eight games, but he made the most of it.  He gained 1,308 yards, scored 23 times for a 22.2 average, a state record for a season with a back gaining 1,000+ in a season.  In the season finale he ran for 298 yards on 13 carries for seven touchdowns, caught two 2-pt. conversions for 46 points. The #2 scoring game of the season which places him #6 on the 8-player single game scoring list.

Hunter Sabel of Oakfield scored 18 2-pt. conversions and Andrew Frederick of Bruce scored 17 conversions for 5th and 6th place on the single season 2-pt conversion list.  Frederick finished with 31 career conversions for 2nd place on the all-time list and Sabel ended with 30 career conversions tied for 3rd place. Jared Kaufman of Three Lakes/Phelps also ended with 31 career 2-pt. conversions and ties Frederick for 2nd place.  Junior Wyatt Fay of Algoma didn’t put up huge reception numbers or yards, but he was very efficient when it came to hauling in 2-pt conversions.  Wyatt only caught 17 passes for 126 yards and no touchdowns, but he hauled in a 8-player season high of 12 conversions.  Speaking of receiving Braden Sitte of Gibraltar caught 63 passes (9th all-time) for 1,241 yards (4th all-time) and 21 touchdowns.  Ayden Phillips of Almond-Bancroft led the state in receptions with 73, good for 3rd (Tied) all-time.

One of WisSports top 100 2024 seniors is an 8-player star, Tyler Janikowski of Three Lakes/Phelps who only played ball briefly in 2020 and then a full season in 2023.   But what a season he had in 2023 and he is now in the record book more than any other individual in either the 11-player or the 8-playerrecord book.  19 total notations. 


Single Game receiving Yards: vs. White Lake/Echo he caught 5 passes for 219 yards (27th) and 5 scores

Single Game: Touchdowns Caught:  5 (Tied for 3rd)

Single Season Receptions:  60 (Tied for 9th)

Single Season Receiving Yards: 1,419 (2nd)

Most TD’S receiving in a Season:  26 (1st)

Receiving: Career Receptions:  60 (21st)

Career Receiving Yards:  1,419 (15th)

Career Receiving Touchdowns:  26 (Tied for 8th)

Individual Receiving Yardage Leader by Season: 2023 leader with 1,419 yards.


Most Interceptions in a Game:  3 (Tied for 2nd)

Moist Interception Yards in a Game: 164 yards (1st)

Moist Interceptions returned for a Touchdown in a Game: 2 (1st)

Most Interceptions in a Season: 12 (1st)

Most Interception Yards in a Season:  419 yards (1st)

Most Interceptions returned for a Touchdown in a Season:  4 (Tied for 2nd)

Most Interceptions in a Career:  14 (2nd)

Most Interception Yards in a Career:  501 yards (1st)

Most Interceptions returned for a Touchdown in a Career: 5 (1st) (1 in 2020 and 4 in 2023)

Longest Return of an Interception:  103-yards (Vs. Wild Rose)

 Luke Lawton of Flambeau had a great season as he set the single game tackles record with 34 against Siren.  He also had games of 21 and 20 and now has three of the top single game efforts.   

There are lots of new listings and the records will be posted soon so check them out… State Records (  Thanks.

I was working on a future blog when I ran into some very interesting facts about the Waunakee football program. What I found pointed me toward looking up early history of the program in the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capitol Times newspapers. First, I was trying to get season by season records for the school. I emailed the athletic department for help and they said that their historian would get in touch with me but alas, he never did. I looked for old year books online and only found one at Yearbooks - High School, College and University Yearbooks Online ( and that was the 1949 edition but the brief story led me to a big discovery. In the brief recap of the 1948 season, it was mentioned that after playing 6-man football for several years that in 1949 they would begin playing 11-man (Sorry I’m not politically correct but I grew up with the term 11-man and not 11-player. I’m calling it “man” for now).

Next, by chance I found a link to the school’s football records that went back to 1947. This link gave me the information I needed for their season by season 11-man record. It was quite impressive to look at the history. I knew really only the Pat Rice coaching history and that has been spectacular but what the school teams of the earlier years blew me away. So, I dug deeper and did searches on Historical Newspapers from 1700s-2000s - looking at the 1930’s and 40’s. The first mention of Waunakee football was in 1939. Now, I digress a bit.

On May 7, 1938, Walter Ott of Coleman talked about his “invention”, 6-man football. He was a guest speaker at what was billed as the First Annual Football Clinic in the University of Wisconsin field house. Athletic Director and head Football Coach Harry Stuhldreher instituted the clinic as a way to help all coaches in the state to learn more about the sport. Both of the Madison papers touted the event and expected that there would be between 450 and 500 coaches attending at least one day of the event. Stuhldreher would speak as well as Harvard coach Dick Harlow, Green Bay East coach Tom Hearden, Milwaukee Washington Lisle Blackbourne, Russell Leksell of Rhinelander. Harry Conley of Superior Central and former Badger freshman coach Glenn (Pat) Holmes who was now at Oak Park H.S. in Illinois. Other notable speakers were on the schedule as well. The clinic was expected to draw coaches from Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

While Ott was billed as the inventor of 6-man football he actually was just the first in Wisconsin to adopt the new game from information he learned from the sport being played in Nebraska where it was actually invented by Stephen Epler of Chester, NE. in 1934. Epler’s experiment: 90 years later, six-man football still small-town king - Flatwater Free Press. The version of the sport became popular in the 1930’s and 40’s and is still played in several states in particular Texas.

After the clinic some schools with low pupal numbers in this state adopted the new football version. Looking at some old Waunakee yearbooks the high school only had between 120-150 students during the period of 1939-48. In fact, in the 1949 yearbook I only counted 150 students and 10 teachers. With the help of three people from the Waunakee public library I got more details on the history of the school. It opened in 1904 and before that high school students took a train to Lodi for classes. In 1935 there were 69 students in school from Waunakee and Westport. By 1939 the school had 75 students with some coming from Springfield, Dane or Vienna. It was now time to play football.

6-man became very popular in the southeast region of the state, but it also did well in the northern part of Wisconsin. 1939 rolled around and teams covered by the Madison papers were embracing 6-man. Necedah, Wonewoc, Elroy, Hillsboro, Deerfield, Cambria, De Forest, Brooklyn, Poynette, Black Earth and Waunakee started that year. In fact, Waunakee defeated Deerfield 32-20 as Sam Murphy scored twice and dropkicked an extra point in their first ever game on September 22. The next week turned out to be a disaster as they lost to De Forest 31-0. The number of area teams were limited that season, so teams often played each other twice. It was a start. Verona, Arena, Spring Green, Mazomanie, Sauk City, Prairie du Sac, Lodi South Wayne, Argyle, Hazel Green, Shullsburg, Benton, Belmont, Camp Douglas and Viola all joined in and there were multiple conferences…the Juneau County 6-Man, Blackhawk 6-Man, the 6-Man Independent and later in 1941 the Suburban 6-Man Conference was formed and some former 11-man schools from the Tri-County, the Duel County League and the State-Line League dropped down to 6-man. Over the next few years some schools would move back to 11-man and others would play both in the same season. In 1950 most schools had dropped 6-man and as I have said, moved back to 11-man football but in the Madison newspaper coverage area 8-man was introduced with Montfort, Highland, Barneveld and Livingston forming the Iowa County League.

After a final 4-2 6-man record in 1948 the school opened their 11-man play in 1949 with a 14-0 loss to Mazomanie. They would go on to a 1-5 season. From 1949 to 2023 (75 years) the Waunakee Warriors have had only 10 losing campaigns. The school started slowly, going 3-3-1 in 1950, 1-5-0 in 1951 and 1-7-0 in 1952. But, in 1953, after three coaches over the past four years the school brought in a future Wisconsin Coaches Association Hall of Famer, Richard “Dick” Trotta.

Dick Trotta…WFCA HOF photo from a Waunakee HS Yearbook

Dick Trotta grew up in Kenosha and upon graduation he was inducted into the army where he served in the Pacific. Upon leaving the service he attended UW-Madison where he played baseball and in 1953, he took a coaching/teaching job in Waunakee and made an immediate impact. His first season the Warriors went undefeated, 6-0-0. The next season was a downer, going 1-5-3 and he broke even in 1955 as his team went 4-4-0. From then on, his teams were nearly unbeatable.

I have to admit that before doing some special research, as I said earlier, I had never heard of Dick Trotta. Doing research on Waunakee I learned of the great record that his teams put up between 1957 and 1963. One of those teams, 1961, was not on the list that I had in my book of undefeated, untied and unscored upon squads. During those seven seasons Trotta’s teams went 50-2-1, they had a 42-game unbeaten streak (42-0-1). The unbeaten streak and the 1961 year surely are fabulous accomplishments:

1961 Waunakee Team…Nov. 3…Wisconsin State Journal

Coach Trotta’s teams were known for their defense. During the steak Waunakee shutout 31 of their 42 opponents and had 36 shutouts during the 56 games over the above seven seasons. Only four of the 56 games found the opposition scoring in double figures. During the 1957 year the Asian Flu hit world-wide. Millions of people were affected but mostly it was just a mild to semi-serious sickness that was often short lived. However, in some African and Central/South American countries, there were a number of deaths. Wisconsin and the rest of the country had its share of deaths but certainly not as bad as the 1918 Spanish Flu. Games in Wisconsin were affected with a number of postponements but also some cancellations. That was the case with, first, the Sauc City game. Sauk played without eight men, including their two starting tackles and their two backups. The next week, the game against Spring Green was cancelled because both sides had a number of sick players.

Grotta posted a 73-17-4 record in 12 seasons with six conference titles. While at Waunakee he also coached baseball (Eight seasons and a 94-16 record and seven conference titles) and basketball (Seven seasons). Some newspaper and his citation on the WFCA HOF web page has his teams with 43 wins in a row but as you can see above it was 42. After the 1964 season, Grotta took an administrative position as the school principal and then the next year he became the district administrator. He would move on to take a job with the Wisconsin Department of

Public Instruction. Outside of coaching he pitched softball for many years and participated in the Senior Olympics. Tragically, he was struck by a car and killed in 2007 at age 84 while crossing the road after getting his mail. The person swerved to miss Grotta but was unable to do so.

What Richard Grotta built in his time at Waunakee a tribute to his school his players and other coaches who followed. HOF coach Gayle Quinn was hired by Grotta to succeed him, and the program thrived under his leadership as well. After Quinn it has been Pat Rice, and each has tried to pass on the legacy of what Trotta started.

A special thanks goes out to Anne Blackburn, Rebecca McDonough and Sam Kaufmann of the Waunakee Community School District for getting me information on early Waunakee village/high school history.

I also wish to thank Emily Harkins at the Waunakee Public Library for supplying me with lots of yearbook information used in this blog.

Without their help I could not been able to get a feel for the early days of the school football program.

bottom of page