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Updated: Oct 26, 2021

I know, the headline says the great 1949 Racine St. Catherine’s team but first I have to mention several other items.


First, a message I received from Thomas Schaefer concerning the story I wrote a while back about the Waukesha Blackshirts. The info I had on the school’s nickname was from an online school profile on WisSports.net, I think, or from the Waukesha Freeman…I’m not sure which. Mr. Schaefer offers a more interesting and personal account. Here it is:

“Re: The Blackshirts of Waukesha 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 Sauberts 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 to Mr. Schaefer for the information and if anyone has comments on other stories, please send them along!


Second: As some of you know I worked for MaxPreps.com (Based in California) at one time. I was the state of Wisconsin’s field representative for several years. I actually never met Kevin Askeland, one of the web site's writers in person, but he and I have been e-mailing each other a lot over the past 10-years concerning many subjects. Kevin writes history on several sports but mainly football and he has in the past highlighted several people from this state. He has two recent stories, one entitled “Football Coaches of the Year 1910-present” (High school football: Bob Ladouceur, Paul Brown, Herman Boone top Coach of Year list from last 110 seasons - MaxPreps ). I enjoyed the list and I understand that not many state of Wisconsin schools have been highlighted nationally over the years but if you click on the link and scroll down to 1940 you will find Win Brockmeyer from Wausau listed as that season’s coach of the year.


In another story he lists Tony Romo from Burlington as the states “Greatest Quarterback” ( High school football: Every state's greatest quarterback - MaxPreps ) but this is based mainly on what a QB did in the NFL. Bart Starr and Brett Favre are the top players from their state, Alabama and Mississippi. Interesting and subjective.

Kevin Askeland also has an occasional blog story concerning the national history of high school football and other sports. It can be found at High School Sports History (substack.com).


I guess that was more than two things but, NOW, on to the 1949 St. Catherine’s team


The school has had a long history of sports success, mainly in basketball and cross country, but in the 1930-1961 period the football teams were highly successful, winning outright or sharing seven mythical Catholic state championships. The story of the 1949 team actually goes back to 1942. The school had a turn-style of football coaches during those seven years. In 1942 the school hired Gene Schneider from Loris College in Dubuque Iowa, who was only four years past graduating from the school, to take over the St. Catherine’s program. He posted a 3-3-2 record in 1942 but guided the team to the 1943 state mythical title in 1943, their first since the 8-0-0 team of 1931, going 7-0-1. Schneider was drafted into the Army and served from 1943-45. In stepped Orville “Orv” Dermody and he found some success, especially with the 1945 Catholic mythical state championship team (8-0-0). But, back from service came Gene Schneider who became co-coach with Dermody for the 1946 season as they again won the state title with another 8-0-0 season record. They had an assistant named Henry Engel. Schneider left in early August of 1947 to return and coach at Loris College and Orv Dermody had also moved on so that left the school shorthanded and the coaching reigns were turned over to Henry Engel. He directed the team to a lowly 2-5-0 record. He was set to again be the head coach the next year, 1948, but then he was called back to active service by the military so a new coach had to be found. The school picked a good one in Eddie Race.


Like many coaches of the time, Eddie Race had varied duties wherever he was located. Born in Pittsburgh, an uncle brought Ed to Milwaukee and enrolled him at Pio Nono (Now St. Thomas More) where he played football, basketball and baseball. He was recruited to play football at Loyola Marymount where he started all four seasons on the football team as well as playing hockey for three seasons as a goalie. It was in that sport that he earned a mention in the old newspaper stories called “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” after scoring a goal as a goalie. He also was cast in a Hollywood movie, “The Game That Kills” in 1937. Not a great movie but it had a few future stars in it. Rita Hayworth, Ward Bond and Paul Fix. Eddie played, what else, a goalie. His play on the ice at Loyola earned him a spot in the U.S. National Hockey Hall of Fame (Located in Eveleth, MN.). Eddie then returned to Milwaukee where he became the head football and basketball coach at St. Benedict’s High School, posting a 16-5-0 record from 1938-40. Moving on, he then directed Messmer High School football, hockey, boxing and baseball teams. On the gridiron he had a 25-8-4 record for the 1941-46 years. Next up was the 1947-48 season where he coached football, boxing, hockey, and baseball at St. Francis Minor Seminary (Now also part of St. Thomas More H.S). The football team was 5-2-0 in 1947 and finished second in the Catholic Conference. Then, the spot at Racine St. Catherine’s opened up and Ed was offered the job as head football and baseball coach and assistant to the legendary basketball coach, John McGuire. Ed would stay at the school from 1948-61 and post an 80-31-6 record with two mythical Catholic state football titles, six Catholic Conference titles and six second place finishes in 14 years. His 1955 and 1957 teams were undefeated and the Angels posted a 24 consecutive conference win streak during the 1954-57 seasons while earning the 1955 and 1957 mythical Catholic state titles.

Under Ed Race’s tutelage, 1948 had been a very exciting season for the Angels as they posted a 6-1-0 record and shared the Catholic Conference title with Milwaukee Marquette after a 13-20 loss to the Junior Hilltoppers. There was a lot of talented juniors on that team and they would mature even more in 1949, even with losing 20 lettermen from the ’48 squad. Future WFCA Hall of Fame coach Eddie Race worked his team hard in the late summer to erase the memory of the 1947 season. They were ready for their opponents. Fullback Jim Feest had been the main star as a junior in 1948, leading the Catholic Conference in scoring and totaling 102 total points (15 touchdowns and 12 extra points). Somehow, in the final game of the 1948, a 31-6 win over St. John Cathedral, he was still able to score three touchdowns but the Racine Journal Times reported that his right ankle was so hurting that he couldn’t kick extra points. The team's 1948 opener against Waukesha Industrial School was cancelled by the schools governing body when they banned all sports for that school year so St. Catherine’s only played a seven-game season.


As a side note, did you read my blog about “Early Scoring Records”? Well, alumnus Bill Angel from the 1930 St. Catherine’s team was featured at the top of the Journal Times sports page on the day that St. Catherine’s second game story appeared (Which was way down at the bottom of the page). Bill had given up football for golf and he was the 1948 County Golf Champion. The football game story mentioned that Jim Feest had scored three touchdowns and kicked two extra points in a 41-19 win over Don Bosco. Angel would later be in the stands (As mentioned by the newspaper) to see Feest break his, Angel’s, conference single season scoring record of 85 points set in four games with Feest scoring 87 points in six games.


Now, 1949 rolled around and Feest and his returning teammates were ready to take the title outright. Beside Feest (5’9, 187), other returning stars were seniors quarterback Jim Haluska (5’11, 170), End Don Penza (6’1, 188), tackle Mark Koleske (6’1, 180), guard Paul Verway (5’10, 80), who started at halfback in 1948 but was moved to the line for this year, and junior center Ed Jarosz (5’11,170). End Dick Bebow, guard Gerald, wingback Joe Cucanato, tackle John Penza and tackle Joe Sodomka all contributed greatly to the team’s success. How talented were these players? Well, Feest, Haluska, Don Penza, Koleske, Verway and Jarosz all made Journal Times sports writer Keith Brehm’s unofficial All-City team. That’s six first team players on Brehm’s 13-member squad as he added two positions for extra linebackers but six stars are a lot as the team covered St. Catherine’s and the two larger city public schools. Four players (Feest, Haluska, Penza and Verway would earn All-Catholic first team mention and Koleske, along with Jarosz would make the second team. Feest would be named to the AP First Team All-State squad as he rushed for 1,017 yards and scored 115 points (18 touchdowns and seven extra points). Jim Haluska made the third team AP squad as he was 108-48-6-1,031-13 passing on the year. Don Penza would get honorable mention for hauling in 28 passes for 502 yards and scoring nine touchdowns and two extra points. They made spectacular plays throughout the season. On one passing play Jim Haluska tossed the ball to Jim Feest who caught the ball in-bounds, along the sideline. Feest then passed the ball backwards to end Dick Bebow who was wide open and he ran the final 15-yards for the score.


Playing at the Marquette Stadium before 7,000 fans the Angles posted a 12-6 win over Marquette that ended in spectacular fashion. With five seconds left in the game, Jim Haluska passed from the 11-yard line to the endzone where Don Penza outjumped a Junior Hilltopper defensive back for the winning score. Penza missed the extra point kick but it didn’t matter. They were undefeated, conference champions and earned the Wisconsin Catholic mythical state title. The team stars and coach Race were carried off the field on the shoulders of their teammates.

In 1993, Milwaukee Journal writer Cliff Christl created the “Team of the Century” encompassing the years 1893-1993. There were a lot of contributors to the article, coaches, newspaper people and a few former players. Of the 130+ players on the honorable mention list, Jim Haluska was mentioned at the quarterback position (along with 17 other players) while Jim Feest was also named to the list (along with 365 others). People came to recognize just how good Don Penza was as an offensive end and on defense. Penza was named to the second team as an end.


All three had a short profile in my book but I will cover Haluska, Penza and coach Race more here as well as reproduce the post on Feest. Haluska and Penza are profiled with Feest in my book but I have additions to their profiles below. First, Jim Feest.


Jim Feest:

“As a junior, set a conference record 87 points scored on an average St. Catherine’s team. Playing on the same team as quarterback Jim Haluska, Feest rushed for 1,017 yards in eight games and scored 89 points in six conference games as a senior. Standing 5’9”, and weighing 198 pounds, Feest was a hard-hitting fullback. His career was often compared to Ameche’s and many thought he was the equal of the “Horse”. St. Catherine’s was state Catholic high school co-champion, with La Crosse Aquinas, going 8-0-0.


The team had lots of talent besides Feest, including quarterback Jim Haluska who would go on to Madison and lead, along with Alan Ameche, the Badgers to the school’s first Rose Bowl. St Catherine’s Don Penza would go on to be a team captain at Notre Dame while lineman Ed Jarosz played at Marquette. Jim Feest dropped out of high school while just a half-credit short of graduation. He joined the Army and earned his diploma but never went to college. Playing for the semi-pro Racine Raiders in 1953, he hurt his knee and never played football again.


At age 48, after playing squash at the local YMCA, Jim Feest suffered a heart attack and died. He earned honorable mention on the 1993 Milwaukee Journal All-Century Team.”


Jim Huluska:

After graduating in 1950. Jim first attended The University of Michigan but then transferred to Wisconsin where ha stared with Kenosha’s Alan Ameche and led the Badgers to the 1952 Big 10 championship and the 1953 Rose Bowl, a 7-0 loss to Southern California. He set season passing records in Madison and was drafted by the Chicago Bears and played in just five games his rookie season before retiring and took up coaching. He went to Don Bosco in 1960 where he taught and coached for 12 years. He then took over the St. Thomas More program after Don Bosco and Pio Nono merged and was the school’s athletic director as well as football coach. Haluska move to Pius XI as a teacher while coaching at Waukesha Memorial before the Jim Young era. Overall he posted a 206-60-4 coaching record with 12 conference titles and one state title in 1976. He was named to the St. Catherine’s, Don Bosco, St. Thomas More halls of fame, the UW Athletic Hall of Fame and the WFCA Hall of Fame. Jim passed in 2012.


Don Penza:

Like Alan Ameche, Don was born in Kenosha and moved with his family to Racine. After graduation he attended Notre Dame where he was the team captain in 1953. Coach Frank Leahy called him “the best team captain I’ve ever had”. Don was listed on the 1953 All-America team and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing in only two exhibition games, he hurt his knee and was forced to retire. From 1954-56 Don was a first Lieutenant in the Marines and played “service” football while at Quantico.


Following his time in the service Don Penza went on to coach at Wisconsin Rapids Assumption from 1957-1967 where he compiled a 68-18-2 record with five conference championships. In 1968 he retired at age 35 from coaching to enter politics and was mayor of Wisconsin Rapids until 1978. Returning to coaching in 1981, Penza was hired at Woodstock (IL) Marion Central Catholic Central and would go on to compile a 90-18 record with three Illinois Class 2A state titles in eight seasons. Don died at age 57 in 1989.


Eddie Race:

I mentioned a lot about Eddie but what happened after he left St. Catherine’s? He and his family lived on the south side of Milwaukee and he commuted every day to Racine to teach and coach. He decided that he needed a change so he took the head coaching job in 1961 at Milwaukee Pulaski where he directed the Ram’s to an 8-0-0 record. In 1962 he moved to Cudahy where he coached football and volleyball until 1969 and continued teaching until he retired in 1983. While at Cudahy he posted a 27-25-4 record and his career coaching totals were 161-70-14 and he earned many awards. Named to the WFCA Hall of Fame in 1996 as well being named to the Loyola Marymount University Hall of Fame in 1993. He earned two honors at St. Thomas More with the Alumni Hall of fame in 1996 and the school Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. The following year, 1998, he was inducted into the St. Catherine’s High School Hall of Fame. Prior to that, in 1985 he was named “One of the Most Interesting People in Town” by Milwaukee Magazine. At the age of 90, Eddie passed but his coaching career and how he molded students and players can not be forgotten.


Correction (10/26/2021) - the original article had a typo stating Jim Haluska had won "1 conference title". That should have said "12 conference titles".

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

Back when I was writing my book, The Great Teams, I came upon a story in the Wisconsin State Journal that featured the Madison area 1942 scoring leaders. It was said that Herbert “Herbie” Dobson of Blanchardville's 209 points (On 34 touchdowns and five extra point runs) was the seasonal state record beating Burlington’s Bob “Ding” Barry who, in 1938, scored 130 points on 20 touchdowns and 10 extra point runs.


Was the 209 points that Herbie scored a single season record? As far as I can tell by my research the answer is YES. That total would last 29-years when in 1971 Greg Hermsen of Bloomington crossed the goal line for 33 touchdowns, 20 extra-point kicks and a two-point run for 218 total points. The record of 34 touchdowns wouldn’t be equaled until 1978 when Antigo’s Jerry Schedlbauer also scored 34 times. It took another eight seasons, 1986, before the touchdown total was passed by Beloit Turner’s Travis Talton scored 35 times.


Back in the early days, prior to 1945, not a lot of information was spread around the state by schools or newspapers. Few schools sent out statistical information to papers around the state, only to the local one, if that. Until the 1945 AP All-State team was named not a lot of people knew about players from outside their area. It would appear that someone in Madison somehow got the word on “Ding” Barry. He did score 130 points but the paper failed to hear of Burlington’s Jack Rein, who, in 1940 scored 22 touchdowns for a total of 132 points. So, that would mean Jack Rein really held the record, right? NO, not by a longshot.


What led me to do additional research was a story in the Racine Journal Times from 1949 about Bill Angel of Racine St. Catherine’s setting the state scoring record in 1931. This great player reeled off many long, touchdown runs in leading the Angles to a 7-1-1 record. He scored 18 touchdowns and ran for 13 extra points. AND, he did that in seven games! He was held scoreless in the opening two games and only scored a single extra-point in another game. If you thought that was remarkable, well "Ding" Barry scored his 130 points in only six contests!!! Rein did his in seven games.


Anyway, back to Bill Angel. The Racine paper reported that he beat the record set by Kenosha quarterback, Joe “Babe” Serpe who scored 105 points in 1930. Or was it 94 or 95? You see, the Kenosha News reported that Serpe scored 105 points in 1930 so, to get more information I looked at the 1931 school yearbook. A steady player as a junior but not the star player, “Babe”, played halfback and was the Red Devils number two quarterback as the team posted a 6-2-1 record and was the Big Six Conference champion. By the way, the conference had seven teams in it that year and expanded to eight in 1930 to become the Big Eight. As a senior in 1931 he had a breakout season leading the Red Devils to a 7-1-2 record as they finished in a tie for second place. Five of their games were tight affairs but the other five were blowouts: 33-14 over Madison East, 70-0 over Janesville, 20-6 over a tough Waukegan team, 75-0 romp over Madison West and a sound beating of Racine Washington Park, 52-0. You would have thought Serpe would have scored more than the reported 105 points. But here is where things get murky. While the Kenosha News reported 105 points, the school yearbook says that he scored 94 points. He did set a conference record that year with 94 points but the yearbook story doesn’t take into account the non-conference totals. A later story mentions that he scored 95 points. I looked at the game stat scoring reports from the Kenosha News, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Capitol Times and the Janesville Gazette. No matter how much I looked, I only came up with 99 points scored. Was there a missing touchdown in the game reports? Yes!!


There were some problems in the newspaper stories themselves. While there were great game stories in the papers the recaps often didn’t have the scoring totals. By this, I mean, it listed the roster for all the starters for the two teams and their substitutions but not always a scoring recap. I had to dig deeper and read each story more carefully and then I found the missing touchdown. He had scored the reported 105 points on 15 touchdowns and 15 extra points (14 by kicking). I should note that in 1931, the Racine Journal Times gave the 105-point figure as the goal for Bill Angel to pass with one final game on the season to go. Angel had 101 points by his second to last game and when he scored 20 points against Milwaukee Messmer, Angel surged to a final total of 121 points and a new state single season scoring record. But wait. There’s more.


I thought I would show you the 1930 efforts of Joe Serpe and Bill Angel and give you a brief post- high school story on each.


JOE SERPE…QUARTERBACK

I couldn’t find much about Joe Serpe other than his senior season feats. Joe had a very good passing arm and he used it to great advantage. He did play basketball for the Red Devils. Joe played college ball at Creighton University where he eventually started at the quarterback position. He returned to Kenosha for a time during his sophomore year to mend from a series of injuries and his name is mentioned in later years in the Kenosha News as being part of the Italian-American Society in that city doing charity work and playing such sports as basketball and bowling. But nothing after that could be found.


Here are his 1930 scoring stats along with his touchdown passes:






BILL ANGEL…HALFBACK

Entering his senior season at Racine St. Catherine’s, Bill was a 130-pound gifted athlete. He would earn six varsity letters, three each for football and basketball. Bill and his brother Harold both went to school, played sports and worked at their father Bob’s restaurant, the Beefsteak Inn. Harold was a year behind Bill in school and would make All-Catholic conference as an end in 1931 then move to halfback in 1932 and earn all-conference honors a second time as St. Catherine’s would go 8-0-0. Bill “beefed” up to an official 137-pounds when the season opened. His high school coach was Tom Hearden who directed the Angels to the 1932 Catholic state mythical title and then he would move on and coach at Green Bay East, leading the school to three consecutive overall mythical state titles in 1936, 1937 and 1938. Hearden had a great career including coaching for the Green Bay Packers and landing in the WFCA Hall of Fame.


Bill Angel scored 13 points as a sophomore against Racine College, the only game he played much and scored in that year. In an earlier game, he wasn’t looking where he was running after taking a handoff and collided with one of his teammates and was knocked unconscious. As a junior he scored 12 touchdowns for 72 points and with the 121 as a senior that gave him a career total of 206 points. He had great speed and used it to his advantage. In 1929 against Racine College, he had a 65-yard touchdown run. As a junior he had a 97-yard punt return against Chicago Mt. Carmel as well as a 45-yard td reception, a 90-yard kickoff return against Milwaukee Washington, an 87-yard reception (Short pass, at least 80 yards were the run after the catch) vs. Milwaukee Lincoln and a 70-yard td run against Chicago St. Ignatius. In the game against Milwaukee St. John’s Cathedral Bill scored on a 85-yard punt return and a 50-yard interception return.


His senior year was even more spectacular with 45-yard and 35-yard runs and a 52-yard reception against St. John’s Cathedral, a 70-yard non-touchdown run against Milwaukee Lincoln, a 60-yard touchdown run against Hammond, IN. Catholic Central, a 40-yard punt return for a score against Pio Nono as well as a 73-yard touchdown in that same game and against Boy’s Tech Bill hauled in a 40-yard scoring pass. I would like to note that almost no individual rushing totals were kept at this time but it was reported that with the 70-yard run against Milwaukee Lincoln, Angel had 180 total-yards rushing in the game. His 74 points that he scored in four conference games stood as a record until1948 when St. Catherine’s Jim Feest scored 85 points in six conference games. In fact, Bill scored more points and had more touchdowns than the other four Catholic Conference teams combined in league play.


Despite his scoring records and the fact that that many college backs didn’t weigh much more than 160- pounds, schools didn’t come calling on Bill for his services. It was the Depression and Bill was able to get a job with Western Printing in Kenosha and he then played for one season on the company football team as a semi-professional. In 1932 Bill took up golf and for many years into his 60’s he played around the state in tournaments and often was the champion. He left Western in 1947 and he founded his own printing company, Angel Lithographing, retiring in 1984. Bill died in 1998 at the age of 85. Here is his senior season scoring stats:





Well, that covers 1930-31 but what about the supposed record by the two guys from Burlington, Barry and Rein, before Dobson’s huge effort in 1942? It took a lot of digging to confirm Barry and Rein’s scoring stats and even though the Journal Times often had special pages for news happening in the western part of Racine County not all the games were reported and the sports stories didn’t seem to be written by the main sports department writers. So, unless you lived in the city of Racine and read the news for Burlington, Rochester and the other small towns in the outer reaches of the county, you wouldn’t have been aware of their feats.


A few years ago I added a seasonal leaders list to my state records (Found on the WFCA website at State Records (wifca.org) ) and while they are far from complete in the years before 1938 I have some scoring records going back to 1916. Rollie Williams of Edgerton scored 23 touchdowns and ran for 12 extra points to post 150 total points that year. Individual scoring records before that are VERY sketchy before then so that’s where I started the list. Two years later Superior sophomore John “Bone” Hancock totaled a record 26 touchdowns and 21 extra points for 177 total points. The touchdowns scored and the 177-point total would last until 1942 when Dobson crushed the record. In fact, he beat William’s record in each of his three seasons at Superior, scoring 153 points as a junior and 155 as a senior.


As stated, there wasn’t an organized effort to collect records around the state so things were missed by the press. In fact, Hancock would set the state career scoring record of 486 points (73 touchdowns and 47 extra points) that would last until 1982 when De Forest’s Scott Reinert matched that total 486 points in his career (66 touchdowns, 81 extra-point kicks, three two-point runs and a field goal). Hancock’s 73 touchdowns would remain a state standard until a few seasons later when Marinette’s Jeff Messenger would pass the mark in 1989 with 78 career scores. Hancock’s seasonal and career records weren’t even printed in the Superior Telegram. The paper only shared game stats and there weren’t any post season team recaps.


Let’s move on though. Now remember that the Wisconsin State Journal said Dobson beat Burlington’s “Ding” Barry’s 130-point record but besides missing Jack Rein’s 132 points from 1940 they also missed the 143 points scored by Milwaukee Washington star player Pat Harder in 1939. And, all the while Harder was playing for the UW Badgers at the time the Dobson story was written.


Herbie Dobson’s game-by game scoring feats for 1942 are in my book, The Great Teams. I’m sure there are others that need to be added to my seasonal scoring or even the passing, rushing and the two receiving lists (Receptions and yards) and if you know of any, pass that info along. Thanks.

In June, I wrote about the Players of the Year for 1945-1965 and I promised a list for the very early years, 1900-1944. After a lot of research I have come up with a list for 1903-1944. I spent a lot of time looking for possible players to nominate but some years have empty slots. Several years have a back but no lineman or vice versa. There are some interesting picks and in the case of some players I could have mentioned them for multiple years just as I did for 1962 and 1963 when I named Rocky Bleier of Appleton Xavier as the top back or lineman. In fact, I did name one player as the Back of the Year three times!! That was John “Ronc” or “Bone” Hancock of Superior, 1918-1920. It’s true, I have him in a tie with another senior in 1920, Jim Crowley of Green Bay East. The accomplishments that the two performed made it impossible to just pick one. Crowley would go on to star in the Four Horsemen backfield at Notre Dame, earn All-America honors and have a successful coaching career. Hancock was converted to a tackle at Iowa where he earned All-Big 10 as a senior. He moved into coaching and in 1936, while head football coach at Colorado State Teachers College (Now Colorado State University) he also coached wrestling and started the state wrestling championships. He is called the “Father of Colorado Wrestling”. While they both had Hall of Fame honors, what Crowley and Hancock did at the high school level is why they are on my list.


Hancock would set career scoring records that would last until 1982 when De Forests' Scott Reinhart would score one more point, 486, to Hancock’s 485. That’s 62 years that he held the record!! Reinhart would score 66 touchdowns and kick 81 extra points, one field goal and run for three two-point conversions in his career. “Ronc’ scored a record 73 career touchdowns (In addition to 47 extra points) and that record lasted until 1989 when the great Jeff Messenger of Marinette scored 78.


You can ask about my start date, 1903. Why that year? That was the first season I could find a reasonable candidate, Eau Claire’s Len Roseth. There were years I couldn’t make a Sophie’s choice. Between 1904 and 1908 it was hard to find a worthy POY. I just did my best. So, here it is. Look it over. I know there are gaps. But I hope you enjoy it.


YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL POSITION

1903 Len Roseth Eau Claire Back

1903 Line

1904 Back

1904 Line

1905 Back

1905 Line

1906 Back

1906 Line

1907 Ralph Fletcher Delafield St.John's Back

1907 Line

1908 Back

1908 Line

1909 Gus Dorais Chippewa Falls Back

1909 Richard "Jab" Murray Marinette Line

1910 Back

1910 Richard "Jab" Murray Marinette Line

1910 Howard "Cub" Buck Eau Claire Line

1910 Arlie Mucks Oshkosh Line

1911 Back

1911 Arlie Mucks Oshkosh Line

1912 Eber Simpson Oshkosh Back

1912 Line

1913 Hank Gallo Milwaukee South Back

1913 Raymond "Tubby" Keeler La Crosse Line

1914 Walter "Willie" Reget La Crosse Back

1914 Howard "Whitey" Woodin Ft. Atkinson Line

1915 Walter "Willie" Reget La Crosse Back

1915 Clinton "Bud" Miller Milwaukee East Line

1916 Rollie Williams Edgerton Back

1916 Line

1917 Back

1917 Arnold Peters Marinette Line

1918 John "Bone"/"Ronc" Hancock Superior Back

1918 Howard "Harry" Woodin Delafield St.John's Line

1919 John "Bone"/"Ronc" Hancock Superior Back

1919 Line

1920 John "Bone"/"Ronc" Hancock Superior Back

1920 Jim Crowley Green Bay East Back

1920 Line

1921 Back

1921 Line

1922 Back

1922 Clarence Barofsky Marinette Line

1923 Einer Lund Marinette Back

1923 Line

1924 David Zuidmuller Green Bay East Back

1924 Line

1925 Back

1925 Line

1926 Back

1926 Milt Garterbern La Crosse Line

1927 Arnie Herber Green Bay West Back

1927 Chester "Swede" Johnson Appleton Back

1927 Jack Riley Delafield St.John's Line

1928 John "Bull" Dohring Milwaukee West Back

1928 Art Krueger Milwaukee Riverside Line

1929 Back

1929 Champ Siebold Oshkosh Line

1930 Francis "Pug" Lund Rice Lake Back

1930 Milt Trost Milwaukee Washington Line

1931 Billy Angel Racine St. Catherine's Back

1931 Alphonse "Tuffy" Lemans Superior EasT Back

1931 Line

1932 Eddie Jankowski Milwaukee Riverside Back

1932 Line

1933 Arnie Hanson Eau Claire Back

1933 Ray Bulvid Port Washington Back

1933 Line

1934 Howie Weiss Ft. Atkinson Back

1934 Line

1935 Back

1935 Line

1936 Irv Comp Milwaukee Bay View Back

1936 Line

1937 Back

1937 Dave Schreiner Lancaster Line

1938 Back

1938 Line

1939 Pat Harder Milwaukee Washington Back

1939 Paul Hinnbrunner Darlington Line

1940 Elroy "Crazey Legs" Hirsch Wausau Back

1940 Line

1941 Paul Romano Madison Central Back

1941 John Strzykaski Milwaukee South Line

1942 Roger Trotter Wausau Back

1942 Line

1943 Earl "Jug" Girard Marinette Back

1943 Line

1944 Stan Heath Shorewood Back

1944 Line


Several other notes: As mentioned last time, Arnie Hanson was the POY as a back for Eau Claire in 1933, playing as a halfback. In 1961 his son Dick earned High School All-America honors as the quarterback for Eau Claire Memorial and was POY as a back.


For 1914 Howard “Whitey” Wooden of Ft. Atkinson is the lineman POY. A freshman starter and member of the great 1911 Fort team that went undefeated, untied and unscored upon, Wooden was earning notices from around the state at age 15. He went on to play for Marquette and was one of the original members of the Green Bay Packers Ring of Honor. Four years later Howard “Harry” Wooden of Delafield St. John’s Military Academy is my pick for the 1918 lineman POY. He also went on to play for Marquette and started for a while until injuries forced him to give the sport up.


Speaking of linemen, stepping back a few years before “Whitey” Wooden in 1909 Richard “Jab” Murray of Marinette was considered the top lineman in the state as a junior. The next season, 1910, he had competition as the only time three players for the same position are named as lineman Player of the Year. Murray repeated as a senior but two others were so good they earned the POY honors as well. Howard “Cub” Buck from Eau Claire was the best in the northwest while junior Arlie Mucks of Oshkosh is also named here. Mucks would hold the sole POY lineman spot as a senior in 1911.


So much praise was heaped on John Strzykalski of Milwaukee South that I could have named him as the only player of the year for both as a back and as a lineman (Linebacker) for 1941. Known as a great power runner who threw the ball well, he led the Milwaukee City Conference in touchdown passes and scoring. He was also noted as a devastating, bone crushing tackler. He was a well sought after player by the colleges. As good as he was as a back I did pick Paul Romano of Madison Central as the top back, the Big Eight conference leading scorer and for leading Central to an undefeated season.


If you have any other suggestions or wish to challenge my list with other names feel free to pass the names on. Thanks.