For over a year of doing research for my book, The Great Teams, the year 1930 was a problem for me. Back around 2005 or 2006 while roving through the internet I ran across a partial list of Wisconsin high school football champions. First, the authors, Andy McKillop and Bob Kieckbusch, had a list of press poll champions that ran from 1958 with the start of the UPI and then listed the AP polls through 1975. I then found another list somewhere that started with 1900 and ran through about 1955 or ’56. I’m no longer sure of the author or how they came upon the listing of teams but it was a guide for me to follow.
As I did my research, I added schools to the list and made a few changes because I didn’t agree with the original findings. For some seasons in the 1900-1924 period there could be as many as 6 or 7 schools claiming to be the state champions. It took a lot of work to determine who was the real champion. Just read the sections in my book on the early Eau Claire and Oshkosh teams. As I filled in the list of yearly champions, I became more comfortable with my choices. I bounced team info off of my editor, my son Tom, who also helped with the research but in the end, I was satisfied with how the yearly champions were determined. But one thing stuck out at me when I looked the list over. We didn’t have a champion or a season record for 1930, the only year except for the 1900 Milwaukee South Side team on the list without a season record. South’s record may never be known since no yearbook is available nor were there many stories, if any, on high school football teams for 1900 being mentioned in the Milwaukee newspapers. South is considered champion because in other papers outside Milwaukee they declared them to be the best.
However, there were lots of reasons for not having a champ recorded for the 1930 season until I got some extra help.
We were ready to go to press except for several read throughs to check for punctuation and verifying the spelling of people’s names. I had contacted the Superior Public Library right when covid-19 caused many places to close. I understood how hard it was for people to get books and information from their local library. My oldest daughter works for the Pewaukee library and she had to do much of her work from home for several months. Schools closed as well and the school librarian wasn’t available. I live in Milwaukee so a hike to Madison to the state historical society wasn’t an option as that had closed as well. I had to live on my subscription to newspapers.com to give me help but they don’t have the Superior Telegram or the Duluth Telegram online. Right when the shutdowns began my son and I determined that the probable champion would be either Waukesha or Superior based on info from other newspapers. We needed to confirm those stories on the two teams.
We had found a listing in one paper that had a number of statewide conference standings for the 1930 season with one or two games left to go in the season. That was a start. We had many “usual suspects” to look at but none fit the bill of being considered a champion team. We looked at the Green Bay area and the Fox River Valley Conference schools but Manitowoc’s 6-1-1 record wasn’t the best and they weren’t an overwhelming team. An OK offense with a good enough defense but not our top choice. Marinette was part of the conference at that time but they finished in the middle of the pack with Green Bay East and West. Eau Claire had a few losses so they were out of the running along with the La Crosse schools. The Big Eight Conference began in 1930 and included the Madison schools, East, West, and Central plus Kenosha, Beloit, Janesville the two Racine schools, Horlick and Park. Park was the top team with a 6-1-1 overall record and they were in the same position as Manitowoc. Good but just not good enough.
The overall sticking point is that in all the seasons between 1901 and 1957 there are 68 champions or co-champions. Only eight of those teams had a tie and nine had a loss. The worst season was 1910 with Oshkosh posting a 5-2-1 record. But their two losses were to college teams and their 0-0 tie was in the “championship” game against Eau Claire. After the tie Oshkosh declared themselves to be the champion as no high school had defeated them in several years and few people disputed the title despite that tie. I was looking for a clear winner. Maybe an undefeated team with a tie would be OK if they played good overall competition.
I then moved my search closer to the Milwaukee area. Watertown had posted a 7-1-0 record with their only defeat at the hands of the University of Wisconsin High School. Wisconsin High was a city of Madison school run by the University to help teach college students classroom presentation. It opened in 1914 and closed in 1974. The school was not as large as the other public high schools in Madison so they were not part of the Big Eight Conference. Despite losing to Wisconsin High, Watertown became a school in the running for the title. Kenosha finished second in the Big Eight but had an overall 7-1-2 record. Could they be number one even with a 12-9 loss to Racine Park and not being the conference champion? I thought not. Since Green Bay East, co-champion with Delafield St. John’s in 1929 when both were 9-0-0, was out of the money could the Lancers be considered for the title? St. John’s posted a 7-1-0 record against tougher competition than what Watertown faced but their loss was a 19-0 defeat at the hands of Culver (IN) Military Academy who won that years National Military Prep School Trophy. Tough for me to say but no, they weren’t they wouldn’t be the state champion. But they were closer than anybody else.
The Milwaukee City Conference had co-champions with Washington and East Side tied with 5-1-1 records. They tied in the season finale and both had losses to Tech, a middle of the conference team so things boiled down to two teams. Waukesha and Superior but I had no final record for either. Finally, in August I was able to make an appointment to look at microfilm at the State Historical Society. I would have to wait three weeks to get in. I knew Waukesha, the Suburban Conference champion had a 6-0-1 record based on the information in the newspaper that had posted conference records. What I found in Madison was that they had lost a game to Wauwatosa 2-0 and ended with a 6-1-1 record. Disappointing. Some of the information I found on Superior showed that school with a 6-0-1 record. Could they be the number one team? I had contacted the Superior Public Library in mid-September and the reference desk was now open to help…for four hours a week. I was only asking if they had the 1931 Superior High School year book and to pull it out and read me the scores for 1930. I was told there were several requests ahead of me and I would have to wait. So, I waited. I also called the Superior High School and left message for the school librarian to look the info up. I got no response.
Friday night, October 2, as I was reviewing the bibliography section of my book, I saw that I had mentioned the Monroe County Historical Society which had helped me with information on the 1907 Sparta championship team. Several other historical societies had closed because of the pandemic and were probably open now but hadn’t responded to my message from four to five months previous on other subjects. I wondered if the Douglas County Society would have what was needed so at about 8 pm I wrote a request. A few minutes later I was astounded to find an e-mail from Jon Winter, the business manager for the Douglas County Historical Society. I had requested yearbook information on the 1918-20 Superior teams to help fill in any gaps I might have. I also asked about the 1930 team. Here it was, nearly 9 pm on a Friday and someone was willing to help. And to offer to send me information the next day!!! He did so and I was surprised with about 35 jpeg files on the four teams. Jon led me to discover that 1930 Superior had a 8-0-1 record, best in the state. Their tie was against Ironwood (MI), the Michigan Upper Peninsula champ.
There I had it. I could fill in the open spot for 1930 with a team name and a record. It was a long and drawn out process but worth it.
Here is their record:
Now, anybody have info on 1900 Milwaukee South Side? Maybe a grandparent's or great-grandparent's yearbook from 1901 that I could look at?