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BOSCOBEL…PLAYING THE GAME

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to send in the 11 and 8-player records update to be posted.  I usually send them to Travis Wilson at WISSPORTS in July, to post on the WFCA web site just before the preseason football workouts.  I had gone through all the emails sent after the last January updates to make sure I had entered the new info when I received several emails from Jimmie Kaska (Pronounced Ku-ska) that were filled with a lot of information.  Two years ago Jmmie sent me an email with a file that he had done on Boscobel football records.  He asked me if I had any old information and I replied that I did not.  I looked at the file and wished him luck on his search.  What he just sent me was a great updated file that held a lot more information.  Read on.


What Jimmie sent changed several of my seasonal leaders lists.  First, my yearly list of passing leaders for 1968 changed.  Tom Bauer of Durand had been the season leader going 106-66-3-1,182 -16 but Boscobel quarterback Steve Randall took huis Bulldog team to only the fourth conference title since 1940 as the team romped through an 8-0-0 season.  Randall passed 150-84-2-1,197-16.  Bauer earned 1st team All-State and Randall earned 1st team All-SWAL (Southwest Wisconsin Athletic League) and honorable mention All-State.

The Bulldogs earned the #2 final press poll ranking in both the Associated Press and the United Press International ratings.  After going through a 1967 4-4-0 season the JV, who posted a 5-1-0 record, bolstered the 1968 squad and they reached the schools highest heights.  In 1967 Boscobel lost to Platteville 39-13 but they revenged that loss in the second game of the season with a 34-12 victory.  Darlington had only allowed 12 points all season until the two schools matched up in the season finale battle of the undefeated conference foes.  The Bulldogs were clearly the best team winning 19-7.

October 3, 1968, Boscobel Dial Newspaper


The other record that changed was on the 1946 scoring champion list.  Lake Mills tailback Bob Petruska had been listed as the season scoring champion with 120 points, scoring 20 touchdowns.  Petruska was a highly rated back who led the L-Cats to a 6-2-0 record.  Bob carried the ball 99 times for 1,401 yards and a 14.1 average per carry.  But research by Jimmie Kaska found that Boscobel’s Jerry Schaefer scored 25 touchdowns and kicked 12 extra points for a season best 162 points.  Both Petruska and Schaefer were named to the second A.P. All-State team. 

    Nov. 12, 1946, Capitol Times Newspaper 1st team All-State   5’10, 180  


The record that Jerry broke was the SWAL scoring record as he scored 143 points (22 touchdowns and 11 extra points) in seven conference games.  Jerry played for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and upon graduating he moved to California and started a chemical company that also specialized in water purification.  In 1996 he donated money along with others toward supplying the school athletic department with workout equipment.  A plaque with his name and fellow contributors is in the weight room of the school so students using the machines know something about Jerry.


There was another email that gave me information on Mile Brown, a three-time All-State punter.  Punting stats are often overlooked by coaching or newspaper reporting.  It was mentioned in a Madison newspaper in 1946 that Bob Petruska of lake Mills averaged “nearly 50-yards per punt” but no official records are available.  What makes Mile Browns records impressive is the fact that he averaged 43.1 yards per kick for his career, second on my all-time list.  But it doesn’t stop there.  In 1988 his average was 43.1, in 1989 he averaged 43.21yards and in 1990 he averaged 43.09 yards per kick.  Talk about consistency.  Mike went on to kick for the University of Minnesota.  He ranks #6 on my season punting records and #2 in career average.   


The final record that Jimmie sent was one led to the creation of a long overdue category in the record book.  I had the longest touchdown run which would never be broken performed in 1899 when the football field was 110-yards.  It was a run by Reed Shepard of De Pere vs. Seymore when he ran 100-yards for the score., Well, the new category is Longest Touchdown Pass Completion.  Why I never included a passing category like this I don’t know.  Now I have Brian Waterman passing to Jamie Matthews for 99-yards in a 14-6 Boscobel loss to Riverdale in 2013.  I ask all readers who know of a 99-yard touchdown run or pass completion to send me the information so I can add it next time to the record book.

With all thus success you might think Boscobel was a power house but Boscobel High School football is not the typical program that I write about.  They don’t often win conference titles.  Four since 1924…1940, 1954, 1955 and 1968.  The school has an all-time record of 278-508-23.  Far from the other programs that I wrote about in my story from May 10, 2024…WISCONSIN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PROGRAMS WITH THE MOST WINS AT THE END OF EACH DECADE…1890-2023 (wihifootball.com)


There have only been five first team all-state players from Boscobel since the 1924 start with Jerry Schaefer in 1946, his running mate from that season, Len Richter who was a junior that year but earned the first team in 1947.  And, Mike Bown, the great punter who was first team in 1988-1990.  Work is being done to put a plaque on the football field to honor Rex Foster, the schools only WFCA HOF coach (1948-1955):  Rex Foster - Cuba City / Boscobel (wifca.org)  Foster posted a 43-15-5 record while at Boscobel.  The current players look to them as they will celebrate the school’s “official” 100-year anniversary of the sport. The season opener in 2024 against Hillsboro will be the schools actual 800th game.  They have 11-forfeits in their overall record.


 Jimmie pointed out to me that the team had a 33-game losing streak 1996-1999.

 After winning a game they went on a 17-game skid during 1999-2001.  That’s going 1-50 from 1996-2001.  They had other long losing streaks as well.  The school lost 25-games in a row, including 9 forfeits, from 2002-2005, 23 loses in a row in 2010-2012, 21 in a row from 1958-1960 and 20 consecutive losses in 2017-2020.  They are currently on a 14-game losing streak that dates back to 2022.  Losing seems to be the norm at Boscobel, but things just might be changing.


What makes this program stand out is something like many schools playing the game of football.  The students play for the love of the game.  A chance to succeed and in Boscobel’s case, they don’t often succeed but the team tries and sometimes they do succeed.


With 508 losses there have been few winning or breakeven seasons.  The history that Jimmie Kaska sent first was an extensive spread sheet: Boscobel Football History - Google Sheets

Jimmie is using 1924 as the start of the program. The local newspaper, the Boscobel Dial has repeatedly over the years states that this year, 1924, is when the program official started.  In truth, the school played football on and off from sometime in late 1890 or early 1900. 

Boscobel HS 1898

Boscobel HS 1903


Thanks to Travis Winker from Darlington, who sent me a file three years ago with game-by-game scores of the school’s histories.  The two schools, Boscobel and Darlington, played in 1920 with the Bulldogs losing 51-0.  Jimmie has a few other early scores from this time period as well but these scores are not included in the overall total. Like a lot of record keeping the school or the local newspaper didn’t retain information or cover the sport in print.  The school may have dropped the game in the early years due to financial considerations


Boscobel is like a lot of schools these days.  Trying to fight low numbers, trying to garner student and local population support and trying not to either co-op or drop down to 8-player football.  There is nothing wrong with the last two aspects of the sport but there is pride in trying to go it alone and play 11-player ball.  These schools are also pressed because of students playing other sports like soccer.   


Jimmie Kaska and his wife along with their two young boys moved to Boscobel in 2020.  His wife is from Riverdale and they moved to be closer to her family.  Jimmie has a degree from UW-Superior and is going to work on his Masters at UW-Platteville.  But in the meantime, he has embraced the area he lives in.  Why else would someone take on the creation of an extensive record book for a school that didn’t have that so called, winning tradition.  People like Travis Winkers of Darlington, Jonathan Walters of Franklin, Patrick Froan of Milwaukee Marquette University High School, Nick Raasch of Clintonville, Tanner Wallom of Belleville and Troy Andreshak of Edgar, to name a few, have created a school record book, something long overdue.  Tanner’s file is currently just offensive stats but he will be expanding to include whatever defensive records he can acquire.  Another school with a record book has been printed by Wade Winkers, the head football coach and athletic director at River Ridge.  I’ve just ordered it and I’m looking forward to reading it. 


Jimmie is a radio announcer for Civic Media doing radio sports announcing for all athletics at the school.  He also calls the Isthmus Bowl game for the top non-playoff qualifiers of the WIAC and CCIW held in Sun Prairie. But he didn’t stop there when he moved to Boscobel.  The football team needed assistants and he volunteered by helping out in many capacities.  He became the “go to” guy when other schools needed information.  He’s written the football game reports for the Boscobel Dial as the paper had no one to cover the games.  He ran for and was elected to the school board and helped get a multi-million-dollar referendum passed to expand the school and update the facilities.  This year he will be the special teams coach, all this by a guy who claims to be one of the state’s all-time worst athletes.  Jimmie played sparingly on the 1999 Cadot state championship team and then his family moved and he played for Flambeau.  Both schools had HOF coaches…Pat Rothbauer from Cadott and Darell Gago from Flambeau.   Pat Rothbauer in particular influenced Jimmie to stick with sports.  As it turned out, Rothbauer’s college teammate, Mark Stamper, was the defensive coach at Flambeau for Darrell Dago.  Stemper is now the principal at New Lisbon and helped Jimmie stay involved in extracurricular activities.


This is not to say that Jimmie is the only person trying to turn Boscobel around. Head Coach Marc Chiefari, assistants Kevin Bright, Todd Bell, Justin Sparrgrove, Steve Smith, Taylor Halvorson and Josh Deiter are all dedicated in making positive changes.  They spend long hours with the players in practice and in clinics to move forward.  They are proud of what they do. Boscobel’s season record for the past few seasons has been dismal…0-9 in 2019, 1-4 in 2020 (COVID season), 2-8 in 2021, 1-9 in 2022 and last year, 2023, the Bulldogs went 0-9.  But you wouldn’t know they went 0-9 if you looked at the 62-page year end recap that Jimmie printed up for the team and coaches:  2023 Boscobel Media Media Kit 2023 RECAP.pdf - Google Drive


Last year the team had 23-players.  Several got hurt and several had grade problems   They practiced during the week with maybe 17-19 players with the coaches’ filling positions in practice scrimmages.  They lost each week but if you look at this media kit you might never really know it at first glance.  You might have thought that they were the state champions.  This media kit instilled some real pride in the school and the community.  They are fighting numbers but going into 2024 they already have about 36 players signed up to play football, the most players since 2015.  This is a start. 


A final thing. Jimmie was so impressive with his presentation of his team’s media kit to the other conference coaches at the annual meeting to select the all-conference players, he was voted conference Assistant Coach of the Year.

Not bad for an unpaid assistant coach/media specialist who is truly a Bulldog.

Every school should strive to collect records.  Search the yearbooks at the school and public libraries. Spend time going through the local newspaper.  Look at stats from the last 15-years on WisSports if they are there.  BUILD A LEGACY THAT THE PLAYERS ON YOUR TEAM CAN BE PROUD OF.  Don’t just have the records in a file that isn’t accessible for the public to see but post them attached to the school athletic pages so anyone on the outside can reference them.


Here’s the lesson of this blog: Not every team can win a state title, but each school can strive to impact their program with enthusiasm and maybe their own media kit to help pave the way.  Think about it and give it a try.


 

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