Dick Barbour is one of many people profiled in my book but in covering over a hundred years of players, coaches and teams there are many great people that deserve additional recognition. This is the first in what will likely be several posts where I expand on the profiles in my book.
From the book:
“First team all-state and the first Wisconsin player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Barbour had a dream senior season as he rushed for 2,238 yards on 236 carries, a 9.5 average per carry and in nine games averaged 248.7 yards. He scored 29 times. In one three game stretch, Dick gained 1,032 yards, 332 against Wonewoc, 367 against New Lisbon and 333 against Brockwood.”
I remembered reading a story about Barbour in the Milwaukee Journal while I was attending Arizona State University. The school library newspaper section was filled with papers from around the country and I was surprised to find not only the Journal but the Waukesha Freeman. The library kept papers for 90 days before tossing them so I asked and was surprised to obtain that edition so I could cut out and save the story. I still have it today. When I returned to Wisconsin, I spent many hours at the State Historical Society in Madison looking up players and teams. I was hooked on record keeping. Working on a microfilm reader it was hard to pin down exact stats for some players. Dick Barbour was a huge challenge.
So I decided to explore more about Dick's senior season online through newspapers dot com and I ran into a lot of the same statistical misinformation about him that I encountered back in 1974-75 at the historical society. No one newspaper, the Madison Capitol Times, the Wisconsin State Journal or the La Crosse Tribune got many of the game stats correct or reported the correct totals. One thing for sure was that he ran for 2,236 yards to become the state's first player to rush for 2,000 yards or more in a single season. He did score 29 touchdowns and ran for eight two-point conversions for a total of 190 points on the year. But the game-by-game stats were a nightmare to figure out. First look at his full season game stats:
All his scoring plays were on runs with 11 plays of over 40 yards. He was listed as a fullback in most stories but other stories said he was the deep back in the I-formation. That was his position as a junior and a sophomore. He didn't play much defense his senior year even though he was all-conference as a junior and earned honorable mention as a sophomore. Those seasons he played both linebacker and defensive back. As a senior he was always on the kick-off team, hanging back to see if a player was breaking through and he would run up to haul the returner down. Barbour had 10.3 speed in the 100 yard dash and could out-run just about anyone. Standing 5'8", 180 as a senior he wasn't imposing but he sure could play. His coach was Tom Anders, just out of college and had played football at La Crosse State (Now UW-La Crosse). He felt that even though Hillsboro was a small school playing in the All-Scenic Central Conference that if Barbour were at a Big 8 or Big Rivers Conference school, he would have gained about 1,500-1,700 yards in much tougher competition.
Coach Anders was from New Lisbon and it was against that school that Barbour scored an "accidental" touchdown. With Hillsboro leading 46-6 in the fourth quarter and after sitting out much of the second half, Dick was sent in with the ball on the HIllsboro 10 yard line. The 'B' team was having trouble moving and holding onto the ball as they had fumbled three times in other series of play. Barbour was supposed to just run the ball out far enough to give the 'B' team some breathing room but on his first carry he broke through and at the 50 he was all alone as he ran by Anders and his teammates urging him on towards a 90 yard touchdown.
Dick Barbour would earn State Back of the Week honors or special mention multiple times during the season and that is where his game stats get mixed up. The AP would write one set of stats and the UPI another total. Either the rushing yardage or the number of carries would differ from the Saturday game stories. Sometime when I forgot his totals back in the 1970s I had to piece together his carries total as some were not mentioned in one paper or another but a later story would have his running total so I would take that and subtract what I had found. In the end the stats worked out as they matched both the UPI and AP and the La Crosse Tribune's All-Coulee Region Teams. By the way, Barbour averaged 9.5 yards per carry and even though the Tribune had the right amount of carries and yards they reported a 9.9 average. Hand calculators had just come out in 1969 or 1970 and I remember my college math teacher insisting on using a slide ruler for tests! Talk about being behind the times.
Dick was the All-Coulee Player of the Year, the UPI Player of the Year and earned second team All-State on the AP press poll. As a junior he rushed for 818 yards and scored 13 touchdowns and 3 extra points while earning all-conference and honorable mention all-state in the AP and UPI polls. Wisconsin State Journal sports writer, Don Lindstrom, called him another Jim Bertelson and hoped the Badgers would sign Dick to a scholarship and not let him get away like they did the great runner from Hudson who went on to play ball for the Texas Longhorns and later in the NFL.
His 184 points in conference play (190 points overall) fell just short of beating 1968 North Crawford star Tom Knoble's 192 point conference scoring record. 1970 was still a great year for Barbour and he ended his career with 4,110 yards on 475 carries, a 8.7 per carry average, 53 touchdowns, and 11 2-pt conversion runs for a total of 340 points. he had a state record 248.44 yards per game average and his three consecutive 300+ yard games were a state record until 2001 when Kenosha St. Joseph's Adrian Davis tied it and then, later in 2916, South Milwaukee's Jake SImuncak also posted three in a row. Barbour's season average is for only 9 games but nobody has matched it even playing more games.
Dick went to Wisconsin State La Crosse for a while but quit the football team. I don't know if he completed college or went into the service but I do know that from a profile in the La Crosse paper in 2005 he was a land developer and real estate agent in the La Crosse area.
The progression of the state single season rushing record is as follows:
Bob Petruska - Lake Mills - 1946 1,401 yards (the most I could find up to that season)
Jim Baier - Elmwood - 1961 1,630 yards
Bobby Koch - Marshfield Columbus - 1965 1,698
Dick Barbour - Hillsboro - 1970 2,236
Steve Hougum - Westby - 1986 2,616
Nathan Harms - Owen-Withee - 1992 2,820 (Jake Morris of Elk Mound rushed for 2,767 yards the
Adrian Davis - Kenosha St. Joseph's - 2001 3,422 yards in 14 games (2,238 in 9 games)
Dick Barbour not only set the record but did so by 538 yards. It wouldn't be until playoffs began to extend the season further that his record would fall.