(Yes, I know I promised some other blogs, but I decided to do the next two first. Sorry for the delay in those stories).
An email from historian and writer for MaxPreps, Kevin Askeland, mentioned that he was putting together his own All-American teams starting from 1910-1946. Starting in 1947 the Wigwan Wiseman Organization first chose a team and in 1951 Scholastic Coach magazine printed their first squad. There have been many others…Coach and Athlete Magazine, Kickoff Magazine, USA TODAY, and Parade Magazine to name a few. I have profiled a number of players from the 1910-1946 era and so, I decided to push for Wisconsin players on Kevin’s lists. It may take a while for Kevin’s lists to be compiled and posted but here’s a start. What follows are my choices for All-American status taken from my All-Decades profiles. Yes, I know I’m leaving off some greats who could potentially be on the teams but remember, there are 47 other states with players to consider. Yes, 47. Remember that Alaska and Hawaii were not part of the union until 1959 and 1960.
I’ve looked at several lists online that purport to highlight great high school football players, but I find some of their lists wanting. As an example, one list had Johnny “Blood” McNally from New Richmond, WI. The problem is that he never played high school football as he graduated from high school at age 14. He went to college for one year at St. John’s (MN) and played football, basketball, baseball, and track. He then transferred to Notre Dame in 1926 but dropped out to continue to play semi-pro football which he started to do in 1922. He eventually played in the NFL for 16 years, making the Packers and the NFL HOF’s.
Next is Leo Nomellini who was named to an Illinois list of great high school players. It’s true that he was an outstanding NFL player and a very good professional wrestler but according to Wikipedia he didn’t start playing football until after he was in the Marine Corps during WWII. In a search of the Chicago Tribune for his high school years I found no mention of him playing football. A native of Italy who moved with his family to Chicago as an infant, he attended Chicago Crane High School but didn’t play football until 1942 in the Marines. It’s interesting that the Illinois list had him playing for Crane in 1941. After the war he attended the University of Minnesota and then played 14 years in the NFL earning NFL HOF, College Football HOF, and the San Francisco 49’ers HOF but he NEVER played high school football.
Another list has great Ohio high school football players and at the top of the list is Roger Staubach. Now, don’t get mad at me but here is his senior year, 1959, stats: Rushing for 432 yards (Third best on the team) and four scores while passing for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, he was the team's captain, he made the Cincinnati All-Area first team and earned some all-state mention, but he was by no means a super star. He went to New Mexico Military Institute (A junior college) to prepare for entrance into the Naval Academy. It was at NMMI where he perfected his passing, passing that led to the 1962 Heisman Trophy and the NFL.
Now, Kevin Askeland says he’s starting with 1910 but I’m going back one more year to 1909 for a good reason. It would be a shame not to have an All-American team from that year as by not doing one would leave out Chippewa Falls great quarterback Gus Dorais, so I’ve start there.
1909…Gus Dorais…Chippewa Falls…Quarterback…Charles Emile Dorais transferred from Chippewa Falls Notre Dame H.S. to the local public school and he directed the Cardinals to the mythical state title. He used the forward pass and his running ability to guide the team to a 6-0-1 record. Dorais went to The University of Notre Dame where he, along with his roommate, Knute Rockne, began the revolution in the college passing game. The forward pass became legal in 1906 but it took until the Notre Dame vs. Army game in 1913. He went on to become a successful college coach as well spending a short time as a pro coach. It is his performance as a high schooler that puts him on the list. AND, for all others profiled here.
1910…Richard “Jab” Murray…Marinette…Offensive tackle/Defensive line…First team all-state, a four-year starter and considered one of the best linemen not only in 1910 but maybe since the state began high school football. He was fierce as a blocker and as a standout defender. He was also a standout as a basketball player. He attended Marquette and later served as mayor of Marinette nine times.
1910…Howard “Cub” Buck…Eau Claire…Line…A line smashing defender who played all over the field. At 6 ft., 250 pounds he dominated opponents on both sides of the line. A member of the Milwaukee Journal 1993 All-Century Team who was so well thought of 83-years later that he was a near unanimous pick. He was named to the college All-America team in 1915.
1911…Arlie Mucks…Oshkosh…Offensive tackle/ defensive end…Three-time All-State. A four-year starter. One of the state's best early 20th century athletes. Involved in one of the games of the decade between Oshkosh vs. Marinette in 1610 when Arlie Mucks battled “Jab” Murray. Oshkosh won 13-0 but it was even closer than the score indicated, and most fans concentrated on watching the two play against each. In 1911 Mucks was the only player to make the four known unofficial All-State teams. Like other athletes, he stared in basketball, baseball, but really excelled in track. He set not only set the state but the international scholastic records for the discus and the shot put as a junior. That led to him being eventually named to the 1912 U.S. Olympic team where he became the first high schooler to compete. He placed sixth in the discus. Standing 6,4 ½ and 250 pounds he also did the football teams kicking and even scored several touchdowns on reverse pitches to the big tackle. He went on to star at the University of Wisconsin.
1914…Howard Lee “Whitey” Woodin…Fort Atkinson…Lineman (Guard)…Started as a freshman on Fort’s 1911 undefeated, untied, unscored upon state champion team. As a guard, a position he played all his career, Woodin was named All-State and then moved on to play for Marquette and later for the Green Bay Packers.
1916…Rollie Williams…Edgerton…Halfback…Led Edgerton to the state title as they went undefeated, untied, and unscored upon, scoring 25 touchdowns and 14 extra points. He also stared on defense leading the team in tackles and interceptions. Fast, and powerful, Williams was courted by many colleges, including Iowa, Michigan, and Notre Dame before choosing to star in football and track at the University of Wisconsin.
1920…John “Bone”/ “Roc” Hancock…Superior…Fullback…named to both the 1910’s and 1920’s All-Decade Teams. Led Superior to undefeated 1918 (8-0-0) and 1920 (9-0-0) seasons while his junior year the team went 6-2-1 in 1919. The Vikings won the state title in 1920. Hancock scored 177 points in 1918, 153 points in 1919 and 155 points in 1920 for a career total of 485 points (73 touchdowns and 47 extra points), a record that stood as the state career record until 1980. He was a demon on defense as well and played hurt for much of his senior year. He also started on the basketball, baseball, track, and hockey teams. He had good speed but was converted to the tackle position as he started for three years at Iowa.
1920…Jim Crowley…Green Bay East…Left halfback…Coached by Curley Lambeau as a junior and a senior as Curley coached his Green Bay Packers. From his halfback position he ran, passed, and kicked East to an undefeated season as they rated #2 in the state to Superior. A match between them never materialized to officially determine the state mythical champion. (No official reason why East wouldn’t play Superior but maybe because of the Packers schedule Lambeau couldn’t find time to break away for one more high school game). The fleet footed back was heavily recruited but Lambeau helped steer him to Notre Dame where he became part of the legendary backfield known as “The Four Horsemen”. In 1925 Notre Dame beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Crowley led the Irish to victory as they beat a fine team led by fullback Ernie Nevers. Nevers was a former Superior star who played tackle and end in 1918 and 1919 before moving to California for his senior season.
1926…Clifford Goerke…Waukesha…Fullback/Kicker…Clifford helped the Blackshirts to an undefeated season (8-0-0) scoring 18 touchdowns and kicking 32 extra points for a total of 140 points. He also played a strong defense as a linebacker while handling all the kicking duties for the top-rated team in the Suburban Conference and one of the best in the state.
1927…Ernie Herber…Green Bay West…Quarterback…Voted in 1993 to the first team on the Milwaukee Journal Team of the Century (1893-1993). Considered the best quarterback with all the tools…a great passer, rusher, and kicker plus a fine defender. Herber played for the Green Bay Packers as a tailback, taking over from player-coach Curley Lambeau in the old Notre Dame Box offense and led the Packers to for 15 seasons and four NFL titles. It was his passing as a quarterback/tailback that influenced the modern passing attack.
1927…Jack Riley…Delafield St. John’s Military Academy…Tackle…A standout lineman who blew opponents away. Highly thought of by anyone who saw him play. Riley stood 6’2, 218 pounds who used his strength gained in early weight training to be a monster on the playing field and as a crew rower for the Lancers. He later become a two-time NCAA national champion wrestler as well as earning a silver medal in the 1932 Olympics. He was a three-year starter at Northwestern on the football team. He played two seasons in the NFL and became a professional wrestler as well.
1928…Art Kruger…Milwaukee Riverside…Center…For every game for three seasons as he earned first team all-City Conference each year. He was the most honored lineman in the early years of the conference. Art went on to play for Marquette and started all-three seasons of varsity play, earning All-American honors in 1932.
These players are the best of the early years: 1909-1929. More next time.
Thanks to Travis Wilson of WISSPORTS who also manages the WFCA web site for posting the updated version of the 11-player and 8-player records. Also, thanks to those who sent me additions. Keep them coming.
Also, Travis did a great job in tracking the additions to the records and you should check out his recap: Updated Football State Record Book following 2022 season (wissports.net)