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.
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:
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.