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MARKED FOR SUCCESS…1983 FOND du LAC St. MARY’S SPRINGS…LUCKY 13, PART 2

After the win over Menominee the Ledgers were tied with Waukesha Memorial for the top spot in the first 1983 WISAA poll, a spot they would hold the rest of the season. The next six games were conference games with only a week eight 14-10 victory over De Pere Abbott Pennings, the #2 team in the FVCC being close. Interceptions were the name of the game as Toshner ended the final Squires threat with a pick of a toss by Todd Gregoire. On an end around Gregoire tried to pass but was hit and Toshner was there to intercept. Earlier, Gregoire had a pick of his own. Pennings was loaded with talent as besides Gregoire they would have four other players named to the Green Bay Press-Gazette All-Metro Team at the end of the season.


A special note is needed here about another special player.

He may have been an opponent, but it would be hard to not make mention of another player. Besides Blaine Toshner, Todd Gregoire was probably the most exciting player in the state of Wisconsin in 1983. He played offensive end, defensive back and linebacker as well as being a top kicker. Todd would earn All-State honors as well as being named the FVCC Lineman of the Year. In addition, he earned honors from the Green Bay Press-Gazette as the paper named Todd to four spots on their All-Metro team. He was listed as an end, placekicker, linebacker and punter. And, yes, he was both the Offensive Player of the year and the Defensive Player of the year. He hauled in 26 passes for 698 yards and 11 touchdown receptions. On defense he intercepted 11 passes, returning two for scores along with kicking 13 field goals and 31 extra points for a total of 142 points. He had a 50-yard field goal as a junior and a 55-yarder as a senior to go with his 31 career field goals. It is amazing that with all his talent he was used mainly as a kicker for his sophomore and junior years, seldom playing on offense or defense. However, it was his kicking talent that led him as a junior to be named to the Press-Gazette’s All-Metro team and was honored as the area’s Offensive Player of the Year for 1982. But 1983 was his big year as he won the AP State Player of the Year award. He went on to star at UW-Madison as one of their all-time kicking greats.


Blaine Toshner was also a multi-talented player. He was named to the first team All-State squads as a running back, but he also played defensive back and was the teams kicker. In 1983 he was the top scorer in the state as he had 23 touchdowns and then kicked 27 extra points and four field goals for a total of 175 points. His 122 points in 1982 placed him in second place on the state scoring list behind Shorewood’s Dave Pollet who scored 124 points. Against Green Bay Premontre Blaine ran for 103 yards, caught passes for 106 more as well as intercepting a pass and making 11 tackles. He scored three touchdowns that game and nearly broke away for a long punt return. He could do it all and for years those young boys who saw him play dreamed of playing for coach Hyland and Springs the way that Blaine Toshner did. He was an inspiration to whoever he met. He didn’t have gaudy rushing totals for an All-Stater, only gaining 1,287 yards on the ground. His top 1983 rushing performance was against Menasha Saint Mary’s Central when he carried eight times for 136 yards and five touchdowns. He also had an interception in that game. Teams usually keyed on him and that left things open for fellow running back John Klinzing and quarterback Tom Lenz to make the Ledgers opponents pay for their actions.




The playoffs rolled along, and Springs would eventually play against three much bigger schools…Milwaukee Pius was 8-2 going into the first round, Waukesha Catholic Memorial was 10-0 before losing to St. Mary’s and in the finals La Crosse Aquinas was 11-0 prior to falling. Springs was leading 24-10 before Pius pulled closer with a score and extra point with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter. The Ledgers were able to shut the Popes down after their final score.


After a punt was downed on the 13-yard line a bad pitch to Toshner rolled into the end zone in the first period and he fell on it for a safety and Catholic Memorial took an early lead, but the Crusaders couldn’t move the ball all game. It took a while, but Tom Lenz ran four yards for the only touchdown of the game. The extra point was no good but later in the fourth quarter Toshner kicked a 25-yard field goal to seal the 9-2 win. It was the Ledgers defense that held memorial to 86 total yards.


Four days later the monkey was off Hyland’s and his Ledger’s backs as they steamrolled La Crosse Aquinas, 31-0. Fighting a sore back that had bothered him for much of the season Toshner closed out a brilliant career rushing for 87 yards in nine carries, returning a punt 48-yards for a score, kicked a 23-yard field goal and two extra points and to cap things off he tossed a two-point conversion pass for the team’s final points. While his career rushing stats do not sound impressive by today’s standards, but he ended his career as the city’s all-time leading rusher with 2,952 yards in 429 attempts. He passed up Phil Johnson who dropped to the #2 spot with 2,367 yards. Blaine would finish with 371 career points on 54 touchdowns, 34 extra points and four field goals. The key to the team’s success was a consistent running game. Passing effectively when needed and great defense. They held an Aquinas team that had averaged 345+ yards per game to only 117 in the finals.


Besides Toshner, Chris Miller was named to the FVCC first team at the guard spot as well to the AP first team All-State team. Mark Feyen was an offensive tackle while Mike Tenley was named as a defensive end and Eric Gross held down a linebacker position. Five other members of the team earned second team honors: Offensive tackle John Klinzing, offensive end Mike Tessner, defensive end Tony Berenz, defensive line Pete Blatz and defensive back Kyle Krueger. One of the other keys to the success was that only three Ledgers played both ways, so the team was fresh for most of their games.


13 wins in his 13th season. That number meant something special for Bob Hyland. The win over Aquinas was especially sweet as they won at Madison Memorial High School’s Marshfield Stadium, the scene of earlier championship defeats. The monkey was off their backs and Springs would move on to win many more titles.


Final Notes

Times change. After Jim Johnson left Goodrich, the school won their next conference title in 1977. Their next title wouldn't come until 38-years later in 2015, as a member of Fox Valley Classic Conference the Cardinals were champs. The team moved to the new Valley Football Association-Southern Conference and won titles in 2018 and 2019 before being realigned into the Fox Valley Association and winning in 2021. When COVID hit and the season was adjusted the Cardinals were the 2020-Spring champion of the Fox Valley Classic A-Conference. A new high school was built and opened in 2001 and the name Goodrich was dropped.


Changes happened to St. Mary's Springs as well. Old buildings were torn down as new ones were added over the years. The school had originally been a girl's boarding school, but that part of the program ended in 1956.

It took a long time for boys to begin coming in any decent numbers to the school so that is why the first record I could find of a football team was 1948. Very little of the school records from those early days of football are available in either the schools' yearbooks or the local newspaper. Today, Springs has both k-4 through 8th grade portions of the combined facilities with the high school.


I included info about the Fond du Lac public high school to show that until recent years much of the support for football in that city has gone toward Springs. Afterall, a team that has won, prior to the 2022 state championships, 17 combined WISAA and WIAA state titles and 31conference titles since 1971.

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