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MESSMER AND SHOREWOOD…THE LONG ROAD TO “MESSWOOD”…PART 2

While Messmer was having a bit of success, Shorewood High School had some better outcomes during the same period. Shorewood high school opened in 1915. Prior to that the high school students attended Milwaukee East (Now Riverside) but they had to pay tuition. The football teams first major success was in 1927 when they won the Suburban Conference title going 7-0-0. 1936 rolled along and they again were champions, going 6-1-0. Two seasons later (1938) they had sunk to a 0-7-0 but rebounded in 1940 and went 9-0-0, 7-0-0 in conference play. 1940 started a 34-game undefeated streak (32-0-2) that included four consecutive conference titles. Besides 1940, the Greyhounds were 7-0-2 in 1941, 8-0-0 in 1942 and 8-0-0 in 1943. The Suburban Conference was made up of nine teams and for many seasons the teams played against six or seven of those teams. As a result, in 1942 Shorewood actually tied with undefeated (In conference play) Waukesha.


It's interesting that in 1940, Shorewood, the second smallest school (Village population of 15,184 in 1940) in the Suburban, won the title and West Milwaukee, the smallest school (Village population of 5,010 in 1940), finished with a 5-2-0 conference. (I wish to digress for just a moment. West Milwaukee won the title in 1933, their only time they led the pack).


The undefeated streak was the high point for Shorewood in this timeframe. Not only did the school win four conference titles but they finished in second place in the 1944 and 1947 seasons. There were many fine players on the Shorewood teams during this timeframe but one of the best was quarterback Stan Heath. While Heath earned All-State, he also earned a scholarship to Madison. He only stayed one season before transferring to the University of Nevada-Reno where in 1948 he became the first college player to throw for 2,000-yards (2,005) and he also set an NCAA record for tossing 22 touchdowns. He was named to the UPI college All-American team and finished fifth in the Heisman Voting. Heath would be drafted by the Green Bay Packers as the fifth overall draft pick. He was with the team for only 12-games before he moved on to play in the Canadian Football League for six seasons.


Stan Heath

The 1940’s were a successful period for Shorewood as they went 61-19-6. The early part of the 1950’s was not so good overall for the Greyhounds but During the 1940’s and 50’s the Suburban Conference had as many as 10 teams…Waukesha, Wauwatosa, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, Greendale, West Allis Central, West Allis Hale, West Milwaukee, Whitefish Bay, and Shorewood. When Greendale joined, they were often the conference doormat as they were usually beat up. As I mentioned, West Milwaukee was a small city followed by Shorewood but Greendale, with only 2,752 citizens in 1950. This was before the suburban growth in population which exploded during the years between 1950 and 1960. The village exploded to 6.845 people in 1960 and then up to 15,089 in 1970. While West Milwaukee and Greendale were getting whipped muchof the time the late 1950’s were great for Shorewood.


Four more Suburban Conference titles were earned, beginning in 1956 with a 7-1-0 record. Prior to the 1950’s most of the conference members played one or more non-conference games. Milwaukee Riverside and Messmer were their usual opponents. But, with 10 members in the conference the members decided to only play a closed schedule against each other. 1957 brought another 7-1-0 record. Bookend losses against South Milwaukee in the season opener and loss in the final game to Waukesha dropped the team into the third place standing with a 6-2-0 record in 1958. They regrouped in 1959 and blew out the competition with a 8-0-0 standing. In 1960 they again went 8-0-0 and finished #4 in the UPI final football poll. How strong was the Suburban that year? Well, as you look at the week four poll Shorewood was one on FIVE conference members undefeated and listed in the UPI top-30 list. Those numbers dropped each week after that and in the end the statewide poll showed only Shorewood in the top-30. Like the Milwaukee City Conference that had 10-12 teams during this period, the Suburban, as mentioned before, only played member teams as few schools statewide played more than an eight-game schedule.


Carl Silvestrie

One of the stars of that decade was halfback Carl Silvestrie who earned all-conference honors three time, Honorable All-State as a junior and first team All-State and Honorable mention All-American honors. As a senior he would go to UW-Madison and earn a place in the school’s athletic hall-of-fame as well as having an abbreviated pro football career.


With all the success Shorewood had, 10-conference titles between 1927 and 1960 and being in contention for the title most other seasons, when Shorewood football is mentioned, it is as a loser, not as a competitive team. 1967 and 1981 were their last good seasons. 1967 saw another conference title with a 6’1, 195-pound halfback leading the way. Tom Albright ran behind a line that averaged 158 pounds. He earned 2nd team All-State, Honorable Mention All-America after the Greyhounds went 8-0-0. Albright filled in at times as the team’s quarterback and completed 21 of 40 passes for 450 yards and five touchdowns. On the ground he ran for 1,101 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and scoring 13 times. He was a four-sport athlete who, following his junior year, collided with a catcher and separated his shoulder. He played the 1967 season with a cast. Albright went on to play college football at Cornell and then on to Harvard Law School. 1981 was a good team with many close wins and another 8-0-0 record. But it seems that Shorewood became known as the hard luck team of the 1980’s and 90’s


After ending the 1988 season with a 25-14 win over Wauwatosa East the Greyhounds would lose 63-consecutive games an all-time state record. They were part of the expanded Suburban Conference which grew to 16 teams and then the Parkland. The Greyhounds went 0-9 in each of the 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 seasons. They lost the 1995 season finale to Milwaukee Riverside 18-7 but in the 1996 opener they again faced Riverside and pulled out a 14-0 win. 65-games in total from win to win with 63 losses in between. Five head coaches. They only scored 430 points with 2,411 points allowed while being shut out 27 times. The losing streak stuck in people’s minds for several years until the Shorewood team could get back on track.


It would come in the form of MESSWOOD.

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