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Multi Sport Heroes Part 4 - Steve Sterr

Going into the 1965 football season there were high expectations for the Lomira Lions and the team’s quarterback, Steve Sterr. In 1964 the school had hired a new coach, John Doyle, who had been the head football coach, track coach and athletic director at West Grant. Doyle was a cross between Vince Lombardi and Woody Hayes, a bear of a coach who was fiery on the field as he directed his teams. He was good at what he did, a future WFCA Hall of Fame Coach, and in his first year at Lomira he coached them to a 5-1-1 record. He had the foresight to convert a 6’2, 181-pound end to the quarterback position that year. Steve Sterr was that player. A nice, friendly, easy going team player Steve didn’t let his ego get in the way and he was a major bright spot on the squad as he passed for nine touchdowns and ran for five. Steve was also a solid basketball player who led the Fox Valley Tri-County Conference in scoring during the 1964-65 winter season with a top game of 45 points against Brandon. He led the team to the conference title, their first in many years. In the spring he pitched and played first base for the baseball team and in track he was a high jumper and ran in the relays.

As the fall of the 1965 school year rolled around Steve Sterr was set for a big year and he would produce. He started slow in the first game, a 18-6 win over Fall River with only 74 yards passing and one touchdown. After the team fumbled six times, piling up numerous penalty yards and a number of dropped passes, coach Doyle lit a fire under the team. The next week the team came to life and the pass combination of Sterr and junior end Eric Bloohm became the Lions focal point. The team moved from a mainly running team to one that also relied on the pass to open things up. The offence blossomed as they would pass for over 2,000 yards and run for over 1,500 yards on the season. In that second game Steve picked apart non-conference opponent Ozaukee 48-0 as he completed 13 of 17 attempts for 232 yards and six touchdowns. The season continued as Lomira stayed undefeated. Sterr continued to play well as he showed his earlier six-touchdown game proved to be no fluke. In game five, a 32-7 win over Green Lake he tossed four touchdowns. The next week, a 33-6 win over Winnebago Lutheran, he completed 14 of 26 passes for only 143 yards but three went for scores. It would be in game seven, a 53-0 win over Oakfield, both Sterr and Bloohm would have the game of their lives and set a number of state records.

Steve Sterr: Eric Bloohm:

Most Passing Attempts…53 Most Pass Receptions…14

Most Completions…37 Most Receiving Yards…257 (2nd All-time)

Most Passing Yards…551 Most Receiving Touchdowns…4

Most Passing Touchdowns…7

There is no doubt that Sterr set these game records as only a few statewide players prior to that October 15 game had ever even passed for 300+ yards in a game or passed for four touchdowns. Early historical receiving records are very limited but all indications are that Bloohm set the record for receptions and touchdowns caught in a game and placed second in all-time receiving yards (In 1918, Superior High’s Ted Whereatt gained 279 yards on nine receptions). Sterr earned AP State Back of the Week honors.

Sterr directed the team to a final 9-0-0 record with the Lions winning the Fox Valley Tri-County Conference title for the first time since 1947. They would finish ranked #2 in the AP Small School press poll with Lomira finishing second to #1 Randolph by two points in the final voting. Steve also set a number of season state records:

He was the first quarterback in state history to ever pass for 2,000 or more yards in a single season.

Most Passing Attempts…216 Most Completions…129

Most Yards…2,245 Most Touchdown Passes…29

Many of the records Sterr set would last only a few years, especially when the Chippewa Falls McDonell “Flying Circus” came along in the 1980s and ‘90s. The one that lasted the longest was the individual game passing yards record. It wasn’t broken until 37-years later in 2002 when a 6’10 Southwestern High School quarterback named Jeff Skemp set the current game record of 612 yards. Steve earned second team All-State on the AP honors lists.

Basketball season started up and he continued his strong scoring performance from the year before. In January against Reeseville he scored a then school record 48 points in a 116-40. Sterr would score a school record of 1,152 career points and a single season scoring total of 542 points. He earned AP honorable mention All-State for his play on the court. Many thought his best sport was played with the roundball.

Having played on the Tereasa American Legion baseball team during the summer in past years. Steve had developed as a good hitter/fielder at first base and as a fair pitcher. He helped the Lomira team to a conference title in 1966. He also starred that spring in track.

Arizona State and its coach, Frank Kush, came calling and out of the many football offers he chose to go to Tempe. Kush and Lomira’s coach Doyle had similar coaching styles and maybe that is what first attracted Steve to sign with the Sun Devils. However, he returned back to Wisconsin because he was homesick. He enrolled at UW-Eau Claire and played the second half of the 1967-68 basketball season and then went out for football in the fall but later quit. Like the other two players I’ve profiled the past few weeks the Army came calling and he was drafted and spent two years in the service. When he got out of the Army he was no longer in shape to continue to play college sports. But 50+ years later he is remembered by his friends and coaches as a high schooler who he was a super talent and a great teammate.

I want to thank several people for their help in this blog. Current Lomira athletic director Eric Schalk who put me on to contacting Eric Bloohm, Gene Schroeder, John Muentner, Kim Bonack and John Doyle.

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