In June, I wrote about the Players of the Year for 1945-1965 and I promised a list for the very early years, 1900-1944. After a lot of research I have come up with a list for 1903-1944. I spent a lot of time looking for possible players to nominate but some years have empty slots. Several years have a back but no lineman or vice versa. There are some interesting picks and in the case of some players I could have mentioned them for multiple years just as I did for 1962 and 1963 when I named Rocky Bleier of Appleton Xavier as the top back or lineman. In fact, I did name one player as the Back of the Year three times!! That was John “Ronc” or “Bone” Hancock of Superior, 1918-1920. It’s true, I have him in a tie with another senior in 1920, Jim Crowley of Green Bay East. The accomplishments that the two performed made it impossible to just pick one. Crowley would go on to star in the Four Horsemen backfield at Notre Dame, earn All-America honors and have a successful coaching career. Hancock was converted to a tackle at Iowa where he earned All-Big 10 as a senior. He moved into coaching and in 1936, while head football coach at Colorado State Teachers College (Now Colorado State University) he also coached wrestling and started the state wrestling championships. He is called the “Father of Colorado Wrestling”. While they both had Hall of Fame honors, what Crowley and Hancock did at the high school level is why they are on my list.
Hancock would set career scoring records that would last until 1982 when De Forests' Scott Reinhart would score one more point, 486, to Hancock’s 485. That’s 62 years that he held the record!! Reinhart would score 66 touchdowns and kick 81 extra points, one field goal and run for three two-point conversions in his career. “Ronc’ scored a record 73 career touchdowns (In addition to 47 extra points) and that record lasted until 1989 when the great Jeff Messenger of Marinette scored 78.
You can ask about my start date, 1903. Why that year? That was the first season I could find a reasonable candidate, Eau Claire’s Len Roseth. There were years I couldn’t make a Sophie’s choice. Between 1904 and 1908 it was hard to find a worthy POY. I just did my best. So, here it is. Look it over. I know there are gaps. But I hope you enjoy it.
YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL POSITION
1903 Len Roseth Eau Claire Back
1907 Ralph Fletcher Delafield St.John's Back
1909 Gus Dorais Chippewa Falls Back
1909 Richard "Jab" Murray Marinette Line
1910 Richard "Jab" Murray Marinette Line
1910 Howard "Cub" Buck Eau Claire Line
1910 Arlie Mucks Oshkosh Line
1911 Arlie Mucks Oshkosh Line
1912 Eber Simpson Oshkosh Back
1913 Hank Gallo Milwaukee South Back
1913 Raymond "Tubby" Keeler La Crosse Line
1914 Walter "Willie" Reget La Crosse Back
1914 Howard "Whitey" Woodin Ft. Atkinson Line
1915 Walter "Willie" Reget La Crosse Back
1915 Clinton "Bud" Miller Milwaukee East Line
1916 Rollie Williams Edgerton Back
1917 Arnold Peters Marinette Line
1918 John "Bone"/"Ronc" Hancock Superior Back
1918 Howard "Harry" Woodin Delafield St.John's Line
1919 John "Bone"/"Ronc" Hancock Superior Back
1920 John "Bone"/"Ronc" Hancock Superior Back
1920 Jim Crowley Green Bay East Back
1922 Clarence Barofsky Marinette Line
1923 Einer Lund Marinette Back
1924 David Zuidmuller Green Bay East Back
1926 Milt Garterbern La Crosse Line
1927 Arnie Herber Green Bay West Back
1927 Chester "Swede" Johnson Appleton Back
1927 Jack Riley Delafield St.John's Line
1928 John "Bull" Dohring Milwaukee West Back
1928 Art Krueger Milwaukee Riverside Line
1929 Champ Siebold Oshkosh Line
1930 Francis "Pug" Lund Rice Lake Back
1930 Milt Trost Milwaukee Washington Line
1931 Billy Angel Racine St. Catherine's Back
1931 Alphonse "Tuffy" Lemans Superior EasT Back
1932 Eddie Jankowski Milwaukee Riverside Back
1933 Arnie Hanson Eau Claire Back
1933 Ray Bulvid Port Washington Back
1934 Howie Weiss Ft. Atkinson Back
1936 Irv Comp Milwaukee Bay View Back
1937 Dave Schreiner Lancaster Line
1939 Pat Harder Milwaukee Washington Back
1939 Paul Hinnbrunner Darlington Line
1940 Elroy "Crazey Legs" Hirsch Wausau Back
1941 Paul Romano Madison Central Back
1941 John Strzykaski Milwaukee South Line
1942 Roger Trotter Wausau Back
1943 Earl "Jug" Girard Marinette Back
1944 Stan Heath Shorewood Back
Several other notes: As mentioned last time, Arnie Hanson was the POY as a back for Eau Claire in 1933, playing as a halfback. In 1961 his son Dick earned High School All-America honors as the quarterback for Eau Claire Memorial and was POY as a back.
For 1914 Howard “Whitey” Wooden of Ft. Atkinson is the lineman POY. A freshman starter and member of the great 1911 Fort team that went undefeated, untied and unscored upon, Wooden was earning notices from around the state at age 15. He went on to play for Marquette and was one of the original members of the Green Bay Packers Ring of Honor. Four years later Howard “Harry” Wooden of Delafield St. John’s Military Academy is my pick for the 1918 lineman POY. He also went on to play for Marquette and started for a while until injuries forced him to give the sport up.
Speaking of linemen, stepping back a few years before “Whitey” Wooden in 1909 Richard “Jab” Murray of Marinette was considered the top lineman in the state as a junior. The next season, 1910, he had competition as the only time three players for the same position are named as lineman Player of the Year. Murray repeated as a senior but two others were so good they earned the POY honors as well. Howard “Cub” Buck from Eau Claire was the best in the northwest while junior Arlie Mucks of Oshkosh is also named here. Mucks would hold the sole POY lineman spot as a senior in 1911.
So much praise was heaped on John Strzykalski of Milwaukee South that I could have named him as the only player of the year for both as a back and as a lineman (Linebacker) for 1941. Known as a great power runner who threw the ball well, he led the Milwaukee City Conference in touchdown passes and scoring. He was also noted as a devastating, bone crushing tackler. He was a well sought after player by the colleges. As good as he was as a back I did pick Paul Romano of Madison Central as the top back, the Big Eight conference leading scorer and for leading Central to an undefeated season.
If you have any other suggestions or wish to challenge my list with other names feel free to pass the names on. Thanks.