Eau Claire Memorial at Chippewa Falls, November 11, 1932:
Often times what determines the outcome of a game is the weather, a factor that determines how the fates of a contest. Such was the case of the Armistice Day game in Chippewa Falls between the home team Cardinals and the Old Abes of Eau Claire Memorial. The game was for the unofficial championship of the top schools of the Northwest. Earlier, in October, the two teams played at the Eau Claire Teachers College field and Memorial came out on top, 7-0 on a dry field. A first quarter touchdown run by Whit Rork. A drop-lick for the extra point by junior quarterback Arnie Hanson (See a previous blog on his son, Dick, for more details on Arnie) was good and the teams then battled to a deadlock for the rest of the game.
1932 was a good season for Memorial as they won the next four games. They opened against Stevens Point, winning 12-0, then played Falls next. Then they followed up with wins against La Crosse Central (9-6), Menomonie (19-0) and Ladysmith (13-0). The team didn’t score much, only 63 points total in the six games the Abes played, but it was their defense that kept them undefeated. Arnie Hanson, who played halfback as a senior in 1933, was the team’s top defender as he intercepted six passes and was a solid tackler. Only one receiver caught a touchdown against him as most teams didn’t pass that often unless they were behind in the score. Memorial’s coach Ade Olson’s team featured a punishing ground game that had won five straight games leading to the second match up of the year against Chippewa Falls. They were looking for an unbeaten season.
The Cardinals were 5-2 having lost the season opener against Hastings (MN) 6-7. They beat Rice Lake 13-0 before losing to Memorial 0-7. Falls followed up with wins over Bloomer (44-12), Menomonie (8-0), Eau Claire St. Patrick’s (46-7) and La Crosse Central (12-0). Coach Carleton Roel had been pointing to the season finale to gain revenge. Talking a perfect season away from their rivals would make the Cardinal season a happy one.
The game was on a Friday. Three days earlier Franklin D. Roosevelt had won the presidential election, the first of four. Drinking fans, the alcohol type, were hoping that Prohibition would end soon but the city added extra police to keep the crowd in line. In Madison the next day, Saturday, the Badgers would surprise Minnesota in a 20-13 victory, paced by halfback Walter (Mickey) McGuire’s opening kickoff return of an 85-yard touchdown. The stage was set for the 2pm start. The problem was the weather.
On Thursday the temperature plunged and then a mild blizzard hit overnight leaving a bit more than a half of an inch of snow on the field of the Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls. The temperature didn’t get much above freezing and there was a blustery wind to meet the brave fans.
Falls had a good running game mixed with some passing as needed. I had mentioned that Memorial had a bruising ground game but they had no passing game. In fact they had NOT thrown a pass in their first five games but as the EC Leader-Telegram and The CF Herald-Telegram both had stories early in the week stating that the Abes were working on developing a passing attack.
The two teams battled to a scoreless first quarter although Chippewa dominated. In the second Eau Claire got a break when on fourth down the center for Falls snapped the ball over the punters head and it was recovered by the Abes on the 13-yard line. Three rushing plays gained eight yards so they called on Whit Rork, with Arnie Hanson holding, to kick a field goal. It was good and EC led 3-0. After the kickoff the Cardinals could only gain four yards so they decided to throw a long pass. As it sailed down the field it appeared that Hanson would intercept. He went into the air to make the pick but the ball bounced out of his hands and into the hand of Colonial (Yes, that was his name) Larson who raced to the endzone. The extra point was missed and the score would remain 6-3 going into the halftime break. During the second half Memorial would go to the air 11 times with only two completions in a desperate attempt to score but they could not but neither could Chippewa so the game ended 6-3. The biting wind and the frozen filed made life for both teams. As I mentioned in an earlier blog Eau Claire Memorial would dominate the rivalry for many years.