THE BEST GAME
There were several top games to choose from, but I picked the 1939 game between Milwaukee Washington vs. Milwaukee Rufus Kung in 1939. This season was all Washington as they rose to the top of City Conference and the top of the best teams of the 1930’s. King was a new school, playing their first regular season of varsity ball. They went 7-1-0 so they weren’t pushovers. Washington’s hopes for the title were nearly dashed as the Generals pushed the Purgolders around for most of the game. In the closing minutes of the game Pat Harder led the team back to win as he smashed through on a run up the middle for the winning tally. Harder took the team on his shoulders and scored all 16 of his team’s points in the 16-14 win. It had been an uphill battle as King took a 14-0 but with great blocking and defense Washington pulled the game out of the fire and would go on to take the title. Harder scored two touchdowns, kicked one conversion and a field goal and recovered a King fumble that led to his final score. For those who have purchased my book I had the game-by-game scoring for Harder slightly incorrect. I had him scoring only 10 points against King, but it was 16. I swapped his scoring with the Milwaukee South game by having him credited with the 16 points, but it was really 10.
THE BEST COACH
Tom Hearden put together one of the best decades of coaching in state history. Watertown’s Arnold Landsverk had a good one as well as his Goslings went 63-16-2 with three top teams and Delafield St. John’s Edison Lerch coached two top teams. This was also the decade that Lisle Blackburne of Milwaukee Washington was building a Milwaukee City Conference empire. But it was Hearden who was even better. Hearden graduated from Green Bay East in 1922 after playing on the great 1920 team as a backup to Jim Crowley. He followed Crowley to Notre Dame and was again backup to Crowley and then starter after he graduated following the 1924 National Championship season. Hearden started two seasons for the Irish and then played two seasons of pro ball for the Green Bay Packers with his former high school coach Curley Lambeau. Then in 1929 he played for the Chicago Bears, coached by George Halas but injuries cut his career short before he decided to go into coaching.
He spent four seasons at Racine St. Catherine’s and two more at Racine Park. His 1932 team went undefeated and won the Catholic Conference title as well as being the state Catholic school champions. In 1934 and 1935 he coached at Racine Park. 1936 saw him return to Green Bay East as the head coach. Louis E. Means had taken over from Chester Wiley in 1930 and ended 1935 with a four-game win streak. Hearden extended that streak to 36 games as he did not lose a game at Green Bay East until the season finale against Green Bay West in 1939. At the time, this was the longest winning streak in state history. Hearden would go undefeated the next two seasons as well, posting a 7-0-0 record in 1940 and a 6-0-2 record in 1941. In seven seasons at East, Hearden posted a 51-3-2 record, winning or sharing six Fox River Valley Conference titles. His overall high school coaching record was 85-11-18 in eleven seasons with four state titles. He was a charter member of the Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
It’s sort of interesting that Hearden and Lisle Blackbourn would sort of cross paths in the 1950’s. Blackbourn had been the head coach of the Green Bay Packers and hied Hearden as an assistant. Blackbourn was let go in 1957. Instead of hiring Hearden after he had suffered a stroke, they went with Scooter McLean who only lasted one season before they hired Vince Lombardi.
THE BEST PLAYERS