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THE 1950’S…KENOSHA, FROM BEGINNING TO END…PART 2

There were so many good teams and players in the 1950’s and there were some very good games to choose from. It seems that Kenosha was part of it all.


THE BEST GAME


Kenosha won the conference title in 1950 (8-0-0), 1951 (7-1-0), 1955 (8-0-0),1956 (8-0-0) and 1959 (8-0-0) while placing second in 1952 (7-1-0), 1957 (7-1-0) and 1958 (7-1-0) and third in 1953 (6-2-0). Only 1954 were the Red Devils out of contention with a 5-3-0 season. Yes. I know there was a season-by-season chart in Part 1, but I wanted to show the consistency again. The team had several win streaks of 20+ wins during the decade and one of them ended with an upset loss to Madison West in 1957. Well, that season ending loss really wasn’t an upset, the team just played poorly. Very poorly as the final score was 47-14. The two teams were rated to be even, undefeated with good offenses and defenses, a battle for the conference title. But when you turn the ball over seven times (Four fumbles and three passes intercepted) against the eventual mythical state champion you should expect to lose. The Kenosha fans were dazed by the wide margin of the loss. Kenosha would extract revenge in 1958, winning 20-13.


Now there were several other games to choose from, most notably between Green Bay East and Green Bay West but one game stood out.


It was against Madison East that the best game, in my estimation, also occurred in 1958. The week after the West game, the two teams met in a season ending battle. In the first quarter East scored a touchdown and led 7-0 until early in the fourth period. That’s when Bill Jaskwhich, the coach’s son brought the Red Devils to life. He passed 22-yards to Jack Schultz for a touchdown, but he missed the conversion kick. When east scored with five minutes to go on a26-yard run by a Steve Underwood play. The extra point kick was good, and everyone thought that Kenosha was done. Some fans headed for the parking lot, but the Kenosha spirit was not finished. The Red Devils took the ball on their 40-yard line and pounded out the last 60 in 13 plays. Jaskwhich sneaked over from the two-yard line with one minute, 11-seconds to go. He kicked the extra point and his team trailed 14-13. Kenosha only had one chance to get the ball back and they did on an onsides kick. The play worked, bouncing off of an East player, and Kenosha tackle Tom Dinges recovered.


With 48 seconds to go the Red Devils moved like lightning down the field. Jaskwhich passed 10 yards to end Roger Martin and Joel Morrison ran for 13 yards. Jaskwhich then passed to Carl Bergeron who was knocked out of bounds after a nine-yard gain. With nine seconds to go and the ball on the nine-yard line coach Jaskwhich had to make a decision as what to do. Coach sent in orders to try a field goal. A field goal!! This was an era where even kicking extra point was a novelty for some teams. It had been at least 10-years since Kenosha had tried one. Veteran referee Jerry Gunville later told the Wisconsin State Journal that in 19-years of he hadn’t worked a game with a field goal attempted. The kick by Bill Jaskwhich was good and Kenosha was victorious, 15-14. Coach Jaskwhich said that this was his best team ever, going 7-1-0. They were down at half-time in five of their seven conference games and yet were able to come back and win. Their only loss was to champ Racine Park earlier in the year, 20-7.


THE POLLS BEGIN

As mentioned in the 1940’s blog (“The Greatest Generation begins to Shine “) the press polls began for one season in 1947 with an AP poll but the UPI began their regular season polls started in 1958 and Superior Central was that year #! pick. Kenosha was the top pick in 1959. The AP came back with their polls starting in 1965. While there were no official polls until 1958, Scholastic Coach Magazine listed their top teams beginning in 1950. Those stories helped me form the mythical state champions for the decade.

THE BEST COACH

There were many great coaches during the decade. Most were mentioned in Part 1 as I talked about the best teams. But one stood out amongst the others. It is Chuck Jaskwhich. Surprised? Of course, you aren’t. The most wins in the decade and the most titles. He was an easy choice.

Jaskwhich graduated from Kenosha and played quarterback at Notre Dame for Rnute Rockne. Chuck coached 15 seasons at Kenosha going 89-28-2 there and prior to World War II he coached at New Orleans Holy Cross posting a 28-5-2 record and winning two state titles there. He had stints coaching as an assistant in several colleges and the military as well as being the backfield coach with the professional All-American Football Conference from 1946-48. In 1980 Jaskwhich was named to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1980 as part of the initial and largest class of 26 greats to be honored.


Coach Chuck Jaskwhich with quarterback Mario Bonofiglio…1950



THE TOP PLAYERS


Seven Kenosha players made the 17 members of the All-Decade team, and the top player was Alan Ameche. The 100+ coaches and sportswriters who voted for the 1993 Milwaukee Journal Team of the Century named him as the all-time best player and he deserved it.


ALAN AMECHE...1950...KENOSH NEWS


With 16 players on the All-Decade team, I didn’t do an honorable mention list. It would have been quite long but one player I would like to make note of. Albie Le Claire Jr. of Manitowoc Lincoln who in 1957 converted 23 of 24 extra points. Yes, kicking comes up again. “Automatic Albie” did it the old-fashioned way. Drop kick!! Albie played halfback and quarterback for “The Ships”. He did not attempt a field goal.


Well, there you have it. The 1950’s and it was All Kenosha from start to finish.


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