THE TOP GAME:
So many games to choose from for the top game of the 1960’s. My first choice after going over a list of several great match ups including the season ending game between 1968 Madison East and Madison LaFollette and the 1966 Elmwood vs. St. Croix Central event that I mentioned in my book. That game started in September, but the end was replayed in November. Two good choices but as I said in Part 1 of this blog, the 1965 season ending battle between Oshkosh and Green Bay East is the one.
Both Oshkosh and East were undefeated, 8-0-0. Oshkosh was ranked #1 in both polls and East was #3 in the UPI and #5 in the AP. The pressure was on Oshkosh to maintain their top spot. East had nothing to lose, so to speak. East’s coach, Al Mancheski, thought that they had an advantage. The Oshkosh Indians, under coach Hal Schumerth, had a pretty easy time in their eight wins setting a conference record for the most points scored in a season. This season the Fox Valley River Conference expanded to 10-teams son they didn’t play any outside competitors. Their last close game was in 1964 when they fell behind 6-0 against Madison East but the Indians were able to come back and win 21-12.
In 1965 the Red Devils of Green Bay East had some tighter games. Oshkosh was scoring at a 33.0 points per game rate and their defense was very tight, only giving up 4.1 per per game. East was a much lower scoring team averaging 22.5 points each game but allowed only 5.5 points per contest. Going into the game Oshkosh had a 19-game winning streak plus they were the 1964 state champion, so they were heavily favored.
The game opened with a few unfortunate incidents. Just moments into the first quarter halfback Jim Schroeder fumbled and this led to East scoring first. East could only gain three yards in three plays but then their punter, Jim Wright, was roughed and his team regained the ball on the Indians 28-yard line Schroeder, the 221-pounder, was called for the infraction. On second and eight from the 26, Red Devil quarterback Larry Ebert tossed the ball to halfback Karl Kolodzik who carried it to the one. From there Ebert crossed over on the two plays later for the score which was followed by a John Barnhart extra point kick. East led 7-0 and for the first time in 18-games Oshkosh trailed.
Seemingly unshaken Oshkosh took the following kickoff and drove for a score of their own. Schroeder, shaking off two would be tacklers ran 26 yards to their own on- yard line. He crossed over for the score on the next play and quarterback Bruce Erickson kicked the extra point and the game score was now even, 7-7. During one of the early series, standout East defender Keith De Keyser was kicked in the head and suffered a concussion, and he left the field for a nearby hospital.
On the first series of the second period George Dahl of Oshkosh picked off an Ebert pass and returned it 54-yards to East’s 36-yard line but offsetting penalties negated the play. Whenever the Indians tried to drive the Red Devils were able to hold and so the half ended still tied.
Two third quarter drives ended for Oshkosh on Easts six and 10-yard lines. Since Easts offense was stymied, they utilized the quick kick both times on third down and this pushed Oshkosh back. The first kick went 40 yards and the next went 54. The 6,000+ game attendees at Green Bay’s City Stadium were very conscience that the game could go either way.
A fourth quarter drive by the Red Devils took up so much time that when the ball changed hands the Indians only had three minutes and five seconds to push the ball over the goal line. The Indians started a drive but was held back and was forced to punt with forty-two seconds and George Dahls kick ended on Easts 16-yard line. East wasn’t done yet. With 37 seconds left Indian linebacker Vern Ratchman dumped Ebert for a five-yard loss and almost wrestled the ball away from Easts quarterback. On the final play, as time ran out, Ebert tried one more pass, but Bruce Erickson batted it down. The game was over. A 7-7 tie despite Oshkosh out gaining East 247 yards, all on the ground, to Easts 176 yards. Officially, the visitors were penalized four times for 40 yards and lost two fumbles. East played an errorless game with no fumbles or penalties. While East lost Keith De Keyser early and had three other players have to leave because of injuries, those three were able to return. The game was a true battle of undefeated teams. Oshkosh would stay #1 in the polls, barely beating out Milwaukee Boy’s Tec-0-0h in the AP. Green Bay East would be voted to the #3 spot in the AP poll. Two days later the UPI final poll was issued, and Oshkosh was still #1, followed by East in a close second spot and Tech was third.
Following the game, the secondary story in the Green Bay Press Gazette read: “East Beat Us: Schumerth; Tie as Good as A Win: Al” (Referring to coach Al Mancheski). This is the battle of the decade.
THE TOP COACH
This was another tough choice…I guess they all are when trying to pick The Best.” Many all-time greats a terrific decade of success. In the end it boiled down to two men. First, the one and only Win Brockmeyer of Wausau who was the top choice for the 1940’s and in competition for #1 in the 1950’s. Here he is again, the last decade that he coached (He retired in 1970). The Lumberjacks only earned one top spot in the press polls during the 1960’s and that was when they went undefeated (9-0-0) in 1963. Overall, Brockmeyer and his Wausau teams went 70-14-2. They won at least six games each season, never lost more than two games any year and won or shared a number of Big Rivers Conference titles. They seemed to always be in the top 10 of the polls. Yet, he only won one title.
Harold “Hal” Schumerth…1968
Just as the 1940’s were Wausau’s biggest decade, the 1950’s were Kenosha’s from the beginning to the end, the 1960’s belonged to Oshkosh and coach Harold J. “Hal” Schumerth. While Wausau often played a 9-game schedule, the main tradition in the 1960’s was to play eight, so Schumerth’s record was 62-15-3 during the decade. But you have to look at the overall record as his Indians won three state titles (1964, 1966 and 1968) and five conference titles. He did this while placing second twice and regrouping from losing four times in 1966 and then losing five in 1967.
Hal came to Oshkosh in 1943, after coaching at Algoma from 1939-1942, and he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his teams prior to the 1960’s were 57-67-11 and usually finished in the middle of the Fox River Valley Conference. Schumerth was a coach who believed in the ball-control, power run game and his teams reflected that as they seldom threw more than 40 times a season unlike his opponents who utilized the pass more often.
If there is an additional honorable mention to the Coach of the Decade besides Brockmeyer, it would be Milwaukee Boy’s Tech leader, Jim Richardson who directed the teams to six city championships, one AP state press poll title and one second place standing.
THE TOP PLAYERS
In some cases, as has happened in the past editions of the great decades, it has been hard to pick only a few players for each position. Such was the case for the quarterback spot. Jerry Tagge (1969) of Green Bay West was voted to the second team of the 1993 Milwaukee Journal All-Time Team. He was a high school All-American just as were Dick Hanson (1960) of Eau Claire Memorial and Greg Bolig (1965) also of EC Memorial. And then there was the do-it-all Auburndale star, Mickey Vandehey who was an honorable mention All-American. So, I put all three on the list. It was also hard to nail down only three spots for the running back position as all four players named are some of the all-time bests in Wisconsin high school football for the 1960’s. And so, it went on. Decisions, decisions. Like Bob Seeger in his song “Against the Wind”, it was “What to leave in and what to leave out” or where to put a two-way star.
Hindsight is almost always 20-20. Rhinelander’s Mile Webster (1969) only made second-team All-State as a defensive lineman despite being a four-year All-Conference center on offense and on defense as a lineman. He would earn the NFL Hall of Fame for his play with the Pittsburgh Steelers as one of the all-time great centers. Webster made my defensive first team as a lineman and honorable mention as an offensive lineman. Dave Casper (1969) only played one season for Chilton after moving there from Illinois. Known as a very good blocker and receiver on a team that didn’t often pass, Casper was a defensive star at the linebacker position and was a VERY good punter. Like Webster he earned honors on the AP second team All-State squad at the linebacker spot. He would star for Notre Dame and the Oakland Raiders of the NFL as a tight end. Casper is on my Honorable Mention list. But I picked players for what they did in high school. Another great was Bob Olson who earned All-State as a running back and as a linebacker. He is on my defensive team at linebacker and honorable mention as a running back.
A special mention goes to Honorable Mention player John Francis “Packy” Paquette of Superior Central who was a top player on both the 1965 and 1966 teams. Paquette mad the honorable mention listings in the All-State postings for 1965 and In 1966 he was named as the fourth running back on the UPI All-State team. This was unprecedented and the only time a fourth running back (After the addition of the quarterback spot on the teams) has been named to the first team or any other All-State team that I am aware of. “Packy” was the top running back in the state until a mid-season broken ankle left him on the sidelines. A multi-sport star who so impressed the voters that they named him to their team as a member of the first team. Paquette stared in basketball, baseball and especially track. His tragic death in a car crash on a November weekend in 1968 ruined what appeared to be a fine college career at the University of Minnesota. An award to the “Most Outstanding Male Athlete” at Superior High School is given annually. Even 52-years after his death a yearly special track meet called the “Packy Paquette Invite” is held at the University of Wisconsin-Superior track complex in his honor.
The 1960’s brought a lot of changes to the game. One other change that I found out after the post in PART 1 was in 1961 the WIAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSA) mandated that all football players wear mouth guards.
There would be more as the next decade unfolded.