After reviewing the best teams of the decade I'd like to highlight the best players, coach and game from 1910-1919.
The Best Game
The 1910 game between state champion Oshkosh and Marinette was a battle between two titans. Not only were the two teams evenly matched but it was a game that featured two of the best linemen for the first 30+ years of Wisconsin high school football. Junior Arlie “Hercules” Mucks for Oshkosh and senior Richard “Jab” Murray of Marinette faced each other. Oshkosh featured three all-state players and Marinette had two that season. Also playing for Oshkosh were three more future all-state payers so there was a lot of talent on the field. Playing on an inch and a half of snow, per the Appleton Post-Crescent, both teams struggled to hold onto the ball. Marinette struck first but a blocked punt and return tied the game for Oshkosh. Oshkosh's Archie Slover secured a safety on the subsequent kick-off by Mucks. In the third quarter, a fumble recovery, scoop and score (the second for end John Rasmussen) for Oshkosh put them up 13-6 which is how the game would end. Oshkosh's offense never scored but Muck's booming punts and Rasmussen's two fumble returns were enough to defeat Marinette.
Oconto fell to Marinette two weeks before this prime matchup. Chippewa Falls, the 1909 state champion, had an opening in their schedule and they challenged the Marines to a game but their only opening was the next week, one that Marinette was to play Oshkosh. Marinette asked the Titans to move their match back a week so it was agreed and Marinette went on to beat Chippewa Falls 11-8. With an open date of their own, Oshkosh challenged Oconto, who was also without a game that week and they prevailed easily over the smaller school 33-0. After beating Marinette, Oshkosh set up a title game with Eau Claire which ended in a 0-0 tie. Oshkosh then claimed the state title due to their not having been beaten by a high school team that year. They ended with a 5-2-1 record after having lost to Ripon College and Oshkosh Normal.
Despite all the talent from Mucks, Simpson, Murray and others, John Rasmussen was the star of this game with his two scoop and scores for Oshkosh. He went on to play for Nebraska and was eventually named an All-American in 1917 while playing at Camp Grant and starring in a victory over Camp Custer. Two World War I army training facilities:
The Best Coach
Ira "Irl" Tubbs coached at Superior towards the end of the decade to two state titles as the Vikings dominated the northwest part of Wisconsin and the northeast part of Minnesota. He was a great innovator utilizing the pass to help his powerful ground game. He was also an inventor who developed the needle that is used in sports balls to inflate them. He also developed better pads and footgear for the football field. He left in 1922 to coach at Superior Normal and later as the head coach at Iowa and Miami (FL).
His 1918 Superior team ranked 3rd on my list of the top teams of the decade.
The Best Players
Yes, I know that the main Best of the Best team has seven linemen and four running backs with a total of 14 members as well as 10 very talented honorable mentions. One of those players was a tackle from Fort Atkinson named Earl Pottinger who earned first team all-state as a center on three separate press teams and on a fourth team he was named as a guard. he was hard not to put on the main all-decade team and was relegated to the honorable mention list. Note that the 1911 Fort Atkinson team has four players on that honorable mention list. I included John Hancock to the Best team as he was a super fullback for Superior as a sophomore in 1918 and a junior in 1919. He led the state in scoring for those seasons as well as in 1920. Making the selections for players whose careers overlapped decades is difficult to decide what year to show as their season on the list. For almost every list I have just the player's senior year. Arlie Mucks from Oshkosh started as a freshman in 1908 and played until 1911. He was most dominant from 1909-1911. I actually could have added him to my 1884-1909 list even as a freshman. he was that good.
Many of these players, coaches and teams are profiled in more detail in my book!
I want to thank Dana Bertelsen of the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson who did some very helpful research in getting the first names of seven players and coaches from the local high school for the 1902-1911 period. Those names are Coach George Lloyd who coached Fort Atkinson from 1902-1908 who directed them to the 1902 title and Coach Allen Vosberg who coached the 1911 state title team. Two of the star members of the 1911 team were already known, those being Howard Lee “Whitey” Woodin and three-year starter at halfback Earl Beach. First names were found for Earl’s brother, Burns Beach who was also a three-year starter at the other halfback spot. Other first names were found for star center Earl Pottinger, end Arthur Mussehl, guard Ralph Owens and quarterback/kicker John Dickoff. Thanks Dana!
Another thanks goes to Jerrod Roll, the Director of the Monroe County Local History Room & Museum (Sparta) and his Volunteer Researcher, Barb for their sending me great information on both the 1907 and 1913 Sparta squads. Without their help the information here and in several other stories would not have been complete.