Varsity Blitz and Elmwood vs St Croix Central

I recently appeared on the Varsity Blitz High School Coaches Show with Mike McGivern and Ryan McMillan. You can listen to that show here. I appear in their first segment.


On the show, I discussed one of the stories from my book and I wanted to share that story here. This is taken directly from my book The Great Teams: A History of Wisconsin High School Football.


Elmwood vs St. Croix Central 1966


It was Friday, September 30, 1966. The ball was on Elmwood’s 22 or 23-yard line with about six minutes left in the third period. It was fourth down. The ball was snapped and shot through the legs of the Elmwood punter. Don Riley of St. Croix Central picked the ball up on the 15-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. The extra point attempt failed and the score stood 6-0. That’s how the game ended. The first time.


It looked like St. Croix Central would go undefeated again in 1966 and win the Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship but the ball that had been picked up for the touchdown was technically a muffed punt and by the rules it could not be advanced. The touchdown resulted in the ref’s making an oversight interpreting the muff rule. The game was appealed to the WIAA and it was ordered that the game be replayed from the time of the ball being muffed. No one at the time could recall a similar ruling.


Nearly five weeks later, they would play again. On Thursday, November 3 at 1:45 pm the streets of Elmwood were nearly empty as it seemed the whole town was at the football field for a replay of the final part of the third quarter and on. The season was supposed to be over but the conference title had to be determined. St. Croix Central stood 7-0, 5-0 in conference play while Elmwood was 5-2 with a 4-1 conference record.


First, there was a minor controversy that had to be resolved. One referee thought the ball should be placed on Elmwood’s 22-yard line while another pointed to the 23. It was finally settled with a compromise on the 22 ½ yard line. With six minutes on the clock in the third quarter the game resumed. St. Croix Central had the ball and it took them seven plays to score on a one-yard run by fullback Norman Ross. He was given the ball again for the extra point try and junior, Jerry Sinz, rushed in and stopped him short of the goal. The two teams exchanged the ball several times until, with about four minutes left in the fourth, Elmwood quarterback Jim Nelson began a drive. With just under two minutes remaining he fired a bomb to Greg Nelson who, with two defenders around him, made a finger-tip catch as he fell into the endzone to tie the game. Fullback Jim Bock then bulled his way over the line for the conversion and the win. A few minutes later the final whistle blew for the second time.


Central ended the season 7-1 and fell from the top-10 of the AP final Little Ten poll. Elmwood ended with a 6-2 record and tied Central for the conference title. Jerry Sinz, who made the game saving tackle, preventing Central’s conversion would go on to play ball at UW-Stout before becoming a hall of fame high school football coach at Edgar.

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