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Waukesha 1943-63

After the 1942 season ended, Waukesha had a series of coaches who did a fair job but couldn’t quite compete with the accomplishments of Lee Saubert and Clifford Goerke. In 1950 a talented coach appeared in Waukesha by the name of Vince Gavre. Born in Port Edwards, Wisconsin Gavre attended Madison and was the Badgers quarterback from 1936-38. He was drafted by the Packers but chose to take a teaching and coaching position at Merrill. After serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II he returned to Madison as an assistant for the 1947 season before taking the head coach’s position at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado for the 1948 and 1949 seasons where he posted an 11-7-0 record. He returned to Wisconsin with his family and became a teacher and the football coach at Waukesha High School. 1950, his first season at Waukesha, was a disaster as the Blackshirts posted a 1-7-1 record. He turned the program around the next year with a 7-0-0 record and the Suburban Conference title. The polio epidemic of this period caused a cancellation of the West Allis Central game. A close 19-18 victory over Whitefish Bay was the key to the season’s success as the team scored 138 points and allowed only 44. The 1951 season was followed by a 3-4-2 record in 1952, 5-3-0 season in 1953 and finally a 3-5-0 posting in 1954. His family came first to Gavre so he decided to step down to make way for a new coach. It seems that Waukesha is a great place for former head coaches to stay and teach. Like Saubert and Goerke, Vince Gavre stuck around for 21 more years as a well-respected teacher of American problems, sociology and economics.

The new man on the scene as the school’s football coach and physical education instructor was Ken Hollub. Born and raised in Oshkosh, Ken chose to attend the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. He served in the military and was an assistant coach at La Crosse from 1952-54. He and his family moved to Waukesha where he taught physical education with Lee Saubert and coached football for 22 years. Over the years he also coached swimming, track and wrestling. Ken Hollub believed in the ground game and for many years passing wasn’t often in his playbook.

Taking over from Gavre in 1955, Hollub matched Waukesha’s record from the previous year with a 3-5-0 season. 1956 was even worse as the team‘s record was 2-5-1. These were two of the three losing seasons that Hollub had. The other was a 3-4-1 record posted in 1967. Things began to roll in 1957 as he posted a 7-1-0 record and a tie for the Suburban title. The 1958 and 1959 brought undefeated 8-0-0 and 7-0-1 records (A 12-12 tie with South Milwaukee) respectively. In 1960 the team again “slipped” to 7-0-1 (A 7-7 tie, again, with South Milwaukee). Very good records for those four seasons of 1957-60 as they posted a 29-1-2 record in that stretch. Now, if you have read Ken Hollub’s profile on the WFCA Hall of Fame page it states: “His teams from 1957 through 1960 were undefeated” but they did lose in game five of the 1957 season 20-0 to Whitefish Bay. During the four season run Waukesha was ranked in the UPI prep poll as high as #2 in 1958 and #9 in 1959 while finishing ranked #10 in 1960.

With three players named to all-state teams the 1958 squad dominated the Suburban Conference as they went 8-0-0. The #2 ranked Blackshirts finished a close second in the final UPI team poll to Superior Central. Fullback John Loden gained over 1,000 yards and averaged 7.5 yards per carry as he was the best back in the conference. Loden was on the UPI 1st team and earned a 3rd team spot on the AP team all-state squads. He led the Blackshirts in scoring and was a strong defender. John Pichette (A future Waukesha athletic Director) was the top lineman in the Suburban and earned a first team placement on the AP team. The AP citation stated that he was the best lineman in the Suburban Conference as he cleared the way for the “Black Knights” backs. Evidently the "Black Knights” name was a misprint. Dennis “Rawhide” Williams earned honorable mention at the end spot for the two “all” teams.

South Milwaukee, Cudahy and Shorewood were predicted to contend for the conference title but they were dispatched. One of the highlights on the season was the 71-0 homecoming win over Greendale (A newer member to the conference). The 71 points was a school record. Kicker Johnny Fuchs led the Suburban with 25 extra points and a field goal. Besides Loden, Pichette and Williams, guard Jerry Ruetten earned 1st team all-conference placement and center Paul Senn was named to the second team. The 1958 season was the first undefeated, untied team for Waukesha since 1951.

Coach Hollub had a good 5-3-0 year in 1961 but jumped up to 7-1-0 in 1962 before 1963 rolled around. The “Shirts” again went 8-0-0 and again were ranked at the end of the season #2 in the UPI poll, behind undefeated Wausau. In fact, that Wausau team (9-0-0) was profiled in my book and #3 Stoughton (9-0-0) was profiled here back on February 8. While the 1963 Waukesha team wasn’t a super high scoring team, posting about 150 points less than Wausau and Stoughton, they had a strong defense. Waukesha allowed only 40 points on the year and didn’t allow more than seven points in a single game.

In the opener they started slowly but picked up the pace in the second half with two scores to overpower South Milwaukee 26-6. In game two they sort of shot themselves in the foot as they totaled 170 yards in penalties but the Blackshirts were able to gain just over 280 yards and scored an18-7 win against West Allis Central. Ted Bear scored three times in the first half of game three, a 39-0 win over Wauwatosa East. The Wauwatosa school district added a second high school in 1960 and an additional school was added to the Suburban Conference. The West Milwaukee Mustangs were up next and it wasn’t close as Waukesha crushed them 40-7. They trimmed the Shorewood Greyhounds 13-0, allowing only 92 yards. Fullback Dave Michler scored his fifth touchdown of the season and keyed the ground control attack. Quarterback Ken Oaks didn’t throw often but he tossed several key passes throughout the year and Michler was on the receiving end of some of those completions.

Following the Shorewood win there was a close game, a 12-7 win over Wauwatosa West. A late fourth quarter score by Waukesha and an interception by Ted Bear on the game’s final play turned a near defeat into victory. The homecoming game against West Allis Hale was one of the season high points as the Blackshirts played ball control for most of the game by outgaining Hale by over 130-yards on the ground. The final victory was an 18-6 win over Cudahy to clinch the conference crown.

Five players were named to the Waukesha Freeman All-County Team. Halfback Ted Bear gained 344 yards and scored four times on the ground in only 41 carries. He also caught eight passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Though the team didn’t pass a lot Ken Oaks was the team's MVP as he completed 29 of 78 attempts for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. On the ground he carried 76 times for 261 yards and six touchdowns. Fullback Dave Mickler had 97 rushing attempts for a team leading 478 yards and five scores. He also caught six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. End Chuck Verlow was a superb blocker who caught only eight passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns but was also a good defender. Against West Milwaukee Verlow intercepted his only pass and returned it 67-yards for a touchdown. Guard Cliff Goerke (son of the former coach) was named to the team as a first team guard. Linemen Bill Cox and Jim Kranpitz were members of the honorable mention squad.

So, if you add up the rushing and passing yards you will see that, as I said earlier, this wasn’t a high scoring or offense team but they prevailed against tough Suburban Conference opponents. This would be Ken Hollub’s last undefeated, untied team but he would coach other strong squads.


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