List of area's best football players continues to growThe responses are coming in from all over the country. Superior Telegram readers have never let me down, and our greatest football players opinion polling is no exception.
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by award-winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.
The responses are coming in from all over the country. Superior Telegrqam readers have never let me down, and our greatest football players opinion polling is no exception.
Everyone listed should be on an “all-time great” list. The word great is thrown around too much today, but I would like to hear objective arguments why any on our list should not be considered. Our area has a rich football tradition with legendary players who have left an indelible mark in our minds and on our local gridirons.
Without further ado, here we go.
Senior Master Sgt. Brian J. Brown, with the 148th Fighter Wing, named some outstanding players who graduated from Northwestern High School and played collegiately.
Mark Callaway, Jimmy Amundson and Jeff Kaldor all played at Minnesota Duluth. (Kaldor set records in football and career home runs in baseball, as an outstanding two-sport athlete.) Mike Brown played at Dickinson State and Kirk Cristilly is on the Northwestern Wall of Honor for rushing yardage. Brian, thank you for your service to our country.
Michael Reed from the SSHS Class of 1972 also sent some great names: Kenny Aspinwall, a fullback and middle linebacker; quarterback Shawn Kavajecz; and fullback Duane Fonger. He includes Tom Burke, a 1995 Northwestern grad, who was an all-American from Wisconsin and former Arizona Cardinal.
Joe Holmstrom played on the 1995 Spartan team coached by Tom Mestelle. Superior had one of the best teams in the state, but a forfeiture of games because of an ineligible player wiped out any dreams of a state championship.
Some greats from the team included: Tom Pink, Steve Law, Tom Nelson, Nate Cockerham, Adam Anderson, Joe Holmstrom, Eric Plasch, Trent Clark, Rich Anderson, Nate Schilling and Jason Sigfrids. All of these players played one or more sports in college and Pink was named all-state that year.
Brule’s Ron Perala remembers Bob Olson as being a “superman” at the old Superior Central and SSHS. He played college football at Notre Dame and was elected captain as a junior. In 1970, the Irish finished second in the nation. Their only loss came to USC, 38-28. They had a running back you may remember, O.J. Simpson.
After the game, it has been reported that Simpson said, “Number 36 was the hardest tackler and toughest player I ever played against.” That was Olson. He wrestled one year, his senior year at SSHS, and won the state championship as a heavyweight. He was drafted by the Boston Patriots but was injured in practice and never played.
Olson was named by Larry Mattson and Beth Buchanan, a close personal friend of Lance Boyle. When we do an article on the all-time great female athletes of our area, Buchanan will be there.
Jon Winter would like us to consider Dean Borgh and Tom Murray, runningbacks who played at UMD. Paul Lukens was also in that backfield, and twins Paul and Pete Kennelly were great players. “Heck, just the entire 1983 Spartan team,” Winter said.
Greg Nilsen played on that same 1983 Spartan team and claims I missed four of the best on the team. Paul Geitner, Matt Tracy of North Dakota State fame, Shawn Newman at UMD and tailback, Dean Borgh. “The whole team was pretty much a great team,” Nilsen said. Great additions.
Mick Higgins, a state champion first baseman from the 1983 Front Page softball team, went way back to Ernie Nevers. In 1962, Sports Illustrated called Nevers the greatest college football player of all time.
Higgins is a man of great intelligence but he claims that “Greg Amys could give you a 50-yard head start and he’d have your butt in the grass by the time you reached the 10-yard line!” Au contraire, Mr. Higgins. Amys could have given me an 80-yard head start and still beat me. But, who scored a touchdown on whom?
SHS DECA teacher Paul Zollver has seen a lot of great players come through the high school. His list is impressive and includes Tom Belanger, Mike Gidley, Tim Nelson, Daryn Davidson and Dana Graveson. More will be written about his list in an upcoming article.
Al Callaway sends us Tom McCauley and Mark Callaway.
Ben B. gives Greg Amys of Cathedral, who played for UWS and was a draft pick of the Buffalo Bills along with Bob Olson.
Evan Berglund remembers Bryan Wedan, a Northwestern 1996 grad, as the former career touchdown record holder with 43. (T.J. Polkoski has 53)
Billy Pirkola will be giving me his list shortly. He remembers John Gronroos, who once held the Tiger single season touchdown record with 25 during the 1993 season. (Polkoski had 26 TDs in 2010)
One of my best friends in the whole world, Beth Fechtelkotter, thinks I missed someone. Her husband Cody Fechtelkotter was all-state as a junior and senior at NHS and played at North Dakota State and UMD. Cody was great and is a great person and teacher in the Northwestern district.
Keep them coming, readers!
Not enough space today for former resident Bob Picard’s top 10 list. His impressive list will lead off next time.
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