1965 Spartans: The team that never wasPotentional ‘Super Team’ derailed by delay of new high school opening
By: By Don Leighton, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
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 story I’m about to tell is one not too many people know. In fact, I surveyed countless people, three to be exact, and none of them had a clue. But one of the former players, Pat Walsh, remembered when we had a chance meeting at Grizzly’s a couple of weeks ago.
So grab your favorite beverage, put your feet up and read on about what could have been.
As early as 1960, the Superior School Board determined that East and Central high schools would become junior high schools and that a new high school would be built at 28th Street and Catlin Ave., the current location of Superior High School.
The nickname and colors of the new school were being considered by the students at East and Central. Some of the names suggested were Liberty, Hiawatha, Lakehead and Northland. Possible color combinations included green and gold, green and white, navy blue and gold, royal blue and white, and Columbia blue and white.
After being scheduled to open in the fall of 1964, Superior Senior High School officially opened its doors in the fall of 1965.
Because of variety of problems the opening of the new school was delayed a year.
If only the new school would have opened as scheduled. Oh, what Superior was denied in the fall of 1964.
The Central High School football team from 1964 was pretty good. For starters they were coached by Marv Crowley and Fran Paquette, were 8-0, ranked No. 2 in the state and outscored their opponents by a 350-53 margin. I guess that qualifies as being pretty good.
Superior East was not too shabby, either. Its record was 7-1 and the team outscored its opponents 294-44. Its only loss came in the first game of the season at the hands of St. Paul Cretin, now Cretin Derham Hall, 13-7, who were ranked No. 1 in Minnesota.
East was coached by Jerry Roesch and Chuck Erickson. (Roesch would become the first football coach at SSHS in 1965.)
Let’s see, a combined record of 15-1 and outscoring their opponents by 644-97.
If SSHS opened as planned, the combined rosters from the soon to be junior high schools would have included running backs Ed and Packy Paquette, Bob Olson, Pat Longrie and Tom McCauley. At quarterback they would have had to pick from Don Hartlund or Mark Fitzgerald. The competition at each position would have been fierce, maybe too fierce, at times. This would have been one of the greatest teams ever in Superior.
I could bring up the football exploits of Tom McCauley, Doug Sutherland, Olson, Ed and Packy Paquette, Bob Peck, Fitzgerald and Hartlund, but I would be neglect to cover the greatness and accomplishments of so many more.
So as to not slight any players from either East or Central, the roster of these great teams were as follows, beginning with East: Pete Amys, Scott Baker, Bob Beetcher, Dennis Bonneville, Leo Byrnes, Mac Campshure, Byron Card, Mark Fitzgerald, Dan Flahaven, Greg Gaynor, Jack Granquist, Paul Halverson, Dean Johnson, Jim LaPerre, Pat Longrie, Tom McCauley, Jim Nelson, Bob Peck, Bernie Peterson, Bruce and Dick Pukema, Mike Regenfuss, Russ Tuura, Mike Maryanovich, Mike McDonald, Bill Charbonneau, Dave Hammerbeck and Dave Fisher.
“Both East and Central football teams were really loaded in 1964,” Fitzgerald said. “At East we had Tom McCauley who played at Wisconsin and with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL; Mike Regenfuss, who played basketball at Minnesota and was captain for two years; and one of the greatest three-sport athletes, Bob Peck, who did everything at Superior State, now UWS. He definitely could have played at the Division I level.
“Can you imagine what kind of team we would have had if the schools had combined? Instead of playing both ways, players could have concentrated on offense or defense. Nobody would have beaten this team.”
With the utmost of respect to Pat Walsh and the other Central players, Fitzgerald added, as he winked and smiled.
“Had we played in 1964, it would have been a tremendous game, but being a fan of history, East defeated Central the last time they played in 1963,” Fitzgerald said. “Therefore, I think we would have beaten Central in 1964.”
(The humble Fitzgerald failed to mention he was an outstanding three-sport athlete in baseball, hockey and football. He was a scholarship athlete at Wisconsin where he played hockey for the Badgers and was captain his senior year.)
The 8-0 Central Vikings included: Gary Hull, Dave Kelleher, Tim Bergren, Tim Heikkila, Rick Frost, Roger Hendricks, Harry Madsen, Jim Upthegrove, Perry Benson, Dave Bjorkman, Packy Paquette, Gary Arseneau, Todd Larson, Don Beetcher, Paul Freer, Bob Olson, Chuck Mahaffey, Tom Buchanan, Jim Wester, Bill Pence, Terry Clancy, Dennis Mertzig, George Koskovich, Jerry Palmi, Dick Callen, Jeff Finn, Nick Lowney, Paul Walsh, Doug Sutherland, Nick Runions, Fred Bell, Terry Gren, Jeff Crisp, Sheldon Goldberg, Frank Howenstine, Pat Walsh, Ed Paquette, Don Hartlund and Bill Greenberg.
“Bobby Olson played at Notre Dame, Ed Paquette played at Northwestern, Bill Pence played at Minnesota, Sheldon Goldberg played at Nebraska and Packy Paquette played at Minnesota,” said Walsh, a wide receiver with the Vikings. “These guys, along with our offensive and defensive line players, all weighed between 220 and 250 pounds. Our defense was awesome and most players played both ways.”
Not mentioned among that group is Sutherland, who played collegiately at UWS and went on to play for the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks in the NFL.
“The rivalry between East and Central was incredible,” Walsh said. “Marv Crowley and Fran Paquette deserve a lot of the credit because they really knew their stuff and put us through the paces. We had a lot of great athletes with most playing two or three sports.
“Who would have won the game if we had played East in 1964? Based on the number of Division I players, I think Central would have won in a close game. If we would have combined, had the new high school opened as scheduled, wow, what a team we would have had.”
A book could be written about this year and the circumstances that prevented these teams from becoming a team for the ages. Call me a romantic, but I would challenge anyone to convince me that this would not have been one of the greatest teams in the history of, not just Superior football, but in the history of Wisconsin high school football.
Look at the names that “could have been” on one team, and tell me I’m wrong. How much fun would Friday nights have been?
Did they barbecue the hot dogs in 1964?
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