Remember when …
The following is another "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by Don Leighton and his alter ego, Lance Boyle, which runs occasionally in the Superior Telegram.
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and his alter ego, Lance Boyle, which runs occasionally in the Superior Telegram.
August 1965 was historic in entertainment history. The Rolling Stones had the number one song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” and Bonanza was number one on television for the umpteenth year.
Lance Boyle, enjoying the summer in Shangri La, was 13 and remembers something else very special about that month and year. The new high school, Superior Senior High School, was about to open, and excitement surrounded the anticipated success of the “new” football team formed by the merger of East and Central high schools.
In the fall of 1964, East and Central had combined for a 15-1 record and outscored their opponents 644-97. East suffered the only loss of either team, falling 13-7 to the No. 1 team in Minnesota - St. Paul Cretin, now Cretin-Derham Hall.
Central, coached by Marv Crowley and Fran Paquette, had five future Division I players on its roster. The team also included future NFL star Doug Sutherland, who attended and played football at UWS. After a 12-year NFL career, Sutherland was selected as one of the 50 greatest Minnesota Vikings of all time.
East coaches Jerry Roesch and Chuck Erickson had at least three Division I players. And of course, East fans remember a guy named Bob Peck, who all agree could have played Division I in basketball, baseball or football.
When the new school was ready to open, the inaugural football season was eagerly anticipated by the residents of Superior, alumni of the former high schools and of the “new” junior high schools, East and Central.
“Although expectations were high as we started practice in August of 1965, there was also a fair amount of uncertainty as to how the players from East and Central, fierce rivals for many years, would fit together as one team,” said Paul Walsh, a running back on the 1965 SSHS team. “Both teams had been very successful on their own in prior years. It would be a challenge to assemble a football team that combined young competitors from different areas of Superior.”
The 3,000 plus fans attending each home game at Superior Memorial Field (Ole Haugsrud Field) were not disappointed by the Spartans’ debut season.
Jerry Roesch, who coached East football for 14 years, was named head coach of the newly formed Spartans. Assistant coaches were Dave Isabell and Bill Kelly.
The Spartans had their first ever practice Aug. 23, 1965. When the team began its second week of practice, Coach Roesch spoke to the Superior Telegram about how things were going.
“It’s too early to tell what the situation will be,” he said. “We still have two weeks of practice to go before our first game. All I know is we need plenty of work.”
Regarding his linemen, Roesch said, “We have size, but we are green. We’re trying to get the big men to move faster.”
Apparently the Spartans worked hard and moved faster, as they compiled a 5-2 record that first year and were ranked fifth in the final Wisconsin State Football Poll. They outscored their opponents 197-47 and earned shutouts in all of their victories. Superior’s five wins came over Antigo; Bloomington, Minn.; Duluth Denfeld; Minneapolis South; and Duluth Central. The Spartans’ only losses were at the hands of Robbinsdale and Edina. Both Minnesota teams were ranked No. 1 at the time the games were played.
Jeff Crisp, quarterback for the 1965 Spartan team, remembers the season well.
“We had a lot of talent and good team chemistry, despite being city opponents just one year earlier,” he said. “Coach Roesch prepared us well.”
Crisp said Roesch recognized early the talent of Mike Regenfuss, who went on to play basketball at the University of Minnesota and was a team captain for two years.
“Mike could play any skill position,” Crisp said. “So (Coach Roesch) made me the quarterback, because it didn’t take much talent to hand the ball off to High School All-American fullback Bob Olson.”
Olson went on to have a storied football career at Notre Dame, and Spartans’ inaugural football season went into the history books as a success.
According to Walsh, much of the credit belongs to the Spartan coaches.
“Coach Roesch and the rest of his staff did an excellent job of building a feeling of unity and trust among the players and maximized the extraordinary amount of athletic talent available from Central and East,” he said.
Members of the 1965 varsity football team, as listed in SSHS’s first yearbook - the 1966 Lacedaemon - included: Perry Benson, Tim Bergren, Brian Bergstrom, Dave Bjorkman, Mike Boyle, Tom Buchanan, Dave Byrka, Dick Callen, Mac Campshure, Terry Clancy, Jeff Crisp, Robert Earhart, Arthur Edyvean, Peter Enstad, Jeff Finn, Paul Hammerbeck, Tim Heikkila, Gary Hull, Dave Kelleher, George Koskovich, Nick Kreel, Todd Larsen, Harry Madsen, Tom Marquart, Mike Maryanovich, Dennis Mertzig, Ron Mizia, Dave Nelson, Bob Nichols, Bob Olson, Harvey Olson, Packy Paquette, Dick Pukema, Mike Regenfuss, Gene Snowberg, Doug Sutherland, Terry Tollers, Jim Upthegrove, Paul Walsh and Dan Willoughby. Team managers were Tim Moder and Ray Saari.
The 50th reunion for the first graduating class of Superior Senior High School will be held July 21 and 22.
Members of the 1965 Spartan team will have an opportunity to reminisce on July 21.
Coach Roesch has requested a “special meeting” with his football players of that outstanding team at Ace’s, 2827 Oakes Ave., from 3-5 p.m. Any former players of Coach Roesch from SSHS and former Superior East High teams are encouraged to attend. The meeting is not open to the general public. It is rumored two other legendary Spartan coaches, Ron Orlandi and Ray Micholajak, will be in attendance.
For more information and to RSVP contact Paul Walsh at email@example.com or call 612-275-5244.
While that historic season is relived, I hope someone records the stories. If possible, I know the Rolling Stones and the Cartwrights would be there.
Congratulations and welcome home, Spartans! For their sake, I hope the guys are in shape.
Remember, “Once in a lifetime events only occur once in a lifetime.”
NOTE: Special thanks to Teddie Meronek of the Superior Public Library for her help in providing the research for this article and to former Spartans Jeff Crisp and Paul Walsh for their contributions. Without Meronek’s help, Lance would have trouble putting a sentence together.
Opinions and story ideas can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .