Norwalk Reflector: 3,500 witness 'game of the decade'
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3,500 witness 'game of the decade'

By Don Hohler • May 15, 2019 at 6:00 PM

Unlike many sports events where fans claimed they were present, they truly were all there at this one in the fall of 1969.

A crowd estimated at 3,500 fans, standing three-deep around Whitney Field, witnessed underdog St. Paul pull off a huge upset, beating Edison, 34-12, in what many say was the football game of the decade.

Thousands of dollars were wagered on the game. One bet of $1,000 was said to have been made in the end zone (and witnessed by many), by two opposing fans, just 10 minutes before the game.

The game matched two of the most successful young coaches in the state, Bill Tarachke from Edison and Mike Gottfried from St. Paul.

Edison came into Norwalk on a 22-game win streak, victories that propelled the Chargers to back-to-back Firelands Conference titles.

Like Edison, St. Paul was also 4-0 on the season and, like its opponent, had not given up a point. The Flyers were tied with Mapleton for the conference lead.

While Edison was man-handling its four opponents and showing a rock-hard defense, one that limited previous opponent Columbia to just two first downs while former Berlin Heights player Bruce Wright as scoring three times, the Flyers were having problems putting points on the board. As an example, it managed to skim by Monroeville, 14-0, the week before the big game, scoring with 11 seconds left in the first half on a pass from Chris Amato to Dave Wasiniak, one that was deflected to the St. Paul receiver by Monroeville defensive back Jeff Haughawout. Halfback Steve Missler scored with one second left on the clock at games-end.

St. Paul found some offense against Edison already in the first quarter, 53 yards to be exact. Missler used slants on six occasions for 42 of those yards. Wasiniak then pounded for a key first down and Missler scored from the four to break the scoreless deadlock.

Wasiniak then picked off a Mark Vanderpool pass in the second period and returned it to the five. The other Wasiniak in the lineup, Mike, took a five yard scoring pass for the score and hooked up with his brother on the extra points play to make it 14-0.

Amato who had to run for his virtual life on many occasions, stayed in the pocket just enough times to make key completions. One of them was to Chris Mushett late in the second quarter that set up a five-yard Missler TD run that made it 20-0 at the intermission.

But, as happened four times in the first half, Vanderpool, after driving his team down the field, many times on passes to Brian Czaplicki, saw his team make drive-ending mistakes. And after each stop, St. Paul’s offense scored, the fourth time aided by a Jack Lodermeier run that made it a 28-0 game.

Halfback Dave Heyman ran 44 yards with a punt to help make to 34-0.

Vanderpool deserved better fate. He threw for 256 yards but two interceptions, two lost fumbles and 95 yards in penalties would more than offset his 15 completions.

Taraschke took much of the blame for the loss, believing he had his team far to high, so high that they never did execute the way they had done in putting together that 22-game win streak.

St. Paul, who lost to Ottawa Hills and powerful running back Jamie O’Hara the year before for its only loss, would use the win to propel them to the wire service state championship, edging Newark Catholic on the final poll of the season.

Peckham Sr. Wins Title

Charles Peckham, Sr. won the Sr. Division golf championship (55-and-over) at the Elks Country Club defeating Ray Gerken. The two players tied on Labor Day with rounds of 40 strokes, necessitating a Wednesday afternoon playoff.

Firelands branch opens

Seven-hundred students will make history next Wednesday when they walk through the doors of the new Firelands Campus of Bowling Green State University. The $3-million dollar campus is the first permanent campus branch in northwest Ohio.

The 700 students, most of them freshmen, are enrolled in 48 courses.

The school has a strong Norwalk flavor in that the director is former Norwalk Superintendent James McBride, and one of the main administrative assistants (director of student services) is former Norwalk High Principal James Ross.

The college has 15 full-time and 30 part-time instructors.

One of the students is 17-year-old 1968 Huron graduate, Peggy Mesenburg. The second-oldest of five children of the Walter Mesenburg family, attended St. Paul her first eight grades.

The family believes it will save over $1,000 in room and board fees over a four-year college.

Truckers lose to Huron

Norwalk used a Jeff Bohn to Dan Smith pass followed by a Dale Perkins kick to take a 7-6 lead over a mistake-prone Huron team.

But led by the athlete who would be a coaching legend at Huron, quarterback Tony Legando, the Tigers would overcome six fumbles. Senior end Scott Hetrick scored with a pass for the go-ahead points in a 21-13 win.

New London, Willard win

With starters Dean Harmony and Bob Pheifer out with sprained ankles, New London still found a way to tie a solid Gibsonburg team, 6-6. The Cats used a Bob Luna fumble recovery followed by a Jake Hinton five-yard touchdown run, the latter playing his first season, to pull even with the Golden Bears.

Willard halfback Chuck Barrison scored both Crimson Flashes touchdowns, one from seven yards out in the first quarter, and then from four-yards away halfway through the final quarter, in a 12-9 verdict over Mt. Vernon.

Slow-pitch all-stars chosen

The three League champions, the V.F.W. Norwalk Furniture and the Nite Life, will face All-Star teams made up of the following players:

Eastern League-Rich Meagrow, Norb Pelham, Jerry Spencer, Ken Woolever, Fred Hespler, Bob Perkins, Mike Reitzel, Duane Ringle, Ron Albright, Jim Ringholz, Howard Riedy, Denny Weisenberger, Don Bores, Tom Gravenhorst, Ron Tuttle and Cliff Wilson.

Western All-Stars-Lonnie Oney, Chuck Timbs, Rod Williams, Lewis Wlliams, Rollie Geiss, Lee Schnell, Randy Skinner, Don Smith, Roy Braden, Gene Kessler, Keith Rakosky and Dick Rogers.

A League-Paul Craft, Roy Keim, Mike Murray, Bill Dauch, Bob Fraelich, Pete Motolik, Sonny Pete, Roy Dendinger, Larry Sanders, Joe Weltin, Duane White, Mike Gottfried, Joe Gravenhorst, Bob Herner, Dale Scheid, Bill Beamer, Rollie Burton, Wayne Spencer, Jerry Steinke and Jim Rister.

League leaders

The top 10 hitters in the A Division included Sonny Pete .522, Joe Gravenhorst .487, Jerry Steinke .475, Rollie Burton .465, Andy Luxon .453, Duane White .449, Ralph Summers .444, Larry Sanders .420, Jim Rister 418 and Mike Rice .415.

The top 10 hitters in the Eastern and Western circuits were: John Schaechterle .529, Howard Riedy .510, Rich Meagrow .500, Jim Dillingham .467, Jerry Spencer .463, Rex Smith .460, Tom Gravenhorst .455, Don Smith .450, Ron Tuttle .438, Ron Blankenship .435.

The homerun leaders were: Bob Perkins 8, Rollie Burton, John Schaechterle, 5, Bob Burdge, Steve Byron, Tom Kessler, Norb Pelham, Denny Weisenberger and Cliff Wilson 4.

Ticket from 1949

Long-time Norwalk football and basketball coach Grant Walls was rummaging through some of his out-dated and well-work clothing when he found a ticket from the 1949 season. The ticket reserved a seat in Section 5, Row E, Seat 7 at Whitney Field. It cost 35 cents. It was a ticket he would have used had he not been named the football coach that summer.

Walls recalls his team lost that game, 26-18, their third loss against one win. He was quick to add his team won the rest.

Walls resigned as the school athletic director in the fall of 1969.

New priest At St. Paul

Rev. Kenneth Kehres was named an assistant at St. Paul Catholic Church. Of German decent, he is one of a family of eight from the small community of North Auburn. He has a brother Frank, who is also a priest, and a sister, Mary Basil, who is a Franciscan nun.

Top 4-H beef show winners

Fred Chapin, 14, doubled up in Junior Fair Beef Judging, winning junior showmanship while showing the grand champion steer.

Other winners were Gordon Rogers (Angus Steer), Charles Sage (Shorthorn Steer), Tom Putt (Charloais Steer), Charles Flint (Female Beef Animal), Roger Kinney (Best Female Angus), Charles Flint (Best Female Shorthorn), Terry Bell (First Place Senior Showmanship).

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