BLAST FROM THE PAST: Bulldogs attained perfectionBREWSTER — As the world was captivated by the Cuban Missile Crisis and “The Monster Mash,” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Cryptkickers, had replaced the Four Seasons’ classic “Sherry” as Billboard’s top-selling single, the Brewster Bulldogs were completing a dream season as high school football players.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
BREWSTER — As the world was captivated by the Cuban Missile Crisis and “The Monster Mash,” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Cryptkickers, had replaced the Four Seasons’ classic “Sherry” as Billboard’s top-selling single, the Brewster Bulldogs were completing a dream season as high school football players.
As the 1962 season unfolded in late August, the movie “Pillow Talk” — starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day — was showing at Worthington’s Gay Drive Inn and, on “Buck Nights,” you could get a whole carload in for a dollar.
The local Montgomery Ward outlet was selling men’s wash’n wear cotton slacks for $2.84 (regular price was $3.49) and Minnesota Twins’ left-hander Jack Kralick had just pitched the team’s first no-hitter in a 1-0 Sunday afternoon victory over the Kansas City Athletics at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.
There were 33 seniors at Brewster High School in fall 1962, but only 13 were boys.
Six of them —Lyle Bristow, Gary McNab, Donovan Powers, Mike Silver, Steve Weinandt and Jim Voss —were on the football team.
McNab, who had played with the BHS varsity since his eighth-grade season in fall 1958, was a returning all-conference football player and had averaged 15.7 points per game the previous winter on a Bulldogs’ basketball team, which won 16 of 18 games during the 1961-62 regular season.
Both John Silver (17.2 ppg) and Terry Everson (15.5 ppg) enjoyed stellar senior seasons on the hardcourt the previous year and had earned football all-conference honors, as well. Center Randy Busch had been selected as the football team’s Most Valuable Player in 1961, so the Bulldogs were entering their new season without three top performers from a squad which finished the campaign with a 4-5 overall record — including a trio of one-point losses.
In 1961 — the third year of the Eight-Man Southern Star Conference — Brewster opened with a 37-12 win over Sioux Valley.
A one-point loss (13-12) to Granada was followed by a convincing 59-7 win over Heron Lake.
A 26-20 loss to eventual co-champion Ceylon evened the Bulldogs’ 1961 record at 2-2.
East Chain, the 1960 league champion, edged Brewster 26-25 in Game 5, but the Bulldogs bounced back with a 28-12 victory over Welcome.
The team’s third one-point loss came at the hands of the Okabena Bluehawks, 20-19. BHS improved to 4-4 with a 56-25 thrashing of the Huntley Black Knights.
But the Bulldogs finished below .500 when their season ended with a 27-13 loss to Round Lake, which tied Ceylon for the conference title.
Brewster outscored its opponents by 101 points (269-168) for the season, winning four games by a spread of 124 points, while losing five times by a combined margin of just 23 points.
“It hurts when you lose games by one point,” recalled Worthington’s Ronnie Meyer, who was a sophomore on that 1961 squad. “We had been playing together for a long time and we felt we had paid our dues.
“We were ready for a good season in 1962, as we had a big, experienced backfield returning and had guys — even though they were smaller than our backs —who could block, which is so important in football.”
Meyer, who ran the ball frequently as a 190-pound junior in 1962, did lots of blocking in Brewsters’ single wing formation, which featured the versatile McNab (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) as the tailback.
McNab, who scored 1,078 points during his varsity basketball career at BHS, took most of the snaps from center and ran the ball often — frequently following Meyer on sweeps to the left or right, with the option to pass.
“Gary was strong and fast,” recalled younger brother Warren, who was a sophomore end on the 1962 squad. “Both him and Ronnie — and Mike Silver, too — were big backs who could run hard.
“I am glad they were on our team and we didn’t have to play against them and try to tackle those guys.”
McNab scores four TD’s
in 1962 season-opener
at Round Lake, Aug. 31
Voss, who was an outstanding discus thrower and who surpassed the 51-foot mark in the shot put, played on the line, sharing time at center with Pat Cotter, while juniors Alan Luther, Doug Busch, along with freshman Rich Zinnel, split time at the guard positions.
Junior Kenny McConkey and sophomore Jim Weinandt alternated at the other end position — opposite Warren McNab, while Voss (6-2, 210) played some at both guard and end, as he moved around along the offensive line, while also making his presence felt on the defensive line.,
“We had a bunch of good-sized farm kids, who knew how to play together,” summed up Voss, who farms west of Brewster. “We had gone through a lot, playing with each other on the varsity since eighth or ninth grade.”
McNab ran for a trio of touchdowns and fired a TD pass to Mike Silver for a fourth score as the Bulldogs opened the 1962 campaign with a 26-0 victory at Round Lake Aug. 31.
“We had a good offense, with Gary and Mike doing most of the running,” recalled Meyer. “But, I think our defense was even better. Shutting out Round Lake, the defending league champs, was a good way to start our season. We just jelled that whole year, right from the beginning.”
A hard-fought 26-15 win over rival Sioux Valley came next.
“That was probably our toughest game that year,” recalled Gary McNab, who scored multiple touchdowns in nearly every game and finished the season with 158 points. “Sioux Valley always had a good team and I remember there was hitting that night.”
McNab gave a lot of credit to Luther, who — along with Meyer —became Brewster’s co-captain in 1963.
“Alan was only about 145 pounds, but he was tough as nails,” summed up McNab about the all-conference pulling guard. “Our guards pulled frequently, as we tried to go outside and either run or pass.”
Busch echoed those thoughts.
“As guards, we pulled on a lot of plays,” he recalled. “Guys like Gary and Ronnie, they would run up your back if you missed your block — so we did our best to give them some space.”
The line certainly opened holes for McNab in Game 3, as he crossed the goal line four times in a 39-16 victory over Granada.
Zinnel had a highlight in the game as he blocked a punt, scooped up the ball and ran 30 yards for a touchdown.
“We played so well together as a team,” summed up Meyer. ‘That’s why we won. All the guys contributed.”
Brewster improved to 4-0 with a 32-0 victory at Heron Lake as Silver, Meyer, Luther, McConkey and Gary McNab all scored touchdowns.
“We didn’t play much past the first quarter,” recalled Gary McNab about the Heron Lake game. “Our coaches — Rohne Morehead and Chuck Sagedahl — never believed in running the score up, so we did our share of watching after we were ahead by a few touchdowns.”
After snapping Ceylon’s streak, Silver runs for three TDs in key win over East Chain
Gary McNab continued his torrid scoring pace as he scored four touchdowns, including a pair of 60-yard runs, in a 46-12 Brewster victory over Ceylon on Sept. 28.
The Huskies had played 14 consecutive games without a loss. Only a 0-0 tie with Round Lake in Game 6 of the 1961 season was Ceylon’s only non-victory in the streak.
“That was a big win for us,” recalled Warren McNab, who recently retired as a health professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). “Ceylon had those Beckendorf twins, who were really good-sized, all-around athletes.
“I remember I caught I couple of passes from Gary early in game, which helped us move the ball. It’s a good thing we got ahead early because a dense fog came in and made passing almost impossible in the second half.”
Mike Silver, who passed away after a battle with cancer last December, had a big game for the Bulldogs in a key 33-19 victory over East Chain in Week 6.
Silver (6-0, 175) crossed the goal line twice on catch-and-runs from McNab and also scooted 70 yards for a kickoff return touchdown as his speed helped the Bulldogs improve to a perfect 6-0.
“Mike was fast,” praised Gary McNab about his classmate and long-time teammate. “We had a play where we would run the ball in one direction several times in a row and then would flare Mike out to the other side.
“I’d hit him with a short pass and just watch him go. It seemed like it worked at least once in every game.”
Brewster’s closest call of the season was a six-point win over Welcome 34-28 in Game 7.
Gary McNab scored four touchdowns and Meyer’s seven points proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs claimed victory over the Wildcats.
McNab and Silver each scored a pair of touchdowns in a 35-6 Brewster triumph over Okabena in Game 8 on the Bluehawks’ field.
The Huntley Black Knights came to Brewster for Game 9 on Wednesday evening (MEA) Oct. 24.
As usual, 400 to 500 fans packed the sidelines of Brewster’s field to watch the Bulldogs in action.
“We had such great crowds,” recalled Meyer. “My dad had some friends in Worthington who never missed one of our games. We had a super fan following.”
Voss agreed with that.
“We had big crowds, who followed the plays up and down the sidelines, moving with the ball as best they could. It was exciting for us to have those kids and adults rooting for us like they did.”
The Bulldogs needed to control Huntley running backs Joe Lane and Dave Anderson, who were enjoying great seasons for the Black Knights.
Brewster, of course, countered with six touchdowns of its own —three by Gary McNab (70, 16 and 3), two by Mike Silver (32 and 15) and one by Meyer (7) — as the orange and black capped a perfect 9-0 season with a 38-19 win on the last game of the season.
“I still remember the feeling we had after winning that last game,” recalled Warren McNab. “We had to battle the rain, sleet and snow, as well as a good Huntley team. But we did it.”
“It was so cold that night and the ground was so hard,” remembers Meyer. “It was our finale — what he had hoped to achieve, an undefeated season.
“Round Lake and Ceylon tied the year before. We went undefeated, 9-0, in 1962. It was a good year with great memories.”
Gary McNab earns All-State, recruited by U of M, Nebraska
It was 10 years before high school football playoffs began in Minnesota.
So, the 1962 Bulldogs — like many other undefeated teams prior to 1972 — were able to end with a victory and wonder how far they could have gone had there been a postseason tournament.
“We had a fun time winning all those games,” summed up Busch. “We took them one at a time and that year, we won all of them.”
“There was no postseason, but the camaradarie that we had among us was something special,” concluded Gary McNab. “We were a close-knit team and Coach Morehead and Coach Sagedahl were big reasons for that.”
Mike Silver, who finished the season with 66 points, joined Luther and Gary McNab in earning all-conference honors, while McNab was named the squad’s MVP.
Bigger postseason accolades were coming for Gary McNab, who also received his share of recruiting offers from big-time college football programs, including Minnesota and Nebraska.
Yes, Minnesota was a national football power in those days — having played in both the 1961 and 1962 Rose Bowls.
“I still have my letter from Murray Warmath (the Gophers head coach),” says McNab, who is retired and lives along the LeSeuer River between Janesville and Waseca. “I also clearly remember U of M assistant coach Don Larson telling me:
“You can’t play as a freshman, but we will beat on you and beat on you — you will be like a blocking dummy. If you can survive that, maybe you will play the next year.
“It sounded a lot like what they later told Rudy (Ruettinger) at Notre Dame.”
McNab, who grew up on a dairy farm southwest of Brewster, was visited by legendary Nebraska head coach Bob Devaney in the barn one summer evening, while milking cows.
“I had been out in the field stacking bales on the rack and had just come in to help with milking,” McNab recalled. “And there was Bob Devaney wanting to talk to me. It was hot in the barn, but he was willing to talk Cornhusker football with me.”
McNab, who made The Minneapolis Star and Tribune’s 1962 Eight-Man Football All-State Team as a defensive end (he actually played linebacker for the Bulldogs, along with Meyer and Silver), played a couple of seasons of collegiate football at Augustana College, playing both ways as a defensive linebacker and offensive fullback.
But 50 years ago this fall — when federal troops needed to help James Meredith enroll at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), the New York Yankees beat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series and “He’s a Rebel” by the Crystals reached No. 1 — Gary McNab was helping his Brewster teammates complete their dream season as high school football players.