Blast from the Past: Trojans 8-1 in 1965; Bulldogs extended win streak

Les Knutson Blast from the Past WORTHINGTON -- While the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers were battling through seven close games of the 1965 World Series and Billboard's top-five singles included "Yesterday" by the Beatles, "A Lover's Con...

Les Knutson
Blast from the Past 

WORTHINGTON - While the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers were battling through seven close games of the 1965 World Series and Billboard’s top-five singles included “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “A Lover’s Concerto” by the Toys, “Get Off of My Cloud” by the Rolling Stones, “Keep On Dancing” by the Gentrys, and “Everybody Loves a Clown” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Worthington Trojans were rolling in Southwest Conference football action.
After starting the season with four straight wins, those ’65 Trojans were blanked by the powerful Jackson Bluejays in a hard-fought 12-0 loss the first weekend in October.
But WHS finished the fall campaign strong, starting with a 21-0 Homecoming Night victory over Marshall on Oct. 8.
The Trojans followed that up with an impressive 42-19 triumph over Redwood Falls as junior halfback Dave Habbena scored four Worthington touchdowns, while Tom Rayl and Jeff Flynn each crossed the goal line once. Bob Buysse was a perfect six-for-six on PAT kicks and the Trojans improved to 6-1.
Basketball star Marty Jorgensen contributed to the WHS victory with a 37-yard pass interception return and a pair of long pass receptions, a 25-yarder from Rayl and a 50-gain from Bob Fiekema.
The complete list of Trojan players for that ’65 game vs. Redwood included Buysse, Steve Jeppesen, Dwayne Hochhalter, Rod Galland, Habbena, Dan Winter, George Rayl, Tom Rayl, Jorgensen, Ron Lindaman, Jack Hoskins, Fiekema, Roy Graff, Don Nelson, Jerry Fiola, Mark Henry, Rick Wallace, Tim Standafer, Joe Anton, Flynn, Dave Wittenhagen, Jim Lowe, Randy Wendling, Greg Brunner, Wayne Klumper, Gary Carlson, Stan Haas, Larry Oberloh, Rich Tims, Jeff Hochhalter, Tomm Smail, Ron Heyens, Dennis Klumper and Duane Gramstad.
Later that school year, the Trojans would win the Southwest Conference basketball crown, winning a pair of close games over the Windom Eagles, including a double-overtime thriller at Worthington in early February of 1966. WHS split with perennial power Luverne during the season and then came-from-behind to edge the Cardinals in a classic District 8 championship clash in early March. But, the Trojans memorable 20-3 basketball season came to a close with a loss to Windom in the Region 2 finals at Mankato State’s Highland Arena.
The first meeting between the Windom and Worthington male athletes during ’65-66 came on the gridiron on MEA Wednesday (Oct. 20) and was a highly-anticipated contest as each squad had just one loss (both to Jackson).
Employing the single wing offense, taught so well by Eagles’ head coach Charles “Chub” Reynolds, Windom entered the contest on the heels of a 26-0 victory over Slayton after defeating Luverne the week before.
Windom guard Earl Knopf and Trojan end Dwayne Hochhalter had each been honored the preceding Thursday on WCCO Radio’s Prep Parade Team of the Week (hosted by Paul Giel and Sid Hartman) for their outstanding play in games against Luverne and Marshall, respectively.
The Bullard twins - Rob and Rich - were Windom’s top running backs and basketball whiz Steve Elness also played as the tailback for the Eagles in passing situations.
Some of the highlights of that game (in the Thursday, Oct. 21 issue of the Daily Globe) included the banner headline:
“Trojans Overpower Windom To Claim 2nd Place, 26-6.”
Yes, Worthington handled Windom in the football game that school year, earning a 20-0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Tom Rayl scored twice before intermission, capping a sustained 65-yard Trojan drive with a two-yard sneak and scoring again after a 40-yard run by Habbena and a spectacular “circus” catch by Jorgensen, who also came up with a one-handed pass interception and caught a TD pass from Rayl. Don Nelson smashed through the line for one of the Trojans’ extra points (all PATs were one pointers in those days).
Windom spinback (a single wing position, lined up next to the tailback) Mark Tasler broke loose up the middle on a “spinner keeper,” after faking to both the tailback and wingback, for a 50-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles on the board in the third quarter.
Later, a 26-yard TD pass from Rayl to Jorgensen made the final, 26-6.
A strong wind, which according to Corky Brace’s write-up “froze the fans” hindered the passing that night, but the Rayl to Jorgensen connection teamed up often enough to help the Trojans improve to 7-1.
That same evening, Jackson remained undefeated with a 21-0 win over Luverne as John Lee scored two touchdowns and two extra points, Mark Eggiman rushed for 93 yards, including a 38-yard TD run and the trio of Glen Leimbach, Jerry Vacura and Lee were cited for standout performances on defense.
The Bluejays, who capped their season with a hard-fought 14-13 victory over Fairmont (Nov. 6) for the “Old Oak Bucket” were only scored upon in two games all season - once by Pipestone and twice by the Cardinals.
Elsewhere on MEA Wednesday of ’65, Magnolia ran its winning streak to 19 games with a 27-0 victory over Chandler, Hills-Beaver Creek (in its first year as a consolidated school) defeated Ellsworth (31-13), Adrian and Lake Wilson played to a 13-13 tie, Okabena defeated Heron Lake (28-14), Walnut Grove edged Fulda (7-6), Springfield beat Westbrook (24-6), Welcome topped East Chain (39-13) and - for the first time in three years - the Jeffers Wolves won a football game, earning a 25-6 victory over the Brewster Bulldogs.
There were a total of nine area shutouts that night. Besides the defensive gems turned in by both Magnolia and Jackson, Marshall blanked Redwood Falls (18-0), Round Lake shutout Sioux Valley (14-0), New Ulm Luther beat Butterfield (9-0) and the Tracy Scrappers rolled over Canby (33-0). There were three shutouts by identical 19-0 scores as Pipestone topped Slayton, Sanborn defeated Storden and Comfrey beat Lakefield.
Bruce Kruger scored one touchdown and passed to John Sather for another - after a long pass play from John Spessard to Gene Boyer - in Round Lake’s upset over Sioux Valley (the Warriors’ only loss of the season).
Okabena’s Mike Gade scored three touchdowns and Curt Eidhammer crossed the goal line with the other as the Bluehawks doubled the score on the Falcons. Loren Hedrick returned a kickoff 70 yards for one Heron Lake touchdown and scored the other on a 38-yard run.
Nine nights later, Worthington capped a highly-successful 8-1 season with a 26-14 win over Pipestone and Magnolia finished its second straight undefeated campaign with a 46-6 win over Ellsworth.
The Bulldogs, who I wrote a “Blast” about nine years ago (Sept. 30, 2006) won 25 straight during a four-year span, winning their last four games of the 1963 season, going undefeated in both ’64 and ’65 (8-0 each year) and then rattling off five victories in 1966 before H-BC snapped the streak with a high-scoring 63-35 victory in Magnolia’s sixth game.
The Bulldogs bounced back with three wins to finish 8-1 in ’66, going 24-1 over three seasons and 28-1 since losing three straight in 1963. Magnolia’s four-year record in that span (’63-66) was a sparkling 29-4.
Springfield won the Seven Star Conference championship, Sioux Valley (despite its loss to Round Lake) won the Southern Star, Comfrey claimed the Red Rock title and, of course, Magnolia repeated as the Tri-County Conference champions and Jackson repeated its Southwest Conference championship.
Ruppert won nine straight cross country races in ‘65; Eagles make it to state
Worthington junior Leon Ruppert won nine straight cross country races during that fall of 1965, including winning both the Southwest Conference and District 8 individual titles.
In a meet at Jackson on Oct. 1, Ruppert ran the hilly two-mile course in 11:03 to win a triangular meet which also included Westbrook. The top 10 (after Ruppert) were Jackson runners Dan Kocak and Gary Prinz, followed by Worthington runners Alan Wells and Doug Ling. Jackson’s Dan Stubelska and Tom Wells were sixth and seventh, respectively, followed by Worthington’s Don Neeb, Jackson’s Lance Edlin and Westbrook’s Jay Takle. The Bluejays edged the Trojans, 28-29, in the team scoring.
That same day, a young Windom squad won the seven-team Pipestone Invitational as Eagle junior Mike Bogle (10:40) and freshman Dave Knorr placed first and third, respectively. Fulda’s Don Reith (10:53) finished second, while Pipestone’s Tom Brockberg and Luverne’s Bruce Petersen completed the top five in the 45-runner field. Windom posted a winning score of 38, followed by Pipestone (55), Fulda (62), Luverne (81), Brookings S.D. (160), Slayton (162) and Edgerton (180). Windom freshman Dave Morfitt won the 47-runner junior varsity race.
Later, Ruppert, Kocak and Windom’s team qualified for the one-class state cross country meet with grand efforts at the Region 2 Meet held on the hills of Jackson’s course. Ruppert finished third individually (11:05) behind the Mankato duo of Tom Lund (10:51) and Bob Nelson. Windom, paced by Bogle’s fourth-place individual finish, claimed second in the team standings with 59 points, well ahead of third-place Madelia’s total of 87.
Mankato, with four of the top seven, won the team title with 29 points (1-2-6-7-13). Finishing behind Madelia were Pipestone (108), Luverne (131), Worthington (156), St. James (170), Jackson (187), Blue Earth (232) and Delavan (239) completing the 10-team field.
Kocak capped a fine season for Jackson by finishing fifth in the region, also advancing to the state meet.
Labor Day Weekend, 1968
I am out of space for this week, but I came across a bunch of interesting items from Labor Day Weekend of 1968 (I picked up the wrong book when I aimed to complete my fall of ’65 research).
Look for more of that in the near future, but here’s a starting point to ponder. What did the following men accomplish - it was quite a streak - from 1961-1968? Carroll Hallum, Dayle Olson, Ernest Iverson, Carl Hanson, Everett “Neb” Peterson, Leonard Holck, Clarence Valen, Glenn Sogge and Harold Lerohl were all pictured on the Aug. 29, 1968 Daily Globe sports page, while Bruce Lerohl, Walter Schutt, Wayne Holck, Robert Roy and Sirwell Shaner were part of the team, too, but were not in the picture.
I will take a call at 507-822-2053 from anyone who can tell me what these guys were so good at?

What To Read Next
WORTHINGTON – The top 10 teams in Minnesota Class A high school gymnastics will be in Worthington on Saturday (Jan. 28) for the state True Team meet. Participating teams are Becker, Benson, Big Lake, Byron, Detroit Lakes, Mankato West, Melrose, New London-Spicer, St. Peter, and Worthington.
Tom Goehle, son of legendary coach Hugo Goehle, was once a star athlete at Hills-Beaver Creek High School. Now he gives back through coaching and his involvement in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Hall of Famer Tony Oliva and current Minnesota Twins stopped in Luverne Wednesday with the annual Winter Caravan tour
Thursday night high school sports roundup: