The First Football Game, September 27, 1966

by John Tischer on October 25, 2010 · 0 comments

Our first football game was scheduled for September 27, 1966 on a Tuesday night. Seeing as we could not get a varsity game lined up for most of the year, we would be playing the “B” teams from other schools. Our first game would be against the Pomeroy “B” team at 7:30pm.

Monday’s practice was set to go over final preparations for the game and to get us under the lights so we had an idea of what it would be like to be to actually play football in those conditions. Our practice was no longer than an hour.

I remember finding it very difficult to sleep the night before the game. So many thoughts going through your mind, so much to remember, so much to consider, and yet so anxious for the game to actually be played.

Monday at school was a very exciting day, lots of anticipation, lots of people who had never even seen a football game in person would be attending their first game. There was an article in the local paper about the game and how it would be nice if the community could come out and support the team, win or lose.

As hard as our coaches and players had been practicing, you also now had the band who would do something at the game, and you now had to have cheerleaders as well. All of the cheerleaders that had cheered for Fonda all had been basketball oriented. You can’t yell, R E B O U N D very well for football, so obviously new cheers had to be learned. The cheerleaders for the 1966-1967 football team were Bonnie Dusing, Darlene Hunter, Sheral Adams, Jane Stauter, Judy Smith, and Vicki Burditt.

There were no dressing rooms at the baseball park, so we had to dress at the school and then be bussed to the games. We got to the field about 6:30 and did our warm ups, it was a beautiful fall night, crisp yet not too cold. I remember the sky was full of stars, it was a wonderful night. As we warmed up the crowd started to show up as well, more and more people kept coming, and soon the field on both sides was surrounded by locals who wanted to see the game. My best estimate is that there were at least 750 people for the game.

We lost the toss and kicked off to Pomeroy and forced them to punt. The snap back to the punter went over his head, and by the time he retrieved it and punted it we had the ball at the Pomeroy 18 yard line. On the first play of the game for us offensively, Doug Krutchen skirted the left end to the 4 yard line and scored on the next play. We were ahead!!!!! Pomeroy then took the kickoff and drove down to our 15 yard line where we stopped them and took over on downs. We drove the ball out to midfield, and then I pitched the ball to Doug Kruchten again, and he went 56 yards for another touchdown. We were now ahead 12 to 0.

Pomeroy would rally and tie us at 12 to 12 in the third quarter. One play that still stands out to me today is a play made by Dennis Smith in the third quarter. We set up a return on a punt. Don Darling and myself were the return men. The ball was kicked to Don and down the sideline he went, the wall was perfectly set up for him to score. I was trailing the play and saw that all Don had to do was beat one man and he was gone. The Pomeroy player had a good angle on Don, yet he never saw Dennis Smith. Dennis had a better angle on him and put a block on him that was so devastating that he knocked the helmet off of the player as well as knocked him out of his high top shoes. I remember watching the player fly through the air and he landed and didn’t move. It absolutely was the best block I have ever seen. Unfortunately, Don got tangled up with Dennis Stafford and tripped over him and didn’t score, but 44 years later, I still remember that block.

The game has now moved to the fourth quarter and we are still tied. We have been stopped twice, once on the eleven yard line and then again to the two yard line losing the ball on downs both times. Pomeroy tried to run a reverse on the eleven, and Dennis Smith recovered a fumble, and now with just minutes to go in the game we have a chance to score and win.

We ran two plays for no gain and then Pomeroy had a five yard penalty, we are on the six yard line. I gave the ball to Pat Murphy on a fullback dive, and he got to the three yard line, and then I ran a quarterback sneak to get the first down. There was less than a minute to go in the game. There was no scoreboard, so the time was kept on the field. I ran another quarterback sneak and got just short of the goal line, and then handed the ball off to Pat Murphy who scored with less than thirty seconds to go in the game. We didn’t make the extra point so we now led 18 to 12.

We kicked off, Pomeroy tried a double reverse on the kick off, we tackled the runner and one play later the game was over, we had won!!!!! We had won the very first game we had ever played in. The crowd was crazy, and the players were just as excited. I remember getting on the bus and the bus went all over town as we were yelling, “We’re Number One!” over and over. Honestly, it was incredible the amount of excitement and fulfillment we all had in that moment. We went back to the gym, showered, and the kids were all at the school yelling and wanting to just touch us and be a part of the experience.

Statistically, the team had a good night with Doug Kruchten being the leading runner, I did have a 42 yard pass to Dennis Stafford that helped our cause. The most important thing though was that we had won. There will be more games to be played and other memories yet, this one I will never forget. 20 kids and coaches can come together in August and in 6 weeks win a game they had never played before. To me, it speaks well of the coaches, the team, the school, and the community.

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