Abbot Pennings High School

Thoughts from the team on the 1979 State Game in LaCrosse

At my request, some guys from the 1979 football team filled me in on what happened at State after the big victory the week before against Fond du Lac Springs.  The first game did not go well, and I felt a bit bad for asking them to relive it.  But I appreciate them helping me conclude the story of the 1979 season.  The game was played in LaCrosse against LaCrosse Thomas Aquinas on November 3, 1979.  Here is the program from that game, and here are the notes provided by Joe Bourgeois , Todd Wingrove, Tom Teske, Darrell Haen and Jim Van Hefty:

"In getting feedback from some of the guys on this game, none of us remember it too well other than we certainly didnít play like the number two team in the state.

"For whatever reason, it didnít seem like we had a well thought out plan in terms of that game from the trip over all the way through the game that evening. On the way we stopped and ate this huge meal at Ponderosa which I am sure they lost big bucks that day at the buffet.

"The trip was long and when we arrived, incredibly early, Pat Micholichek calls his sister who goes to UW-L and she leads the team bus to some park overlooking the river called Grand Dadís Bluff. We were all geared up and things were pretty much out of control. Thankfully no one got hurt. It took forever for the game to finally arrive and by the time it did I think a lot of the air was already out of the balloon.

"If the game would have ended after the first drive we would have been victorious. Hutch ran for a long TD of something like a 50 yard run. We felt that that we were on our way. Unfortunately we played terribly the rest of the game. We could do nothing on either offense or defense. They seemed to be bigger and faster than us at every position and like everything about the trip, we didnít seem to have a plan in terms of what to do. The halftime tirade by Al Groves was a classic. He was fuming mad and rightfully so.

"Todd Wingrove said, ďI remember completing six passes at La Crosse but five were to the other teamĒ. Being that he wasnít able to get back three steps before being tackled, I am surprised he completed any. Our offensive line played as badly as you could possibly play and took the loss especially hard.

"Something that will never be understood was why they got to play at home (UW-L) as opposed to somewhere in the middle especially as were the higher seed. Donít know if it would have mattered as they beat us 33-14.

"The scene after the game was pretty bad. It included tears, anger, disbelief and that feeling of being lost. It was gut wrenching for a bunch of 16-18 year old kids. It took a long time to take those jerseys off in the locker room. For most of us, this was the last time that we would ever wear a Squires jersey or play football. Needless to say that the bus ride home was incredibly long and as you can imagine, very quiet. As you could always expect however, our amazing fans (girls from the Academy) were at the high school to greet us upon our return.

"Not sure on this but I thought that Aquinas beat Marquette that year the next week for the championship."


Thanks to Jim Van Hefty for compiling these notes.
Eric Elfner
January 23, 2011

Back to the Springs Game, the Pennings Athletics Page or the Pennings Home Page


Contact Eric Elfner at elf(at) with additions, corrections or comments on this site.