Abbot Pennings High School

October 27, 1979 Football vs Fond du Lac Springs


Note:  This game is from 1979, but the uniforms, the stadium, the cheerleaders and the Abbey Pond should look very familiar to anyone who attended a Squires game from the early 70s until the school closed in 1990.  Enjoy the trip back to Pennings high school football.

In the last game of the 1979 football season, the undefeated DePere Abbot Pennings Squires hosted the one-defeated Fond du Lac Springs Ledgers at St. Norbert College's Minahan Stadium.  A Springs win would force a three way tie for the Fox Valley Christian Conference title between Pennings, Premontre and Springs.  With a Squire win, Abbot Pennings would claim the FVCC championship and earn a trip to State (the Wisconsin State Football Tournament.)

Pennings Coach Don LaViolette was an established coach in Wisconsin high school football and basketball.  Springs Coach Bob Hyland, who is currently one of the state's winning-est coaches, was early in his career.  The game was broadcast on WLUK ABC Channel 11.  It was called by local broadcaster Lee Steele with former Packer Jim Carter as the game analyst.

In 2010 I received a VHS copy of this broadcast from Jim Van Hefty '79 who played in this game (number 62.)  I converted it to DVD and recently uploaded the best plays to youtube to tell the story of the game.  (If the videos run slowly from this page, try going directly to my youtube page and running them from there.)

The regular season results and a roster for the 79 Squires are at the bottom of this page.

   

The 1979 Offensive Line:  Darrell Haen (72 T), Jim Van Hefty (62 G), Tom Teske (54 C), Mike Vandelist (53 G) and Scott Jossart (78 T) - click photos for higher res.

A nice shot of the huddle from the yearbook:  Todd Wingrove (12 QB), Mike Vandelist (53 G), Tom Teske (54 C), Jim Van Hefty (62 G), Steve Schumacher (88 TE) and Greg Smits (25 HB)

The Highlight Reel

Both teams were known for a stingy defense and the announcers made it clear that they expected a low scoring defensive struggle.  But the Squires were ready and came out strong on the first series, scoring on the second play with this touchdown from QB Todd Wingrove to RB Greg Smits.  As he's scoring, Jim Carter says wryly, "Just like I said, 'Not much scoring'" referring to the predictions he made for the game just minutes before.

 

On the second series, the Squires get a big first down on this pass from Todd Wingrove to Steve Schumacher.  Steve posted a still photo from this play on the Abbot Pennings High School group on facebook (which is also where I got the still photo at the top looking down the line.)

           

The announcers note that Don LaViolette has been coaching football at Pennings for 20 years.  In 1971 his Squires won the State Tournament.  He was the varsity basketball coach as well.  In this clip, the announcers talk about Coach LaViolette as he manages the game from the sideline.

 

Still in the first quarter, the second touchdown is another pass from Todd Wingrove, this time to WR John Murphy.  This clip includes the extra point from Scott Hoeft.  It's worth noting that Scott made the extra point after every touchdown in this game, which isn't always a given in high school football.

 

Down 14-0, Springs is desperate to get something going.  They are moving the football well, but Johnny "Smoke" Carroll forces a fumble and Mark Hendricks recovers it to get the Squires back on offense again.  The announcers mention that Hendricks is called 'The Stork'.  He is tall, but I think the nickname is also due to his name.  Ted Hendricks (#83), who played for the Packers and then the Raiders, was called 'The Stork' (or 'The Mad Stork') as well.  On this play, Mark really lives up to his nicknamesake.  The announcers missed who caused it, but Jim Van Hefty filled me in.

 

The fumble leads to another touchdown, this time a run by Doug Hutchison.  It is setup with another nice pass from Wingrove to Murphy.  On the back fence of Minahan, there was a sign that said, 'Go Helmet and Shoes, Hutch'.  I was confused, but Steve Schumacher explained, "in one of the newspaper interviews, LaViolette was quoted as saying that Hutch was hard to tackle because all the defensive linemen saw was a helmet and shoes coming through the line..."

 

As the first quarter draws to a close, the broadcast catches the Pennings fans going wild.  The sign says "2-4-6-8 This is the year we go to State!"  Why, I think I can pick out some Brogans and Reinharts, my Bitters Court neighbors, in there.

 

Here is my favorite play of the game, the last play of the first quarter.  Springs is trying to get something going, but is facing 3rd and 6.  They run their guy to the inside, but our one big man, Tony Tebo (#79) makes an outstanding stop.  He stands up the center, holds the point and rolls off his block to smother the runner for no yards.  Unfortunately, they don't have slow motion to see it again because it's worth another look.  Jim Carter is impressed.  The clip ends on the announcers in the Minahan press box.

 

One of the great things about the tape of this football broadcast is that it includes the commercials so we can see what was being advertised in 1979:  Birdseye Auto Parts, Edith's Bridal Shop, Hardees and Cuene Buick (below.)  As the commercial ends, the lead in to the second quarter features the Abbey Pond, where many a freshman took a dip against their will after a night game courtesy of the upper classmen.

 

The rest of the game was just managing our lead.  Springs scored a touchdown and we got another TD and a field goal to end the game Squires 31, Ledgers 7.  The last clip wraps up the game as Abbot Pennings High School heads to the WISAA State Tournament.

 

After this page went up on abbotpennings.com, Jim Van Hefty sent me some pictures and some thoughts from his teammates to complete the story.  Joe Bourgeois , Todd Wingrove, Tom Teske, Darrell Haen and Jim all contributed to the notes below.  Steve Schumacher sent me some additional comments that I used above.  Thanks, guys.

Notes from the Trenches - Thoughts from some Squires who Played in this Game

"The Springs game to me will always be remembered by the fact that we were absolutely terrible the previous year when we played them at their place and were crushed 25-0. With this said, and while we were undefeated, I know I was nervous as hell about this game and I think many others were as well.

"We had a very good team and I believe that with one exception, we started an entire roster of Seniors and nobody went both ways. This kind of depth was pretty amazing when you think of the fact that we only had about 80 seniors in our class.

"We controlled that game from the get go as our guys at the skill positions were so good. Todd Wingrove was born to be a quarterback all the way to his perfect hair, “the walk” and how he drove a kelly green camaro with white interior. Todd was the man. Doug Hutchison and Greg Smits were small in stature but were tough as nails and incredibly fast. They along with Junior Billy Schneider were known as the “Mini-Backs”. John Murphy was silky smooth and always seemed to be open and Steve Schumacher was bigger than most linemen, twice as mean and could catch anything.

"As good as the offense was, the defense was even better. For the season they gave up an average of 8 points a game. They were led by Paul Ihlenfeldt, Mark Hendricks, Kelly O’Keefe and Joe Bourgeois.

"We had 3 all state players that year in Tom Teske at center along with Paul and Mark.

"Doug Hutchison’s nickname came from Coach LaViolette. I think the story went something like he was so fast and small coming through the line that all that the defenders were able to see was a helmet and a set of shoes. He then was known as “Helmet and Shoes Hutch”. For what it is worth, you also mentioned Scott Hoeft and how reliable he was as a kicker. His nickname was “The Toe”.

"I remember the fans coming onto the field after the game as we were “Going to State” as they say. It was a great day and a great win. As we did after all games, we rode the “Green Cattle Truck” back to the high school singing something to the effect of “We all live in a green cattle truck, a green cattle truck…” to the tune of Yellow Submarine by the Beatles (I think anyway).

"After the game I believe we went Doug’s house for a party and watched the tape of the game in his garage. That was a big deal back in those days when you think about it. The only way any of this ever happened was because of Doug’s dad."

The Wrap Up

For a local high school sports broadcast, Channel 11 did an excellent job on this game.  It's an enjoyable watch.  Not only do the Squires play great, but the announcers are solid and the production quality is high.  It really brought me back to Minahan Stadium for a Squires game and I'm glad we could get some clips on the website.  As the fans' sign said, this was a year we went to State, but unfortunately we did not win.  Our regular season results and the team roster are below this Press Gazette Photo of Joe Bourgeois with the game ball presumably from the next day's paper (Green Bay Press Gazette, October 28, 1979.)

 
(Season results and roster from the Nov 3, 1979 DePere Abbot Pennings vs LaCrosse Thomas Aquinas program)

 

Thanks to Jim Van Hefty and Steve Schumacher for the video and pictures.
Eric Elfner
Updated January 23, 2011 at 1:44pm.  Come on Packers, beat those Bears!!

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