Tom Crouch, a 1963 graduate of Washburn High School, sent me an e-mail this weekend. As a 1963 graduate scheduled to attend 50th reunions this month for both Prior Lake (grade 12) and Fulda (all prior grades) High Schools, I enjoyed the yarn and was struck by the sentiment. I received Tim’s permission to use it here.
By TOM CROUCH
Minneapolis Washburn High School has been on the front page too much this year. In a week, the Class of ’63 will gather for their 50th reunion. Undoubtedly old stories will be told. Few will probably be accurate and I’m sure all will be embellished. The following is neither:
On a crisp day late in November of 1962, a powerful Washburn football team played a St. Paul team for the Twin Cities Championship at the U of M Memorial Stadium.
There was no state tournament and Washburn would be named as the mythical State Championsby Ted Peterson of the Minneapolis Tribune.
Wilson High, the St. Paul representative, was overmatched and also having a bad game. Nothing went right for the St. Paul team all day.
Washburn was up 28-0 at halftime. Coach Russ Hellickson (note: a wonderful coach and man) said we hadn’t returned a kickoff for a touchdown all season.
Greg Wright and the blockers took care of that to start the second half. Washburn received and Wright went untouched for a touchdown.
I don’t recall if the coach tried to shut us down at that point. It would have been difficult, with some of the subs being seniors playing in their last game.
With four minutes remaining, Washburn went up 63-0 (a safety was included) and the seniors on the sideline started lobbying for a scoring moratorium.
“We are the Class of ’63,’’ they said, wanting to keep the point total at a symbolic 63.
The extra point was still to be tried and senior class president Jim Babcock had a high success rate as the kicker. As I recall, coach Hellickson wanted no part in the deal, strolling down the sideline and away from the discussion about not executing the PAT.
The snap was good and the hold perfect by quarterback Phil Lang. Babcock approached and then the ball was gone – a perfectly executed Lucy-on-Charlie Brown by Lang, and 63 was preserved as the point total.
We did get the ball back on Wilson’s 25 with two minutes left. We went with several players at unfamiliar positions, including (I think) lineman Mike Beugen at quarterback. We did not score and 63-0 was the final number posted in a perfect season in which Washburn outscored nine opponents 327-40.
I’m sure this was all misguided and if we could, we would apologize to the St. Paul Wilson players. We never intended to show them up. We weren’t that bright a group, only kids playing a game we loved.
At our reunion, this story will be recalled, but we are now faced with another 63 to deal with. We have lost 63 classmates and our main focus at the reunion will be on honoring them.
Tom Crouch, WHS ‘63