It was 40 years ago that Washington High School celebrated a state championship football season.
To this day, the 1973 Blue Jays are the only team to win a state title, other than cheerleading, at Washington High School.
The Blue Jays were a tough, hard-nosed team that took the personality of their head coach, Jim Scanlan.
They also were a smart team with good quickness who knew how to win games.
Washington claimed the Class 3A state championship with a 14-7 victory over Jefferson City Helias at Rolla High School, capping a perfect 11-0 season.
“I might upset some of the guys by saying this, but I don’t think we were the most physically imposing team,” said Dennis Brune, a senior tight end/defensive end on the team. “We just had a bunch of guys who believed in the Scanlan way. We really bought into it. We made very few mistakes. We didn’t have penalties or turnovers. We just grinded it out and found ways to win, which is exactly how the state championship game went.”
The 1973 team will gather for its 40-year reunion of the memorable season on Friday, Sept. 6, during the home football opener for the 2013 version of the football Blue Jays.
Vicky Maune and Laura Hillerman, both members of the Washington High School Athletic Association, have done much of the planning for the event.
“This is a big deal. There’s a lot of excitement,” Maune said. “We’re glad that we’re able to bring everyone together again.”
Team members will be introduced to the crowd during halftime of the game between Washington and Timberland.
“Vicky and Laura have done a phenomenal job putting it all together,” Brune said. “A high percentage of players are coming back. We even have the option to buy championship rings. You would have thought we won the Super Bowl.”
Members of the 1973 team also will meet and talk to current members of the WHS football squad.
“It will be a neat opportunity to catch up with the guys. I run into a few of them on occasion, but it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a lot of them,” said Leroy Eggert, the quarterback on the 1973 team. “I think we’re all looking forward to seeing the new turf field.”
State Title Game
In the 1973 state championship game, Washington trailed Helias 7-6 late in the game.
Ted Stahl, a junior on the team, returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game.
Stahl jumped in between four Helias players, grabbed the bouncing ball and raced down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown.
“Before the play, I asked Dennis Brune if I could try to block the punt and he said no. He wanted to set up the picket fence along the sideline and go for the big return,” Stahl said. “The punter shanked it to my left. Helias wanted to down the ball, but I grabbed it and took off. My friend Tim Calvin ran with me the whole time.”
Brune scored the two-point conversion to give the Blue Jays a 14-6 lead.
Eggert scored the Blue Jays’ first touchdown of the game on a one-yard run.
Eggert was one of six players named that season to the Class 3A all-state football team.
Mark Rothschild, Gary Vogel and Brune were named to the first team while Alan Elsenrath, Keith Maune and Eggert were named honorable mention.
The way high school football was played in 1973 is much different than today.
“I called our defensive plays. They didn’t come from the sideline, like you see today,” Brune said. “Our defense was pretty straight forward. We mostly ran inside fire or outside fire. Our defense was tough as nails. Scanlan had a way of putting the right people in the right spots.”
Eggert called the offensive plays.
“It was my call most of the time. Coach Scanlan made it a point to give me that freedom,” Eggert said. “We weren’t too fancy with the calls. It usually was three yards and a cloud of dust.”
Washington opened the 1973 season with a forfeit win over Ft. Zumwalt. The Blue Jays followed with victories over Farmington 7-6, Sullivan 18-7, Union 15-7, Pacific 8-6, St. Clair 36-7, Hermann 46-0, St. James 36-0 and Owensville, 31-0.
There were only four teams that advanced to the 3A state playoffs that season.
Washington played against North County of Desloge-Bonne Terre at Rauch Field in the semifinals.
Eggert scored two touchdowns and Tim Calvin added one as the Blue Jays won the game, 20-14, in the rain and mud.
Vogel rushed for 151 yards on 39 carries in the semifinal game.
Washington’s defense held North County to 69 total yards.
“Coaching had a lot to do with our success that season,” Eggert said. “Beyond that, it was a group of kids that bought into the system.”
The 1974 Washington team advanced to the state title game once again, but lost to Boonville.
“The 1973 state championship game was on a beautiful day. The 1974 game was in a foot of snow on the same field,” Stahl said. “We all had the privilege to play for Coach Scanlan, Coach (Ray) Eickmeyer and Coach (John) Carter. Our defense was very good on that 1973 team and we had great leadership from our coaches and our seniors.”
The following players were on the 1973 WHS football team:
• Coaches: Head Coach Jim Scanlan and Assistant Coaches John Carter, Ray Eickmeyer, Ken Bebermeyer and Tom Crone.
• Seniors: Leroy Eggert, Terry Vogel, Tim Holt, Gary Vogel, Keith Maune, Daryl Fleer, Alan Elsenrath, Cabbie Berard, Dave Bezold, Dennis Beste, Jack Haberberger, Mark Rothschild, Mark Ditch, Mike Duncan and Dennis Brune.
• Juniors: Ted Stahl, Tim Calvin, Mike Hawkinson, Ryland Hoeft, Carey Curran, Rick Alfermann, Andy Hagedorn, Dave Benz, Kent Miesner, Duane Scheible, John Hillermann, Greg Lohmeyer, Jon Wood, Rick Twellman, Jack Jessup and Dave Homeyer.
• Sophomores: Larry Curran, Mike Benz, Pat Hanneken, Mike Stahl, Brian Toedebusch, Mike Crowe, Tom Hackmann, Kurt Althage, Doug Riechers, Bill Wood, Dave Siebert, Jay Mittler, Dale Hahne, Rodney Sickmann and Tom Siebert.
• Managers: Marty Risch, John Caldwell and Kevin Althage.
• Cheerleaders: Debbie Stahl, Dawn Dozier, Lynn Ingraham, Rose Helms, Toni Veltre, Cindy Hazel, Debbie Hoeman and Laurie LaBoube.