The St. Clair R-XIII football season will mark its 50th anniversary during the 2018-19 school year.
The first quarterback in 1968 was Bob Sullentrup. He was a junior at St. Clair High School at the time. The first head coach was Delmar Wachter.
Sullentrup graduated from St. Clair High School in 1970 and he went on to play college football for the University of Chicago.
For the 50th anniversary, Sullentrup is trying to reach out to past players and cheerleaders for a celebration and reunion, which is in the works for Oct. 5.
“We only have a handful of contacts and people, of course, are spread out presumably all over the world,” he said.
Superintendent Kyle Kruse said the district is excited about milestone anniversary.
“(Wachter) gained a lot of community support to start the program and we’re still going strong 50 years later,” Kruse said.
There also will be a dedication of the new football press box, which is set for the first home game Friday, Aug. 24.
“Coach Wachter would say things like ‘The game of football is most like the game of life’ because you would get knocked down and then have to get back up,’ ” Sullentrup said.
The first season, the Bulldogs were 4-2. They played “B teams” and had freshmen, sophomores and juniors on the squad, according to Sullentrup.
He said seniors were not allowed on the team because they would only be there for one season and it would keep a younger player from gaining experience.
Sullentrup remembered a close game with the Owensville Dutchmen, which had also just started its football program that year.
“Coach really wanted to win that game because it was the battle of the rookie teams,” he recalled.
“He told Roy Branson, a line-backer, ‘You’re going to be the Bloemke kid. Whenever their premier running back Bloemke moves, you hit him.’ ”
The Bulldogs won the game, according to Sullentrup.
“I happened to see Bloemke after the game. I glanced at him and he was haggard and thoroughly worn out,” he said.
“The Bloemke kid had notched one for the red and the gray.”
In 1969, he mentioned that they lost Owensville to 25-16.
“That was a game where I threw an interception and then brought down the ball carrier by grabbing his face mask,” Sullentrup said.
He noted that not only was it an interception, but it cost the team a 15-yard penalty.
“Coach and I had a little conversation about that on the side. It was probably not a conversation, more like a monologue,” he said with a laugh.
“A few days later, the superintendent of public schools, Bob Edwards, quizzed me about that play. So, it was not one of my shining moments,” he said.
In the second season, the Bulldogs played “A teams” and included seniors on the team. Sullentrup remembered several of his former teammates.
There were twin brothers on the team, Dennis who played guard and Douglas Viehland who played center. Danny Rampani was a halfback and Darrel Lackey played for three years on the team.