Steve Brady-SHS Class of 1954



In a trophy case in the lobby of the high school gym sits a deflated, dusty old leather football.  There is some writing on that old ball and on closer examination the writing seems to be the scores of football games.  If you examine the ball closer, you will see that these are scores from the 1937 SHS football season.  Next September will be the 70th anniversary of that football season and that deflated game ball.  The 70th anniversary of what is quite possibly the best football season in SHS history and also quiet possibly played by the best football team Stevenson ever produced.

How do you compare teams from one decade to another or how do you know which teams were better than others?  It’s obvious that a team that played 70 years ago probably couldn’t play with a team from this century.  Offenses have become much more complex and wide open.  Players have become much bigger and with the size comes strength.  Then the game was more physical but slower.  It was mostly a running game with few, if any, passes being thrown.  A team from that era would find today's passing attacks and spread formations hard to defend.  The defensive rules of that time wouldn’t work today so they really couldn’t compete.

If this is so, then how can I say this team was possibly the best ever?  You have to look at how they dominated in their day as compared to other great SHS teams.  The first thing to look at is their respective records.  There are 3 SHS teams, 1937, 1954 and 1968 that went undefeated.  The ‘37 team was 9-0, the ‘54 team 7-0-1 and the ‘68 team 8-0-1, which makes the ‘37 group the only Stevenson team to be both undefeated and untied. 

Then you compare scores.  The ‘37 boys scored 280 points and only had 6 scored against them.  The ‘54 team scored 191 pts. and allowed 46 and the ‘68 team also scored 191 pts. while allowing  65.  When you look at total record and margin of victory, the ‘37 team stands out.

The 1937 Bulldogs were playing in the “Interstate League”, a league that had just been formed and lasted only this one year.  Coach A. D. Robertson was in his last season as head coach.  Including the ‘37 season, he had a ten year record of 54-28-7 and was one of Stevenson’s finest coaches ever.  He was assisted by Don “Pop” Leer who later became the head coach and also had a fine record of 28-12-3.

They ran from a “T” formation.  Melvin Ziegler told me they had some key injuries during the year but had enough talent to keep playing well.  Mr. Ziegler usually played fullback but filled in often at quarterback and even played center for a game or two.  He say’s it was a wonderful year.

In the process of going 9-0, the Bulldogs of ‘37 beat Mill Plain-(Evergreen) 33-0, Maupin 13-0, Dufer 44-0, The Dalles 33-6, (possibly the B team), Arlington 31-0, Goldendale 33-0, White Salmon 34-0, Parkrose 33-0 and Washougal 21-0..

The Washougal game was important because they had won the Clark County League Championship.  After the Washougal victory, The Associated Press voted Stevenson as the #1 football team in SW Washington, regardless of school size.  Onalaska was voted 2nd, Stadium of Tacoma 3rd, Longview 4th,  Rochester 5th, Puyallup 6th, Kalama 7th and Olympia 8th.  This was a great football team.

A few stories about the season have come down through the years.  Stevenson had lost to arch rival White Salmon the past couple years so just prior to the game in ‘37 the coaches made a deal with the team.  Mr. Robertson and Mr. Leer told the players that if they “Walloped” White Salmon, the two coaches would push each other in a wheel barrel from North Bonneville to Stevenson.  So at 4:00 P. M. on a cold, very wet day in late October, with most of the team, their parents and other fans riding along calling out insults, the two coaches took turns pushing each other from the Columbia Theater in Bonneville to the bottom of Court House Hill in Stevenson.  They loved every cold, wet moment and a good time was had by all.

When the team arrived in The Dalles for their game, they were anxious to see the “turf” field.  They had never played on a “turf” field before.  It was dark as they walked onto the field and one player, rumored to be Gar Klinger, leaned over and felt the “turf” and exclaimed, “it feels like grass to me”.  At home, Stevenson played on a dirt field with no “turf” or grass for that matter as were most of the other fields they played on.  That’s why we call it a football field today.  They played on dirt fields and grass was unheard of, well almost unheard of.

Players on that team were;  Jack Sullivan-one of the best ends ever, Lester Krause-a small fellow but dynamite and an excellent tackler, Douglass Klinger-a very good tackle, Ted Olson-plenty tough and a hard fighter, Don Fultz-capt. of the line and great tackler, Ken Kuskie-tough and the smallest player, Bob “Whitey” Peterson-a great center, Bob “Blackie” Peterson-excellent ball carrier and capt. of the team, Bob Lofton-hard sophomore to stop when he had the ball, Waldo Bennett-runs very well, fast and good on defense, Melvin “Tuffy” Ziegler-the biggest and toughest player on the team, Gar Klinger, Jack Callahan-tough and sometimes started, Herbert Sellsted-sometimes started, Lee White-sometimes started, John Melonas-a great player in coming years, Roy Watson, John Dodson, Dick Lawton-tough player, Marvin Garrett, George Ziegler, Sam Melonas, Vernin Kitchell, Jessie Pullam, Bill Beck, Clifford Hauser, Ken Fultz, Bill Peterson, John Warner, Jim Kuskie, Merle Mullendore, Alvin Smith-later played for Whitman College, Irwin Sterns, Jim Rynearson, Bob Lee, Jim Lucas, Bob Johnson, George Kelly, Bob Borden and Arthur Davidson.

Many of these men served their country during WW II and served with Honor.  They are part of “The Greatest Generation”.  For that and for what they accomplished on the football field they deserve to be remembered and honored.