Tiger football: 1952 Retrospective

LUSK – Head coach Floyd Hart was in the middle of his successful run during the Tigers first great era. Lusk had yet to consolidate with Manville, and he had few returnees with varsity experience. Coach Hart stated early that the Tigers would have a potentially good backfield but a very small and inexperienced line.

Just two starters returned from the previous season, Bob Boner and Pat Vollmer, yet a handful of juniors saw playing time. Lusk High School began the season with a scrimmage at Igloo, South Dakota and took a considerable drubbing, but several bright spots amongst the sophomore class impressed the coaches.

They opened their season at the Chadron, Nebraska Preps and showed some hard running backs and good passing. Keith Stetson scored on an 11-yard run, and Vollmer’s pass to Gary Fernau for the extra point gave the Tigers an early 7-0 lead. George Hardman connected with Danny Mangus for a 30 yard score, while Vollmer ran the conversion. Prep scored in the fourth quarter but the Tigers won 14-7.

The home and conference opener was against Torrington and the Tigers gave one of Wyoming’s top teams a stiff fight – for a while. The Trailblazers struck first, but a Vollmer touchdown kept Lusk close. The visitors scored again and led 14-6 at the half. LHS had a few opportunities go awry, while Torrington scored another touchdown and a safety for the 22-6 victory.

In a rough and thrilling game, the Tigers took a 12-0 lead over Crawford, Nebraska in the first half. The Rams tied it early in the third, before Stetson made the winning score 19-12.

Taking a bit of revenge, LHS traveled back to Igloo and ruined the Rattlers Homecoming. Both defensive units were up to the task, as the game was knotted at six at halftime. Fernau and Vollmer scored second half touchdowns and the Tigers held on to pull the 20-12 upset.

A conference road trip to Wheatland was next for the Tigers, as six different players scored in Lusk’s 38-18 trouncing of the Bulldogs. Stetson, Vollmer, Ron Compton and Mangus carried the offense while Bud Reed and John Butler had back to back pick sixes to seal the win.

Lusk’s three game winning streak came to an end at Newcastle in a hard-fought game. Hardman scored first for the Tigers, but the Dogies provided the winning margin with a pair of touchdowns before the break. On Lusk’s first offensive play of the second half, Vollmer was disqualified for unnecessary roughness, and Fernau soon followed to the bench for the same reason. The loss of these two showed in the stats in the 14-6 defeat.

LHS got back on the winning track with a 19-6 home win over St. Mary’s. LHS put up 19 first half points, and despite a late Gael touchdown, improved to a 5-2 record.

Midwest provided a tough challenge for the Tigers, as Vollmer’s touchdown was the only first half points. Hardman scored in the third quarter before the Oilers rallied to get within 12-7 late in the game. The Lusk defense allowed Midwest to move all the way to the eight yard line before time ran out to preserve the win.

The traditional Armistice Day game against Douglas would wrap up the 1952 season and a chance to tie for the conference title. However, the mature Bearcats took a 13-0 halftime lead and scored three more times in the third quarter. Lusk’s offense managed a pair of late touchdowns but it wasn’t enough in the 33-13 loss.

Despite Hart’s early season claim to “not make room for any championship jewelry,” this group came within one win of the conference championship and embodied his hard-nosed style. Their 6-3 record was impressive for a team that wasn’t expected of much, flashy or high scoring, yet found ways to win the close games.

(Writer’s note: This article was written with the assistance of The Stat Rat, Wyoming-football.com and The Lusk Herald archives.)


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