LUSK – While the United States was in the middle of World War II, Lusk High School was also impacted.
The Tigers were coming off a 1943 season that saw them go 7-1-1 and tie for the conference championship. Yet, head coach Floyd Hart was called off to the war following the best season in school history. After serving our country for a couple years, he returned to led Lusk to its first period of excellence.
New coach Paul Theulin’s only season featured a talented roster Hart had fine-tuned. Returning letter winners included Eugene Blackmore, Don Hoy, Edgar Boner, Jim Boner, Edward Lorenzen, Bud Owens, Walter Schnorenberg, Joe Bonner, Alfred Taylor and Jim Griffith. Lance Creek boys Dean Long, Earl Himes and Robert Linville are expected to be contributors in addition to 20 others on the roster.
It was noted in The Lusk Herald Sept. 14, 1944 issue that Theulin was disappointed in the boys training habits so far. The majority of them were still smoking cigarettes and not wanting to play the game seriously enough to give up the habit, if even for a few weeks.
In the first game of the season, Edgemont, S.D., visited Lusk and both teams were looking to break the stalemate of two straight tied games. At the county fairgrounds, the Tigers won 14-6 before four straight road games.
The first was at Igloo, S.D., to face the Provo Rattlers and the Tigers had little trouble in the 38-6 win. The following week LHS went to Crawford, Neb., and won 31-7. Highlights included Long’s 43-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Don Best recovering a blocked punt in the endzone for a touchdown.
Back inside state lines, the Tigers went to Wheatland, and Griffith and Long combined for five of the six touchdowns in the 39-6 win. With Long enlisted in the Army, Griffith scored all three touchdowns the following week at Sunrise in a 19-6 win.
A pair of home games against strong teams from Gillette and Torrington were next on the schedule – five days apart. Lusk was able to contain the Camels high-scoring offense in a tough 7-6 victory. Blackmore was as reliable a kicker as any in school history, and his point after kick followed a 78-yard scoring march in the Tigers one-point win. A 13-0 win over the Trailblazers put Lusk in the conference lead as Ed Boner and Griffith bookended touchdowns in the first and fourth periods.
In the traditional Armistice Day game, Lusk and Douglas faced off and the Tigers had an opportunity to claim their first outright conference title. The game, before a record-breaking crowd, was no contest as LHS led 20-0 at the half. Only a late Bearcat score against the reserves prevented a shutout in the 46-6 final score.
After Cheyenne refused to face the 8-0 Tigers or the 7-1 Powell Panthers, Theulin took 19 boys 340 miles for unofficial bragging rights. Yet, with speed and power to burn, plus a couple of blocked punts and an intercepted pass the Panthers took an easy victory from the Tigers, 47-0.
When the votes were tallied, Griffith was selected to the all-state second team, while Blackmore, Long, Hoy, Ed Boner and Ed Lorenzen were honorable mention. First team all-conference included Griffith, Blackmore, Hoy, E. Boner and E. Lorenzen. Second team all-conference listed Long, Lew Loebe, Linville and Jim Nutt.
This was the first team in school history to win eight games, and Theulin departed before the following season. While Hart would return full time for the 1947 season, the 1944 team deserves mention among the best.
(Writer’s note: This article was written with the assistance of The Stat Rat, Wyoming-football.com and The Lusk Herald archives).