Friday. The goal of Hell Week Friday was to remind the athletes they are part of something bigger than themselves, part of something a century old and something important to our community. Part I of this Hell Week Friday post covered the fan and community part of the Tiger Tradition and how we fit into the fabric of life in Clay County . This Part 2 post covers the historical part of the Tiger Tradition and its 100+ seasons of high school football.
I didn’t know a whole lot about the history of Tiger Football when I started coaching. I had been a CCCHS fan and supporter since the Mrs. Hays started teaching in Clay Center in 1992. I had the pleasure of being roommates with Clay Center native, Monte Cales and being friends with his brother, Moby, while in college. They would tell stories about playing football back home, where the stands would be packed every game and the community loved their team, win or lose. I really could not relate. Until college, I didn’t know Clay Center from Yates Center from Smith Center. I was a Kansas City kid and Clay Center might as well have been a third world country for all I knew. Community spirit, what the heck was that? We were lucky to have parents, family and the band at our home games and we were pretty good. The stories from the Cales brothers struck something in me which, years later when we moved here, I found absolutely true. It is a great town which supports it kids like no other.
A highlight of my time in the Tiger program was the day Coach Lane trusted me with a copy of the Blackie Book, Coach Blackie Lane’s detailed history of Tiger Football. I devoured this book. The history, even in a simple schedule with results from the early 1900’s, was absolutely riveting. It was so cool to see yearbook team pictures through the years filled with grandfathers and fathers, undefeated teams and winless teams. They are all there, mostly in black and white. After reading the Blackie Book, I shifted gears in my own coaching commitment. I knew there was something bigger we were all a part of. I knew it was an honor to be part of the tradition. I knew I needed to up my game to properly pay homage to the past as we moved to the future. One thing we implemented to pay homage to those who came before us was the “Touch the Sign” tribute. All players and coaches touch the Otto Unruh Stadium sign before taking the field on game night. Below are some of my favorite highlights from the Blackie Book I used for the Hell Week Friday historical portion of the workout. Enjoy and love some Tiger Football.
Feel free to enter your own piece of Tiger Football history in a comment section below.
Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do things right all the time. Winning is a habit.” -Vince Lombardi
6:30 -6:40 Stretch Runs
6:40-7:30 Tiger Tradition
Tradition – Otto Unruh Stadium Sign
A. 100 years of Clay Center football
1. 836 games, 453-337-46 record, a .542 winning %
2. 63% of all teams had a winning record
3. 10 undefeated seasons
B. Highlights and Dynasties
1. V.R. Vegades Era 1920-1926; 42-10-2, a .778 winning %, 1920 – 7-1 record
- 1921 – 8-1 undefeated regular season. Lost to Topeka in playoffs.
- 1922 – 7-1 Did not get scored on all season until last game, a 7-6 loss to Manhattan. Beat Concordia 101-0.
- 1923 – 6-1, No TD’s given up the entire season. Lost final game to Manhattan 6-3 but only gave up 2 FG’s.
- 1924 – 6-1, only gave up 3 TD’s all season.
2. C.A. Nelson Era 1930-1941; 69-27-13, a .670 winning %
- 3 undefeated seasons.
3. Otto Unruh Era, 1945-1966; 126-65-8, a .633 winning %
Won 3 Class A State Championships; Domination and consistent competitiveness in the CKL; Nationally published book “How to Coach Winning Football”.
- 3 undefeated 9-0 seasons.
- 1956 and 1957 teams went 18-0 and won 2 state titles.
- 1963 team went 8-1 and won state championship. Only loss of year was to Manhattan, 7-6, on a missed PAT.
4. Larry Wiemers Era, 1977-1994; 114-71, a .616 winning%
- Solid, consistent football over twenty years.
1. 1978, 1979, 1980 teams went 26-5.
-2 District championships and 3 NCKL titles
-1980 team went 10-1, losing only to Andover in the regional final.
2. 1983, 1984, 1985 teams went 25-8
-Substate, district and bi-district titles.
3. 1993 team went 10-1
-NCKL champs, district, bi-district, regional runner-up
-Andover regional heartbreaker at Unruh Stadium.
100 yard flip hip sprint to north end.
100 yard bear crawl back and touch the sign