VHS Tanager’s Ruminations

VHS Tanager's Ruminations By Jim Prosser To adequately describe the 1965 VHS Tanager football season it is appropriate to cover several items which will help explain the success it enjoyed. First: it was preceeded in 1964 by a team which had an 8-1 record, defeating three South Dakota "rated" teams, including the 1963 State "A" champion Canton C-Hawks. Second: starting in 1958, Vermillion High School enjoyed over a 20 year stretch of winning football seasons � winning more games than they lost. Third, and most important: The members of the squad exhibited the attributes of intelligence, leadership, competitiveness, cooperation, and desire to accomplish a goal by applying the "team concept."

From a speech by former VHS Principal Cliff Manley, "The VHS football team of 1965 was an outstanding aggregation with an undefeated season of nine straight wins. The biggest victory of the year was not the 6-0 win over 'arch rival' Yankton in the season opener, (but) the 20-14 win over 'arch rival' Canton in the seventh game. Canton led 14-0 at half time, but the score was tied when the Tanagers had the ball on Canton's 26 yard line with six seconds left in the game. (note: there were no tie-breaker routines then) The play started with the quarterback Dick Slattery dropping back to pass, then scrambling, reversing his field, and approaching the line of scrimmage. He threw the ball to right end Tom Graf, who was on his knees in the endzone, for the winning touchdown. That was the mark of a superior football team!" This was the first year for the Sioux Empire conference and VHS was the only undefeated, untied 11-man football team in South Dakota while being victorious over four Iowa teams in the conference to capture the championship. The Tanagers were named by the S.D. Associated Press sports writers as "Team of the Year."

Individual recognition was given by the team at the end of the season: Dick Slattery � Most Valuable Player (Co-captain), John Krueger � Most Valuable Lineman, Greg Schultz � Most Valuable Back, Tom Graf � Most Improved Player, Jim Nelson (Co-captain), Dave Iverson � Most tackles.

Slattery and junior Tony Glass were "AP All-State," Argus Leader "All-state," and were named to the KTIV Hall of Fame Team.

Coach Jack Schuver received the "Coach of the Year" award presented by the Sioux City Journal. This was Jack's final season for the Tanagers and he accomplished a 30-5-1 record at Vermillion High School.

In a future article I want to make some further remarks concerning the members of this remarkable team. In the meantime, I will cover some highlights from the 1995 undefeated Tanager team.

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