By Alan Sorensen
I watched the Stanford vs. Notre Dame game last weekend and was reminded of my youth.
As I watched the Cardinals (they were the Indians when I was young) down the Fighting Irish (now as then), Dan Fouts mentioned how quick and tough the Cardinals' linebackers were when he had to play them as an Oregon Duck. He recalled the name Lazetich. That would be the feared All-American linebacker Pete Lazetich, 1968 graduate of Billings Senior.
I remember Pete first popping into the state's headlines his junior year in high school (my senior year) when he made the winning basket at the state tournament. Later that spring, he won the Class AA discus title.
I learned from my brother-in-law Loren a few years later that Pete's father and uncle both played on the line for Loren's revered Los Angeles Rams. It was Pete's uncle, I think, who rumbled the length of the field with a fumble to make it into the Rams' record book.
Anyway, Pete's dad, Bill, it turns out, was an assistant coach at Havre High, along with Adolph Klies, when the Blue Ponies won the state football crown in 1941. A kid named Ray Kato starred on that team.
Havre next won the state title in 1955 under head coach Ralph Frank. Ray's little brother Frank was a first team all-state selection from that team.
Another star on that team was a running back named Mac Wylie. Wylie went on to play at Stanford, captain of the team, and earned All-American halfback honors.
An assistant coach on that team was Reuben Huss. About 10 years later, I had Huss for chemistry and Klies as a substitute teacher. Small world, huh?
Mr. Huss died in Wahpeton, N.D. during the last week, and Joe Tobiness, an HHS student class of '66, died in Great Falls. Joe lived through a few years of hell on Earth and came out with a smiling heart. He, like Huss, shared a lot of joy with kids around here. They, along with Ray Kato, will be long remembered.
Back to football.
Warren Anderson, who was a junior fullback on the 1955 championship team, told me recently that Wylie was the second fastest halfback on that squad. Jim McLeod, he said, was faster.
McLeod went to Montana State College (later to be known as MSU-Bozeman) and had a stellar Bobcat career. His son, Mike, was a Bobcat too, as I recall. He ended up as a defensive back for the Green Bay Packers, Wells tells me.
But back to the Stanford connection.
Another of Stanford's All-American grid greats got his start in Montana, learning the basics in little league football in Missoula. No, it wasn't Jim Plunkett or Tiger Woods. It was John Elway, the erstwhile baseball player who, along with Plunkett and Woods, prowled the sidelines during the Cardinal/Irish shootout. (I didn't notice Chelsea wearing scarlet anywhere in the stadium.)
What other Stanford greats came from Montana? Well, besides all those who made it on brains alone, there were:
Larry Questad of Livingston, the fastest man in the world for at least 10 minutes in 1968;
Havre High grad Glen Havskjold, a member of Stanford's record setting mile relay team;
Skip Grodahl, the freshman from HHS who did nearly everything extremely well on the track and in the field for Stanford's thinclad corps before getting serious about his books and future his sophomore year.
But getting back to the Stanford game. I learned that Idaho beat Stanford this year. I already knew that the Grizzlies outplayed the Vandals before losing a heartbreaker by 3 points. I extrapolated that trend out a bit further and came up with the notion that the Griz could have handled the Fighting Irish this year.
Of course, I don't want to belittle ND and upset Charlie G. Let it suffice that two of Notre Dame's great athletes were Havre kids, too. My old high school coach Ray Kuka inspired sports writers around the country and fans in South Bend with his exploits on the hardwood in the early '40s. And let's not forget his son, Monty, who was an early-day Tiger Woods for the Fighting Irish.
How much of the information in this column is balderdash? I don't know. I'll wait for the calls and let you know later.