Athlete. A three sport athlete at Minden High School, “Hilly” really excelled in football and basketball. In his senior year the Whippets had an undefeated football season and team captain “Hilly” was selected as All State Honorable Mention as a running back. Basketball was probably his big sport, he was picked on the Class B All State Team as a junior and the All Class All State Team as a senior. Minden basketball teams won 62 and only lost 4 during his four years in high school. During his junior and senior years he averaged 20 points per game. The Lincoln Journal Star picked “Hilly” as a Top Ten Athlete in 1952. Going on to Hastings College he started in football and basketball all four years he was there. He received many awards during is college career. The Edgar Larson Memorial Trophy for Lineman of the Year ’55, All Conference End ’54 and ’55, Honorable Mention Little All American in football ’54, Bill Carriker Award for Outstanding Lineman in the NCC ’55, NCC All Conference ’54,’55,’56 in basketball, Third Team NAIA Basketball All-American ’56, top candidate for the World Herald State College Athlete of the Year ’56. Nebraska Junior Chamber of Commerce also named him the Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1955. His college career scoring of 1,775 points gave him the school record at that time. Hastings College Hall of Fame in 1990.
Official. Bill Lewis began officiating basketball in 1961 while he was in junior high school and rose to become the Nebraska School Activities Association’s Supervisor of Officials. An intramural referee at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Chadron State, he continued to officiate after becoming a teacher. He worked the state basketball tournament from 1975 to 1979 and 1983 to 1987, and worked state championship football games in 1977-1979. He was named NSAA assistant director and the supervisor of officials in 1988, conducting rules meetings, assigning officials for tournaments and playoffs, conducting camps and clinics and observing and evaluating officials. He retired in 2004.
Athlete. In 1949 this young man was called by many the best high school athlete ever seen in the Omaha area. And for good reason. That fall he helped lead Omaha Technical High School to an undefeated Class A football state championship as quarterback of the Trojans. He was an all-around reliable athlete, starring for four years in basketball, three years in football, four years in baseball, and even one year in track & field. One of the rare athletes to receive All-American honors while in high school, he later lettered at the University of Nebraska in both football and baseball. He was a baseball college All-American in 1953 as a pitcher, with a 6-0 pitching record and a .095 earned run average.
Brother Tom Novak also is in the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Athlete–Not far from the Big Nemaha River in southeastern Nebraska is the village of Burr. From this small place came a young man with a large talent who graduated from Sterling High School in 1979. Fortunately for Cornhusker fans, Coach Tom Osborne was astute enough to discover the talent and he encouraged Dean Steinkuhler to enroll at the University of Nebraska. The rest is history. From eight-man football roots, he became an All- American guard in 1983, winning the Outland Trophy and scoring on a trick play in the 1984 Orange Bowl. He was picked second in 1984 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. Steinkuhler was named to nearly every All-American list in 1983, giving his hometown (population 110) the distinction of being the smallest town at the time to ever produce a consensus All-American. This outstanding lineman went on to play eight years of professional football with the Houston Oilers.
He followed fellow Husker Irving Fryar in the draft, marking only the second time in NFL history, and the first since 1967, that the top two players were from the same school.
Tuesday, October 23, 2001 Where Are They Now? Dean Steinkuhler ABC Sports Online
Nearly 18 years later, Dean Steinkuhler can’t remember the actual name of the play that was called in from the sidelines that warm New Year’s night. Then again, the college football annals have since named it for him. It’s simply known as “fumblerooski.”
On Jan. 1, 1984, the All-American center Steinkuhler and his No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers found themselves behind 17-0 early to underdog Miami in the Orange Bowl. The Midwestern boys were noticeably tiring in the Florida heat, and the defense was proving no match for Bernie Kosar’s passing game. Nebraska needed to do something, and do something fast.
“We had worked on it all year in practice, once or twice a week in practice, but had never tried to use it,” said Steinkuhler. “When the play came in from the sideline, I was kind of shocked, but I just said, ‘Here we go.'”
The play, since banned in college football, involved quarterback Turner Gill leaving the ball on the ground as if there had been a fumble. Steinkuhler, the hefty lineman, picked it up and ran 19 yards for the touchdown to the amazement of 72,549 onlookers and, in particular, the television cameras.
“I think I showed my kids the tape a few years ago,” said Steinkuhler, “but it’s tough because (TV) didn’t get a lot of the play.”
Of course the Cornhuskers’ trickery couldn’t keep them from falling 31-30 in what was then considered a major upset. The Husker legacy that included Gill, Outland and Lombardi Trophy winner Steinkuhler, Heisman running back Mike Rozier and future NFL wide receiver Irving Fryar left school without a national title, but that couldn’t damper Steinkuhler’s time in Lincoln.
“It was definitely the highlight of my college career, playing in the Orange Bowl vs. Miami,” he said. “All we could ask for was a shot at (the title). I still say we were the better team that year, but they were the better team that night. But hey, if you know you’re going to win, you wouldn’t play the game.”
Steinkuhler’s next football game would take place with the NFL’s Houston Oilers, whom he played for through 1991. Though he enjoyed much success in the pros, it didn’t compare with college. He had been spoiled by Nebraska’s top-flight facilities, training and, of course, coaching. No one could compare with Tom Osborne, the Cornhusker coaching legend who retired last year. Dean Steinkuhler still follows his Huskers today.
“I was never around a guy who was more sincere or caring,” Steinkuhler said of Osborne. “We had 100, 125 guys on our team. I didn’t even know everyone’s name, but he did. And he knew something about every one of them, he knew where they were from, and, somehow, he always knew if they had a problem. He just had that sense, I guess.
“That’s why, when I got to the NFL, I found out it was definitely a business. It really soured me on the whole idea. I still watch a lot of pro football, but some of the coaches, especially, you question their integrity and, often, their intelligence. I could teach more in an afternoon than some of these people know.”
These days Steinkuhler resides in Syracuse, Neb., about 30 miles outside Lincoln, with his wife and three children. The self-employed Steinkuhler is a hard man to track down, as he spends his days operating a nearby car wash and renting home storage units, and his nights coaching his sons’ football teams.
The easiest time to locate him is probably Saturdays and Sundays, when he’s either in front of the television or in the stands at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. “You’ve got to understand, in this state on Saturday afternoons, that’s all there is,” he said.
Steinkuhler still follows the Huskers closely and is openly supportive of Frank Solich.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good 10, 15 years from him,” Steinkuhler said. “But then I’ve got a former teammate I’d like to see there.” Which teammate? None other than current Husker assistant and the man that “fumbled” that ball, Gill.
Pro Football Stats
Dean Elmer Steinkuhler
Height: 6′ 3” Weight: 283
Born: 1/27/1961, in Burr, NE, USA
High School: Sterling (NE)
Regular Season Stats FUMBLES Year AGE Team LG GP TOT OWR OPR YDS TD 1984 23 Houston NFL 10 0 0 0 0 0 1986 25 “ NFL 16 0 2 0 0 0 1987 26 ” NFL 11 0 0 0 0 0 1988 27 “ NFL 16 0 2 0 0 0 1989 28 “ NFL 16 0 0 0 0 0 1990 29 “” NFL 15 0 0 0 0 0 1991 30 “” NFL 16 0 0 0 0 0 7 Season Totals 100 0 4 0 0 0
Irv Thode was a dominating all-around athlete in high school. His 6-foot-3 high jump was the unofficial national schoolboy best in 1949. He was gold medalist in the long jump in 1948 (21-9) and 1949 (22-3) and the high jump in 1949 at the state meet. He was on the 1948 Class C All-State football team. He received state honors in basketball. He went on to attend the University of Nebraska where he was on the track team from 1951-53.
Class of 1949
The Brady Eagles flew high with Dean Brittenham on the team. An all-state end, he led Brady to the six-man state title and a runner-up finish at the state basketball tournament where he was named to the all-class state tournament team. In track, he won the state pentathlon championship twice and helped Brady win the Class D state title. He won gold medals in the 120-yard high hurdles, the discus and the high jump. He lettered in track at the University of Nebraska then went on to be the head cross country and track coach at the University of Colorado. He also served as a strength and conditioning coach for the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Indiana Pacers and was a consultant for many other teams and organizations.
Athlete. Class of 1963.
She began an illustrious track and field career long before girls’ athletic programs were accepted by the general public and/or sponsored by high schools. She was second in the shotput in the National Junior Olympics as a high school junior. She won four National Senior AAU Titles in the discus and the 1968 gold medal at the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and was member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic Games teams. “Winning the Pan Am gold was obviously a highlight, she said. “It’s hard not to say that competing in the Olympics wasn’t the best moment, but unfortunately the rains came that day and I didn’t throw my best.”
Later, Carol was a teacher and coach, including serving as an assistant coach in high school football.
Coach. An all-around athlete at Omaha Central, Fred lettered in football, wrestling and tennis. During those years Central won the state meet in wrestling and tennis for four years and he won the gold medal in his weight class one year. After high school graduation in 1946, he spent two years in the Marine Corps. During his tour of duty with the Corps, he won the All-Pacific wrestling championship and the Marine-Navy singles tennis championship on Guam, plus wrestling four months at the Naval Academy at Annapolis On returning to civilian life, he enrolled at UNO where he lettered four years in tennis, was team captain 3 years, and had a record 143-5 in singles and 49-4 in doubles and was undefeated in 1950. He coached the UNO team for one year while working on his master’s degree. Along with Charlie Mancuso, Fred was instrumental in getting the wrestling program started at UNO. Hired at Omaha Benson, he was there for 38 years, coaching tennis for 35 years, coaching wrestling for five years, plus 20 years of freshman-reserve football coaching. A long time wrestling official, he was elected to the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1982. He was also selected to the Nebraska Tennis Hall of fame, Benson High Hall of Fame, Metro Conference Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, Metro Tennis Coaches Hall of Famc, and the UNO Wrestling Hall of Fame. Beyond his high school activity, Fred also ran the city and state tennis tournaments and was Omaha City Tennis Director for 20 years.
Athlete. Outstanding letterman in three sports for Grand Island High School earned nine varsity letters and collected numerous personal honors: All State football quarterback in 1963; basketball All State and All State Tournament First Team in 1964; record for the most field goals in one state tournament game; single season and career scoring records for Grand Island High; 1964 Gold Medal discus winner in the State Track Meet breaking the 24 year old state discus record set by Howard Debus of Lincoln High. He was the 1964 High School Athlete of the Year.
In June of 1964, John received two important documents–his high school diploma and a bonus contract from the baseball Kansas City Athletics. Manager Whitey Herzog was present to do the signing honors. It launched a lifetime in baseball. John was in the minors one year and then was called up to the majors with the Kansas City A’s in 1965. He was a long-time head baseball coach at the University of Nebraska. John is presently a minor league manager for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, a Boston Red Sox farm team as well as manager for major league players on rehabilitation leave. He also has responsibilities in player development.
Athlete. One of the few big men in the state in his day at 6’8’, Bus Whitehead graduated from Scottsbluff High School in 1945. An outstanding senior year contributed to a trip to Lincoln for the Class A State Basketball Championship. One of the few losses for the season was in the finals when Scottsbluff lost to Creighton Prep. Actively recruited by a number of major universities, he selected the University of Nebraska. His improvement as a college player was beyond expectations: during both his junior and senior years he was selected to the All Big 7 team. As a senior, he was the only unanimous selection to the All Big 7 team. In both of his last two years Nebraska was a Conference Co-Champion. Bus graduated from Nebraska holding seven Nebraska scoring records and was selected as a District 5 All American, and later was selected to the All-Time University of Nebraska Basketball Team. Played in College All-Star East –West game at Madison Square Garden. Outstanding player for the Phillips 66 Oilers in the National Industrial League. Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame, Lincoln Journal Star Hall of Fame, and the Scottsbluff Hall of Fame. Longtime Lincoln resident Bus and his wife Ruth have three children and five grandchildren.