Class of 1969
A defensive stalwart on the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Team of the Century, Blahak made his mark on the high school scene competing in football, basketball and track. A Class B all-state football player in 1968, he led Scotus in rushing, scoring and interceptions as the Shamrocks claimed a state title. He led the basketball team in scoring his senior year, and turned to track in the spring where he won five state meet gold medals. His junior year, he won the 100-yard dash, the 180-yard low hurdles and the long jump. As a senior, he won the low hurdles and the long jump and qualified for the state meet in all five field events as well as the 100 and the 880-yard relay. At Nebraska, he started at cornerback for three years, earning All-Big Eight honors twice and second-team All-America honors as a senior. He went on to play five years in the NFL.
Athlete. His blazing speed while at Mitchell High School and the University of Nebraska made the highly-respected Red Littler into a true legend. For three consecutive years until his graduation in 1937, he led the Tigers of Mitchell High to Class B State Track & Field Championships. At the close of this 1935-36-37 period, the accomplishments at the state meet were compared of all classes and Littler’s times helped make Mitchell High School the grand champion in 1937. His 9.6 in the l00-yard dash and 21.3 in the 220-year dash are still high on the all-time lists. A versatile football player, his team lost only one game in the three years when Gene was in the backfield. His teammates at NU described him as a mighty tough runner. In his senior year with the Cornhuskers behind at a Big Six Meet, he anchored the last leg of the mile relay in the winning event to wrap up the 1942 Big Six Conference title in the clocked time of 46.5 seconds. He ended his career as a successful track coach at both Beatrice and at Tenafly, New Jersey.
Athlete Arapahoe High School won the Nebraska State Boys Track & Field Championship three years in a row: 1949, 1950 and 1951,Class C, due for the most part to the contributions at the State Track Meets from one of the all-time best all-around athletes in the state. His consistency was remarkable throughout his years in high school up through his graduation year of 1951, prompting The Omaha World-Herald to begin its annual athlete of the year award with Hoppy McCue in 1951. State meet success: 11 first places and five gold medals and three team championships for Arapahoe. He won at least one state meet race for four consecutive years. Twice he was named all-state in football and three times in basketball. Memorable to those in attendance at the state track meets within Memorial Stadium in Lincoln were these words from the stadium announcer: “And the winner is McCue of Arapahoe”. In a teacher-coach-administrator career, Alma Superintendent McCue served high school sports as a member of the Nebraska School Activities Association Board of Control.
Contributor. A longtime coach and athletic director at Lincoln Southeast, Wally McNaught was involved in high school sports for more than 45 years. He coached football, basketball and track while at Harvard, Crete, Omaha Bryan and Southeast. He led Lincoln Southeast to the state basketball tournament (boys) five times, finishing second twice. While he was athletic director at Southeast from 1985 to 1993, the Knights established a dynasty, winning 27 state team championships. McNaught served as an officer in the Nebraska Coaches Association and the Nebraska Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. He has been recognized as “giving birth” to the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Game and served as a director for the Cornhusker State Games. McNaught has won several professional awards and honors and has been a member of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors since 1997, serving as president from 2005 to 2007.
A typical McNaught thought: “There’s a perspective beyond winning that helps me over the rough spots. There are doubts and discouragement that go with the territory. But tomorrow you wake up and it’s a new day and you gain more perspective on how appreciative you should be in having as good a job as teaching and coaching.” He died in 2014.
Coach–Success as a coach in at least three different sports and at different high schools throughout a career from 1934-1972 shows the versatility of this fine coach. Prior to World War II, Maurice “Skip” Palrang helped develop the basketball skills of the Creighton Prep Blue jays in Omaha, leading them to winning state tournaments in Class A and top ranking in 1935 and 1940. After the war, Skip shifted west to coach the Boys Town High School in Douglas County. His success as a basketball coach, winning state in 1953 and 1956, was but one aspect of this great coach. The Boys Town Cowboys under his guidance also became a powerful football power, traveled the country and took on all comers, usually winning. Palrang teams played in 21 states and the District of Columbia, sometimes drawing crowds as large as 40,000. In 1939 this talented gentleman as a baseball coach brought a rare national American Legion championship to Nebraska while coaching the Omaha McDivitts.
Besides being a great coach, known for his compassion almost as much as his intensity on the sports fields, Palrang was a top-flight classroom instructor. He taught chemistry, Spanish, English and math. He held a bachelor’s degree from Regis College in Denver, Colo., and a master’s degree from Creighton University in Omaha. His awards included 1949 Coach of the Year, Pop Warner Foundation, 1965 Nebraska Coach of the Year, Omaha World-Herald; and 1967 Rockne Club citation. He was head coach of the victorious South team in Nebraska’s inaugural Shrine Bowl in 1959.
Palrang died Feb. 8, 1978 at the age of 71. His picture and records still grace the walls of the Field House named in his honor in Boys Town, Nebraska.
Athlete. This 1963 graduate of Elba High School in Howard County certainly proved what all great coaches know: if you have the talent, your origins, whether small town or large city, simply do not matter. Randy Rasmussen began playing eight-man football in high school along with other sports. At Kearney State College, he quickly matured as an athlete and was eventually drafted by the New York Jets professional football team. Randy Rasmussen played for fifteen years in the pros as a lineman. His great effort of blocking for quarterback Joe Namath in the 1969 Super Bowl Game helped achieve an unexpected victory for the underdog Jets that year. Whether playing for the Elba High Bluejays, the Kearney State Antelopes or the New York Jets, this athlete could play and stay with the very best.
“Football is football whether it is played with, six, eight or 11 men. One thing I do believe,” he said in 1983, “No young man should ever be denied the right to play, no matter where he lives, small or large town. And no matter how it is played, it comes down to blocking and tackling. Without them, it isn’t football.”
Coach. Wes’s basketball record with a career span of 48 years: 519 wins and 168 losses. This includes one state championship and ten district titles plus numerous conference titles. The administrator-coach also coached football, track, baseball and volleyball at the junior through college level during his career. His Nebraska basketball teams reached the state tournament four times: Weston in 1956, Elmwood in 1985 and Lincoln Christian in 1991 and 1993, winning it in 1991. Other career high lights include coaching a college All Star team in Europe, coaching a professional team in China in 1982, Assistant Coach on the Nebraska Coaches All Star Team in 1991 and coaching one of Valentino’s All Star teams in 1991. Though officially retired from teaching, Wes still serves as activity bus driver, substitute teacher and FCA sponsor. He plans to continue coaching and working with young people. He runs summer camps for children in kindergarten and up stressing basketball fundamentals and principled of integrity. Previous honors received by Wes are the Mike Heck memorial award and the Ralph Beechner Coach of the Year Award. Volunteered with the basketball program of the Cornhusker State Games.
A mirror image of her sister, Debbie, the Spickelmier twins dominated Class D throughout their high school careers that included two state track championships, a state basketball championship and two state track and one volleyball runner-up finish. Donna won 16 medals at the state track meet, including an all-class gold medal in the 1,6000-meter run. She put her name on Nebraska’s all-time top 10 charts in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. On the volleyball court, she led the Cardinals to three state tournaments and earned all-state honors as a junior and a senior. She was second-team all-state helping Hayes Center to the Class D-2 state basketball championship her senior year. At Kearney State College, she earned eight All-American honors and won NAIA national championships in the mile, the 1,500 and the 3,000.
Athlete. Bobby was considered by many the finest all-around athlete in Lincoln High history. In football he was mentioned for all-state his junior year and unanimous all-state as a senior. In 1960 as a senior, he led the team in scoring with 29 touchdowns and six extra points to make him the second highest scorer in Lincoln High history. As a sophomore he competed in wrestling where he was all-city champion at 175 pounds. Then he played basketball as a junior and senior. Track was a real forte for him. He was perhaps the fastest prep athlete ever in the state of Nebraska. He was the winner (:09.5) of the first 100-yard dash run in Nebraska where the first four across the finish line were under 10 seconds at the Hastings Invitational in 1961. His time moved him into a tie for the fastest time in the nation that year. Bobby was the first Nebraskan to break the 24-foot barrier in the long jump and is still high on the all-time chart in that event. He went on to play football at University of Central Oklahoma as a four-year starter at halfback. Totaling his rushing and kickoff return yards, he amassed a career total of 3,094 all-purpose yards. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966 and after two years he went to the Detroit Lions for four years. He led the NFL in kickoff-returns in 1969.
Athlete. Big Don Boll was to the All Big Seven Conference football team when playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the 1950s as an outstanding lineman, traveling quite a long road to reach that athletic perfection. While a high school student at Scribner High in Dodge County, his school had no football program, so Don Boll played head and shoulders above the opposition in basketball, baseball and track. After enlisting in the US Marine Corps toward the close of World War II in 1945, he was encouraged to play football for the Quantico Marine Team and that’s where his start came in that sport. Upon leaving the service he enrolled at the University of Nebraska where he lettered three years as a great guard on the gridiron. In 1953 he was selected as Rookie of the Year while playing for the professional football Washington Redskins.
SCRIBNER — Don E. Boll, 74, of Scribner died Saturday, Dec. 29, 2001, at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point.
He was born July 16, 1927, in Scribner. He attended country school near Scribner and graduated from Scribner High School in 1945. Upon graduation from high school, he enlisted and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from June 6, 1945, until his discharge July 5, 1949, at the rank of sergeant. He was recruited out of the Marine Corps to play football at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated from there in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. He lettered on the Cornhusker football team all four years of college and was named to the All Big Seven Team. He married Priscilla Fowler Dec. 30, 1952, in Grand Island. He played football for the Washington Redskins from 1952-59 and then played one year for the New York Giants in 1960. He was a member of the United Church of Christ in Scribner, Scribner American Legion Post 121, NFL Players Association, the Tri C’s at church and was active at the Milligan Over 60 Center. He was honored by the Scribner Chamber of Commerce in 1974 with the Native Son Award. He was inducted into the University of Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992 and also was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.