The Mount Ayr High School Alumni Banquet is coming up May 24, and we'll be honoring the class of 1964 for their 50th
reunion. I'll honor the class now by highlighting the 1963 football season.
The table was set for this special season
in 1961 when the Raiders went undefeated for the first time since 1949. The next year saw many juniors rack up playing
while the football squad posted a 7-2 record. The Raiders scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage
in the final game of the season. This trend would continue into the 1963 season.
On September 13, 1963, the first game of
the year, the Raiders scored on the first play from scrimmage and destroyed the Leon Cardinals 55-0 on the Mount Ayr
field. Leon collected 80 total yards while the Raiders amassed 345.
Game two was played on September 20 at Villisca,
and Mount Ayr scored on the first play from scrimmage. Rick DEFENBAUGH scored four touchdowns, and Ed PINE and
Rick FARRELL led a strong defensive effort. The Raiders humbled the Blue Jays 54-0.
The next game was against Greenfield at Mount Ayr. Again, the Raiders scored on the first play from
scrimmage. Joe BROWN and Jim WORTHINGTON led a tight defense, holding the Tigers scoreless. Mount Ayr won easily
Game four saw the Raiders travelling (sic) to Lorimor October 4. The Raiders scored on the first play from
scrimmage for the fifth time in a row going back to last year's final game. The East Union Eagles fought back,
advancing to the Raider three-yard line, but Mount Ayr's solid defense forced a fumble and the Eagles failed to
score at all. The Raiders rolled up 33 points (the newspaper said 33, the Ayrian said 32).
October 11 was Homecoming and the Raiders faced the Bedford
Bulldogs, Dale HERRINGTON wrote in the Record-News that this game had the largest attendance in Mount Ayr football
history. While Marie EURITT was crowned Homecoming Queen, the Raiders defense handed Bedford another zero. Final score,
Mount Ayr 19, Bedford 0.
The sixth game of the year was played October 18 at Lenox. Eugene RICKER returned a punt for
a touchdown and two touchdowns were scored by the defense, one by Ed PINE and the other by Rick DEFENBAUGH. The Mount
Ayr Raiders pounded Lenox for a 26-0 victory.
Game seven was at Mount Ayr against a strong Griswold team on October 25.
Griswold was the first team to score against Mount Ayr, and they did it twice. Finally, Jon THOMPSON fell on a fumble,
setting up the winning touchdown and Mount Ayr saved their undefeated season with a 19-12 win.
The next game was at
Clearfield on November 1, and again the Raiders were scored on twice. In the second half, Roger TRULLINGER blocked
an Oriole punt, setting up the game-winning
touchdown. Mount Ayr won 27-12.
The Tall Corn Conference title already belonged to Mount Ayr, but there was one game
left in the season and that was against the Creston Panthers on November 8.
The game was played at Mount Ayr, and it
would be a low-scoring affair. In the second quarter, Rich DEFENBAUGH caught a long pass from Dave STILL and raced for
the touchdown. Joe BROWN made good on the point - after try and that proved to be the winning point as the Raiders
slipped by the Panthers 13-6. Alvin SICKELS, Dale STEPHENS, and Joe BROWN had strong defensive efforts for the winners.
Mount Ayr finished the season 9-0.
The Des Moines Register awarded coach Joe McNEILL their Prep Coach of the
Year title for 1963.
For the season, the Raiders scored 271 points, while giving up 30. In 1931,the
Mount Ayr football team collected 257 points and allowed only six. Both seasons have been called the best ever.
Maybe . . . we haven't had our best season yet. Go Raiders!
Oldest living Raider, Floy Drake,
played football in 1925 season
by H. Alan Smith
He was 16 years old and a senior at Mount Ayr high school.
This was his first year on the blue-jerseyed squad, for while
he stood 5' 11" or so, he had only just reached 145 pounds, big enough that he thought he could play.
story didn't mention him, and there weren't enough good football pants to go around so he was first given a pair where the
elastic around the knees was long gone. "They just about covered my knees," he said.
Soon a bigger player, Millard BLAKE,
who had just moved into the district decided football wasn't for him, however, and DRAKE got a better pair of pants to wear.
And it didn't take long in practice before
Floy DRAKE was the starting right guard for the Raider football team for the
Now 78 years later when Mount Ayr Community high school is celebrating 100 years of football, DRAKE is the
oldest surviving Raider player.
DRAKE, now 94 and a resident of Clearview Home in Mount Ayr, still has clear memories
of that football season. he also is the official "paper boy" for the Mount Ayr Record-News, taking the newspaper
around to residents who subscribe when it is delivered in a bundle to the nursing home on Wednesday afternoons.
He will be honored in several events during the week along with other football players from the Raider past.
was played in much more primitive conditions than today, DRAKE remembers.
He will be honored in several events during the
"There were no bleachers to sit on," he noted. "People just came and stood along the sidelines to see the action." And of
course there weren't any lighted stadiums.
The numbers of people coming to see the games were smaller, especially on
road games, he noted. He said 30 or 40 people for road games was considered good in a time when even the players were
transported to games in private cars over dirt roads.
Raymond GREENWAY was the athletic coach for the team -- in a day
when the single athletic coach coached football, basketball and track for the boys. There wasn't such a thing as a coaching
Coach GREENWAY was "coaxed away by Clarinda" the next year and then died a few years later, DRAKE remembers.
Equipment wasn't like that used today either. Football had begun again at the high school in 1922 after a few years without
a team, and most of the equipment was picked up where it could be found.
The team had six new helmets in 1925, going to the
two ends and four backs. Everyone else had old ones if they could find one to fit. "But we were better off with helmets
than some other places," DRAKE remembers.
For warmups the team members bought they own sweatshirts with their names on
the back. DRAKE remembers they cost the players $1.10 each.
Instead of coming up with platoons of players for offensive,
defensive, or special teams, players played the whole game going both ways. If a substitution was made, the player could not
return to the game that quarter.
"I never saw a play from the bench all season," DRAKE says.
"We didn't have too many
substitutes so that we hardly had a full second team to practice against sometimes," DRAKE remembers.
There weren't a group of girl cheerleaders helping root the team on either. Part way through the season, however,
Glen SHIELDS, Henry MULLIGAN and Joe ROBINSON began dressing alike and leading cheers. "But there weren't any big crowds
to lead in cheers either," he said.
Offenses weren't too complex either. "I think we had about four plays," DRAKE said.
"We would run plays off tacke and around the ends with pulling guards. We had a pass play and a formation for punting with a
spread line and that was about it."
"Dale DOWNING was our quarterback and we had a good right end in Raymond JOHNSON,"
DRAKE noted. "He had good hands and was fast."
Instead of place kicking, were the ball is placed on the ground and then
kicked for extra points and field goals, balls were drop kicked for these in DRAKE'S football days.
The team wasn't nearly
as big as players today, either. The biggest player on the team weighed 165 pounds then.
Instead of a corps of officials
on the field, one official did all the game running and penalty calling.
While there were many differences in football 78 years ago,
the game was much the same in many ways too.
And that high school football season is indelibly part of DRAKE'S memory.
The team went 5-3-1 that season, back in the days when games didn't go into overtime to determine the winners in close
"Our first game, we went to Greenfield back when Mike AUGENSTINE was coaching there," he said. "It wasn't long
before he moved up to coach at East high school in Des Moines."
It was the worst loss of the season for the Raider squad,
which fell 41-0. The game was played September 26 in a season that ran through Thanksgiving.
The second game of the season
was against Clearfield and the team used a pass interception return and a scoring pass to take a 12-6 win over Clearfield
on a rainy field.
The third game of the season was against Humeston on a very cold day. A pass interception for a touchdown
was the only scoring in a 6-0 win for the Raiders.
The team played Lenox next, with the Raiders winning 25-0 with one of only
two extra point kicks scoring for the year. A couple of running touchdowns and a couple of passing touchdowns were scored in
The team went to Lamoni for its next game, which was played in an ocean of mud and water. On a hillside field,
he remembers. Lamoni scored a touchdown and a safety to win the game 8-0.
"The car I was riding in to the game had a flat
tire, and I had to pile into another car that was coming along to get to the game," DRAKE said.
Conditions weren't any better
in a game in Mount Ayr in early November when Osceola came to play. Games usually began at 3 p.m., but because of muddy roads,
the Osceola team didn't arrive to play until about 4:30 p.m. "Highway 169 wasn't even graveled then," DRAKE noted.
"They were a big team, bigger than us, but we played them tough in about as hard a game as we had all season," DRAKE said.
"It got so dark that we couldn't see very well, and the cars that were there lined up along the sidelines and turned their
lights on to try and help us see."
The Raiders recovered a fumble at the Osceola 10 yard line and scored on a quarterback
sneak to take a 6-0 victory in the game.
When the Raiders played Bedford on November 13, it was the first favorable
weather of the season.
The Mount Ayr squad ended up winning the game 19-9, with Bedford kicking the only field goal
kicked against the team in the season.
The next game was with Leon, and members of the Mount Ayr band went to that game.
There was a controversy when a Leon player made an unpopular comment when the Mount Ayr quarterback was hurt. Leon
went on to win the game 7-0.
The final game of the season came on Thanksgiving Day when the team traveled to Garden Grove.
"A ditch ran through the field on one side, the ground was frozen and there was some snow on the ground," DRAKE remembers.
The teams battled back and forth, with a goal line stand keeping Garden Grove from scoring late in the game.
game ended in an 0-0 tie.
As the Mount Ayr Record-News reported, "The game ended soon after the umpire crawled
through the hedge and recovered the ball after a missed field goal kick by Garden Grove."
Fond memories of football
from the oldest living Raider football player.
McFarland part of first undefeated squad
by H. Alan Smith
For John McFARLAND
, there were many football high points, from playing for the first undefeated football team in Mount Ayr history to
being one of the first players to go on to play four years of college football.
McFARLAND was actually listed on the football
roster for five years, beginning as an eighth graders in 1927 - two years after Floy DRAKE graduated.
He played in the first
years of the Harry KNAPP coaching era, a 13-year period in which KNAPP became what is now the third winningest coach in
Mount Ayr history.
In McFARLAND'S time in high school, the team went 9-1 in his junior year and then were undefeated his
senior year in 1931 -- the first of what have been a total of 12 undefeated seasons over the past 100 years.
For much of
McFARLAND'S career he played end until quarterback Arvil AUSTIN broke his leg in practice his junior year and he was moved
to the backfield.
His senior year he played quarterback for the team, and earned all southwest-Iowa honors as a junior and
honorable mention honors his senior year.
Eugene MOSIER is another player still alive from that 1931 undefeated team and
both hope to be able to ride in the parade Saturday.
Now 91, McFARLAND has many memories of his football career.
was a freshman and sophomore, he had a lot of ties," McFARLAND remembers. In fact, his freshman year the team went 1-4-3,
which they improved to 4-4-3 his sophomore year.
"My junior year, we went 10-1 with our only loss coming at the hands of
Osceola," McFARLAND remembered.
That led up to the senior season.
His senior season, the team put together a 9-0 run. They
downed Afton 46-0 in the opener, handled Clearfield 26-6, got past Greenfield 27-0, downed Bedford 6-0 and rolled past
That brought the Raiders to a rematch with Osceola, the team that had spoiled their season the year earlier.
Coach KNAPP'S father died and he went back to Redfield for the funeral so superintendent W. F. JOHNSON filled in as coach
for the game.
Really captain Ray PAYNE was in charge of the team. But in a day when substitutions were few and far
between anyway, there wasn't a lot of strategy in terms of moving players in and out from the sideline.
In the Osceola
game the previous year, which the Raiders lost 19-0 after quarterback Arvil AUSTIN had gotten his leg broken the previous
week, and this year the Raiders were out for some revenge.
PAYNE kept the first team in for the whole game as the Raiders
scored more and more points. The final outcome was a 54-0 victory for the Raiders.
The rest of the season included a 20-6
win over Lenox, a 39-0 victory over Leon, a 2-0 squeaker past Corydon and a 6-0 win over Albany, MO.
altogether different back then," McFARLAND noted. "You played both ways and you didn't substitute as much when you
couldn't go back in until the next quarter if you came out," he said.
There were no school buses. Coaches lined up
cars from the community to get players to the game. And just like a few years earlier, equipment wasn't the best.
"We had helmets most of the time, but we played people who never wore helmets," McFARLAND said. Of course, the helmets
worn there were not nearly as protective as the ones today.
By the early 1930s there were 30 to 40 players out for the
team and "pretty good" crowds came to the games, still standing along the sidelines or sitting in cars to watch the
games on the make-shift fields.
Offenses still weren't very diverse. "We had an off tackle play, a play around the
end, a reserve and a few passes," he remembers.
There wasn't a good drop kicker when he played, so the team went
for two points instead of trying to kick extra-points.
"After I got out of school we had some drop kickers come along,
but we didn't have one when I played," he said.
Other members of the team McFARLAND'S senior year were left guard
Lawrence WILSON, left tackle Howard BUCK, left end Allen ALLYN, left end Floyd FERBER, left halfback Linda MORRIS, quarterback
John McFARLAND, center Ray PAYNE, right guard Forest RUSK, right tackle Donald ILLTIS, right end Elmo ROE, right halfback
Howard THOMPSON and fullback Eugene MOISER. All but WILSON, FERBER, RUSK, ILLTIS and THOMPSON were seniors that year.
"We just didn't have the size of player they do today," McFARLAND says. "No one on our squad came close to the weighing
200 pounds." Howard BUCK, who went on to wrestle at Iowa State University, weighing in at 180 pounds or so as the
largest player on the field.
When the Raiders were on defense, they had a six-man front and Roy PAYNE was sort of a rover
backer. "He would line up where the thought the play would be going and he often was in the right place for a tackle or to
block a punt."
McFARLAND'S football career didn't end with that championship season for Mount Ayr high school.
Elmo ROE and Ray PAYNE went on to Simpson College in Indianola in 1932, though McFARLAND was the only one who played
four years for Simpson>
McFARLAND had success in college ball, playing for four years like he had in Mount Ayr.
In 1933 Simpson won the Iowa conference title. "I still have a little silver football medal I was given for that," he said.
While at Simpson he played half-back most of the time, but did some quarterbacking as well.
One of his biggest memories
of his college career was in a game with Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa.
called a play, sending in a substitute, and McFARLAND moved out as a wing back.
He was sent down field on a pass,
which he caught for a 40-yard touchdown which won the game. He even kicked the extra point afterward. (He kicked in
college but never had in high school.)
He remembers that the 1933 Simpson team was written up with a big spread in one
of the Des Moines daily papers by sports writer Jack NORTH.
He wrote that Notre Dame had its Four Horsemen backfield
while Simpson College had its pony backfield.
McFARLAND weighed between 145 and 150 during his career and two of the
other backs in the championship backfield were under 150 pounds as well. Only the fullback topped the scales at 170
pounds or so.
After graduating from Simpson, McFARLAND went on to teach and coach for five years before he joined
the Navy in 1942. One of his teams there had an undefeated season as well.
When he came back from the war in 1946, he
changed careers, leaving football behind. He went into the implement dealer business with his father-in-law and
brother-in-law, Keith and Bob FISHER, a business he was in until 1981.
Chet Roed remembers Raider coaching years
by H. Alan Smith
While there have been many football coaches over the 100 years of Raider football, there have been three coaches who have
served for 55 years of that period.
Harry KNAPP had a long string of years from 1928 through 1943, Joe McNEILL coached
the Raiders for 22 years between 1948 and 1982 and Dave STILL had a 19-year run from 1979 to 1997.
The oldest coach still
living from the rich Raider coaching tradition is Chet ROED, who served as an assistant coach for Joe McNEILL and Gary
WIMMER for 17 years from 1959 to 1974.
"It's kind of spooky to think of myself as the oldest living Raider coach,"
ROED said in an interview this past week in the wood shop at his home in Mount Ayr where he has projects underway all the
ROED came to Mount Ayr in the fall of 1958 after having taught and coached at Bagley.
"When I coached at Bagley
I had 21 kids out for football one year and we always had a few hurt," ROED said. "I remember one game we played with 13
When he came to Mount Ayr he felt he was probably hired as much for his willingness to coach track as his football
"Back in those days new teachers visited each of the school board members as part of the interview process," he
"Milt HENDERSON was on the school board, as well as people like Royce DAVIS and John McFARLAND," ROED remembers.
"Milt was always a supporter of the track program and he was pleased when I said I would coach track."
ROED was hired as
an industrial arts teacher, assistant football coach and track coach.
After 45 years ROED is still a Mount Ayr resident
and pleased that he made the decision to teach and coach in the district here.
"When superintendent C. Arthur HANSEN moved
on from Mount Ayr to be the superintendent at Fort Madison he wanted me to fill a spot on the faculty over there," ROED
said. "I went over for an interview but we ultimately decided to stay here in Mount Ayr."
ROED'S wife Anne was the
school nurse for many years as well.
As part of the coaching staff for Joe McNEILL, ROED had charge of the freshmen
and sophomore program. He "did what I could" along the sidelines on varsity game night and also did some scouting as well.
"I had a good working relationship with Joe," ROED said. "He would always listen to my suggestions though he didn't always
decide that was what he wanted to do."
ROED came in to replace a coach who had come in with a play book an inch thick,
expecting players to learn all of them.
The Raiders have gone from the Bluegrass conference to the Tall Corn conference
and finally the Pride of Iowa conference over the years ROED has been in the community, with different rivalries developing
with the changes.
"In the early 1960s Bedford was one of our good rivals," he said. "We knew the coaches well and they had
some good ball clubs. The whole town would pack up and travel to some of these games and it made for a good atmosphere."
Only five years of the 17 years ROED was an assistant coach the Raiders did not have a winning season and they were unbeaten
two times and conference champions four years during that time.
One of the athletes who came through the program during
ROED'S years was Dave STILL, who eventually came back and was head coach for the Raiders for 19 years and presided over the
five trips to state playoffs the teams have made over the years.
"Dave was one of those people that you knew even in
high school that they were destined to become a teacher and coach," ROED said. "It was a pleasure to watch him play and then to
see him come back and be such a successful coach. He's part of the rich tradition of Raider football."
"We had a lot of good
players come through the team over the years, and its really good to see that so many of them have also become very successful
citizens," ROED noted.
He enjoyed following the football careers of many of the players who went on to college as well.
"Sometimes you would be sitting at a game where you had a player on each team so you just pulled for your kids and not
so much for one team or another," ROED said.
After 17 years of assisting Joe McNEILL and Gary WIMMER, ROED decided to
retire from football coaching after the 1974 season. He taught for 32 years in industrial arts and decided that it was time
to retire from that too.
"I think I quit coaching and quit teaching at just the right time," he said. "I hadn't burned
out of either and they still interested me, but I thought it was just the right time."
ROED said he was looking forward
to seeing all the players planning to return for the celebration of 100 years of Raider football this homecoming.
"I may not remember everyone's name because they have changed in appearance much more than I have since I saw them last,
but it will be good to see renewed acquaintances," he said.
Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2012; updated June of 2014