As far as can be researched to date the Mineral Leopards competed in football for three years only. The first year was played in the fall of 1948. The 1949 yearbook however does not mention the Leopard football team at all in the “Athletics” or “Calendar” sections. One newspaper article found mentions the “MVP” of that first team as being Wallace Fellows. The Leopard’ second team competed in the fall of 1949. It was mentioned that the MVP was Richard Nielsen in one newspaper article. Its last team competed in the fall of 1950.
MHS played its three seasons of football in the Two Rivers Conference. The conference either made a league of six-man football to let MHS in or already competed in six-man football and MHS simply started its program this year. In either case the Leopards, small in numbers, had difficulty competing with the much larger schools in this sport.
The desire to start a football team led to the creation of a football field just west of the high school. Formerly farmland, the area was donated by Ray Breiser and converted into a football field. The baseball portion was soon added as part of the field. Prior to this happening, according to some Mineral alumni of the early 1940’s, baseball games were played on a field at the corner of U.S.Rt 6 and the Neponset blacktop (currently Eldon Croegaert’s front yard).
I was told by a couple of players from those football teams that sheer numbers for MHS was a definite liability when they competed. One player remembered going to Erie for a contest. The MHS team trotted onto the field with 11 players, of which 8 were actually true varsity players (juniors or seniors). Erie came onto the field with over 30 varsity players, all juniors and seniors.
Newspaper Articles on Mineral HS Football
Left Click on Photo for enlarged version
There were but three victories for MHS during the two years that are recorded. The ironic thing is who the victories were against. These victories really showed that the boys who played were filled with heart and desire to compete. All three victories, two in 1949 and one in 1950, came against the Annawan Braves. Annawan’s enrollment at that time was at least twice that of Mineral, but the Leopards refused to be intimidated. In the 1950 series Annawan laid a serious whooping on the Mineral boys in the first game of the season. I have a feeling that Coach Jochums really knew how to psych the boys up though for the revenge meeting later that year. In MHS’s second and last official football homecoming the Leopard’s defeated Annawan in an upset. The newspapers talked about the huge crowd on hand to see the game. What a thrill that must have been for the victorious Mineral players and their fans.
Coach Jochums, however, must have seen the writing on the wall. In spite of having the largest enrollment in MHS history (52 students), the Leopards were taking a beating on the field. With a solid basketball team in store for the 1951-52 season it is believed that Coach did not want to risk serious injury and football was dropped.
One of the many good things that came out of the consolidation with Annawan was that it gave the kids in Mineral a chance to compete in football. And compete they have!
Annawan-Atkinson News Photo – Fall of 1978
Submitted by Alan Riley
The list of excellent football players at Annawan who came from Mineral is quite impressive. In 1978 the entire starting backfield at Annawan was made up of children of MHS alumni, all of whom still resided in or around Mineral. A photo of this group, taken before the annual Annawan-Atkinson football game in 1978, is shown above. The group includes Jeff Hartman (Hoopole) and
Chris Brieser – son of Stan and Doris (Getz, Class of ’52) Brieser
Alan Riley – son of Steve (Class of ’54) and Norma Riley
Jerry Croegart – son of Roland (Class of ’55) and Donna (Sierens, Class of ’57) Croegart
Tim Pierson – son of Herbert (Class of ’42) and Shirley Pierson
The team ended the season 8-1, tied for the best record in the league.
The Mineral High School season records for the three years the school completed in football are listed below.