Dennis Anderson

Dennis Anderson

On Nov. 19, 1960 the Delta Panthers football, led by Coach Don Stimack, would end that season’s final game as 2A State champions. A feat that has yet to be repeated.

On Saturday, Nov. 30, this year’s version of the Delta Panthers hope to do the same. Walk off the field as 2A State champs.

The 1960 Panthers would defeat Canon City in its own backyard that year. Relying on a stout defense and a ball control offense.

The Panthers of today like to spread the field with a single back offense using a variety of run plays and short pass plays to set up the deep passing game.

The 1960 Panthers used two halfbacks, a fullback, and quarterback for their 3 yards and a cloud of dust offense.

In the championship game the final stats showed Delta dominating what would be a close margin of victory, 15-7.

Delta racked up 322 rushing yards and only 8 yards through the air. While Canon City ran for 53 and passed for 108 yards. 82 of those yards came on one play and the only touchdown for the Tigers.

The Panthers scored in the first quarter on a one yard plunge by halfback Bryan Harder. It capped an eight play 65 yard drive. Halfback Eddie Ball had the big play of the drive with a 26 yard run to the Tigers’ 24. Quarterback Roger Gastineau hit Jim Parks for an 8 yard pass to set up Hardee’s TD.

The Panthers “D” did allow Canon City to drive to their 7 yard line in the second quarter. The Panthers recovered a fumble to end the threat. Harder was credited with the fumble recovery.

The next score wouldn’t come until the third quarter when Delta would score a safety on a botched punt reception in the end zone. Parks made the tackle for the Panthers.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Tigers would score on an 82 yard pass play.

Leading 8-7 the Panthers would go on a backbreaking scoring drive. The Panthers would drive 60 yards on 11 plays. Gastineau would score from the three with 1:32 left in the game. The key play was by sophomore fullback Bob Schlappe. Faced with a fourth and 6, the Panthers gave the ball to Schlappe who ran for 11 yards to the Canon City five.

Think about that for a second. The key drive of the game to put the game away came down to a fourth down and six yards to go decision.

A handoff to a 152 pound sophomore fullback had to be a gutsy call. Schlappe came through and I can only imagine the euphoria when he moved the chains.

The Panthers would go undefeated that season. To date it makes them the greatest Panther team of all time.

Today’s Panthers have to appreciate how hard it is to arrive at the championship game unblemished. Their only loss coming from perennial foe Rifle.

Our family has close ties to both teams. My father-in-law, Vernon Nutter, played on the 1960 championship team and was All-Conference in 1961. That team lost to Lamar in the State championship game.

We’re rooting for this year’s team for many reasons including Coach Ben Johnson. Johnson came to Delta for the 2009 season. He instantly turn the Panthers from playoff hopefuls to expected.

My son Matt played linebacker for Johnson in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. My son Jon played for Johnson from 2013-16.

I also coached several players on this year’s team when they were fifth and sixth graders.

This ain’t no win one for the Gipper team but here’s hoping Johnson and his staff can put a championship on their list of many accomplishments.

Dennis Anderson is group publisher for Wick Communications, Alaska and Colorado. He can be reached by email at dennisa@montrosepress.com.

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