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Sabres 1956


Wetaskiwin High School 1956 Sabres Football Team


Introductory Comments by Sandra Wright


Special Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure this evening to introduce you to the 1956 Wetaskiwin High School Sabres Football Team.  But, before I tell you about the team and their accomplishments, let’s “Set the Scene”.

1956- Fifty-three years ago.  For those of us who can remember, it was a “special time”:  Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, Elvis’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, James Dean, white bobby socks, saddle shoes, white bucks, blue suede shoes, jeans with turned up cuffs, poodle skirts and crinolines, duck tail haircuts, sideburns, sock hops, drive-in movies, Father Knows Best, I Love Lucy, the Cold War as well as going steady, “hanging out” at the Stanley Café and driving up and down main street on the week-end.

Wetaskiwin’s population in 1956 was 4476.  High school classes at the start of the 1956-57 term were still held in the former army camp that was situated east of the present high school.  It was during the 56-57 school term that the students moved from the army camp into the new composite high school. There were 206 students enrolled in the school, 97 of them were male and 27 of the males played football, most of them playing both offence and defense.  Football was one of the three choices of school teams for guys that year, the others being basketball and curling.  Today, Wetaskiwin High School has over 800 students and for males a choice of 12 different school teams and in 2009 there were 49 guys on the senior football team.

The 1956 Sabres were the middle team in a five year string of undefeated championship seasons, so all of the members of the team being inducted tonight that played in their grade 10, 11 and 12 year NEVER LOST A FOOTBALL GAME!   WOW!  A pretty amazing achievement.  Players were never cut from the football team by coach Brown - he needed all the bodies he could get.  If any cuts occurred it was because the players cut themselves.  Unlike the football team the “Pep Squad” or cheerleaders had tryouts and cuts were made.

These football Sabres played in the Northern conference of the Central Alberta High School League that included teams from Camrose High School, Camrose Luthern College and Sedgewick.  The southern conference included Lacombe, Ponoka and two teams from Red Deer. In six league games, one play-off game and one exhibition game the 1956 Sabres were so dominant that NO points were scored against them - hard to believe!  In the league finals the Sabres were victorious, defeating the Lacombe Rams 45-34.  In the 10 games played and won, that made the total points scored for the season by the Sabres 404 and, by the opposition:  34.  What a Record!

In those days there was no “trash talk” and no celebratory dances in the end zone after a touchdown.  Besides being outstanding competitors, these Sabres always displayed good sportsmanship, certainly a credit to Coaches Brown and Durnovo.  Because of their win, a football rally was organized by the teachers to honor the players.  The gathering took place in the Queen Elizabeth School auditorium.  After introducing the players, captain Bill Gust fulfilled the traditional requirement of downing a bottle of coke in the big trophy.  A favorite memory of the pep rally was the “Football Cake” that was shared by all of the students to celebrate the Sabres championship.

I was in grade nine at Queen Elizabeth in 1956 and did attend high school with many of the team members.  Ladies, using today’s terms……the  football players were “HOT”.  They were good looking, athletic and fit (even though many of them smoked cigarettes).  In the school the Sabres were easily identified in their team jackets that they wore with pride.  No wonder the girls fought for a spot on the cheerleading squad!

I did ask Larry Lee and Bill Gust if there were any stories that I could relate to you tonight.  After fifty years neither could remember any tidbits, at least none they felt that could be mentioned.  However, Bill did say that the cheerleaders were cute.  They must have been more than cute as Jerry Green and Wayne Lyken both married girls from the “Pep Squad”.  Larry said: “I was just a quiet guy who sat at the back of the bus”….a likely story!  I did hear about how Wayne Lyken would pull the leg hair of the opponents in the tackle pile ups on the field.  Perhaps some stories surfaced at their gathering last night and we’ll finally hear about their escapades!

Sabres of 1956-57:  You established a record that will probably never be broken.  You were our high school heroes and the whole community was and still is proud of your accomplishments.  BRAVO to all of you!!!

I will now introduce the team members and as they are introduced I would ask them to come up to the front to be recognized.

Congratulations Sabres on your induction into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.

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