Members of the 1966 Badin High School football team, the only unbeaten and untied squad in school history, gathered for a 50-year reunion Saturday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Photo: EL Hubbard
Photo: EL Hubbard

Fifty years later, Badin still has strong memories of unbeaten team

“I haven’t seen many of these guys since they left school,” said Malone, the former head coach at Hamilton Catholic and Badin. “This is really a great night.”

Malone won 360 games in a 46-year career that covered eight seasons at Hamilton Catholic and 38 years at Badin. Since BHS opened its doors in the fall of 1966, only one of its football teams has been unbeaten and untied … and that was the first one.

Members of the 9-0 squad from ’66 gathered for a 50-year reunion last weekend at Hamilton’s Virgil Schwarm Stadium.

“We got three undefeated letters. There aren’t too many people in the state that can say that,” said Art Dudley, a senior two-way tackle on that team. “It was just fun. I hated to see it end. We never got on the bus thinking we were going to lose. We thought, ‘We’re going to whoop ’em, then we’re going to come back.’ That was it.”

Jim Chaney, a senior who played offensive guard and inside linebacker, said the formula for success wasn’t complicated.

“Malone would tell us what we had to do, and we weren’t a bunch of dumb guys. We picked it up pretty quick,” Chaney said. “We practiced it and executed it.”

Rick Kunkel was the senior quarterback on that unit. He won 234 games as Badin’s baseball coach, but said some of his best memories are from football.

“We didn’t have a league or the playoffs. Our only goal was to go undefeated because that’s all there was,” Kunkel said. “I wish we would’ve had the playoffs. I’m not predicting a state championship, but I think we could’ve done well.”

Seniors Ed Pate, Paul Schurger and Pete Becker paced the team in scoring. Pate attended the reunion, Schurger died in 2008, and Becker was killed in a plane crash in 1967.

Pate totaled 76 points while rushing for 12 touchdowns, and Schurger caught eight TD passes and scored 52 points. Becker ran for eight touchdowns and tallied 50 points.

Kunkel threw for five touchdowns.

“I didn’t play until I was a freshman,” he said. “I was an end my freshman year, and Terry said, ‘You’re going to be a quarterback next year.’ I said, ‘I’ve never played there,’ and he said, ‘We’ll teach you.’

“I was a backup until I was a senior, but you learned quick with this bunch of guys, and the guys in front of us also. They weren’t bullying us. They took pride in teaching us.”

John Fiehrer, a senior cornerback and halfback in ’66, said Badin’s linemen “were pretty unbelievable.”

“We were good at pretty much every position. We had a lot of good athletes that were also good at other sports,” Fiehrer said. “With Terry Malone, everybody is hard-nosed or you’re not around very long. Plus, he kept things simple.

“It was pretty much cut and dried — it was his way or the highway. You feared him in a sense, but you respected him, and most everybody would do anything for him.”

Hamilton Catholic’s last two seasons produced 10-0 records. When the all-boys school combined with all-girls Notre Dame to create Badin, the winning continued.

The ’66 Rams outscored their opponents 316-54 and posted four shutouts. Included was a 76-0 pounding of Fairfield, marking the highest point total in Hamilton Catholic/Badin history.

Malone said he almost always avoided running up the score, but that day was different.

“They began to attack Kunkel when the ball was snapped,” Malone said. “They didn’t go after the ball carrier. They just ganged up on Kunkel, and their coach didn’t seem to do anything about it. So I said, ‘I’m just going to keep the starters in and we’re going to pour it on.’ That’s what explains that score.”

Said Kunkel, “He had told the starters to take their shoulder pads off, but he got mad and said, ‘Get your stuff back on.’ He told me, ‘I don’t care what you do. Call any play you want and score every time we get the ball.’ ”

Generally speaking, a solid victory over Fairfield was always a good thing for Malone. Fiehrer recalled getting sent out to do a little spying on an FHS practice in the summer after his graduation.

On occasion, Malone would even race some of his players.

“Heck yeah I beat ’em,” he said with a grin. “Not all the time. I couldn’t beat Ed Pate.”

Badin did have a few tough games in 1966. Wins over Springfield Catholic (14-6) and Franklin (22-14) had to be earned. Malone said the team bus literally got rocked on the way out of Franklin.

“People were throwing rocks at our bus,” he said. “I told our kids to put their helmets on until we got out of town. When we hit the interstate, they stopped.”

Dudley said the Rams were always in great shape.

“About the sixth or seventh game, I’m walking back to the locker room,” he recalled. “This was after one of his good practices, and I wasn’t even breathing hard. I thought to myself, ‘God, how good a shape can you get in?’ ”

“The physical conditioning we went through paid off, and it had to pay off,” Chaney added. “You had to go both ways, so you had to be in shape to play or you’d die.”

Malone said his biggest concern about combining Hamilton Catholic with Notre Dame was his players’ daily interaction with girls.

“I was afraid that some of them would get all involved with the girls and lose their focus on football,” Malone said. “I guess that worked out all right.”

Hamilton Catholic’s mascot was the Ram, and it remained that way at Badin. Malone said Father Francis Miller, Badin’s founding principal, wanted a different nickname.

“I really fought him hard on that and he gave in,” Malone said. “I don’t remember what he wanted, but he was real strong for some reason about wanting to change everything from Hamilton Catholic into something new at Badin. I thought keeping our nickname was important.”

Malone said the ’66 team was probably the second-best team he coached. He ranks the ’65 squad No. 1.

“If they’d have had the state playoffs, I feel sure we would’ve won the state championship with those guys,” Malone said.

He’s 83 years old and doesn’t move like he once did, but Malone said he feels good. He attends Badin home games.

“They still seem to get the same kind of kids,” Malone said. “They don’t always have the best athletes, but Badin teams have always played hard.”

The 1966 Badin Rams

Head Coach: Terry Malone

Assistant Coaches: Phil Bergen, Frank Vitale

Seniors: John Accorinti, Ed Baldwin, Pete Becker, Jim Chaney, Art Dudley, John Fiehrer, Dan Haizman, John Hensley, Fred Houston, Dave Hudson, Bill Klamo, Rick Kunkel, Ed Mignery, Ed Pate, Tom Pate, Tom Roesch, Paul Schurger

Juniors: Mike Abner, Jack Antes, Don Berger, Pat Brennan, Nick Dadabo, Joe Daddabbo, Dave Forrester, Dick Owen, Ray Palmerton, Steve Rook, Tom Smith, Herb Von Hagen, Don Wolpert

Sophomores: Tom Baker, Bill Becker, Jerry Becker, Steve Becker, Chris Brinkman, Brian Campbell, Tim Chase, Norbert Davis, Jim Fiehrer, Dan Gundler, Cliff Harmon, Melvin Kessler, Gary Knapp, Rick Lothes, Dennis Malone, James Mertens, Dennis Newell, Chuck Osso, Dave Pate, Frank Pfirman, Tim Pfister, Dale Snodgrass, Mike Stricker, Tom Vocke

Game-By-Game Results: Purcell 32-8, Fairfield 76-0, McNicholas 42-0, Lebanon 20-0, Franklin 22-14, Talawanda 30-8, Springfield Catholic 14-6, Carroll 40-18, Taylor 40-0

Individual Scoring: Ed Pate 76, Paul Schurger 52, Pete Becker 50, John Fiehrer 28, Rick Kunkel 20, Herb Von Hagen 20, Tom Pate 14, John Accorinti 12, Jerry Becker 8, Dave Pate 8, Pat Brennan 6, Dave Forrester 6, Ed Mignery 6, Joe Daddabbo 4, Frank Pfirman 2 (four points were scored on safeties)

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