High school heroics in class of their own

August 18, 1994|By PHIL JACKMAN

Tommy Hauge was a rollout quarterback back in high school and, one day in dramatically inclement weather (translation, Hurricane Whatever) and on instructions from his coach to keep the ball-handling to a minimum, he ran the ball on every offensive play his team had.

Despite about two inches of standing water and accompanying mud, Tommy had a good day: He scored all 50 points in a 50-27 win.

Then there was the time at a schoolboy track meet when Sam Lussier was restricted to competing in four events, including one relay. Sam was a terrific athlete with speed and technique bolstered by strength he picked up by giving football a try.

It was no big deal for Lussier to win his individual events, a sprint, the hurdles and the long jump. Right after all the events in the triangular meet were concluded, we ran Sam out there to put the shot, run the distance races, heave the discus, high jump, etc. He made just one throw or jump.

It was no contest, Sam won every event, usually by a big margin.

This next high school didn't have one phenom, but three who came from three different sections of the city to form an alliance that, well . . .

Jim Courville, Billy Kasper and Dan McCarthy were the nucleus of a basketball team that went 77-6 over three seasons. They formed three-quarters of an infield that won two state championships in three tries. And maybe football was the best sport for two of them, the third, Kasper, setting a state record for touchdowns scored in a season. The team lost two games in three seasons.

I think we've all seen or known about kids who have done some pretty amazing things in a game, during the course of a season or career. For example, the schoolboy record for consecutive no-hitters is nine, by a lad in Mississippi back in 1961. I recall Bert Jones once saying he pitched in high school and he was asked if he ever had a no-hitter. "Oh sure," he replied. "I had a few in a row. I don't know whether it was three or four."

A bunch of guys were shooting the breeze after reading a story in USA Today about how high school records have a way of sticking around. And, with the school seasons dead ahead, the conversation took its natural course. Forget Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, someone said, you want a truly unbreakable record, how about the Shelbyville, Tenn., kids who ran up 52 straight shutouts in the '40s, no opponent crossing the 50-yard line the first three years of the streak?

The exploits came crashing in. First time the talents of Skip Wise were witnessed here, "Honeydip," his nickname then, scored 16 points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter of a game that had been even. Adrian Dantley and DeMatha were supposedly the best around that year but, in a game at the Civic Center before a packed house, Dunbar won and Wise coolly canned 42.

"The" record as far as high schools are concerned, though, has to be that of Kenny Hall, a tailback on a team in Sugarland, Texas. Playing at the same time on a team running the same somewhat dated single wing and justly proud of our ability to rush for about 275 yards per game, we couldn't believe that there was a kid 2,000 miles away who averaged 337 yards a game over a 12-game schedule (season total: 4,044 yards). I was thinking of writing and asking for his autograph.

Little did we know that the fabled "Sugarland Express," Hall, rarely got to play in the second half of any game.

Want another gasper? Who holds the high school record of returning four kickoffs for touchdowns in a game -- Bo Jackson, Roger Maris, Jim Brown or Herschel Walker? Of course it's Maris, who gained a reputation for something else he did in another sport.

A guy I knew while running around the hills of Fort Benning, Ga., used to regale anyone who would listen with tales of his exploits as a West Virginia youngster. These guys were from all over the country and many had done some pretty spectacular things themselves.

But they weren't about to believe that "Punch" Pearson once scored 13 touchdowns in a game before matriculating to Marshall College, where he also played hoops.

Years later, I asked Hal Greer, a teammate of Pearson's at Marshall before going on to a long and illustrious career in the NBA with Philadelphia, if he remembered Punch.

"Yeah, you know he once scored 13 touchdowns in a high school football game?" he replied.

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