Remembering one of Mapleton’s best football seasons

The 1964 Mapleton Sailors had a record of 7-2.

1964 Sailors took down the Vikings twice in one year

Oct. 21, 2021 - Coming into the 1964 season, most high school football prognosticators in Oregon expected reigning co-champions Siuslaw and Newport to again battle for the top spot in the eight-team Coast League. Newport was a perennially strong team and Siuslaw returned maybe the best running back in the state, Tooey Emery.

In fact, no one can remember if or when Mapleton had ever won the Coast League and its automatic berth in the A-2 state playoffs. That spot typically would go to Siuslaw, Newport or Reedsport and a win against the Vikings was usually enough to call the Sailor season successful.

Long-time Mapleton resident Lynn Hood, a pulling guard on the 1964 Sailor football team, shared memories from his years at Mapleton High and playing football for the Sailors.

His memories from 1964 are vivid, especially when it comes to the rivalry with downriver rivals Siuslaw.

1964 was an unusually wet year. This added to the challenge for kids in Mapleton that traveled from all over the upper Siuslaw River region to get to school and practice.

Hood remembers long, rain-soaked trips home after practice. Often, he had to hitchhike to his family’s ranch up Indian Creek. Luckily, the community of Mapleton has always taken care of each other and, inevitably, someone he knew would pick him up.

The field the Sailors practiced and played games on soon became a muddy soupy mess, and stayed that way all season, as did most of the rest of fields across high schools on the Oregon Coast.

Hood remembers Siuslaw getting creative to deal with the quagmire that was their Hans Peterson Field.

“The field was so bad in Florence they poured sawdust on it,” said Hood. “Then, when you played on it, it got all up in your uniform and places you can’t even imagine.”

The Siuslaw game also brought out the mischievous side of both teams.

“Mapleton and Florence ‘went at it.’ We feuded,” Hood said. “We had a big ‘M’ up on the hill behind the school. Someone from Siuslaw came and painted it yellow. I probably shouldn’t be saying anything, but we returned the favor by painting our blue ‘M’ on the water tower on Spruce Street, right when you get into Florence.”

Since 1962, the Sailors got an extra chance each season to face their rival, because, besides the Coast League match-up later in the season, Mapleton and Siuslaw also faced off to kick off the nonleague portion of the season too. For a four year stretch, from 1962-1965, the two Siuslaw River rivals would alternate meeting at each other’s home field to open the season.

On Friday night, Sept. 11, 1964, the teams opened their season at Siuslaw’s Hans Peterson Field. Most fans in attendance that night had hope for a competitive game, but most also assumed a Viking victory was predestined.

Those assumptions were quickly forgotten when Mapleton put together drives of 61 and 40 yards, each of which ended with Gerald Timm rushing touchdown for the Sailors. Before they knew what hit them, the home team was down two scores.

The Vikings’ all-state running back Emery ran in an 18-yard touchdown to bring Siuslaw within seven in the second quarter to make it 14-7.

Mapleton quickly regained their double-digit lead when quarterback Lew Dahlin hit tight end Earl Armbruster from 9 yards to make it 21-7 at the half. In the third, Emery raced for a 79 yard run to the Mapleton 1 to set up a Viking touchdown on the next play, but it wasn’t enough as the Sailors hung on for the 21-14 upset.

For the Sailors’ second game, on Sept. 18, south coast powerhouse Brookings came to town for another nonleague matchup for the team. The Bruins overcame Dahlin to Armbruster touchdown connections of 20, 70 and 25 yards to down Mapleton 31-21. The blue and white went into Coast League play 1-1.

Even with the loss, the Sailors felt ready for Coast League play after battling two of the best teams on the coast to start the season.

If the state hadn’t taken notice of the gridiron momentum growing in Mapleton, they certainly did after the Sailors traveled to Reedsport on Sept. 25 to face the state’s #3 ranked A-2 team.

“Reedsport Upset By Mapleton” was the headline splashed across the top of the sports page in The World, of Coos Bay, the next morning after the two teams met.

“Life is full of surprises and Mapleton had one in store for Reedsport Friday night. The Sailors made all look up and take notice by ambushing the Braves 22-7 in the Coast League opener for both teams,” gushed The World’s sports page.

In a game where both teams racked up just 195 yards on offense, it was penalties and turnovers by Reedsport that were the difference. That, and Sailor quarterback Dahlin who threw two touchdowns and ran for another.

After the final buzzer, chaos ensued. Fans from both teams came onto the field.

“We (the team) had barely made it off the field when fans from both teams spilled out of the bleachers and started fighting,” recalled Hood.

In game four on Oct. 2, another nonleague affair, Philomath came to town and Mapleton easily took care of the Warriors 32-7. Three more Dahlin-to-Armbruster touchdown passes made up the bulk of the scoring.

The Sailors now sat tied with Newport atop the Coast League with a rematch against rival Siuslaw next.

The Vikings came into the contest on Oct. 9 without a win on the season. In contrast to the last time these two teams met, they were heavy underdogs to the Sailors.

In a rivalry game like SHS versus MHS was in those days, record didn’t matter.

There was no question both teams would be ready and excited for this match-up.

For Siuslaw, motivation for a victory was high as it was looking like a potential win might be the lone bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Viks.

While the Vikings showed flashes of the talent that made them co-champion of the Coast League the previous year, round two also belonged to the Sailors. Dave Becker had a 40-yard touchdown run along with a 25-yard touchdown reception from Dahlin, which helped the Sailors overcome a 83-yard touchdown sprint by reigning state A-2 100-yard dash champion Les Conley. Revenge was not in the cards for Siuslaw as they fell for a second time this season to Mapleton 19-14.

Next, on Oct. 16, Mapleton hosted the Boomers of Toledo and continued their dominance with a 32-20 victory. The game was not as close as the score indicated as Toledo scored its last two touchdowns in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

Now the Sailors were rolling. They took care of Taft on Oct. 23 (27-13) and crushed winless Waldport (41-7) on Oct. 30.

Going into the last Friday of Coast League play, Mapleton sat atop the Coast League with a 4-0 record. Though they had a tough matchup with second place Newport, it was believed by most in the know that the Sailors were the best team in the league.

The Associated Press’ A-2 Top 10 Poll had Mapleton as the #6 team in the entire state, followed by fellow Coast Leaguers Reedsport at #8 and Newport at #10.

Since the Sailor’s held a game lead over Newport and Reedsport even a loss would keep them in contention for the spot at state.

Mapleton was hurting when they arrived in Newport on Nov. 6 for both teams’ final game of the regular season. The wear and tear of a long high school football season was starting to catch up to the Sailors.

“I think Earl (Armbruster) had water on his knee,” said Hood. “Lew (Dahlin) had injured his back or shoulder. We were beat up pretty good.”

Not to mention, the Newport team just had more players to work with, which pays big dividends at the end of a long season.

“It seemed like every time I lined up, there was a different Newport player staring at me from across the line,” said Hood.

The Cubs shutout the Sailors 26-0.

So, at the end of the regular season, the top of the Coast League standings showed Mapleton 5-1, Newport 5-1 and Reedsport 5-1.

League rules state that in the event of a two-way tie, the team that has had the longest time since their last trip to state is chosen as the league’s representative. The league hadn’t planned for a three-way tie, and best solution they came up with was the tried and true method of drawing names from a hat.

Draw they did. Newport was selected. Mapleton’s season was over.

One of the greatest seasons in Mapleton history ended with nothing more than stroke of bad luck.

Hood said the team was disappointed but “life went on.”

Hood graduated from MHS in 1964, and after that served in the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War. He was part of the attack by U.S. forces to take out the Ho Chi Minh Trail. After returning from the service, Hood went to work in the woods as a logger until he said that got “boring.” He switched career paths and went into forestry and did that for 30 years.

Those with local sports memories they’d like to share should contact Siuslaw News Sports Reporter Zac Burtt at [email protected].