1972: Homecoming football comes to Minooka


1972-73 MCHS yearbook

The 1972 Minooka football team played in the first Homecoming game in school history. Minooka beat Seneca, 45-12.

As Joe Namath, Fran Tarkenton, and the undefeated Miami Dolphins were tearing up the National Football League, here in small town Minooka, Illinois, it was star fullback Don Williams and the 1972 Minooka Indians football team that were stealing the show.

Frank Abbott, the first head coach of the Minooka football team, was similar to many men from that generation, tough and hard nosed. 

Craig Williamson, MCHS Class of 1973, played in the first Minooka Homecoming football game for Abbott.  He said one time – probably around 1974 – Abbott put on pads at practice against his own players. He broke his leg, and while the ambulance was coming, he wanted to continue calling plays so his players could continue to practice. 

Abbott began coaching Minooka’s first team in 1971, when there was finally a football field at Minooka to play on.  The school building – the current MCHS Central Campus – had opened a year earlier without a football field or track.  That first year in 1972, Minooka basically played a JV schedule in football.

By 1972, many of the teams on the schedule were also JV teams.  Seneca was similar to Minooka in that it was also in its second year of a football program.  And in 50 years ago on Oct. 7, 1972, MCHS had it first Homecoming football game against Seneca. 

The days leading up to the game had familiar sights. “Marching bands, amusing floats, cheerleaders, our team mascot, as well as the queen and her court made up the Homecoming parade Friday afternoon,” according the Oct. 1972 issue of the Peace Pipe Chatter

Of course a lot has changed since 1972 seeing as gas was only 36 cents a gallon back then, but the parade has grown to being a huge town event and same with the football game.  Also, in 1972 there was no such thing as Friday Night Lights. It was Saturday afternoon games since there were no lights, and they only had two sets of portable bleachers, according to Williamson. 

After starting the season off with a rocky start getting outscored by a combined 80-42 against Plainfield and Peotone, Minooka had come back strong with a 37-0 win against Plano. 

The Homecoming game against Seneca was a must win for Abbott and the Indians and a great opportunity for the Indians to get back to .500.

The first Homecoming game was an overall great game for the Minooka, led by running back John Bogart who had 149 scrimmage yards, and 3 touchdowns, according to a 1972 article from the Joliet Herald-News.

Quarterback Randy Frye was 5 for 9 for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

Williamson, a tight end, also scored a touchdown on a 10-yard pass. 

“For a guy that had been a lineman or a defensive lineman all his life, to catch a touchdown pass, that was fun,” Williamson said.

Seneca’s defense did a great job covering Minooka’s star fullback Don Williams – who would score over 100 points that year. This let Bogart show up and lead the team to a 45-12 victory over the Irish.

Later that evening at the Homecoming dance, Bogart was crowned Homecoming king.