In 1986 UW Courier Alumni Magazine editor Chris Redmond, knowing of my irrational support of the apparent lost cause of Waterloo football, asked me to write an article on the history of the team.
I had just graduated from Waterloo with my M.Math. and had been a staunch supporter of the football Warriors ever since I started in 1977.
(Maybe you heard, I ran the Waterloo Warriors Band for a few years too.)
The team had gone through an amazing period of futility at the time.
Things are much better now though.
Legendary coach Dave “Tuffy” Knight arrived in 1988, and by 1997 the Warriors had actually won the Yates Cup, emblematic of Ontario football supremacy.
Waterloo even won a playoff game over Western, the last game ever played at Western’s historic J. W. Little Stadium. Western then tore down the stadium in shame.
And although the team reverted to its traditional struggling form in the 2000s – and, sadly, UW suspended the football program for an entire year in 2010 after an embarrassing steroid scandal – the current Warriors under coach Chris Bertoia are returning to respectability.
They are 2-0 as I write this, won 4 games last year, and seems to have shaken off years of futility.
Let’s hope that trend continues.
I really enjoyed researching this article, talking to past coaches, hearing some of their stories,
and learning that there was a long-lost trophy, the Bar-O-O, made from a barrel painted in each school’s colours, that went to the winner of the Waterloo/Laurier game.
Cleaning up the garage on the weekend, I found a box with a copy of the magazine.
Rereading it brought back lots of memories – especially of wonderful coaches like Carl Totzke, Wally Delahey and Bob McKillop, who all befriended me as a nervous undergraduate attempting to figure out how to run a band, and who loved telling stories of founding and growth of Waterloo football.
Carl and Wally both passed away recently, but I met Bob at the UW hall of fame banquet last year and was able to tell him how much his friendship meant to me.
I hope you might enjoy rereading this article too.
I’m indebted to former UW Alumni magazine editor Chris Redmond for encouraging this piece.
In hindsight, my prediction at the end was just a bit off – but I think I could see that things were going to get better.
Anyway, here it is.
I hope that by putting this online,
some of these stories of Waterloo Warrior football might live a little longer.
No offence intended
Waterloo, UW Alumni Magazine, December 1986
Observations, historical research and ill-disguised passion by Steve Hayman, until recently Chief Centurion of the Warriors Band and still one of the greatest of a brave breed: fans of Warrior football.
It’s a story 30 seasons long, starting with “Carleton College Ravens 24, Waterloo College Mules 20” on October 5, 1957; punctuated by “Waterloo 1, RMC 0”, “Waterloo 60, Laurentian 0”, “Waterloo 19, Lutheran 7”, and, more typically, “Western 72, Waterloo “.
It’s a story of dedicated fans, cheerleaders in togas, making the playoffs, a wine-barrel trophy, one of the bands in Canada, and school fight songs with timeless lyrics including “Keep on playing, you Warriors,”, “Come on, get wise, you guys,” and “Laurier, Laurier, pffft to Laurier.”
It’s a story with 66 wins, 165 losses and 5 ties, and five guys who made it to the pros.
And it’s a story of a group of players and coaches who, although usually unsuccessful in the win column, achieved other more important goals, such as getting an education and having fun. Just ask anyone who’s ever coached the team.
(It’s easy. They all still work here.)
The current coach-for-life, Bob McKillop, is the perfect guy to head Warrior football.
The prototypical big-man-on-campus in the late 60’s, he quarterbacked the Warriors to three straight winning seasons.
McKillop played baseball for the White Sox, coached the Warrior hockey team to a national championship in 1974, played on an intramural basketball team that beat the varsity Warriors one year. (“I’ll never forget that”, he says, although he wonders if maybe it was the junior varsity team.) He was even MC for the FASS show, and is one of the few people who understand the Warriors Band.
“I’ve actually had some fun this year,” he said, in the midst of 1986’s record losing streak.
“The kids work hard and we have an exceptional coaching staff.
There’s a tremendous amount of improvement going on. I’m really really pleased. I hope we can keep this group together.”
The early years
UW has had a football team of sorts since its inception in 1957, when Waterloo College started up the “Associate Faculties” as a dodge for getting more government money.
At that time, a young Carl Totzke, Waterloo College Class of ’49, was reporting on sports for the K-W Record and coaching the WC Mules part-time.
“We had to scramble for games,” Totzke, now UW athletic director, recalled.
“We played Huron College, Ryerson, U of T intramural teams, whoever we could get.”
The Associate Faculties, which eventually became UW, built Seagram Stadium in 1957 on land donated by the city, and with the help of $250,000 from Seagrams.
“That was the first building of the new Associate Faculties, and it demonstrated that it was for real,” Totzke recalls.
“Then the government kicked in, and of course, later we gave the stadium away.”
To the city.
For a dollar.
In 1958, Totzke became the full time WC athletic director, with a staff of none, and led the Mules — a team shared by Waterloo College and the Associate Faculties/UW — to their second straight 0-7 season in the Ontario Intercollegiate Football Conference; they managed to beat Carleton 30-6 in 1959 to finish the 1950’s with a 1-20 record.
The UW Warrior football team made its debut under that name in the OIFC in 1960; all-time Warrior great Dick Aldredge captained the team, which lost to Guelph in their first game but beat Carleton and RMC later to finish at 2-5.
Aldredge was a two-way player, playing offensively and defensively for up to 58 minutes per game; in 1961 he led Waterloo to a historic 12-6 win over Carleton for the school’s first Homecoming win during the “Wa Wa Wee” — the Waterloo Warrior Weekend.
He’s still the team’s all-time leading rusher and second-leading scorer with 991 points, behind late-70’s kicker Mike Karpow.
Also in 1961, “Hail to Waterloo,” by science student Kenneth Magee, won a contest held for a new school song.
To the tune of Scotland the Brave, it went like this
Hail, Hail to Waterloo
Our Warriors fight for you
On High your colours hold
Black, White and Gold
We’ll show them one and all
That they can’t win them all.
Proudly we give the call
Catchy, but it didn’t enjoy universal support.
One cheerleader felt compelled to write an alternate:
Come on get wise, you guys,
We are from Waterloo.
We’ve got a winning team,
We’ll walk right over you.
The Engineers are here,
The Arts and Science too,
So give a great big cheer,
For the U. Of W.
1961 ended with a third place 3-4 record and the first appearance in print of the Warrior slogan “Wait ’till next year.”
The following year, a record crowd of 1,884 saw the Waterloo Lutheran Golden Hawks edge Waterloo 7-6 in the first o 25 games between the cross-town rivals.
The Warriors have one 4 out of the 9 games they’ve played against “Lutheran”, but have lost all 16 games against “Laurier.”
(Anyone for changing the name back?)
Another team that always gave the Warriors trouble were the Redmen of Royal Military College (not to be confused with the Redmen of McGill or Guelph, or for that matter the Warriors of Loyola.)
“Numbers-wise there was not that much disparity between the two schools,” Totzke said.
“They’d win on conditioning.
They’d get into a cohesive unit better than other schools.”
RMC won 6 of its 10 games against Waterloo, and, its objectives achieved, withdrew from competition in the early 1970’s.
A brief break for some Warrior trivia
Most Games Against
McMaster 40, Guelph 36, WLU 25, Western 23
Most Common UW Score
0 (34 times)
Opposition 22, Warriors 11
Waterloo 60, Laurentian 0 (1967, Home)
Waterloo 52, Montreal 0 (1967, Home)
Waterloo 37, St. F. X 0 (1970 away, ex.)
Waterloo 40, McMaster 6 (1979, away)
Waterloo 34, Guelph 0 (1967, away)
Waterloo 34,McMaster 0 (1977, home)
Waterloo 35, Montreal 1 (1966, home)
McMaster 77, Waterloo College Mules 0 (1957, home)
Western 72, Waterloo 0 (1984, away)
McMaster 69, Waterloo College 0 (1957, away)
McMaster 60, Waterloo 0 (1985, away)
Laurier 59, Waterloo 0 (1985 home, ex)
Biggest Loss In Which At Least We Scored
McMaster 60, Waterloo 6 (1984, home)
Biggest Loss To A School That Doesn’t Play College Football Any More
RMC 52, Waterloo College 0 (1957, home)
Biggest Loss Outside Canada
Wilmington College (Ohio) 46, Waterloo 6 (1986)
Schools We’ve Never Played
Mount Allison, Acadia, UBC, Calgary, Manitoba
Waterloo 0, Guelph 0 (1962)
Waterloo 1, RMC 0 (1966)
McMaster 1, Waterloo 0 (1970)
Western 3, Waterloo 2 (1970)
Waterloo 4, Carleton 2 (1975)
Back to the live action
1963 saw Waterloo’s first win over Waterlootheran, 13-12.
The game featured strong performances by Aldredge, who blocked a sure-thing WLU field goal in the final minutes, and equally strong play by the six Warrior cheerleaders selected earlier in the year on the basis of “hair, posture, clothes, figure and a rather dubious category called etc“, according to the Coryphaeus.
Six judges, Totzke included, had labored for hours over a list of candidates and were apparently considering resorting to a tape measure in order to make a final decision, until the cooler heads of the two female judges prevailed.
The same issue reported that “the six short-skirted cheerleaders were much appreciated but had a hard time out-yelling the well-oiled fans.”
The Homecoming rematch in 1964 was played before a record Seagram Stadium crowd of 5,000. The Coryphaeus fueled the rivalry with a front page article outlining “45 Reasons why WLU will lose”, which included
* According to the 83rd thesis by Luther, Thou shalt not play feetsball, ye followers of mine
* Our field has been seeded with grass grown in the Vatican gardens;
* This year, we choose the referees;
* The University police have promised to let anyone park anywhere on campus if the Warriors win.
Unfortunately, as anyone who has had a car towed in the past 20 years can tell you, Lutheran won 19-18.
A new era began on September 24, 1965, midway through the third quarter of a game against Guelph.
Dick Aldredge had moved on to the Canadian Football League, and rookie Bob McKillop replaced Doug Billing at quarterback and tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kim McCuaig.
The Warriors beat the Guelph Redmen – later the Gryphons – 12-1.
The ’65 Warriors were felt by many to be the school’s best team yet, beat Loyola 32-19 in a game highlighted by a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Pat McMenamin, and finished the season with 4 wins, 3 losses.
Totzke remembers having “a really interesting group of players” in the mid-1960’s. “McMaster had a one-year graduate physical education program, and they were getting a great influx of ready-made athletes.
So we got on the bandwagon and created a one-year PE course.
That got the traditional phys ed schools ticked, off, and it gradually became unacceptable, but it brought us the “one-year wonders” — Bob Howes, who came from Queen’s and went on to play with the Eskimos, Mike Law, Dave Knechtel who came from WLU and went on to Winnipeg …
“In retrospect, the one-year program wasn’t a good idea; it prevented us from growing and developing our own players.
It meant that 20 of your own students couldn’t play.” But it was successful.
The Warriors peaked during this period, with three straight winning seasons from 1965 to 1968 and some of the most memorable games in Warrior history.
The unusual score of Waterloo 1, RMC 0 occurred in 1966 in an error-filled exhibition matchup.
“I remember that game; we hadn’t practiced before it,” McKillop reminisced, leafing through old copies of the Coryphaeus.
“One of the outstanding punters in Canadian College football,” he said, reading about himself.
“Geez, who wrote that?
We sure had him fooled.”
Totzke recalls long hours spent by his wife and himself making sandwiches in preparation for road trips to Montreal.
“The guys would complain that they weren’t going to eat them, at least until we put the sandwiches out.
It was the cool thing to complain.”
One of those Montreal trips saw the Warrior defence stop Loyola’s running game dead in its tracks by halftime.
“We were creaming them 20-0 at halftime.
They couldn’t run the ball at all.
So in the second half, they found they could pass and came back to win 22-20,” he remembers.
“We stoned ’em so bad on defence in the first half, they found our weakness.”
During that same 1966 season, math student Dave Greenberg started up The Warriors Band in order to get into the games for free.
“One time we were playing and it started to rain,” he recalls.
“We decided to stay around and play some cheers.
That turned the crowd around, and the team noticed.
The Lettermen offered to get us some uniforms.
We started saying hey, there’s money there, what can we spend it on?
So we bought the big bass drum.”
From that point on, the Carling Red Cap Hymn became a fixture at UW games.
Running back Brian Irvine and some friends in the phys ed class of 1967 decided to do something about UW spirit.
Team co-captain Peter Hopkins, now UW campus recreation director, had transferred to UW from Carleton and was familiar with the rivalry at the annual Carleton-Ottawa “Panda Bowl” game.
Hopkins and Irvine were brainstorming ideas about stirring up the UW-WLU rivalry, when Irvine located an old wine barrel in his dad’s basement.
The group painted it in UW and WLU colours, christening it the Bar-O-O trophy, emblematic of football supremacy in Waterloo, and for many years, it was presented to the winner of the UW-WLU game.
Unfortunately the Bar-O-O seems to have disappeared, although everybody has a pretty good idea of which school must have it.
Irvine led the team to a stunning 30-26 victory over Western in 1967.
Totzke’s last home game as a coach and McKillop’s as a player was a memorable 12-8 victory over number-6-ranked Lutheran that year.
“How Sweet It Is!” was Totzke’s reaction after the players presented him with the game ball.
Assistant coach Wally Delahey, now the assistant athletic director, was handed the reins in 1968 after Totzke’s alleged retirement.
The team joined Toronto, Queen’s, McGill and Western in the big league that year; people were buzzing about the College Bowl, and expanding Seagram Stadium.
Six thousand fans and the new Warrior mascot saw a pre-season loss to Alberta and defeat of WLU, complete with UW’s own banner-towing plane.
How was that season, Wally?
“It was a rude awakening,” he says, recalling one win, one tie and four losses.
The 19-19 tie against Toronto and 30-6 win over Western t least proved that UW belonged in the new league, although the new toga-style cheerleader uniforms were a bit of a disappointment.
The season marked a turning point for Warrior fans — they became more aggressive and more colourful, and the Warrior Band’s halftime show in Kingston held up the Queen’s Band’s show for 20 minutes.
Everyone connected with Warrior football recalls 5’9″ running back Gord McLellan’s stellar performance in a 20-15 victory at McGill in 1970, the main highlight of a 1-5 season.
Waterloo’s three touchdowns were all scored by McLellan on kick returns.
“The last was a 105-yard run in the last minute of the game,” Delahey remembers.
“After that, McGill coach Tom Mooney just disintegrated.
He disappeared off the face of the earth.”
A personal highlight for Delahey was a Nova Scotia trip the team took prior to the 1970 season, and the resulting quest for the Green Acres Motel in Antigonish.
“We always made the guys get dressed up for a trip.
I was really proud of those guys; they were dressed to the nines.
But when we got to Antigonish, which has a main drag about as long as this hall, we couldn’t find the motel.
I asked this old codger where it was.
He smirked and said there was no Green Acres Motel, but there was a Green Acres Campground, and that St. F. X. owned it, so away we go down this road.
After six miles, it’s not a road any more, it’s just a path, but we see this Green Acres sign, and a whole bunch of really rustic cabins.
“This can’t be it”, we said, but the guys piled out of the bus in the middle of the wilderness, still all dressed up, beside this football field that looked like a cow pasture.
“OK coach, the joke’s over,” one of them said.
I took the bus back into town and phoned Carl and he said “yeah that’s it”, so back I go and I have to tell all the guys.
We got some fires going in the cabins, they were right on the Bay of Fundy and it turned out to be a great experience.”
An unfortunate bout of player unrest and defections — McLellan, disenchanted with something, jumped to Queen’s — hurt the team in 1971.
Fans threw beer bottles at the cheerleaders that year.
Somehow, the team pulled through and won three in a row for the first time ever, against Windsor, Guelph and McMaster.
The season ended with, sadly, the team’s last ever victory over WLU, 1907, and the Warriors finished a healthy 4-4, after a strong performance by rookie quarterback Chuck Wakefield.
The team finished 3-3 in 1972 but had yet to make the playoffs when the first big slump hit.
UW won no more than two games a season from 1973 to 1977, and it’s hard to tell what was really going on because the Chevron was, you know, the Chevron, and there wasn’t a lot of sports coverage.
Renison College cook Louis Zimmerhansl fed the team pre-game meals for years.
“He was even our honorary coach once”, Delahey says. “We’d sometimes get a faculty member or Dr. Burt Matthews or someone to do that.
They’d come to the meal, come into the dressing rooms.
It was a good PR move.
We never got turned down.”
Delahey also used to run a goofy Play of the Week on occasion. “It’d be a fun play, like a triple reverse. I don’t think it ever worked.”
Then came 1978, The Year of the Playoff Game We Shoulda Won, the only playoff game in UW’s history.
Delahey had proposed a new league structure for the 1978 season that saw the OUAA West Division split into two groups, the four traditionally strong schools (Toronto, Western, Windsor and WLU) and the weak sisters: Waterloo, Guelph, York and McMaster. You played one cross-over game — WLU beat us 39-10 in that one — and twice against each school in your group.
Waterloo managed a 4-3 record in the regular season, including a spectacular 130-yard league record punt return for a touchdown by Steve Valeriote against York, good enough for third place in the combined standing, and prepared for the Big Semi-Final Game against WLU.
It was a perfect day for football, and we all remember it like it was yesterday (don’t we?).
WLU was, of course, heavily favoured, and took the predicted 23-3 lead at halftime.
The Warriors came out breathing fire in the second half.
Quarterback Greg Sommerville threw touchdown passes to Dan Hagen and Mike Grace;
Mike Karpow added a field goal.
Suddenly it was 23-20.
The Hawks were reeling, and the Warriors were set for the final killer blow.
Waterloo was pressing for the go-ahead touchdown from the three yard line.
Sommerville handed off to running back Bill Guthrie, who will probably never forget fumbling the ball.
Later, Karpow added another field goal to tie the game, but UW was unable to go ahead, as WLU intercepted another Sommerville pass in the end zone (sigh) and WLU full back Jim Reid scored the winning touchdown with less than two minutes left.
A big disappointment.
But also a super effort.
“We should have beaten WLU”, says Delahey.
“We played so bloody well.
The low point was looking at those guys after the game.”
Unfortunately the split-division schedule was dropped after the 1978 season and UW football returned to a successions of two-wins-or-less seasons.
Mind you, they did tie the Toronto Blues 20-20 in 1980 when the Blues were ranked number 1 in the country, and the 25-24 win over Toronto in 1984 was “fantastic! The punting was the key to the victory,” says Jim MacMillan, the, uh, punter in 1984.
So here we are in 1986 and — I hate to say it — the Warriors have lost 19 games in a row.
It’s trendy, but unfair, to knock the program without really knowing what’s going on.
Coach McKillop took over from Coach Delahey for the 1982 season, after a long and successful tenure as UW hockey coach.
“I can adamantly say — this keeps me going — no matter who you talk to, there are no negative vibes from the kids,” he says. “Have they enjoyed it?
It’s the thing that keeps me young.”
Only this year has UW begun to recruit football players.
And it’s paying off. The team is becoming more competitive, although the actual won-lost record won’t show it just yet.
“If we have another recruiting year like last year, we’ll be 25 per cent better again.
You’re only as good as the horse you’ve got in the barn,” McKillop comments.
But it’s not easy, and McKillop and assistant coach in charge of recruiting Ron Dias are not having an easy time of it.
“My biggest concern is that people in local high schools are not supporting our program.
They’re actively discouraging people from playing here.
We find exactly the opposite outside Waterloo County,” the coach says. Unbelievable.
“We’ve done everything”, he continues. “We ran a football clinic here.
People came and said it was the best they’d ever been at.
But the least attendance was from Waterloo Region.”
On recruiting, Totzke notes that “if you want success, you have to do it.
There are difficulties with the perception of the university, that it’s a high tech school, very demanding, that nobody has any fun.
These perceptions are difficult to overcome.”
Looking back over the years, you might not think that football at UW has been a success.
But it has.
“You know the best thing I can say?
If I had to do it again, I would”, says former centre Pete Callaghan, who played from 1981 to 1985, a period when the team won only 5 games.
Or ask Frank Kosec, the most recent Warrior to make the CFL, who retired this year after a career with Calgary and Montreal (and an environmental studies degree.)
“Football was never my number 1 objective.
Get your education first, and combine it with football.
That’s where UW is great — it doesn’t push football.
The guys come out of here with a degree.”
Kosec could have played anywhere after being named Toronto’s top high school defensive player.
“I could have gone to Western or WLU but I figure I’ll take the education first”, he says.
“It was a lot of fun.”
Kosec keeps in touch with McKillop as much as he can.
How’s he like this year’s team?
“At least they’re trying.
They have an opportunity to play.
It’s tough when you lose, but the scoreboard isn’t everything.
I’d rather be on a losing team and play, than be on a winning team and on the bench.”
Of course, more money would help UW’s program immensely, as it’s sadly underfunded.
But the coaching staff has the right attitude.
“We’ve had less serious injuries [in 1986] than we’ve ever had”, says athletic therapist Brian Farrance.
We have some good players.
We have a mascot and a band.
We have some dedicated fans.
It’s just a matter of time.
In fact, I’m going to make a prediction.
The Warriors will win the 1992 CIAU championship.
The 1961 school song says it best:
Keep on Playing, You Warriors
… To Victory!