Northwestern University

1958 - 65 Wildcats
(Authentic Reproduction)



Parseghian obviously knew something entering the 1958 season that the rest of the Big Ten did not. Very confidently, he put his system in place and dealt Michigan their worst beating in history, a 55-24 shellacking that stood 43-0 at halftime. The 5-4 record was a big leap forward and they had stood at 5-1 before a lack of depth scuttled them. Andy Cvercko had a huge season as a first-team All American, going on to four years in the NFL at his usual guard position. All Big Ten HB Ron Burton flourished, running in tandem with track standout Wilmer Fowler. Soph signal-caller Dick Thornton led the conference in total offense as a run-pass threat and Burton's school scoring record of seventy-six points was augmented by 613 yards rushing. Mike Stock was the blocking FB and center Jim Andreotti teamed with Cvercko to pave the way for the backs. Irv Cross and Fred Williamson, not yet "The Hammer" played the ends well. Williamson of course, went on to a modicum of fame as a pro DB with the Steelers, Raiders, and Chiefs before becoming a movie star in the "Blacksploitation" films of the seventies. Entering this impressive 1958 season, Parseghian removed the striping from the "Cats' helmets so that the white shell only had the black two-inch player numerals on each side.
6-0 heading into November of 1959 with a major upset of number-one ranked Oklahoma, All Americans Ron Burton at HB and Jim Andreotti at center, and a run at the Big Ten title all had Northwestern fans giddy. The usual lack of depth, an ongoing problem due to the stringent admissions and academic standards and the relatively small size of student enrollment caught up and the Wildcats finished at 6-3. As good as Burton was, the leading rusher was FB Mike Stock who became a needed weapon with the season-ending injury to QB Dick Thornton in the second game of the season. Stock also topped the Big Ten in scoring. Gene Gossage held up one tackle post with distinction.


Perhaps known more for his starring role with the original Boston Patriots, the fleet halfback came to Northwestern as one of Coach Ara Parseghian's early recruits. He made the most of his time, garnering the excellent education offered by Northwestern and earning All Big Ten honors in 1958 and '59, and being named as All American in 1959. Burton held Wildcat records for most points in a season (76) and most career touchdowns with twenty-one. As the Patriots very first draft choice in their history, he set the pace by becoming their first player to rush for over one hundred yards in a game and remained a strong rusher, pass receiver, and kick returner. Burton used his Northwestern education and became an executive with the John Hancock Life Insurance Company. He used his financial gains to found and support the Ron Burton Training Village which was established to provide free summer camp experiences for disadvantaged inner-city adolescents. After his death in 2003, the humanitarian work he was so well-known for has been carried on by his children, one of whom also played football at Northwestern.
Playing in their first nationally televised game, the Wildcats celebrated 1960 with a 7-6 upset of Notre Dame. With Burton graduated to the pros, FB Mike Stock again was the rushing leader. Stock has spent over forty years as a coach and is currently the special teams coordinator of the Packers, revered among other coaches as perhaps the best in the business in this specific area. Irv Cross completed his eligibility as a fine end and moved on to the Eagles and Rams as a highly respected DB and he later was just as highly respected as an NFL broadcaster. Fate Echols was a 245-pound mover at tackle teaming with Jack Cvercko. The defense was built around center and middle guard Larry Onesti and the team delivered by winning four of their last five games to finish with a 5-4 record. '61 had some fireworks with Larry Benz at one HB, and Paul Flatley whom Parseghian shrewdly moved from back-up FB to the other haflback post. Soph FB Bill Swingle stepped in to lead the squad in rushing, despite a knee injury, with a six-yard average. The 4-5 finish did not mirror the emerging build-up of talent as tackle Fate Echols (the Cardinals number one draft choice) and MG Onesti, an All American played great defense, holding seven opponents to ten points or less. With soph QB Tommy Myers an obvious star-in-the-making, Parseghian again moved Paul Flatley, this time to receiver in order to make the most of his talent for the '62 season. The move worked with Myers tossing for 116 completions, 1537 yards, thirteen TD's, and five school records, with All American recognition. Flatley caught forty-five passes for 632 yards and then went to the NFL to play out an eight-year career with the Vikings and Falcons. At 6-0 and with a gutsy 18-14 win over Ohio State and 35-6 whomping of Notre Dame, Northwestern, for the first time in its history, was ranked number one in the country! Late in the season, the lack of depth again reared its head. Despite C Jack Cvercko also playing at an All American level, the Wildcats dropped two of the last three to finish at 7-2, just missing the conference title. 1963's attack was again centered around QB Myers who delivered with 1398 yards on 93 completions and a total of eleven school records. HB Willie Stinson and FB Bill Swingle provided the backfield help for Myers while end Pat Riley focused on defense. Parseghian was seen as a coach who could squeeze the most out of limited material, taking the Wildcats to a winning 5-4 record. On December 3rd, he accepted the head coaching job at Notre Dame and went on to make history there.
As 1964 began with the "Era Of Ara" completed, trusty assistant and Big Ten playing legend Alex Agase stepped into the breach, switching the Wildcats to a ground-oriented attack. Myers was still the starter and performed well enough to be drafted by and then play two years with the Lions. With the loss of twenty-seven seniors from '63, the team fell to 3-6 although they defeated eventual Rose Bowl participant Oregon State in the opener. Pat Riley played a good DE for a decent defense but HB Ron Rector's 4.4 per carry average and the emergence of HB Woody Campbell could not right an inconsistent offense. Despite other good performances by soph end Casimir Banaszek who snared twenty-seven passes as a two-way performer, and Joe Cerne, named All Big Ten at center, the offense was at the bottom of the Big Ten. A tough 1965 schedule brought the return to a full two-platoon scheme and the offense stepped up a bit to help improve the record to 4-6. FB Bob McKelvey added 587 yards to the team's total, HB Campbell another 373, and steady Ron Rector ran and received well enough to move on to the Redskins and Falcons for another two years of football. Starting QB Denny Boothe was backed up by non-lettering Rick Venturi who would have an impact on Wildcat football in future years as a head coach. Blocking and catching (thirty passes caught for over ten yards a reception), fine end Banaszek had pro potential at 228-pounds. Boothe provided the heroics in the season-highlight victory, a 34-22 win over Michigan, the last victory the Wildcats would have over the Wolverines for thirty years.

If interested in any of these NWU helmets please click on the photos below.