I read with interest the column of Jim Wade regarding Almont’s 1956 football team. I was a sophomore on Imlay City’s team that year when we lost to Almont by a score of 7-6. As I recall the game was in Almont and from a Spartan perspective (one that is totally unbiased) the job done by the referees was less than stellar. The one point differential resulted from an extra point attempt by the Spartan kicker, Roger McKee, that all observers agreed, except one referee, passed over the top of the goal post and should have been called “good.” Additionally the penalties assessed against Imlay City exceeded those assessed against Almont by a huge number. All those factors, combined with the loss, led to very hard feelings and a vicious rivalry between the two schools.
It carried over into other sports as well. Imlay City was trailing Almont in a basketball game at Almont during the 57-58 season by about 13 points with about 3-4 minutes to play. Coach Powers had us go into a full court, trapping press and we made up the deficit and went into overtime where the valiant, courageous and sportsmanlike Spartans prevailed.
The following year, the 1958 football season was one to remember. Almont refused to play us in 1957 and so there was a pent up fury in the Spartans for revenge for the 1956 loss. At the time the game was played both Almont and Imlay City teams were very highly rated in State of Michigan Class C football team ratings. The game was played at Grettenberger Field in Imlay City and the place was packed. Anecdotal reports put the number of fans in excess of 4,000.
Almont was led by the Ostrander brothers, Frank Hartway, Dean Upleger and Don Eshenburg. Imlay City countered with Pat Emerick, Jim Ward, John Lengemann, the Clark twins; Ralph and Randy, Gordy Hoeksema, Dick McKee and Jim Van Conant.
The game was, for the most part, a defensive struggle as Almont never got past the 40 yard line of Imlay City. Conversely Imlay City was able to score two running touchdowns. One by junior Dick McKee, the younger brother of the 1956 Spartan kicker, and the other by sophomore, Bob Maison. The ground game of the highly touted fullback for Almont, Frank Hartway, was thwarted by the twin defensive towers of Imlay City, Pat Emerick and John Lengemann.
When the final gun sounded the end of the game the Spartans had served up the cold dish of revenge and the Almont Raiders were forced to swallow it. The final score was Imlay City 13 and Almont 0. The victorious Spartans left the field confident in the knowledge that the aberration of 1956 had been corrected. All was right in the Spartan world and the soundly defeated Raiders were relegated to their rightful place.
— John L. Lengemann