In August of 1964, 36 young men came out for the Almont junior varsity football Team, which was being coached by Ag teacher, George Pattullo. Coach Pattullo had no experience with coaching football but took the approach that the most physically fit team would prevail in most games. However, the sophomore class–Class of 1967–had extensive experience from the previous year because there were only five football players in the Class of 1966.

Coach Pattullo physically prepared the team while the varsity coaches and players helped get the team prepared to play football. The first four games were all victories by large margins, which allowed the freshmen to get plenty of playing time. The fifth game was against Armada, who also was undefeated.

The Southern Thumb Association schedule for the 1964 football season had the varsity teams playing on Friday night and the junior varsity teams playing on the following Thursday night. On Friday, Almont’s varsity dominated the Armada varsity by the score of 39 to 6. Before that game, Armada had been considered one of the better teams in the state. People were shocked by the score. To make the score more shocking, in the precious three years, Almont had a 20 game losing streak and had to forfeit a game because it had more injured players than healthy ones.

The game between the two undefeated JV teams was set for the following Thursday. Our team was confident but anxious. We had not played any team with the talent and experience of the Armada squad.

Coach Pattullo had the team start every game with a quarterback sneak. He was not concerned with the yardage gained but wanted the team members to establish dominance over the other team by the offensive line hitting their opponents as hard as they possibly could. Quarterback, Dave Sellers, ran the sneak. After gaining about four yards, the Armada middle linebackers hit him, picked him up and deposited him back at the original line of scrimmage. The referee set the ball at the point Dave was set on the ground and not giving him actual ground gained. Coach Pattullo objected but the referee told him to be quiet and get off the field. This was an indication of how the game would be called. We later found out that some of the officials were Armada’s Varsity coaches.

Through the first half and into the third quarter, Almont was not able to do anything while Armada scored 25 points. Finally in the late third quarter, the offense finally put together a number of productive plays. They got to Armada’s 20 yard line with a first down. At that time, the quarterback called the plays. Dave Sellers called a pass play.

At the snap of the ball, Dave dropped back and only our ends–Tom Bassier and Dick Bowman–went out for the pass. Before Dave could set and release the pass, an Armada defender broke free, and Dave had to scramble to avoid him. One of the halfbacks blocked that defender but another got loose and Dave continued to scramble. The entire offensive line and backs kept coming back to get Dave out of trouble but Dave did not have time to throw the pass. Finally, as Dave neared the 50-yard line and was nearing the sideline, he had enough time to throw the ball. I believe, Dick Bowman caught the ball and scored, but it could have been Tom Bassier. The sideline still believed that we could get back into the game.

However, as we scored, the referee threw a flag. He called “illegal receiver downfield”. When Dick caught the ball, the only players from either team that were near the original line of scrimmage were Dick and Tom–everyone else was near midfield. Coach Pattullo asked “Who?” The referee replied “Number 66!” Pattullo explained that “that was one of our ends”. The team was wearing the old Varsity jerseys from the late 1950s and had no number in the 80s. The referee then replied, “Then it must have been Number 55!” Pattullo screamed “But that is our other end!!” The referee then told Pattullo to “Be quiet and get off the field.” The referee would not admit his mistake.

Coach Pattullo charged the referee screaming at him and questioning his integrity. The referee picked up his flag and threw it again citing Pattullo for “unsportsmanlike conduct”. Don Millikin who was trying to get between our coach and the referee then said something to the referee and also got flagged. Don’s dad then came off the sideline and went after the referee and was also flagged. It appeared the Mr. Millikin personally knew the referee.

All four 15-yard penalties were then marked off. I do not believe that was proper procedure. Today, the “illegal receiver’ penalty and the first “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty would have been marked off but not all four penalties. We went from first and ten at the Armada 20-yard line to first and seventy at our 20-yard line. We almost made the first down but ended up turning the ball over on downs.

The game ended with no change in the score–Armada 25, Almont 0.

The next week we barely defeated Dryden by a 7 to 6 score. Coach Pattullo was not happy with the play of the offense, so he benched the first team offensive for the start of the game against New Haven. The second team played the first quarter and scored. The first team came in at the start of the second quarter and scored two or three touchdowns, and we won easily. We finished the season second in the league with a 6 win one loss season.

Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or jrwade49@ gmail.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.