Hops Heresy: No. 19 to come home
Decatur High quarterback Dave Anspaugh (center) pours a beverage into his glass during a Decatur Sports Boosters banquet in the fall of 1964 as he and his teammates are honored for the storied 8-0-1 unbeaten season. In the row with Anspaugh are (left to right) John Custer, Max Elliott, Anspaugh, Deane Lehman, and Larry Lehman. Behind them are (L-R) Sam Blythe and Max Egly.
"Dave wore 19. Johnny Unitas was his idol," stated former Decatur mayor Fred Isch, fondly recalling the days when he coached Dave Anspaugh and a host of excellent Decatur Junior High football players. That group went on to record an unbeaten 8-0-1 high school season in 1964.
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"There were a lot of really good football players in that group, obviously, but Dave was an excellent leader. He was sort of a perfectionist, trying to get everything right," remembered Isch, who was glad to coach eight years of junior high football.
Anspaugh will get it right again next Saturday when he returns to his home town to join in and help Decatur celebrate its 175th birthday. Anspaugh, a successful Hollywood director, will host the showing of two of his most famous films Hoosiers and Rudy.
The movies will be played on blue ray at the Erekson Theater at Bellmont High School next Saturday, and Anspaugh will be there and say a few words prior to the showing.
The idea for the twin showings came from Larry Isch, Fred's brother, and a key figure in the 175th birthday bash.
"When it first came up, I thought it was a no-brainer, that the event would attract a lot of people. When ticket sales went slowly, I realized that it's been awhile since Dave's parents passed away, and even longer since they had that successful photography business here. It's also been a long time since that 1964 team went unbeaten," said Isch. It's been 47 years.
"Things are picking up, and we're hoping for a good turnout."
Though Anspaugh hasn't exactly made Decatur his vacation heaven, he definitely did not write off his town. Anspaugh wrote in Decatur High as an opponent for his fictional Hickory Huskers in Hoosiers, utilized Decatur's Brad Boyle as a player on the team and his dad, Bob, as an official, and went out of his way to get Fred Isch and Bob Worthman, and their wives, to the premiere of the movie.
"I sat next to Dennis Hopper. I've never felt so out of place," noted Fred.
"Dave was a great athlete, a record-setter in the shot put and even played on the Decatur basketball team. We're really looking forward to seeing him," said Dave's old coach.