From the notebooks of Greg Fruth: “A little old school” — Stan Klimczak

Past offensive guard Greg Fruth’s comment about a 1965 game: “We must’ve had 10 or 12 plays in a series and every play was the trap!”

Greg Fruth, a self-described “Slicer football pack rat” and a retired La Porte High School teacher, has compiled a series of stories gleaned from countless hours of research. He shares his love for LPHS football with WNLP readers by allowing us to post his collection. This is the seventh in the series. Greg’s collection includes pieces written by his former LPHS students, such as the article below. 

“Stan Klimczak: A Little Old School”
By Melissa Dunifon, Brad Ebach, Rocky Buchta and Gerald Sims, Class of 2005 (Students in Mr. Fruth’s Spring 2005 Advanced Research Writing class)

In 1957, the city of La Porte was graced with a promising new football coach. Stan Klimzcak brought with him innovative techniques, a fresh playbook and, above all, a unique personality. For 19 exciting years, the Slicer community witnessed a legacy unfold. His 1962 team was the only unbeaten squad in Slicer history. With a career record of 107-72-8, Klimzcak etched his name in Slicer Football history. With football experience gathered from high school, college and service ball, Stan made La Porte a respected program in Indiana high school athletics. His most famous contribution was the well-known fullback trap. Outraged by this offensive play, opposing teams struggled to keep Slicer ball carriers out of the end zone. This play enabled many grateful Slicer football players to excel in order to continue their careers at the collegiate level.

For three decades, a single play represented La Porte Slicer Football across the state of Indiana. The 12/13-fullback trap was the foundation of Coach Klimczak’s potent offensive scheme. Glorified by Coach Stan Klimczak, the trap quickly became an important cog in the Slicer offense. Former star running back of the Slicers Dave Birkholtz summed up what the trap meant to Stan: “The trap was Stan’s baby. All he could see were two guards and a center and he had a football team.” When asked what Klimczak’s most notorious play call was, past players and coaches answered with a resounding answer: the 12/13-fullback trap. “Stan would run it in what seemed to be three-fourths of the time,” former Assistant Coach Ken Schreiber said.

The origin of the 12/13-fullback trap was an area of question for the Slicer community. Former Assistant Coach Dick Deardurff had the answer: “He got the trap from Sid Gilllman.” Stan played football under Coach Gillman at the University of Cincinnati. Ironically, Sid Gillman was most known for instituting the passing game into college and professional football.

Fullback and Northern Indiana Conference 1966 MVP Larry Tobar said, “The fullback trap is a smash-mouth play.” The play is designed to go right up the gut. The play often results in the collision of 22 players. Several actions must be executed in order for the play to be successful. At first, it was designed to be run against a five-two defense. As defenses evolved, so did the trap. The trap is centered on the interior linemen and the fullback. According to former guard and LPHS Athletic Director Dave Parsell, “Stan was able to get the most out of his linemen. He made average players into studs.”

Many career and single season football records were broken, courtesy of the 12/13-full back trap. It enabled Slicer ball carriers to chew up yardage and punish opposing defenses. Each individual Slicer rushing record contains at least one running back from Coach Klimczak’s era. Ball carriers were not the only recipients of the fullback trap’s success. Many offensive linemen were all conference and all area caliber players, thanks to the linemen skills taught to them by line coach Bob Hoke and Stan. Mike Hoke, 1962 quarterback, referred to Stan as the finest line coach in the state.

Opponents always knew the trap was coming, but the execution was so good that the fullbacks would beat the defenses anyway. The trap was so effective that Stan was able to turn out eight backs who rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season. Current season rising record holder and former head coach, Bob Strieter, Sr. played for Coach Klimczak. Strieter recalls, “I had a decent size and speed, but Stan’s trust in the offense and the play gave us success.” The fullback trap allowed the Slicer ground attack to produce yardage and touchdowns as if they were a wartime necessity.

Coach Klimczak’s implementation of the fullback trap began a new era in Slicer football. His smash-mouth approach to the game paved the way for the Slicer rushing attack. According to Stan Klimczak, Jr., Coach Klimczak was always “just a little old school.” His approach to the game was unlike coaches in today’s games. He ran his offense believing that the game was won between the trenches; whatever team controlled the line on scrimmage would win the game. The key to his success was the precise execution of the 12/13-fullback trap.

Stan Klimczak is described in one word: unique. His personality and coaching techniques illustrated his colorful way of life. The connection he had with his players and coaching staff is a prime example of what a coach should be, on and off the field. Assistant Coach Dick Deardurff said, “Stanley was a special guy to all of them.” Stan Klimczak is and will forever be known for his numerous contributions to the Slicer community, on the football field and in his everyday life.

“Stan was a players’ coach.” — Tom Brown, Slicer 1964-1966 seasons

 

“Actual handwritten Stan pages”

 

8 Responses to “From the notebooks of Greg Fruth: “A little old school” — Stan Klimczak”

  1. Ray Borkowski

    Jul 23. 2020

    Another great article by Coach Fruth. Stan was a unique guy. If you failed to execute, he would chew out a good portion of your hind quarter, but then it was over and forgotten. He did not dwell on it. Honored to have played for Stan. Proud to be one of his “Tigers”.

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  2. MaryKay

    Jul 23. 2020

    I know that John remembered have the dipper of Stan’s wrapped around his thigh pad.

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  3. George Bigg

    Jul 23. 2020

    I was one of Stans pulling and trapping guards. All of our opinions new exactly what Stands teams were going to do yet the traps worked game after game. Even against very high quality linebackers like Jim Snidecki from SB St Joe ( 13 yrs as a 49er ) and the legendary Ole Galloway from SB Riley). Great article Greg.

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  4. Don Ferrell

    Jul 23. 2020

    I was the right tackle for Stan on the 67 team. Early in the year when Stan would be explaining to the linemen what our assignments were he would say, I’m going to keep it simple for you “lunchhead “ linemen. Ferrell, first inside linebacker. If you can’t figure out who’s a linebacker, hit somebody in a different colored uniform. Hit’em hard. So when we would scrimmage in practice, the defense would slip on red jerseys over our normal black shirts. Coach Larry McKeever, our linebacker coach , liked to ware a red windbreaker at practice and position himself in the defensive backfield. His mistake. More than once I got to throw downfield blocks at Larry as he’d be hustling out of the way. My excuse was that I didn’t wear my glasses on the field. Oh, how I miss those days. Nothing was better than being a senior on the football team of Stan’s.

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  5. Greg Fruth

    Jul 24. 2020

    I didn’t write this article. Students in my Expository Writing wrote this one. See the intro to this article. After writing a traditional research paper, students worked in groups to create a presentation that had to appear before a true audience. This group also produced a video that was shown at a Slicer Football Association Hall of Fame program. These students created an outstanding article of an outstanding coach!

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  6. Greg Fruth

    Jul 24. 2020

    A comment for those who appreciate football strategy: I always thought the key block on this play was the play side tackle’s block on the linebacker. Certainly, the center and both guards had essential blocks, but as the fullback runs to the line of scrimmage, he plants his inside foot, heads at a 45 degree away from the inside backer, and skirts for open pastures. Hence, that block on the LB and the fullback’s angle make this play. But we pulling guards had a blast hitting those defensive tackles!

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  7. Don Ferrell

    Jul 25. 2020

    And the linebackers normally didn’t see me coming. Lol!

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  8. Diana Van Schoyck-Mebust

    Aug 07. 2020

    Thanks for writing about the great LPH football Years and the coaches. My brother, Howie Van Schoyck, truly loved the game and played for Stan the man all his HS years in the 60’s. He received a football scholarship to Washington State and played for the Huskies awhile…These were the good old days never to be forgotten.

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