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Part of the 1963 Elkhart Blazer football team. (Photo Supplied) (AP)
Elkhart’s ‘63 state champs setting up 50th reunion

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — When the calendar reaches November, it will be 50 years since Elkhart High School’s epic state football championship game victory over Hammond.

Coaches, players and cheerleaders from the 1963 Blue Blazers are planning a recognition celebration marking the title, but the group needs some help in locating and contacting team members.

Gary Nichols and Mark Fessenden are spearheading plans for the reunion, which will take place on Friday, Aug. 23, before the kickoff of the Memorial-Central Mangy Lion game at Rice Field. A dinner celebration at Antonio’s Restaurant also is planned.

Coach John Janzaruk’s squad knocked off Hammond 21-12 in front of nearly 12,000 fans on Nov. 8, 1963. The Blazers finished No.1 in both the Associated Press and United Press International wire service rankings, giving Elkhart the “mythical” state title. At 10-0-0, Elkhart was the lone big-school program to go unbeaten in Indiana.

The group is looking to locate 11 players from the team: Steve Dukes, Randy Erb, Dennis Routson, Dennis Cook, Don Wilburt, Terry Books, Richard Redd, John Zience, Bill Galbreath, Larry Christner and Jim Purtorti. Six members of the ‘63 squad — Chuck Richardson, Bill Frost, Jeff Sotebeer, Vince Terlep, Dick Rush and Dan Beuter — are deceased.

For more information contact Nichols at or Fessenden at