MT. PLEASANT — In 1949, Don Lamm was an eighth-grader at the Mt. Pleasant Middle School and a member of one of the first junior high football teams.
A photo of both the seventh- and eighth-grade team from 1949 recently resurfaced and was donated to the Henry County Heritage Museum. The sports program was started in 1948 after a generous donation from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter allowed the school to buy uniforms and equipment.
Lamm, alongside his former football teammates Bill Calloway and Dick Looker helped identify the players pictured, many of whom have since died.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” Looker said.
“It was probably the best time in my life, our school ages. We enjoyed playing football together and being a team,” the 83-year-old added.
Looker said his football career would be cut short after suffering two concussions in high school, part of the reason his earlier football years are such great memories for him.
Although he doesn’t remember much about specific games, Lamm, who was the team’s quarterback, said the team was rather successful in its 1949 season.
“We won six, lost none and tied one,” he said.
The Mt. Pleasant team played against Wapallo, Muscatine, Fort Madison and Washington that year.
Both Looker and Lamm remembered their teacher and coach, Don Taft, as a strict but effective leader.
“He knew what he was talking about and knew how to get it across to us,” Looker said.
Lamm, who would go on to a 42-year career as an educator and football coach for schools across Iowa, said playing on the junior high football team was an incredibly formative experience.
“Everything I learned from my coaches, I took with me,” he said.
“Their style and my style were probably similar. We were task-masters … Those coaches probably had more influence on my coaching style than anyone else,” he added.