The Tarkio High School 1971 Football State Champions included, from left to right: front row – Dave Laur, Bobby Lade, Bobby Vette, Tim Johns, Russ Shinpoch, Tim Ryan, Les Hogue, Todd Staples, John McIntosh, John Seymour, and Chad Freeman; second row – Stuart Coe, Paul Simmons, Doug Broermann, Paul Martin, Robert Volker, Mike Petry, Wayne Nelson, Duke Nuckolls, Curt Brought, and Steve Hodge; third row – Manager Mark Kling, Blake Hurst, Chuck Thompson, Gary Vette, Dave Broermann, Curt Volker, Carol Martin, Doug Brunk, Tom Ryan, Paul Monk, Tracy Barnes, and Tom Lade; and back row – Manager Danny McCoy, Alan Aeschliman, Manager Alex Strutman, Donnie Sybert, Paul Niedermeyer, Tim Turnbull, Tim Shaw, Chuck Freeman, Alan McIntosh, Statistician John Hosher, Statistician Bill Ballinger, Assistant Coach Tom Devlin, Assistant Coach Woody Aeschliman, and Head Coach M. David Palmeiro.

The Tarkio High School 1971 Class 1A Football Champions were honored at the East Atchison football game Friday night, October 1. Around 30 players, cheerleaders, managers, and the coach from that year attended the ceremony. Pictured are some of the players who still live in Atchison County.

Fifty years after the Tarkio High School Football Team won the Missouri State Class 1-A High School Championship, members of the team reunited for the East Atchison Homecoming game Friday, October 1, 2021, at the football stadium named after the same coach who led the 1971 team to victory. The team was recognized at halftime of the game at M. David Palmeiro Stadium in Tarkio.

Coached by Dave Pal-meiro, who was assisted by Tom Devlin and Woody Aeschliman, and led by co-captains Dave Laur and Russ Shinpoch, the boys went undefeated throughout the season. Pep Club buses hauled the Indian fans to and from the games, allowing as many students as possible to attend. Community support was immense and when the boys won state, they returned to the streets of Tarkio lined with people welcoming them home.

Each week, Coach Palmeiro would write game summaries for the Tarkio Avalanche newspaper. The following are excerpts from those articles:

THS Indians Open ’71 Season With 27-0 Win

“The Tarkio Indians opened the 1971 football season on a not so impressive fashion, dumping the Craig Hornets 27-0 … Tim Johns opened the Tarkio scoring with a 25-yard jaunt off the left side of the Craig line … Tarkio went in at the half with a 20-0 lead. The second half saw the Indians doing a lot of experimenting as many players saw action at many different positions. Bobby Lade scored Tarkio’s last touchdown of the game on a keeper from the 5-yard line, midway through the fourth quarter. Duke Nuckolls’ P.A.T. was good for the third straight time. Perhaps the brightest outlook all night was the play of the defensive team which held Craig to 52 yards, especially the defensive secondary. Both Bobby Vette and Curt Brought played an outstanding game from their defensive halfback positions . . . Offensively, the only real bright spot was the consistent hard blocking of Todd Staples. Todd worked hard and looked good…”

Indians Stop Oregon Knights 15-6 Last Friday

“The Tarkio Indians journeyed to Oregon to meet a strong, and what turned out to be a very stubborn team Friday night. The Indians came out on top only through desire and determination…On the field, there looked only to be a major defensive battle until less than a minute in the third quarter when the South Holt Knights pounced on a blocked punt attempt in the Tarkio endzone for the first score of the game. The Indians looked both troubled and in trouble until Dave Laur flipped a 55-yard pass to John Seymour to tie the score early in the fourth quarter. The extra point failed and the score remained 6-6. Midway through the final quarter, a Knight ball-carrier was jarred from the football and Tom Ryan came up with a big fumble recovery on the Knight’s 25. The Indians now showed some poise and moved the ball well. Bobby Lade finally plunged into the endzone, giving Tarkio the lead for the first time in the game. After the Knights couldn’t score and turned the ball back to Tarkio, the Indians moved to within field goal range. With 50 seconds left in the game, Duke Nuckolls kicked a 31-yard field goal to wrap up the game 15-6.”

Indians Beat Rock Port

With Big 4th Quarter

“The Tarkio Indians, after almost everyone in the stands had all but thrown in the towel, came up with two lightning-quick scores to down a good, strong Rock Port team by the score of 20-14. Although the Indians took over control of the game early with Bobby Lade unleashing a 25-yard strike to Tim Johns, the second quarter saw the Indians struggle defensively. In the fourth quarter, things started to turn for the Indians as they began to gain some momentum. The Indians were moving the ball well when suddenly John Seymour bolted off tackle on a counter and scampered 50 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and made the score 14-12 Rock Port.” Tarkio went on to score another touchdown and added two points to win. “It was some football game as both teams hit hard and well. Some of Tarkio’s standouts would definitely have to be John Seymour, Bobby Lade, Tim Johns, Chad Freeman, John McIntosh, Les Hogue, Russ Shinpoch, Dave Nelson, and a host of others.”

Indians Dump

North Nodaway

“The Tarkio Indians, after a fast first quarter and a 7-0 score a la Dave Laur on a five-yard scamper and Duke Nuckolls with an extra point, exploded for 27 points in the second quarter to take a 34-0 halftime lead over winless North Nodaway on the Hopkins Field. Bobby Vette started the second quarter rampage on a six-yard dive…The Tarkio defense looked strong as Duke Nuckolls picked off a bad Mustang pass and ran 50 yards, with some fine blocking, for another Indian score. Things did not stop here, however, as Duke faked a punt on the next series of downs and rolled over and around Mustangs for 50 yards again and another Tarkio T.D. Bobby Lade made the two-point conversion…” The  boys continued scoring and went on to win the game 40-0. “Russ Shinpoch came up with player of the week honors because of his fine defensive work and excellent offensive blocking. No Mustang made it around Russ who anchored the front five. Russ’s offensive blocking opened some huge holes for our backs to run through…”

Indians Win 55-0

for Fifth Straight

“The Tarkio Indians delighted the homecoming crowd Friday night scoring eight touchdowns and converting on six extra point attempts to win their fifth straight game, defeating Nodaway-Holt 55-0. The Indians, for the first time this season, showed a fine strong, hard-running ground attack. The ground attack was led by David Laur, who scored a touchdown and three for another and compiled 124 yards on the ground. Bobby Lade, Bobby Vette, and Chad Freeman added to the touchdowns, and Duke Nuckolls added extra points with kicks after the touchdowns. John Seymour also picked off two passes and had excellent returns on both. The line-backing crew of Dave Laur, Todd Staples, and Steve Hodge perhaps had their best game of the year. The B Team even got to play, with Paul Simmons and Curt Volker adding to the score.”

Tribe Wins 40-0 Over

Mound City For Six In A Row

The Indians defeated Mound City 40-0 to win their sixth in a row. “The Indians completely dominated every aspect of the game from kick-off until the final whistle. The execution of the Tribe was outstanding, perhaps the best seen at Tarkio in the past four years . . . The Indians scored in every quarter but the last as they took the game right to the Panthers from the start…John McIntosh also had a great play when he was able to pop through the Panther line to block a punt, which Russ Shinpoch picked up and ran 30 yards to score . . . McIntosh was awarded player of the week for his great work on the front lines.”

Indians Win Thriller;

Play Fairfax Friday

For 275 Championship

The Tarkio Indians did it once again, putting fear, hope, and panic into every Tarkio fan against the Rockets from West Nodaway. The Indians, keeping in time with the Halloween weekend, kept everyone on the edge of their seats and pulling their hair out as they made an unbelievable comeback to defeat West Nodaway 16-12 for the seventh win in a row this season. The Indians, down 12-0 with six minutes remaining in the game, were given a two-point safety by the Rockets to put the score at a  near unbeatable 12-2. The Rockets kicked the ball to the Indians from their 20. Bobby Vette received the ball gaining five yards. Bobby Lade then pitched the ball to Chad Freeman who faked and ran his way into the endzone with a little over three minutes left, to make the score 12-8. The Indians went for the two-point conversion and were successful, making the score 12-10. The Rockets then received the ball, but the Indians’ defense held them at bay. The Rockets punted the ball, but it was blocked by Dave Laur and recovered by Steve Hodge on the Nodaway-Holt two-yard line with a minute thirty remaining. Two plays later, Bobby Lade went over and had the lead in a spectacular last quarter effort 16-12. Steve Hodge clinched the win with an interception and a minute left.”

Indians Whip Fairfax 42-6

To Win 275 Crown

“The Tarkio Indians under the leadership of Bobby Lade displayed a brand of football not very often seen on the high school level. They displayed a strong blocking game, coupled with a near perfectly executed game to down the Fairfax Bulldogs 42-6 and capture the 275 Conference crown. This year’s seniors have now gone undefeated for three of their four years of football…It is hard to single anyone person out in this game as it was a total complete team effort. It’s what every coach dreams about and what so few see. The Indians, all 38 of them, won a big game against a big team.”

Tarkio Indians To State 1-A Finals, Will Play

Springfield-Greenwood

“The Red and White clad Tarkio High School Indians Saturday won’t be looking for scalp, but they’ll be out to yank tail feathers from the Bluejays of Springfield Greenwood High School in the Missouri Class 1-A football championship. Tarkio won their chance for the brass ring Saturday when they broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns to down the stubborn Lathrop Mules 25-12 in the state semifinal game in Rickenbrode Stadium on the campus of Northwest Missouri State College in Maryville. In winning their ninth game in as many starts this season, Tarkio showed courage as they blunted the momentum of a surging Lathrop team to take command in the final 12 minutes of play.”

Indians Win

State 1-A Title

Palmeiro’s Team Stops Greenwood Jays 35-22

“Tarkio High School Indians, a team with no previous State Championship Football experience and relying heavily upon a halfback whose availability was questionable up to game time, utilized second half offensive and defensive fury to win the Class 1-A Missouri State Championship Saturday in Maryville. While the Tarkio offense put the points on the board, it was the fired up Red and White defense that gave field position to the Indians in the early minutes of the third quarter as Tarkio exploded for the victory. And it was Dave Laur, injured ankle forgotten for the afternoon, who ripped the Greenwood defenses for 136 rushing yards and who kept the momentum going for Tarkio’s undefeated Indians. Bobby Lade also proved effective, both on the ground and in the air, as he ran for 81 yards and passed for 83 yards, scoring three touchdowns…The Indians’ mud-spattered defenders shackled the Bluejays to a minus 14 yards rushing in the second half and only 32 yards in the air during the final 24 minutes of play…Curt Brought set up the Indians’ final touchdown late in the fourth quarter with Laur cracking over the last yard for a touchdown eight plays later and Nuckolls splitting the uprights to give his mates a 35-15 lead with 1:30 left. Although Greenwood then immediately scored another touchdown, it was too little too late and the final score was Tarkio 35, Greenwood 22.”

Team members who earned All-Conference honors included: Wayne Nelson, defensive end; Chad Freeman, offensive end; Bobby Lade, honorable mention, quarterback; Dave Laur, defensive linebacker, honorable mention, offensive back; John Seymour, defensive halfback; Todd Staples, offensive guard, defensive linebacker; Les Hogue, offensive center; John McIntosh, offensive and defensive tackle; and Russ Shinpoch, offensive tackle and defensive end.  Three Indians were named All-District: All-District End Russ Shinpoch, All-District Guard Todd Staples, and All-District Back Dave Laur. Coach Palmeiro labeled  Shinpoch as “perhaps one of the most steady and reliable ballplayers we have. He does little with fanfare, but his presence is always known”; and Staples as “the best guard he has had in his career as a coach, an excellent blocker. His aggressive defensive play made it possible for Tarkio to go to a defense which dominated the opponents’ offense from the middle of the season on.” “Laur has progressed this season into the top running back in northwest Missouri,” Coach Palmeiro said. “He was one of the hardest open field blockers on the team.”  Laur and Shinpoch were also named All-State and Staples, Honorable Mention. Laur picked up 977 yards on the ground, scored 66 points, and averaged 7.5 yards a carry. Shinpoch averaged eight tackles a game and five assists.

About that magical season, Coach Palmeiro and some of the players chimed in:

Coach Palmeiro – “This team was a pretty diverse bunch of guys – country and town and college professors’ kids. However, they all jelled well together and got along well on and off the field. They were aggressive on the field and liked to hit.”

Bobby Lade – “We started out slow and progressively got better. We were a diverse bunch of guys with everyone contributing in some way. Our team was a little different in the fact that we were all business. There was no ‘rah rah hooping and hollering.’ We just went out and did our jobs. It was never a feeling of if we win or lose, we knew we would win. We just didn’t know by how much. There was just so much talent on the team. The coaches figured out who worked best in what positions to make it work. It was a great time to win a state championship and so exciting to see everyone supporting us – from the marching band to the townspeople who lined the streets as we rode on the fire trucks in a parade after our big win.”

Todd Staples – “After being undefeated with only two regular season games left, we hosted West Nodaway, our next to last game. We seemed to get off track and unfocused and in a rainy, messy game, we were behind 12-0 with just a few minutes left. I believe we all saw that everything we had worked for all season was slipping away. We came together as a team and managed to rally back and win 16-12. The best way to describe our team was it was fast, furious and focused. We would have never made it though if not for the exceptional coaching staff and great fan support. On this 50 year anniversary, it would be awesome to see the EA Wolves go all the way!”

Steve Hodge – “There were no heroes on our team, just teamwork. We had so much fun. We hit as hard at practice as we did during the games and had a blast. The community support was really great to see as they backed us and attended every game through the entire season.”

Bobby Vette – “The 1971 football season was a great underdog story. I don’t think anyone outside of the team and coaches really expected much, but we had a group of unselfish, hard-working players.”