David Adam

Former QHS football all-stater from 1930s largely forgotten

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 18, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Sep. 18, 2017 11:55 pm

Only eight players in the history of the Quincy High School football program have been named to the Champaign News-Gazette all-state team.

Jack Crocker was the only one who was a two-time all-state pick. However, he only made the News-Gazette team once, because he was on the newspaper's inaugural 1936 team. Crocker also earned all-state honors as a junior in 1935 when he was named to the Illinois High School All-Star football team, which was compiled by Rocky Wolfe of the City News Bureau of Chicago.

Yet he's been largely forgotten since he left QHS and went on to play at the University of Missouri. He is not in the Quincy High School Hall of Fame.

Crocker moved to Quincy from Warsaw during the summer of 1935. Several skill position players returned, but Blue Devils coach Grover Kerr had to rebuild the offensive line. Crocker eventually was the starter at tackle and anchored a line that averaged 156 pounds.

The Blue Devils went 9-0 that season for the only undefeated record in school history.

After he graduated from QHS, Crocker ended up at the University of Missouri. He lettered on the football team in 1938, 1939 and 1940.

Crocker spent part of the 1939 season recovering from a kidney ailment, but he also was a starter at right guard. The Tigers were 8-2 in 1939 and won the Big Six Conference championship, finishing the season ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press poll.

While the team was waiting to accept a bid for a bowl game (Missouri eventually went on to play Georgia Tech in the 1940 Orange Bowl), the players elected Crocker as a captain for the 1940 season. The move appeared to be somewhat controversial because Crocker was chosen instead of Paul Christman, a two-time All-America quarterback and one of seven players in Missouri history whose number is retired.

Crocker, who weighed 180 pounds, was the only lineman back in his regular spot from the year before as the 1940 season approached. Tigers coach Don Faurot had to put together the rest of his line from either second-stringers or a bevy of sophomores (since freshmen weren't eligible to play at the time). The receiving corps also was hard hit by graduation.

It turned out that the Tigers' line was just fine, and Faurot eventually moved Crocker from right guard to "right wing" midway through the season.

Statistics on the 1940 season are not available, but Crocker did catch one touchdown pass from Christman, a 20-yarder in Missouri's 33-0 victory over New York University on Nov. 2, 1940.

The Tigers finished with a 6-3 record, going 3-2 in the Big Six Conference. Christman was Missouri's only representative on the United Press International all-Big Six first team, but Crocker was named to the second team.

Details on what happened to Crocker after he left Missouri are limited. A story in the Chicago Tribune's April 20, 1942 edition noted that every member of the 1939 and 1941 Missouri football teams who wasn't married was in World War II except for Crocker, who was rejected because of defective sight.

Crocker died April 25, 1945. He was 25 years old, and he was the football coach at Milan (Mo.) High School. An autopsy disclosed that his death was caused by colitis, a bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.

QHS All-Staters

Only eight players in the history of Quincy High School football have been named to the Champaign News-Gazette all-state team. They are:

Jack Crocker 1936

Duke Curran 1940

Harry Arp 1942

Paul Meyerand 1950

Bernie Clay 1957

Dick Holzgraefe 1959

Eric Bush 1986

DeVaughn Hawkins 1992

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