Subscribe for 17¢ / day
Marshfield heads to quarterfinals.

Marshfield honors members of the 1954 football state champion team during halftime at Marshfield High School on Friday.

COOS BAY — When Marshfield kicked off its playoff run last week, a group of players from the school’s first state football champions was on hand to mark the occasion.

Five players from the 1954 team were recognized at halftime of the Pirates’ win over Estacada.

They acknowledged things are a lot different now, including the newly named Kent Wigle Field, the artificial surface in Pete Susick Stadium.

Back when they were in school, the players only got into the stadium on Friday nights, said Gary Gunnell.

“Most of the time, we were on Golden Field,” he said of Marshfield’s practice facility then.

The blocking techniques are a little different, too.

“A lot of things we did are illegal now,” Gunnell said.

Marshfield used a run-heavy offense under legendary coach Pete Susick then, and though it is different in form, the Pirates also run the ball effectively this season.

“I’m glad to see the running game like it is,” Dave Smith said.

But the feel of the game was the same, with Marshfield football the biggest thing in town.

“We had the stands full on Friday nights,” Smith said.

And when the Pirates played in the championship game at Multnomah Stadium in Portland, they had plenty of support.

“About half the town was there,” said George Cabal.

Marshfield tied South Salem 13-13 in the championship game. It was the first of three straight titles for the Pirates.

Smith and Don Brandon, who was also honored last week, went on to play on Marshfield’s champion team in 1955, when the Pirates beat Gresham 19-0. The Pirates beat Medford 40-19 in 1956.

The Pirates didn’t win another state title until 1992, also their last championship. The players at last week’s game, said it could happen again.

“This team is the best I’ve seen since 1992,” Frank Yeiter said. “They’ve got the players to do it this year.”