The Great Crimson Toes from Spokane

JASON HANSON, with the hold by Jody Sears

JASON HANSON, the ageless Detroit Lions star, is the most famous Cougar kicker to come out of Spokane, but he is by no means the Lilac City's only contribution to ol' Wazzu's leg legacy. Unofficially speaking, the record suggests that no place in these United States has produced more outstanding kickers for the Cougs than Spokane.

In fact, the hot-footed talent flow from Spokane has been so good that Joe Danelo, a WSU record-setter from the early '70s who played for years in the NFL, had to be placed on the second-team in CF.C's recent selection of a WSU All-Spokane Team. That result stems of course from Hanson, who arguably ranks as one of the finest kickers in the history of college football, and one of the most prolific in NFL history.

Hanson, though, wasn't immune from the glut of talent in the selection of CF.C's All-Spokane Team. While the Mead High product also did great work for the Cougs at punter, he was relegated to second-team status at that position because of Tim Davey, a four-year Cougar starter who averaged more than 41 yards per boot and earned second-team or honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors three times between 1978-81.


TIM DAVEY, circa '80

Those three are far from the only Spokane contributions to the foot portion of football at WSU. In our ongoing salute to Spokane -- prompted by WSU's marketing blitz of the city last week -- CF.C today takes a brief look at an interesting FOOTnote in WSU grid history: The plethora of toes from Spokane ...

  • Two of the most important kicks in Washington State history came from Lyle Maskell of Lewis and Clark High. In WSC's march to the 1931 Rose Bowl, the big tackle kicked the extra point that gave the Cougars an 8-7 win over USC and then, in the regular-season finale against Washington, he split the uprights from 30 yards out, propelling the Cougars to a 3-0 victory and a New Year's Day date with Alabama in Pasadena. Maskell's understudy at kicker that season was another Spokane lad, Mentor Dahlen, whose 31-yard field goal in Berkeley that season helped the Cougs defeat Cal.

  • Maskell was one of many position players in the early days who also handled kicking. Two other notables were Spokane products Johnny Bley and Dick Hanley. Bley was one of WSU's all-time great tackles and the 1935 team captain and Hanley was a star back on WSU's Rose Bowl-winning team of 1917.

  • Legendary Butch Meeker, the Cougars' all-conference quarterback of the mid 1920s and the inspiration for the name of the WSU mascot, also kicked and punted for Washington State. His 47-yard field goal against Hawaii in 1925 stood atop the Cougar record books for decades.

  • Like Maskell and Bley, Meeker hailed from Lewis and Clark High. And so did Bud Roffler and Bill Gaskins, a pair of two-way stars who moonlighted as kickers. Roffler was a standout defensive back, halfback and punt returner for the Cougars in the 1950s. Against the nation's top-ranked Cal Bears in 1951, he booted five PATs in the Cougs' just-miss upset. He later played for the Philadelphia Eagles. And as fate -- or crimson influence -- would have it, one of Roffler's coaches at Lewis and Clark was none other than Lyle Maskell. Gaskins was a first-team All-Coast and third-team All-American defensive back for the Cougars in 1965. He was also the backup kicker, and the first two PATs he ever attempted provided the margin of difference in WSU's big upset at Minnesota in '65.

  • Ted Gerela of Gonzaga Prep's fabled 1963 state championship team, was the first soccer-style kicker in WSU history. He was a fullback and kicker for the Cardiac Kids of 1965 and went on to aq stellar career with the CFL's B.C. Lions. His brother Roy, who didn't attend high school in Spokane, was an All-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers.


    JOE DANELO, circa '74

  • After Danelo headed to the NFL, his immediate successor at WSU was fellow Spokaneite Chuck Diedrick (the younger brother of former WSU assistant coach Bill Diedrick). Chuck was a fitting successor because he learned the kicking craft from Danelo, who was a senior at G-Prep when Diedrick was a sophomore there. Diedrick, who later transferred to Ferris High, quickly made a name for himself on the Palouse by kicking a school record four field goals (a record tied twice by Hanson) in his very first game, an 18-14 win over Kansas in 1975. Later that season, in an 84-27 thumping of Idaho, he booted a school record 12 PATs.

  • Until Hanson and his super-human leg arrived in Pullman in 1988, there was only one Lilac Leg in Cougarville after Diedrick: Lewis and Clark's Ward Leland. He was Jim Walden's kickoff man during the 1981 season before earning the PAT and field goal duties for the season's final two games: the Apple Cup showdown at UW and the Holiday Bowl shootout with BYU.

    WSU's placekicking pipeline from Spokane continues today. Walk on Alex Gauper of Lewis and Clark is challenging Andrew Furney for the job this season.

    NOTABLE:

    For more on the legend of, and heartache that befell, Joe Danelo, click to the Cougfan.com archives for Where have you gone Joe Danelo? and For old Coug, loss of USC son still a mystery.
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