Editor's note: This is part three of a three-part series regarding the Hudson junior varsity boys basketball team's 65-game winning streak in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
The Hudson junior varsity boys basketball team's winning streak had reached a mind-boggling 54 games during the 1971-72 season.
Since the streak had gotten so much attention, opposing coaches did everything in their power to end it.
Let's just say some of those strategies were downright unusual.
A number of times, opposing teams' varsity players were moved down just to play Hudson and snap the streak.
"I remember several instances where coach Hoffman said, 'That guy normally dresses for the varsity, but for us, he is playing JV," said Ray "Skip" Hyser, a Hudson player at the time. "I don't remember how frequently, but some teams did bring a player or two down to play us."
After the close calls at Revere and Copley, the rest of the season saw the Explorers outscore the opposition by more than 23 points per game. They finished 18-0 and outscored their opponents by an average score of 52.6 to 30.4.
If Hudson was going to continue its amazing streak, it would have to do so with a new head coach.
With a 54-0 record as a coach, Fred Hoffman ended his coaching career after the 1971-72 season.
"He was a good guy," Hyser said. "I remember him as intense. He always wanted us to do better, but at the same time, he was always encouraging."
"Hoffman wasn't a creative coach, but he took what you gave him and put it in and made it work," former Hudson varsity head boys basketball coach Dave Stoffer said. "He was a really good guy and an excellent teacher."
When Hoffman left he was replaced by former player Tim Patterson, who eventually became the Hudson varsity boys soccer coach.
He moved up from a three-year stint as the freshman coach to take over for the 1972-73 campaign.
"Fred Hoffman was an interesting character," Patterson said. "He was very organized."
A winning streak can be a team's worst nightmare. A number of times, it can be distracting and coaches will do anything they can to avoid discussing it with their players.
But this winning streak was impossible to ignore.
"As players, we were very much aware of the streak," Hyser said. "Every once in a while, if we were playing a good team, Fred Hoffman would say that the streak was on the line and we had to be at our best.
"But I don't really remember any talk in the halls as it were."
"I remember as the streak wore on [an area newspaper] started doing stories on the junior varsity," Stoffer said.
"They were as big as the stories about the varsity. One story about Hudson said that we were like the New York Yankees.
"After graduation, we would move the whole JV to the varsity and still win. We never had a losing season when I was coaching [five seasons]."
Patterson knew the impossible task was now his responsibility when he became the head coach. He took it in stride.
"I inherited the monster," Patterson joked. "It was difficult. The monster became more of our focus."
Double-digit wins over Twinsburg and Manchester in the first two outings of the 1972-73 season kept the streak going. Then came that fateful night at Copley and the streak was over.
With everyone gunning for them, "The Streak" finally ended in the third game of the 1972-73 basketball season.
On Dec. 8, 1972, the Explorers suffered a 40-38 loss. Just like that, the ground-breaking 65-game winning streak was over.
In the varsity game that night, Hudson prevailed by a 47-44 count, but that game was practically an afterthought.
Patterson's first season as the JV coach saw the streak end, but it was still a pretty good campaign.
"I think we only lost three or four games that year [during an 18-game season]," he said. "I know when we finally lost, I said the streak is over but 65-1 is not a bad record. Now we can get back to learning basketball."
Coach used juniors to
Stoffer said he used some of former University of Kentucky head men's basketball coach Adolf Rupp's ideas and took some from former Washington Redskins head coach George Allen.
"Rupp felt teams that played a lot of players destroyed cohesiveness and George Allen said you don't win with rookies," he said. "Those philosophies really helped us. I used eight players on the varsity and the next eight, unless they were a senior, would be the JV. I didn't like juniors sitting on the bench. As a result, we played a lot of juniors on the JV."
Hyser noted the differences between Stoffer's philosophy and other coaches at the time.
"Coach Stoffer had a philosophy that was a little different than most coaches," he said. "Most JV teams were made up of sophomores with a sprinkling of juniors.
"Stoffer tended to put juniors on the junior varsity with a sprinkling of sophomores.
"We had one more year of basketball experience than most other teams.
"Stoffer and Hoffman made an unprecedented decision to keep 15 kids on the junior varsity with the idea of letting them develop.
"That was kind of far-sided of them to keep those extra players."
Stoffer also had all three high school levels (varsity, junior varsity and freshmen) running basically the same offenses and defenses.
"The whole program was integrated," Patterson said. "Our freshman teams were light years ahead of what other freshman programs were doing."
One way or another, the Hudson JV boys basketball team's 65-game winning streak may never be seen again.
"You could say it was all Fred Hoffman or the luck of the Irish, but not to take anything away from Fred, the whole package was what led to a lot of the success," Patterson said. "The leader of that, of course, was Stoffer."