FERRIS TO WELCOME BACK FIRST-EVER UNBEATEN FOOTBALL SQUAD
40th Anniversary Celebration Planned For Unbeaten 1968 Bulldog Football Team
As part of its 100th season celebration, Ferris State University has invited back one of the most successful teams in school history as the undefeated 1968 Bulldog Football team will hold its 40th anniversary reunion on Saturday, Oct. 25, in Big Rapids.
The Bulldogs will honor the 1968 squad, which was the school's first and still the only team to finish an entire campaign unbeaten, in conjunction with FSU's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tilt versus the Northwood Timberwolves at Top Taggart Field.
The anniversary festivities include a Victory Bell dedication prior to the 12 p.m. (EDT) kickoff with former team members and staff in attendance being recognized as part of a special halftime ceremony. A banquet featuring a social hour, dinner, program and music will take place following the contest at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center. The reunion is being sponsored by the FSU Alumni Association.
More than 30 former players and coaches are expected to attend the reunion, which has been in the planning stages for nearly a year.
"The Alumni Association is proud to honor and recognize a team that has had such an important impact on our football history in addition to being so supportive in helping establish scholarships for future student-athletes," said FSU Alumni Director Jeremy Mishler. "We look forward to welcoming this outstanding team back to campus in a landmark year for Bulldog football."
The 1968 team, which was guided by then second-year head coach Bob Leach, holds the distinction of being the program's first ever squad to record an undefeated season with a 7-0-1 overall record. The Bulldogs started out the memorable campaign with a tie in their season opener before reeling off seven consecutive victories, including a hard-fought 29-28 win over NCAA Division I Illinois State in the season finale (11/9/68).
"What we had was a bunch of guys who came together. We really had some outstanding coaching and our philosophy was a philosophy of team and of chemistry," said Larry Marfechuk, who was an offensive lineman of the 1968 team and part of the committee helping plan the reunion. "That season had a huge impact on me because it showed that nothing is impossible."
They remain the only team in Bulldog history to finish an entire campaign unbeaten as three teams from the 1990's (1993-95) all completed regular-season action without a loss before falling in the postseason playoffs. The undefeated season capped a remarkable turnaround as the Bulldogs finished 0-7-1 the year before in 1967.
"This team was a special group to the university and made a lasting impact at Ferris," Leach said. "They made history in 1968 and have continued to be so supportive to the institution since their playing days ended."
In 1993, members of the 1968 football team established a scholarship endowment to benefit future Ferris gridiron student-athletes. A number of the individuals that were a part of that team - players and coaches alike - have made gifts toward the scholarship. Several team members also played a key role in helping the university raise funds to bring back a long-standing Ferris tradition, the Victory Bell, as part of a $1 million project at the stadium this past summer, which included a new artificial turf playing surface.
"Our kids today are competing in one of the toughest leagues in the nation and we wanted to do something to help those young men out," Leach said. "Ferris has meant so much to all of us and we just wanted to do something to give back to this great university."
For more information on the 1968 football team's reunion, please contact the FSU Alumni Office at (888) 378-3647.