Head coach J.C. Riekenberg had a vision.

    Luckily, his team did too.

    Together, their vision gave them an undefeated season and made them Red Demon legends. 

    The 1966 Red Demons Football team, fourth greatest team in Demons football history, will be honored tonight at the Demons home opener against the Wichita East Blue Aces. The '66 team went 9-0, claiming the league championship title. Its season was cut short however, since there was no state championship playoff system at the time.


    Head coach J.C. Riekenberg had a vision.
    Luckily, his team did too.
    Together, their vision gave them an undefeated season and made them Red Demon legends. 
    The 1966 Red Demons Football team, fourth greatest team in Demons football history, will be honored tonight at the Demons home opener against the Wichita East Blue Aces. The '66 team went 9-0, claiming the league championship title. Its season was cut short however, since there was no state championship playoff system at the time.
    Still, some feel they would have been able to take the state title, especially after they knocked off several of the state's Goliaths.
    Despite a No. 3 Associated Press ranking and a tough schedule, the '66 Demons were there to prove they could win. The first undefeated team since 1952, the boys were sandwiched between one loss in '65 and season-ending losses in '67 for a 20-game win streak.
    Not that it was smooth sailing for the young stars. The Demons opened their season against the Hays Cadets, taking a narrow 7-0 victory.
    And the closest game was yet to come.
    The Demons bounced Liberal —which had handed the Demons their only '65 season loss — 12-7.
    The hard play of the '66 Mad Hatters came out in full force during the ever-popular Hatchet Game versus the Garden City Buffaloes. The score? 40 to zip.
    "We were a hard-hitting team who came to play," running back Mike Montgomery told the Daily Globe. "We made believers out of our opponents."
    The team was easily united, leaving their egos at the door when they walked in the locker room and onto the field. It wasn't a matter of individuals. They were there to play, work hard and support each other till the end. 
    "I really had a team," Riekenberg said. "They were not individuals, they were a team, and they played like a team."
    And the best way to that, Riekenberg felt, was to a few shake up the team early on, giving the guys more diversity on the field.
    He moved stand out senior Montgomery from quarterback to running back, shuffling junior Dana Chamberlain up to quarterback. After that, they never looked back.
    "Coach Riekenberg was a great coach, and he had a tremendous staff," Montgomery said. "He had a vision for the season, and he was able to convey that vision to us. We all bought into the theme, which was to win."
    Want? More of an obsession.
    "We all wanted to win that season, we wanted to win the league." Kenny Page said. "It was a great feeling at that final game when we realized we had done that."

Mad Hatters
    They would carry their helmets every where they went.
    The walk from the locker room to the field. They held them on the bus. They wore them during the journey. Some even took them into restaurants. And thus, the Mad Hatters were born.
    "It was a thread that made all the guys feel like they were part of something," Montgomery said.
    A great coaching staff didn't hurt, either. Several of the players credited Riekenberg, his staff, and his strategies with the burning desire to win.
    They ran a T Formation with a wing in the slot. This allowed flexibility, and capitalized on the team's quickness. They were able to throw when they needed, run or pass options. And for newcomers, Riekenberg showed them film to help visualize the offense. 
    "J.C. Riekenberg was ahead of his time," said wide receiver Greg Goff. "His offensive and defensive schemes were simplistic, yet brilliant."
    Riekenberg's stellar coaching also lead several of his players to All-League Honors and All-State Honors.

Beyond high school
    For some Hatters, high school wasn't the end.   
    Three from the '66 team went on to play for Kansas Division-I football teams.
     Montgomery played for Kansas State University, Page for the University of Kansas and Orth for Wichita State University.
    Of those three, two went on to play professional ball. Montgomery played for four years, one with the San Diego Chargers, two with the Dallas Cowboys and his final year with the Houston Oilers. Page played one year with the St. Louis Rams before finishing his career in the Canadian Football League.
    And although Montgomery never played against former teammates, he did see several Kansas high school graduates that he may have played at one point.
    Both Montgomery and Page said their opportunities to play such a high level of football left them feeling blessed.
    "It was a learning experience for me, but it was also a job," Page said. "It was a big step up from high school football."

Return to Dodge
    One of only seven Red Demons teams to have ever gone undefeated, the '66 Demons will get the recognition they earned over four decades ago tonight.
    "It is a huge accomplishment to go undefeated," Montgomery said.  "It's a big honor to be part of this."
    It's no surprise to Riekenberg.
    "This team really wanted to do something that year, and that was to be undefeated," Riekenberg said. "They were good athletes who put in a lot of hard work."
    Montgomery, Goff and Page are all excited to be reuniting with the team. Page said it has been several years since he has seen anyone from high school.
    So even though the 1966 team doesn't have state championship rings, when they stop on to the field tonight, it couldn't matter for the world.

 

1966 Red Demons Football Results

 Dodge City     7   vs.     Hays Cadets 0
 Dodge City 60  vs. Larned 13
 Dodge City 12  at  Liberal 7
 Dodge City 40  at  Garden City 0
 Dodge City 41  vs. Pratt 14
 Dodge City 31  at    Hays High 6
 Dodge City 34  vs. Wichita North 20
 Dodge City 31  at     Great Bend 7
 Dodge City 38  vs. Russell 6


Season's Points
 Dodge City    294,     PPG        32.6
 Opponents    73,     PPG        8.1

Source: Dodge City High School Athletics

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All-League honors
   
First-Team Offense:
Mike Montgomery, Mike Barhydt,
Kenny Page, James Orth, Gerald Pool, Joe Kulbiski
   
Honorable Mention: Kirk Tyree,
Greg Goff, Mike Keck
   
First-Team Defense:
Mike Montgomery, Mike Barhydt,
James Orth, Joe Kulbiski
   
Honorable Mention: Kirk Tyree, Clifford Morris, Gerald Pool,
Mike Keck, Kenny Page


All-State honors

First-Team: Mike Montgomery,
James Orth

Honorable Mention: Mike Barhydt, Joe Kulbiski
 

Source: Greg Goff