In the 1940s and 1950s, unable to field competitive eleven-man football teams, small towns across the United States started playing six-man football, instead.
Claremont, South Dakota, was one such place. Bill Welsh strode into town in 1947, started a six-man team at the high school, and six years later had racked up a national-record of sixty-one consecutive victories. His career as a high-school football coach is without equal. His role as mentor, coach, and teacher influenced the lives of many young men across the state, but his legacy is that of the Claremont Honkers and their domination of six-man football in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.
Marc Rasmussen has revealed this hidden history, unveiling the many facets of Bill Welsh’s life and shining a spotlight on the sport of six-man football and the all-conquering Honkers.
Claremont Honker Team Records 1) Consecutive wins—61 (national record) 2) All time state championships—6 (second best in nation) 3) Consecutive state championships—6 (national record) 4) Most points in a game by one team—94 against Frederick in 1951 (second best in nation) 5) Most points per game per season—65 in 1950 season (national record) 6) Most points scored in a season—606 in 1948 (second best in nation), and 585 in 1950 (third best in nation) 7) Most wins by a coach—62 (national record). Willis Welsh had only a single loss and has the best winning percentage in the sport at 98.4%.
“The legendary high school six-man football teams of the 1940s and 1950s from Claremont have been talked about for years, but most of that information has been locked away in the minds of those who were there. Marc Rasmussen did sports fans across South Dakota a great service by unlocking those vaults and telling the real stories of the Honkers.”—John Papendick, Chief Sports Editor, Aberdeen American News
“Six: A Football Coach's Journey to a National Record is the story of a man and a community that needed each other, and came together at the perfect time. You will feel every possible emotion--from the over-confidence of the players and fans from Hankinson and Hecla before they knew what they were getting into, to the quiet assurance of Coach Welsh and his Claremont Honkers, to the anticipation and excitement of the local fans waiting for the rifle shot signaling another Honkers' victory, to the deep love of a family and small town for their husband, father and coach. Clear your calendar before you start reading, because you won't put it down.”—Gary Ellenbolt, Sports Reporter and Morning Edition host, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
“Six scores! It takes you back to a time when South Dakota, and the country, was fascinated by the fast and exciting game of six-man football. Coach Welsh’s story is truly inspiring, and what the Claremont Honkers were able to achieve deserves the attention.”—Matt Holsen, Sports Reporter, KELO-TV