CENTRAL POINT — About 100 strong Beaver Nation fans came together for a Civil War luncheon at the Oregon State Extension Center auditorium Tuesday afternoon.
Former Medford High and Oregon State quarterback Ed Singler helped spearhead the effort to hold a “Beaver Only” event after joint Civil War luncheons ended three years ago.
Singler, 57, who once quarterbacked the Beavers and whose son EJ played basketball for the Ducks, wanted to give back to his alma mater since the kids are out of the picture now.
“What drove me was, I always loved Oregon State and have fond memories,” said Singler, who played for the Beavers from 1978-82, starting for three seasons. “There’s been some rocky roads for Beaver Nation, but I wanted to do something to help support the school.
“Being in the program gave me an education, and I met my wife there.”
Oregon State is trying to end an eight-game losing streak in the 120-year old series.
Singler was master of ceremonies for the affair, which opened with the Beaver fight song, had a live video feed from Corvallis with head coach Gary Andersen, input from former Medford residents Barry and Scott Spiegelberg and former players Yvenson Bernard and Ken Simonton and a raffle and auction.
While Singler never beat the Ducks, Bernard was part of three wins over a five-year span from 2003-2007.
Singler was recruited by both schools but selected Oregon State because he wanted to play quarterback and the Ducks had him slotted as a defensive back.
Singler said, “no question about it,” that not winning the big rivalry game hurt.
But one of his most poignant memories came immediately after his final Civil War, when OSU was ahead 6-0 until a late touchdown pass led to a 7-6 Oregon victory in the 1982 Corvallis contest.
“Walking up the ramp leaving the field, someone grabbed me from behind,” said Singler. “It was coach (Rich) Brooks. He said, ‘I just wanted to let you know you’re a Pac-10 quarterback and had a great game.’”
Bernard, who played high school football in Florida, works for the Oregon State Foundation. Bernard contacted Simonton on a cell phone as his friend drove through Southern Oregon Tuesday on his way home to northern California, and the former running back pulled off I-5 and addressed the luncheon.
Bernard said he was glad to come to Medford for the Civil War luncheon to support the Beaver faithful
“My message is to raise your flags and colors on Saturday,” said Bernard. “We want to take our shots and get back in the winning column.”
Wendel Smith, a 1974 Medford High graduate, was a punter for Oregon State from 1975-78. Smith attended the lunch because he considers himself a “diehard.”
Smith, 60, says he’ll never forget the lessons learned from legendary coach Dee Andros.
“We went through some tough times, but experiencing the camaraderie and working together as a team was a great experience,” said Smith, the general manager for Rogue Disposal and Recycling.
Dick Maurer, 64, has the incredible memory of scoring the winning touchdown for the Beavers in a 17-14 victory at Autzen Stadium in 1973.
Maurer had dislocated his shoulder the week before against UCLA but didn’t want to sit out the Civil War. In order to play, Maurer had to prove to the coaching staff his was okay by doing 10 pushups.
“I did the 10 pushups but cried the whole time on my bike ride home,” remembered Maurer.
Gordon Bertelson, a 1963 Oregon State graduate, grew up Eugene and always attended the game as a child.
“The most memorable thing was the fights on the field by the fans after the game,” said Bertelson, who is a pharmacy assistant in Medford.
Jackie Truax, a co-owner of an accounting firm, grew up outside Corvallis and has lived in Medford since 1985.
“It’s always a big reunion and you end up getting together with people from both sides,” said Truax, who marks the date of the Civil War on her calendar each year. “We’re excited that we have an opportunity to compete this year. Ultimately, it’s a chance to shut the Duck up.”
The father-son duo of Chuck and Eric Jones attended the lunch together.
Chuck Jones, 89, attended Oregon State in 1946, then transferred to Southern Oregon University and had been a school teacher in Medford for 35 years. Eric Jones, a 1979 Medford High graduate, inherited his dad’s spirit for Oregon State and was a Beaver fan as early as he can remember.
“I know a few Duck people and I enjoy poking it to them whenever I can,” said Chuck Jones.
Freight broker Rob Rector, 68, grew up in Medford and graduated from OSU in 1970. Rector has one child who attended Oregon State and another who went to Oregon. During the season, he supports both schools, but not for the Civil War.
“This week I only root for one team — it’s the same every year,” said Rector. “We’re all going to the game together. We go almost every year. The rivalry is respectful.”
Singler acknowledged that the Beaver spirit has waned in recent years, and he wanted to do something positive to change the attitude by holding the Civil War luncheon.
He was motivated by words passed on to him by his late father-in-law, Ed Brosterhous: “Always be true to your school.”
“It’s all about relationships, people reaching out to people” said Singler. “This is an indication there’s good local support for the Beavers.”
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or email firstname.lastname@example.org