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Where are they now'

BILL ENYART

MEDFORD HIGH SCHOOL, 1965

Bill Enyart remembers well his illustrious football career:

Three seasons at Oregon State that produced a 21-8-1 record;

A 299-yard rushing game that still stands as the Beavers' school record and prompted the popular nickname, Earthquake;

The Giant Killer team of 1967 that defeated the O.J. Simpson-led and top-ranked USC Trojans, 3-0;

The 1968 team that would have been national champions if we had one of the hundreds of soccer kickers you see floating around now. Its three losses were by a total of six points;

Entering the NFL as the first pick in the second round of the 1969 draft by the Buffalo Bills, who spent the first overall pick on the aforementioned Simpson.

Fond memories all, but none are more vivid than those of his high school days at Medford, particularly the dominant 1962 team that won the state championship with the sophomore Enyart as a starting linebacker.

We made it look so easy, Enyart said from Bend, where he's lived for 27 years.

Enyart works for the state as a Seniors and People with Disabilities case manager. He is divorced and has two children: son Ben, 20, who is 6-foot-6 and considering playing college basketball; and daughter Eliza, 18, and a cadet at the Air Force Academy.

Enyart marvels at the '62 team that featured quarterback Danny Miles and a defense that shut out its first seven opponents before Grants Pass returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the final regular season game.

We were in a little bit of shock, says Enyart, but that was our kickoff team, not our defense. They never scored on us again.

The Black Tornado, which ended the season as the nation's third-ranked team, allowed a touchdown each to Roseburg and Oregon City in the state quarterfinals and semifinals before blanking North Salem, 14-0, for the title.

That was a true team, Enyart says of the quick, undersized contingent. We just had an awesome defense. We did a lot of gang tackling.

Enyart moved to the backfield his junior and senior years and expected the Black Tornado ' with greater individual talent and size, he says ' to be even better. Only later would he come to appreciate the '62 team. The 1963 and '64 Medford teams were both 7-2.

Enyart, who also starred in baseball and played basketball, moved on to Oregon State, where he again started on defense as a sophomore before being moved to fullback his final two years under coach Dee Andros. It was in 1968 as a 6-foot-3&

189; , 222-pound fullback that he destroyed Utah with 50 carries (also the school record) for 299 yards in a 24-21 win. Enyart says fate played a part: When quarterback Steve Preece was injured the previous week, OSU turned to untested Bobby Mayes.

Everything he learned, he pretty much learned in practice that week, says Enyart. Before the Utah game, Dee Andros said, 'If you can't figure out what to do, just give the ball to Bill. When in doubt, run 56 or 57 power.' That's how I got to carry the ball so many times.

The team was unaware of how close he was to 300 yards, and he sat the final four minutes when OSU had the ball, he says. But, he adds, 299 has a certain ring to it.

Earthquake came about after that game, dreamed up by Sports Information Director John Eggers.

A lifelong Oregonian, Enyart takes great pride in the fact that he never lost to Oregon.

That's a claim not many Oregon State teams can make, he says.

One of his best friends from Medford, Tom Wooton, played for the Ducks. After the Civil War, they would ride back to the Rogue Valley with Enyart's parents, planning their hunting and fishing trips and leaving the rivalry in the rearview mirror.

We were Black Tornadoes, and that was important to us, says Enyart. It was like a reunion.

He had another reunion of sorts when he joined Simpson with the Bills. Whereas Enyart was the chief ball carrier at OSU, at Buffalo, he was asked to block, a skill he admits he needed to learn. On the flip side, some of the schemes called for Simpson to lead for him on the linebacker.

O.J. was not a blocker, says Enyart. Having him blocking for you was not a good deal.

Enyart played two seasons with Buffalo, starting occasionally, and some of his other teammates were linebacker and punter Paul McGuire of Sunday Night Football on ESPN fame; quarterback-turned-politician Jack Kemp; and fullback Cookie Gilchrist.

Yearning to return to the West Coast and believing he'd be better suited to playing linebacker, Enyart asked for a trade and was dealt to Oakland for the 1971 season. He was on his way to winning a starting defensive spot ' he had nine unassisted tackles in the first half of an exhibition game ' but a block to the knees against the New York Jets in the preseason wound up ending his career. He tried to come back a year later with Green Bay but didn't pass the team physical.

It was a devastating blow for someone realizing a goal he'd set for himself as a grade-schooler, when he wrote a paper on what he wanted to be when he grew up: a pro football player.

I was 24 and hadn't yet reached my physical peak, says Enyart. Then I wake up the next day, and it's like I'm a cripple. It was very much a mind-blowing experience.

He lived in Portland for a short while before moving to Bend. He also had an assortment of jobs, among them selling radio advertising and commercial fishing off his own boat out of Newport.

Now in Bend, he still has a connection to the NFL: He's a neighbor of the mother of Ryan Longwell, the Green Bay Packer punter.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail