Saturday, July 27, 2019


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These articles, the most recent from the July 26, 2019, McMinnville News-Register, and the oldest from the May 8, 1979, Oregonian, are about or include mention of Linfielder Larry Barnett. From Hillsboro and now a McMinnville resident, he graduated from Linfield in 1968. At Hillsboro High he played for coach Ad Rutschman, a Linfielder. At Linfield he played for another Linfielder, Roy Helser. In the 1979 article note mention of Linfielder Larry Hermo (coached baseball at Yamhill Carlton High 1962-1967).Not mentioned in any of these articles is the connection to Yamhill of Linfielder Paul Durham. His first job, for four years after graduating from Linfield in 1936, was teaching and coaching at Yamhill High School.
Legacy of success

Jul 26, 2019

By LOGAN BRANDON of the News-Register

YAMHILL –  John Kuehnel longs to bring a state championship to Yamhill-Carlton High School’s softball program.

Plain and simple.

For 22 years, Kuehnel has managed the Tigers’ team to unrivaled, and equally important, consistent success. Kuehnel’s softball team is one of few Y-C programs with sustained levels of regular and postseason contention.

In recent years, the Tigers’ football, girls’ soccer, girls’ basketball, wrestling and track and field have earned their share of triumphs, yet the softball group’s respectability dates back two decades.

In Kuehnel’s 22 seasons, he’s accumulated 380 wins, which places him ninth on Oregon’s all-time list. The Tigers have qualified for the state playoffs 19 times, meaning Kuehnel’s guidance has resulted in only three seasons without a postseason appearance.

It’s taken an enormous amount of effort, says Kuehnel.

“I coach a lot these girls from when they’re 11 years old on – it’s incredibly important to teach them these skills early in their careers. It takes a commitment, but all of the most successful programs have these talent pipelines,” he noted.

All the work is worth it, he adds. He’s fully committed to his alma mater – to the school he’s been a part of for most of his life.

That’s why adding a state championship to Y-C’s trophy room remains his utmost priority.

“There have been only four state final appearances in our school’s history. We’ve had a few more semifinal appearances, but not very many. If we could become that fifth team, it’d make a huge difference for this team, school and community,” noted Kuehnel.

John Kuehnel attended Yamhill-Carlton High School as a standout baseball player for head coach Larry Barnett. The same Larry Barnett, as Y-C’s athletic director, who later hired Kuehnel to his softball manager position in the ‘90s.

Barnett remains the single greatest sports influence and mentor in Kuehnel’s career. The two formed an impressive working partnership in Kuehnel’s early years as a head coach, leading to their lengthy friendship today.

In Yamhill County, many are familiar with Barnett. He’s considered a softball savant, coaching student-athletes from local high schools. His athletic imprint is left on many championship-caliber programs, including Y-C’s.

Recently, Barnett suffered complications in surgery related to a major heart attack. He’s currently recovering at home, where Kuehnel often visits him.

Asked about his friendship with Barnett, Kuehnel grew emotional. His respect for his mentor is clearly evident as he searches for words.

“I love the guy to death,” said Kuehnel. “I loved playing for him. He’s helped me so much over the years. He’s always been a presence here – he works with all our hitters.

“I feel bad for the state he’s in right now. But I’m hoping he comes back out of it. I’m confident he’ll back in it,” he added.

Once Kuehnel was hired as a softball coach by Barnett, he brought a variety of experience to the position. As an accomplished high school and brief college player, Kuehnel later played modified fast pitch and slow pitch until his daughters reached high school.

When his eldest daughter was a sophomore, Kuehnel took over the program. The team was in desperate need of a culture change.

“We had a pretty successful first year, considering two years before we won only three games. When I took over in ’97, we ended up going 17-7. It was quite a nice year,” he remembered.

In 1998, Kuehnel earned a full-time job with the school district. He handles custodial, maintenance and grounds work for the schools. His proximity to the high school proved a massive benefit to the job, he discovered.

“It’s allowed me to work around my coaching hours. It’s ideal for a guy like me who wants to devote himself to coaching,” said Kuehnel.

Though his career has occasionally proven stressful, any negative aspects are overridden by the opportunity to work with children.

Kuehnel met with the News-Register to reflect on his coaching career and his lofty plans for the softball program.

N-R: What led you to coaching?

Kuehnel: I coached slow pitch and I coached since I was out of high school.

When my old baseball coach, Larry Barnett, contacted me about coaching, I couldn’t resist. I really admire him and he got me into coaching. He’s been my baseball coach and my athletic director, so it worked out for me.

I enjoy coaching. Even after my daughters graduated, I continued doing it.

I really love bringing up the younger groups to eventually play for the high school team. I’ve got a great group at the middle school level, so I’m hoping every sticks it out.

N-R: What’s it mean to coach at your alma mater?

Kuehnel: I told Larry at the start that I wanted to give back. I have a lot to give, so I’m going to give it back to the community I grew up in.

I wanted to give the kids something that they would remember when they get out of high school.

That’s why it’s important we gain that next level of success and reach the state finals. We’ve had a lot of success, but school’s like Dayton have played in the last five championships. We need to draw that level of interest in softball here.

We have a promising future and I’m looking forward to it.

I keep telling our eighth graders that we shouldn’t lose to Dayton anymore. That’s the mentality I want them to take into their careers.

N-R: What are the most important lessons Larry Barnett taught you?

Kuehnel: Perseverance. He always taught us to keep going.

He’s been great for me and I’ll always appreciate his time as athletic director.

N-R: What advice would you give a new coach?

Kuehnel: You have to let things roll – you can’t take things personally in high school softball. There are some pretty wacky parents out there and the kids deal with it in different ways. You have to learn to relate to them and understand where they’re coming from. You have to coach them any way you can – it’s about understanding.

Longevity in coaching is becoming less and less. Parents and players can be more disrespectful today – and even some coaches don’t get it.

Us old coaches let it roll off our backs, but the younger generations don’t want to deal with it. Coaches quit because they don’t want to deal with crazy parents screaming at them all the time.

N-R: What have been your proudest moments as a head coach?

Kuehnel: Getting kids to the next level. I’ve seen a lot of my players play at the college level, and that’s definitely a source of pride. It’s not because of my coaching – I can teach them the fundamentals and finer skills, but they put in the work to make it.

Anyone that tells you a certain coach can get you to college is lying to you. That coach can help you along the way, but a coach cannot do it for you.

For me, I feel like I’m doing my job if the kids are successful in high school and they have the opportunity to move on to the next level. That’s what makes me feel like a successful high school softball coach.

Barnett honored with court bearing his name

Dec 11, 1999

By JOEY SPRINKLE of the News-Register

YAMHILL - Larry Barnett, former baseball and boys basketball coach at Yamhill-Carlton High, was honored Friday as the school named the basketball court where he plied his trade in honor of the coaching great.

"Larry Barnett Court" was christened in Barnett fashion - with a victory. Minutes after the ceremonies, the Tigers went out and rolled to an 81-60 victory over North Marion.

As ironies would have it, Walt Hamer, the head coach of North Marion, was Barnett's junior high coach.

"There's a lot of fond memories here," Barnett said. "A lot of great people and great memories."

Barnett coached the baseball team from 1970-99. His 378-241 record played a big part in his election into the Oregon Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Barnett took over the boys freshman basketball team in 1970 and coached it for four years before being named head varsity coach in 1970 and leading the Tigers to a 342-312 record before retiring after the '98-'99 season. Barnett's Tigers went to the state playoffs four times in the '90s, including the 1992 state championship.

Barnett said he had opportunities to pursue other coaching vacancies over the years, but never felt a sense to leave Yamhill-Carlton.

"I always said no. There was no reason I could ever come up with to leave," he said.

Barnett continues to be co-athletic director at the school. He said what little time has been freed up, he would like to use to watch the Y-C girls team play some basketball.

"I didn't get a chance to see the girls play much," Barnett said. "Just being around keeps me feeling young. I enjoy still having a part in something here."

Barnett received a standing ovation almost before emcee David Blanchard could finish his introduction.

Barnett was also given a one-of-a-kind ring signifying his championship at Y-C. The Booster Club unveiled a banner that reads, "Welcome to Larry Barnett Court."

Many former players - one from as far away as Kansas City - were on hand to offer congratulations.

"It's such an honor to have someone think of me in this way," Barnett said. "I just want to say thank you."

Fact box:

Baseball coach: 1970-99

Record: 378-241

Basketball coach: 1974-98

Record: 342-312

State Basketball Championship, 1992

3A Coach of the Year, 1992

Oregon Baseball Hall of Fame, 1999


Barnett joins elite in high school baseball coaches Hall of Fame

Oct 16, 1999

By STEVE FOX of the News-Register

Former Yamhill-Carlton baseball coach Larry Barnett is being inducted into the Oregon High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Friday in Portland.

The ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Airport Sheraton.

"Any time you get included with a group of guys that includes Ad Rutschman, Perry Stubberfield, Jack Dunn and Mel Krause, it's just overwhelming," Barnett said. "It's a tremendous feeling to even be mentioned in the same breath."

Barnett, who lives in McMinnville, compiled a 378-241 record in 27 years at Y-C. He also coached basketball and served as athletic director. He officially retired last spring, but is serving as co-athletic director on a part-time basis this year to smooth the transition.

Barnett led the Tigers, often the team with the smallest school enrollment in its league, to seven league championships and 10 state tournament appearances. He was a varsity head coach for 30 years before retiring.

"Y-C has always been a real competitive baseball community," he said. "I wouldn't have stayed there 27 years coaching if I didn't enjoy it. The players are all hard working and the parents were always really supportive."

He joins former Linfield College football and baseball coach Ad Rutschman and former Mac High coach Perry Stubberfield in the hall of fame. Rutschman and Stubberfield are both McMinnville residents as well.

Barnett played for Rutschman at Hillsboro High School before attending Linfield College and playing under coach Roy Helser.

"I know I wouldn't be there if I hadn't played for and known Ad Rutschman," Barnett said. "You can't help but take on a lot of his philosophies in dealing with athletes and people in general.

"A lot of my success came from there. You become a better ballplayer having played for him, and by just knowing him, become a better person."

Barnett coached the Tigers to the state championship game in 1973, but lost to South Umpqua. The game was played in Portland's Civic Stadium.

Barnett has fond memories of his days coaching in the Yawama League. Only the league champ advanced to the state tournament, and his Tigers finished second to Sherwood his first three years despite compiling a 36-6 league record.

His teams went on to win seven of the next nine league titles. Later, Y-C was moved into the Tri-Valley League, then the Val-Co League.

"We always seemed to meet the eventual state champs along the way in the playoffs," Barnett said. "We had a lot of success in the early '70s. Then it got a little tougher when we got put in with Hood River and Gladstone in the Tri-Valley. The Val-Co was equally tough."

Barnett will be accompanied by his wife, Annette, his daughter, Keri, and his son, Brian, for the induction ceremony. "A lot of sacrifices have to be made when you're part of a coach's family," he said.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Read about John Buchner, Linfield Class of 1963 member

John Buchner (John Edwin Buchner) of Albany, Oregon, is a member of the Linfield Class of 1963, and a 1959 grad of Albany Union High School. (He transferred from Linfield and graduated in 1963 with a University of Oregon bachelor of science degree in journalism.) His activities while a student at Linfield included serving as Linfield Athletics sports information director during the 1960-1961 academic year. He also was a sports reporter (sometimes sports photo photographer) for the McMinnville News-Register newspaper. His time with the N-R was when Paul Durham, Linfield football coach and athletic director, was the newspaper's sports editor and sports columnist.  John and his wife, Kitty Buchner, are Linfield sports fans and frequently attend Linfield home football games. They are also Oregon State University Beavers sports fans.

Former Albany Democrat-Herald publisher John Buchner recalls covering Apollo training program in Oregon

Corvallis Gazette-Times 
July 19, 2019

Since 1971, a tiny chip of Oregon lava rock has sat on the moon — a tribute to the role Oregon played in helping prepare Apollo astronauts to walk on the lunar surface.

Astronauts visited Oregon in 1964 and 1966 to train in pressure suits on lava fields, which NASA scientists believed had similar terrain to the moon's surface, similarities that earned Oregon the nickname “Moon Country.”

One of those training missions inspired astronaut James Irwin to bring a piece of Oregon rock with him on the Apollo 15 mission.

John Buchner, who retired as the Democrat-Herald’s publisher in 2000 after more than 30 years with the paper, covered the first of those visits, in late August 1964.

Buchner, an Albany native who was working as a reporter for the Bend Bulletin at the time, said he was hired as a freelancer to cover the visit for the D-H because of his hometown connection.

“It was pretty exciting to have these people come to the area,” said Buchner, now 77 and still an Albany resident.

Although he couldn’t recall if he got to see any of the training firsthand, he did remember covering press conferences with the visit’s small team, including NASA engineers and astronaut R. Walter Cunningham, who was later part of the crew of Apollo 7, the first of the manned Apollo missions, in 1968.

“They were impressive individuals. Bend at that time was a small town in the middle of nowhere," Buchner said. "It was really exciting they were here.”

Then only a couple of years out of the University of Oregon, Buchner said he didn’t know if the people there fully understood the historical impact of the occasion.

“These were the people that were plotting the future,” he said.

Buchner’s first story on the visit, which ran in the Aug. 25, 1964, edition of the Democrat-Herald, said NASA officials chose Oregon for the testing because of the availability of different types of lava fields, the climate and the proximity of an airfield in Klamath Falls to testing sites.

“The space scientists wanted as cool a climate as possible, which ruled out similar lava flows in New Mexico and Southern California. Extreme heat would make spacesuit work difficult,” Buchner wrote.

He also quoted test director Earl LeFevers on the purpose of the tests: “to determine the capabilities of pressure-suited individuals to perform lunar-related tasks on terrain similar to that expected to be encountered on the moon.”

Buchner wrote that the tests were designed to measure how long it would take astronauts to perform tasks and determine what safety devices would be needed to protect them.

“The pressurized suits worn today by Cunningham and the two engineers are not the ones that will be used on the 1969 scheduled moon landing. The suits for the moon trip will be designed in part from information gathered here.”

Buchner said that first day of testing took place just west of McKenzie Pass in Lane County. That area of the old McKenzie Highway, near the Dee Wright Observatory, is just outside the southeast edge of Linn County.

In Buchner’s second article on the visit, dated Aug. 26, 1964, he quotes Cunningham talking about a fall he had trying to walk a 47% slope on a lava field.

“Cunningham said the main reason for the difficulty was that his pressurized suit was not designed for use on lava and his visor kept fogging, which blocked his vision.”

Buchner noted the second day of testing was on pumice fields near Gilchrist.

In his final story on the visit, Buchner wrote that Cunningham would be flying out after the third day of testing on obsidian flows in the Newberry Crater, leaving the fourth and final day of testing to the engineers.

Buchner quoted Cunningham as being interested in being the first man on the moon, but reported Cunningham acknowledged that there were 29 other “tried and true” astronauts just as interested.

“I don’t go around dwelling on the thought. I’ve got many other things on my mind anyway,” Cunningham said.

When the astronauts visited the second time, in late July 1966, they came with a larger group of 35 people, including 22 astronauts, but the D-H noted the visit only with short United Press International wire stories.

Buchner said by the time of that visit, he had moved on from the Bulletin and wasn’t available to cover the visit freelance for the D-H.

The astronaut trainings in Oregon are the subject of an ongoing exhibition titled “Moon Country” at the High Desert Museum, near Bend.

Heidi Hagemeier, director of communications for the museum, said the exhibit contains photographs of the visit and the piece of Oregon lava rock from which the piece taken to the moon was chipped.

Hagemeier said the exhibit also tells the story of how that chip of Oregon rock ended up on the moon — the astronaut James Irwin met Bend resident Floyd Watson during the visit and the two struck up a friendship. Watson eventually suggested Irwin take an Oregon rock piece to the moon, she said, and didn’t hear anything back until months after the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, when Irwin sent Watson a photo with the bit of lava rock on the moon circled in ink.

She said the photos of the visit are also special because they show astronauts “essentially in our back yard.”

“It really is remarkable if you think about it,” she said. “Bend at the time had a population of about 12,000. The whole nation was watching at that time.”

“Moon Country” will be exhibited at the museum until Nov. 10. Visit for more information about the exhibit and the museum.


Retired publisher John Buchner recalls the paper's biggest years

By Jennifer Moody
Albany Democrat-Herald 
March 28, 2016

In his 30 years with the paper, editor and publisher John Buchner brought it from mechanical to digital; from manual typewriters to computers to the Internet.

Buchner served as executive editor for the Albany Democrat-Herald for 10 years, general manager for another 10 and finally publisher and chief operating officer for 10 more.

(After that, he stayed on a time as Democrat-Herald editor emeritus.)

Cameras brought him into the business.

The Albany native received his first professional newspaper experience in high school. He belonged to the Riverside Camera Club, a 4-H group, and its leader, Merrill Jones, was a D-H photographer. In 1958 or ’59, Buchner said, Jones invited the 17-year-old to answer phones on the sports desk.

He also took pictures at various Friday night games. “They’d send me out to Lebanon, Sweet Home, Halsey, for the first half, and I would shoot, and then I ran in and took calls, and the sports editor went to the Albany game,” he recalled.

In those days, the paper was on Second Avenue and the darkroom was underneath the furniture building next door, through the basement where the press was.

Buchner did that job through the summer and a full year afterward, then went to Linfield College, where at first, he planned to study to be a social studies teacher. Then a fellow who’d been the photographer for the college’s sports teams graduated and Buchner stepped into the role. “And it was fun,” he said.

He transferred to the University of Oregon and majored in journalism. After graduation, he tried to get his D-H job back, but with no openings to pursue, he ended up applying elsewhere.

He held a reporting and photographer job for the Ashland Daily Tidings and later became a city editor for the Bulletin in Bend. The Bend owner helped him purchase the Stayton Mail with Frank Crow, where Buchner, at age 23, was editor, photographer, reporter, delivery boy, rack stuffer, check signer and janitor as well as part owner.

“One day a week I slept in because of exhaustion,” he told audiences at a men’s breakfast years later.

After two years, Buchner had the opportunity to go to the La Grande Observer to be the editor. A couple of years after that, he decided it was time to try a bigger market.

He wrote 25 letters to various papers and got three offers: part-time jobs at the Los Angeles Herald and from a paper in North Carolina, and a full-time offer as a copy editor for the Des Moines Register. He took the full-time job, but hadn’t even been there a year when Glenn Cushman, who had been hired in Albany from Bend, called him and asked, “Want to be executive editor of your hometown daily?”

When Buchner returned to Albany in 1968, the paper had just converted from hot lead to offset printing and cold type. The transition time was lagging, equipment kept breaking down, the presses ran late and circulation was sinking. It was, as Buchner remembered it, a great opportunity: “Anything you did, pretty much, was an improvement.”

Right away he was sent to Columbia University, to the American Press Institute, where he came back with some great ideas to improve circulation. One was to change what had been known as the Society or Women’s page to “People,” a full features section front that allowed more use of photography and longer features on education, food, entertainment, religion and government.

Another was to get the paper back on a reliable schedule, which Buchner helped do by getting a routine training schedule. Drawing on his photojournalist days, Buchner also believed photos drove circulation as much as news did. He emphasized large photos and the use of color.

“We added a color deck to the press during the ‘70s so we could have 4-color on the front and back page of the two sections,” he recalled. “Later, when I was publisher and Lee Enterprises purchased the D-H, corporate made the decision to move all Corvallis production to Albany and that’s when units from the Corvallis press were moved to Albany and added to the existing D-H press. Color was then possible on other pages and more pages could be printed at the same time.”

In Buchner’s early days as editor, the idea was to have one editorial staff member for every 1,000 papers in circulation. With the encouragement of publisher Glenn Cushman, Buchner increased hiring, taking the staff from about a dozen reporters and editors to 20 between 1970 and 1980.

The paper became a conduit for young, talented journalists statewide. “People wanted to work here,” Buchner recalled. “We were using color; trendy things they were learning about in school. It was a fun time, and we were growing, which allowed you to do those things.”

Circulation grew from roughly 12,000 in 1968 to close to 22,000 by the time Buchner retired. The town was in growth mode, which helped, he said, as did a door-to-door sales campaign. Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart and Rubenstein’s Furniture Store were just coming in, which helped drive advertising.

In 1972, the paper won the trophy for general excellence from the Oregon Newspaper Publisher’s Association. That was a particularly big triumph because in those days, the winner was not chosen from a size division but from every daily newspaper in the state.

The Democrat-Herald began acquiring other publications: the News-Times in Newport, the Outlook in Gresham, and the Nickel Ads. Cushman was away a lot, and needed someone on site to manage the business side of things. In 1978, Buchner became general manager.

When Capital Cities Inc. bought the paper, it was primarily a broadcasting company and more or less left the publications to do their own thing as long as they were making money.

In 1990, the Democrat-Herald was also a leader in promoting newspaper recycling. CapCities honored the paper’s efforts with a headline in its industry publication that year, “Resolve to recycle.”

The advent of the Internet meant the paper would have to change. The Democrat-Herald hired its first webmaster, Jim Magruder, in 1996, and began offering a World Wide Web edition, Mid-Valley OnLine, in 1997.

Nobody saw the Internet as a mortal wound – yet. Buchner acknowledged he could see it made print less relevant, but Albany was still well away from the Portland television market and not really part of the Eugene area, either.

“My view was we had a niche and we were going to survive a lot longer,” he said. “The geography was in our favor.”

The city changed a great deal in the years Buchner was with the paper. The opening of the Lyon Street Bridge in 1973 changed the way people traveled. The opening of South Albany High School in 1970 and the merger of the local elementary districts with their high schools in 1979 changed the geography of education. The arrival of Heritage Mall in 1988 changed the way residents shopped.

Buchner was at the paper when Ralph Miller came to Oregon State University as the basketball coach in 1970, when field-burning caused a massive pileup on Interstate 5 and forever changed the grass seed industry, when St. Mary’s Church burned in an arson fire in 1989.

He particularly remembers the paper’s coverage of the 1982 recall campaign for a Linn County commissioner who had been less than truthful about her background. She accused the paper of being a “yellow rag.”

“So we had a yellow ribbon party,” he said, chuckling.

Throughout all of it, Buchner has held to the philosophy that newspapers play an essential role in a community: to provide accurate information about the community to its public, and to provide a forum for people with different ideas about how things should go.

“I like the (Eugene) Register-Guard slogan,” he said: “‘A citizen of its community.’ To be relevant, you need to be. I never wanted to lose sight of that.”


Monday, July 22, 2019


Ad Rutschman coached about 300 players from Hawaii on his Linfield football teams, 1968-1991.

After he retired as Linfield head football coach following the 1991 season, but continued as athletic director until the summer of 1996, he knows other Linfield football players from Hawaii, too.

Suffice to say, Coach Rutschman likes the aloha.

In July 2019, the coach, Linfield President Miles Davis and others traveled to Oahu for a couple of days on the island. During that time, he was guest of honor at a Linfield reception on a Saturday in Honolulu. The next day "younger" Linfield grads/former Wildcat football players from Hawaii held an event for him in Kaneohe.

(Another event held in Honolulu was a reception for students who will start their freshman years at Linfield in fall 2019 and their parents and current Linfield students and their parents.)

Linfield President Davis likes the aloha, too. He lived in Hawaii when stationed there during his U.S. Navy service.

Before the July 2019 trip, Coach Rutschman's previous time in Hawaii was in the 1990s, likely either after he retired as football coach or athletic director.

Thanks to Linfielders Debbie Harmon Ferry and John Sadowski here are a few (but not all) photos they took from the Rutschman-related events.

Postscript -- John noted at the Kaneohe event that John was the attendee who played layed Linfield Wildcat football for both Coach Paul Durham (1966-67), and Coach Ad Rutschman (1968-69). 

Of course, the late Coach Durham has Hawaii connections. A Linfield grad, he became football coach, co-men's basketball coach, golf coach and athletic director at Linfield. After 20 years at Linfield, he moved to Honolulu and became athletic director of the University of Hawaii.


This story (link below) about how the Hawaii-Linfield football pipeline started will be of interest to you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Linfield football's 'The Streak' stands test of time (story from Nov. 6, 1997)

By Ken Wheeler, Oregonian, Nov 6, 1997

It is a story of four coaches and hundreds of young men marching toward history. Forty-two autumns of Saturday afternoons and the legend, the legacy and the challenge they have built.

On Saturday, Linfield College will play the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma in a game with meaning beyond the final score. The Wildcats need a victory in one of their two remaining games to make it a winning season.

Not simply a winning season. For the Wildcats, a win would make it a 42nd consecutive winning season, tying the national record shared by Harvard (1881-1923) and Notre Dame (1889-1932).

Not since 1955 have the Wildcats had a losing season. It is a streak that was born with the Baby Boomers and has endured to see them start to turn gray. A streak that witnessed Cold War, the Iron Curtain and war in Vietnam. A streak that saw the Berlin Wall built and come down.

Three times the streak came down to the season's last game. Each time it survived, and each game now is part of the legacy that has been handed down.

Last season, Linfield, a school in McMinnville with an enrollment of slightly fewer than 2,200 full-time students, had to win its last two games to finish 5-4, with the major obstacle a with Lewis & Clark on Palatine Hill in the next-to-last game. With 19 seconds to play, the Pioneers had the ball fourth and goal at the Linfield 4-yard line.

One play -- the game and the streak on the line.

``At the end, it seemed like there were so many timeouts that each play was segmented, almost a game within a game,'' said Matt Craven, a Linfield junior defensive back from Bend who knocked down the last pass in the end zone as the Wildcats won 26-20.

Now Craven is back playing his senior season, faced again with the need to win one more game that will hand the streak on to the team that will follow.

``Yeah, I think it does bring some pressure on the team, but not necessarily bad pressure,'' he said. ``Anything a team can use to get itself motivated is good. I think what has been indicative of the Linfield program has been its consistency and its ability to rise to the challenge.''

In 1987, the Wildcats lost four of their first five games, then rebounded to win their final four to finish 5-4. Again, it was close, the final victory, 17-12 over Pacific, not decided until Steve Reimann, a linebacker from Salem, intercepted a pass at the Linfield 4 with 26 seconds to play.

``When we were 1-4, we were fully aware of the streak,'' Reimann said. ``We got together as a team and said, `We don't want to be the team that everybody looks to as the one that blew the streak.'

``We were really bad at the beginning of the season, but at the end I thought we could play with anybody. There is something about that Linfield tradition that just kind of carries on. You can feel it.

``I'll remember that play for the rest of my life. When I made the interception, I was so excited that I threw the ball way up in the air and got a 15-yard penalty and coach (Ad) Rutschman got mad at me.''

The streak was in its adolescence, only 16 years old, when the 4-4 Wildcats salvaged a winning season with a 24-14 win over Pacific Lutheran in their final game of the 1971 season.

``I can't remember that we were even aware at the time of the streak,'' said John Ketola, a defensive guard from Aberdeen, Wash. ``I just knew that if I didn't play well and we didn't win that game, I would have to put up with coach Rutschman's clipboard on Monday. He was so systematic in what he did, we focused on one play at a time, not a season or a streak.

``But the best thing that ever happened to me in my life was going to Linfield and playing football. There is such pride in the football program. There is something different there, something they instill in you.''

The streak began in 1956, the year the Portland Beavers moved out of their Vaughn Street ballpark, the year Mickey Mantle won the triple crown and the Yankees beat the Dodgers in a World Series in which Don Larsen pitched a perfect game, the year that Tommy Prothro's Oregon State Beavers became a Rose Bowl team.

Linfield, led by coach Paul Durham, had a 6-1-2 record and won its first Northwest Conference championship since 1935, when Durham played for the Wildcats. Durham coached at Linfield for 20 years, then turned the job over to Rutschman, who had been a standout player at the school, in 1968. Rutschman kept the job for 24 winning seasons, then was followed by Ed Langsdorf for four years, and Jay Locey, who is in his second year.

``I'm not absolutely sure that I even knew there was a string going when I started out coaching here,'' Rutschman said. ``I knew that Paul had some very good teams and that I was taking over a program that was on top and not on the bottom.

``Any pressure was self-imposed, but you wanted to make sure that you maintained something. I'm very thankful that I had a group of coaches and athletes who worked hard and took pride and ownership in it. But Paul, he's the one who started it.''

Durham's record at Linfield was 122-51-10. It was 90-17-6 once the consecutive-season winning streak was born. In the 24 years that followed, Rutschman was 183-48-3. Langsdorf was 32-9-1 and Locey is 9-7 going into Saturday's game.

Among them, there have been 25 league championships during the winning string, three NAIA championships, plus three other trips to the championship game, four trips to the semifinals and three to the quarterfinals.

``I think it's terrific when a school like Linfield can get involved in setting a national record,'' said Durham, who lives in Hawaii. ``The person who deserves the greatest credit by far is Ad Rutschman. He continued it for 24 years, which is incredible. You just can't give Ad enough credit. You can't imagine what an incredible job of coaching he did.

``Yes, I think the string is important. Linfield is a great school and that just adds to its greatness. I know it's important to all the athletes who played football there, even back before my time.''

And so it seems to be.

``If you make a decision to play football with the Linfield Wildcats, you are expected to be successful,'' said Lance Lopes, who played at Linfield from 1981-84 and now is general counsel for the Green Bay Packers. ``For me, it was a fabulous experience. I don't want to understate the enjoyment I took from the Linfield football program. If I could sum up in one word the reason for their success, tradition probably is the word I would use.

``There are tactical reasons for the long-term success. The outstanding people they have had running the program are incredible.''

Howard Morris, who later would coach and serve as athletic director at Oregon Tech, was a junior on that 1956 team when the streak began.

``I'm sure that (Locey) is feeling some pressure,'' Morris said. ``Nobody wants to be the one who breaks the streak. I just hope he goes ahead and makes it happen. It's not a life-or-death thing, but it would be nice recognition for the college and all of the people involved.''

Norm Musser, an assistant football coach at South Medford High School, played for the Wildcats in 1964.

``Paul Durham was a tremendous coach, a tremendous person,'' he said. ``I still look on him as a mentor and a friend. . . . And when Ad took over, he just raised the bar.''

Randy Mueller, who came from St. Maries, Idaho, to quarterback the Wildcats' 1982 NAIA championship team, is the vice president for football operations with the Seattle Seahawks, traveling the country to scout players.

``Every Sunday, no matter what city I'm in, the first thing I look for when I pick up the paper is the Linfield score,'' he said. ``Yeah, I'm emotionally attached to the string. Every player who has been a part of it is, even non-players who never got to play a down. They love it.

``It's true even with the non-athletes. The tradition of winning rubs off on them in whatever walk of life they choose. Going to Linfield was the best thing I ever did. There is no substitute for winning. It gives you confidence in whatever you do.''

``One of the things that really stands out in my mind,'' said Jon Yeakey, an assistant football coach at Glencoe High School who played at Linfield from 1989-91, ``is that Linfield was a special place all around -- the school, the athletic programs, the city of McMinnville. The football program could really thrive in that environment. . . The Linfield experience has been really special to people.''

Steve Lopes, an assistant athletic director at USC who played at Linfield from 1980-83, said his experience in McMinnville ``was something I would never trade for anything in the world. It taught me how to work hard and how to be successful. Ad Rutschman thought of the football field as a classroom and he used it as a classroom.''

Floyd Halvorsen, football coach at Sunset High School, said that when he was at Linfield from 1982-85, ``We never really thought about the string. We knew there was a streak but we just played the game and figured if we took care of the little things, winning would take care of itself.

``The success of the program obviously was something that played a big part in my experience there, but I think the balanced emphasis on academics and athletics and overall concern for the players as students as well as athletes completed the picture. All the pieces fit together in the proper balance for me.''

And so now all tradition and loyalty surround another autumn Saturday, the next-to-last one on Linfield's schedule. If Linfield loses this week, the Wildcats will have to beat Eastern Oregon at home Nov. 15.

Yes, Locey said, there is some pressure, but it is not something to run from.

``I think that if it is all kept in perspective, it can be very healthy,'' he said. ``Student-athletes come to Linfield because they want to be part of big games, want to play in big games.

``Paul Durham and Ad Rutschman are the guys who laid the groundwork, the foundation, put down the principles for what we are trying to do now.

``It's a heck of a legacy.''