Chuck Colclasure (left) and Ricci Stotler pose together in January at the Missouri HOF ceremonies. Colclasure, an East Alton-Wood River grad, and Stotler, a Civic Memorial grad, were members of the 1969 Missouri Tiger football team, which was inducted into the Missouri HOF.
Ricci Stotler excelled in high school football at Civic Memorial and Chuck Colclasure shined at East Alton-Wood River.
Together, they emerged as key players for the 1969 University of Missouri team that won 10 games and played in the Orange Bowl.
And jointly they were enshrined — with that Tigers’ team — into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame last month. It was quite an honor for both of them during ceremonies in Springfield, Mo. A crowd of more than 1,700 saluted them, along with new inductees Chris Carpenter (Cardinals), Billy Butler (Royals) and Nick Lowery (Chiefs).
It was cozy company, and Stotler and Colclasure loved it. They relived their glory days at Mizzou and renewed some lifelong friendships.
“It was terrific,” said Stotler, 64 of Fosterburg. “We had a good time.”
Colclasure, 66, of San Diego, noted: “The game spirit that we had as a team was there at the reunion. It was good to be back together.”
The ’69 Tigers were one of the top teams in Mizzou history. They went 9-1 during the regular season. Then the Tigers lost to Franco Harris-led Penn State, 10-3, in the Orange Bowl at Miami.
“What we had was really a team,” Colclasure said. “We had some stars, but everybody did their part on offense and defense. One thing I remember about the Orange Bowl game is that we had nine turnovers, but we were within a touchdown of Penn State.”
Colclasure played tight end on that team and Stotler worked in as a defensive back and kicker. In high school, Stotler was one of the best quarterbacks in CM history. However, Terry McMillen served as QB on that Orange Bowl team that included Jon Staggers, Mel Gray and Joe Moore, among others.
“Our only loss during the regular season was to Colorado (31-24),” recalled Stotler, who runs a fence-building business in Fosterburg. Colclasure is a professor at the University of Phoenix in San Diego. The former minister teaches religion, philosophy and ethics.
Missouri, which was ranked No. 6 in the nation that season, shared the Big Eight Conference championship with Nebraska. Colorado finished a game behind both teams.
Stotler added, “We won at Michigan (40-17) that year and we also beat Illinois (37-6) at Busch Stadium. We had a good year and there were a lot of good players on that team.”
Those players gathered in Springfield, Mo., to celebrate a season to remember.
“I was glad to see all of the guys because I hadn’t seen some of them for 45 years. I’ve had a lot of gray hair since then,” Stotler quipped.
One of those guys was Colclasure. Even though both of them grew up within a few miles of each other and the Eagles used to play the Oilers, they hadn’t reunited since 1969.
“It was great to see him again,” Stotler said of Colclasure. “We had talented players on that team, but we all played together. When you do that and you are winning, it’s a lot of fun.”
Colclasure also played on the 1968 team that defeated Alabama 35-10 in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. He graduated in 1971. Stotler transferred to Southern Illinois University Carbondale and then to SIUE, where he graduated. Stotler’s son, Nic, of Godfrey, is one of the top scorers in CM basketball history.
“I’ve only been back to the (Greater Alton) area one time since I left it and I’ve totally lost track of some people,” Colclasure said. “Wayne Williams coached our team in high school and he was quite a guy.”
Williams later coached at Granite City and Alton. He also worked for the University of Illinois.
The 1970 Mizzou season provided Colclasure with another classic moment.
“Our first game was against Baylor at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and we beat them 38-0,” he said. “I got the game ball and it’s still one of the best memories I’ve ever had playing football.”
Those memories flowed again and again at the Hall of Fame festivities.
“We had a lot of fun,” Stotler said.
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