Bishop Manogue’s first quarterback, Tom Kessenich, returned to Reno last week seven decades after he last suited up for the Miners.
Kessenich, who now lives in Colorado, spoke to Bishop Manogue before the team's game against Reed last week. He was invited back to campus by the Miners Football Alumni Association, Inc, MFAAI, which coordinated the trip. Kessenich visited practice on the new campus to talk to the Miners' current players.
Kessenich was the school's first starting quarterback during the 1948 season.
“You’ve got good coaches, a good facility, you’re very fortunate to be at Manogue, I think," Kessenich told the team. "I thought I was fortunate back then. We only had 19 players. We wanted a good showing. I know you guys are gonna have a good show. You’ve got it in you. You know what to do. Don’t let anybody take that away from you. Believe me, years from now if you do this, you’ll always have something to talk about, to be proud of. And I’m sure that the students and faculty of this school right now are very proud of you.”
The 89-year-old Kessenich reflected back on his time playing when Bishop Manogue played Reno for the first time in conference competition. Back then, Manogue played at Flick Ranch.
“We played a tough game,” Kessenich said. “We played a game against Reno High that’s still remembered to this day. They were state champions two years in a row, undefeated. They came to that cow pasture at Manogue to play and we played to a 7-7 tie. And we only had 11 starting and four sitting. And the players went both ways.
“To come and see how far it’s advanced to this, is really mind boggling to me. It’s always been a pleasure to watch Manogue. They’ve always given it their all and they’ve had great coaches, and it’s just a pleasure to be here and I’m glad they’ve asked me to come.”
The former quarterback went on to serve in the Air Force for eight years, serving in the Vietnam War and playing for the unit's football team for five years. It was a remarkable day as Manogue's current players got to reflect on the past and the present, even learning the first Miners fight song. You could see Kessenich’s eyes glaze over with tears of happiness when stepping foot on the field, taking him back as if he never left.