LP Hall to induct four
La Porte High School has announced the induction of Mike Benjamin, Jack Bunce, Bill Shuta and Chris Yelich into the Hubner Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ceremonies will take place on Feb. 22 between the JV and varsity boys basketball games versus Munster.
In the 1971-72 season as a sophomore Slicer, Benjamin was a role player for first-year head basketball coach Skip Collins. Through hard work and dedicaon, Benjamin blossomed as a junior, leading the team in scoring with 353 points. That year, he led the Slicers to what many argued was the greatest upset in Slicers history, a 77-74 upset of No. 3 ranked arch-rival Michigan City Elston. On his way to a team high 27 points, Benjamin canned an amazing 13-of-17 shots from all over the court. He also snared 10 rebounds. Elston came in at 12-1 and had defeated the 5-10 Slicers in 16 straight games. When the game ended at the Civic Auditorium, jubilant fans stormed the court. It remains one of the greatest victories in Slicers history. As a senior, Benjamin led the Slicers in scoring again and shot 80 percent from the free throw line. He finished his career with 773 points, putting him in the top 10 on the career scoring list. Benjamin’s talents were not limited to the basketball court. A tremendous all-around athlete, he excelled at track. He had the skills of a decathlete, excelling in the high jump, long jump, high and low hurdles, and any distance up to a quarter mile. Benjamin credits coach Dick Deardurff with working with him in the weight room after his sophomore year for making him much stronger and faster. Benjamin went on to Iowa State on a basketball scholarship where he played for the legendary Maury John as a freshman. He enjoyed a stellar career with the Cyclones and graduated with a degree in Architecture.
As a senior playing for football coach John Janzaruk, Bunce played a major role in leading the Slicers to an 8-1-1 season. He was the team’s passing leader with 33 completions in 63 attempts and also caught eigh passes for 158 yards. Among those receptions was a circus catch on third and 11 on a frozen field against arch-rival Michigan City in the final game of the season. That clutch play kept the drive alive until Bunce made another spectacular catch in the end zone to defeat the Red Devils 13-12. He also handled duties as the Slicers punter and was voted the team’s Best Defensive Back. In the winter, Bunce starred in basketball for coach Norm Hubner and was the team’s third leading scorer with 169 points. In the spring, Bunce played baseball for Earl Dolaway and starred as a pitcher and left fielder. In one memorable game, he threw a one hitter against Elkhart in a 9-0 victory and contributed two doubles and a single at the plate. He went on to play football as a defensive back at Wabash College. Ken Schreiber, who played for the Red Devils against Bunce in all three sports, said Jack was the best all-around athlete he ever played against. After college, Bunce spent 50 years coaching football at every level from the Parochial League up to varsity assistant. As the owner of Benne’s Furniture and Appliance Store, he sponsored Schreiber’s summer baseball program, Benne’s Slicers, for over 20 years. In the history of Slicers Athletics, no one has contributed more on so many levels and in so many ways than Bunce.
Shuta stands as one of the all-time great pitchers in Slicers baseball history. A 1980 graduate and three-year letter winner for the legendary Schreiber, he posted a career record of 36-8 with a sterling 1.39 ERA. His 36 wins put him in a tie for second on the all-time wins list. A versale player, he also batted .313 with three home runs and six triples. Bill was all-conference in 1978 and 1979 as well as MVP in 1979. The Slicers won semistate championships in 1978 and 1979. In his last game at Schreiber Field in 1980, he led the Slicers to the regional championship, shutting out Plymouth while striking out 12 and going 4-for-4 at the plate. Shuta went on to play at Big 10 powerhouse Michigan for another legend, Bud Middaugh, and played on Big Ten championship teams in 1981, 1983 and 1984. He also played in the College World Series each of those years. As a freshman, he was named first-team all-tournament in the 1981 Mideast Regional as a result of a nine-inning shutout against top 10-ranked Eastern Michigan. Shuta struck out six, walked one and threw just 89 pitches. No one passed second base in that game. He was 6-1 that year with a 2.12 ERA. His career record at Michigan was 20-5 with four shutouts. Shuta considered playing for Schreiber a tremendous honor and values the lessons he learned from him on and of the field.
As a sophomore and junior, Chris Yelich played on Slicers footballteams that went 1-19. Then, Deardurff arrived as head coach. Deardurff, who had produced state champions and a national champion in track, wasted no time in making changes. One of the most dramatic changes involved moving Yelich from the defensive line to fullback.
The bruising 6-foot-3, 235-pounder revitalized the offense that season by gaining just shy of 1,000 yards in leading the Slicers to a 6-4 season, their first winning season in several years. At one point, the Slicers reeled off six straight victories. Those losing seasons became a distant memory with a 34-14 thrashing of defending state champion Portage. In that signature win, Yelich gained 135 yards on 22 carries, including a 58-yard dash to the end zone. With his size, speed, and agility, Yelich drew the attention of major college programs from all over the country. He became the most highly-recruited Slicers athlete in the last half century with scholarship offers from Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, and UCLA.
Yelich chose UCLA and started at guard for three years. Chosen as a team captain his senior year, he played on Rose Bowl championship teams as a junior and senior. His junior year, the Bruins defeated Michigan 24-14 and finished the season ranked fifth at 10-1-1. To this day, Yelich remains one of greatest college athletes LaPorte High School has ever produced.
Hubner Hall of Fame Inductions
When: Feb. 22, approx. 6:45 p.m.
Where: Slicer Gym