EMU continues its celebration of Rynearson Stadium’s 50th season

YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – In celebration of the 150th-year of college football and the 50th season Eastern Michigan University’s football team has called Rynearson Stadium home, the EMU department of athletics is unveiling the best to don the Green and White decade-by-decade over a five-week span. 

The 1980s All-Decade team includes Ron Adams, Gary Patton, Don Vesling, Derrin Powell, Rick Simpson, Greg David, Steve Brockelbank, Brian Clouse, Brett Petersmark, Evans Hicks, Darrell Harle, Branko Vincic, Donshell English, Derrick Whitehead, Eric Miller, David Marshall, Jim Durham, Scott Wyka, Charles Gordon, Anthony Fields, Bob Navarro, Mike Skiver, Bob Hirschmann, and Tim Henneghan.

A 10-year period that saw the invention of the Rubik’s Cube-a challenging toy that many still have not overcome,  the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington, and the “Miracle on Ice,” the 1980s was also a decade of historic football for Eastern Michigan University. Within the 1980s, the “Road Warriors,” one of the best teams to ever represent EMU, made history by winning 10 games, a school record that still stands, winning the school’s first, and only, Mid-American Conference football championship, and capping the season off with the school’s first-ever bowl victory, a 30-27 win over  San Jose State University. Elsewhere in the era, the then-Hurons brought home numerous All-MAC honors, and set standards that have propelled the program since. Among the outstanding team accomplishments, multiple individuals made historic contributions as well. 

One of the best offensive players in Eastern’s history, Ron Adams earned honorable mention Division I All-American honors by the Associated Press for helping lead the 1987 EMU football team to the Mid-American Conference championship and a victory in the California Bowl. Adams finished the 1987 season having thrown for 1,527 yards and six touchdowns, and led the then-Hurons to a school-best 10-2 record. Since Adams, no quarterback has won 10 games in a season. For his on-field success in 1987, Adams was named a First Team All-MAC selection and was also EMU’s James M. “Bingo” Brown Award winner as the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player. In the biggest game of his career, Adams completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Craig Ostrander with just 3:59 left in the game to lead Eastern to a 30-27 victory over San Jose State in the California Bowl, Dec. 12, 1987.

On the defensive side of the ball, it was Bob Navarro that impressed EMU fans and college football experts alike  in the late part of the decade. During his 1989 campaign, Navarro intercepted 12 passes, a single-season record that has yet to be eclipsed. Navarro’s efforts earned him First-Team All-MAC honors for the 1989 season, which he followed-up with a Second-Team All-MAC selection one year later. The Jackson, Mich. native also took home the John E. Borowiec Award for the team’s most valuable defensive player during the 1989 season. Navarro’s 12 interceptions during the 1989 season led all players in the NCAA that year.

One of the often overlooked groups on the field, the 1980s also saw fantastic special teams play. A standout in multiple areas, Charles Gordon gets the nod as both an All-Decade defensive back and punt returner. Gordon, a four-time letterwinner from 1986-89, was a crucial part of the 1987 California Bowl team. During his sophomore season, Gordon helped lead the Eagles defense, earning honorable mention Division I All-American honors from Associated Press. He was also named to the All-American Sophomore Team by The Football News as well as a First-Team All-MAC performer. Gordon led the team in interceptions in the 1987 season, with five. The East Lansing, Mich. native ranks fifth all-time in career interceptions at EMU (12). Gordon is also tabbed as the All-Decade team’s returner, as he led the Huron’s punt return efforts for three seasons from 1987-89, including compiling the most punt return yards on the team (250), in 1987. Gordon ranks in Eastern’s top-five in both punt returns and punt return yardage for a career. 

The team selections were made through a list of criteria including: all-americans, all-conference student-athletes, Hall of Fame recipients, and statistical leaders from the decade.

Full bios for each of the 24 players named to the 1980s All-Decade Team can be found via the link at the top of the story. The 1990s All-Decade team will be announced Thursday, Aug. 8. As always, visit EMUEagles.com or follow @EMUAthletics on Twitter for the latest news about Eastern Michigan athletics.