Clarence Herndon (Legend): An Islander stand-out from the 1930s, Clarence Herndon was dominant as a two-way lineman for the Islanders from 1933-1935 and earned All-State honors in 1935. Vic Ashley, legendary coach at Walnut, once referred to Clarence as the "toughest kid that he had coached". Clarence took this toughness to the University of Nebraska where he was a 3-year letterman for the Huskers and a second-team All-Big 6 defensive tackle. Herndon was a standout on the Husker squad that played Stanford in the 1941 Rose Bowl and was selected to play in the College All-Star Football Classic in 1942; the college all-stars played the NFL champion Chicago Bears in an exhibition pre-season game. A draft choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1941, Clarence bypassed a pro football career to serve his country and would earn a Purple Heart fighting in World War Il. Clarence also played football as a member of the Army service team during his career in the military.
One in a long line of hard-nosed Islander running backs, Pete Lewis was an Islander standout in 2004 and 2005. Pete was a three-year letter winner, two-year starter as a halfback, and team captain in 2005. Pete earned first-team All-Heartland (Gl Independent) honors, was a two-time first-team All-Heartland Athletic Conference running back, and earned All-State honors in 2005. An elusive and tough ball carrier with uncanny balance, Pete rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 2004 and 2005. Pete rushed for an impressive 2,420 yards and 30 touchdowns during his Islander career and helped lead the Islanders to the Nebraska State Football Playoffs in both the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Pete went on to play at Morningside University as a running back. During Pete's career, the Mustangs posted an impressive 38-10 record. Pete was elected Team Captain as a senior at Morningside. Pete was also a 3-time letterman and an outstanding competitor on the Islander track team.
An exceptional all-around athlete, Chad Murrell was a 9 time letterman and Islander standout on the gridiron, on the court, and on the track. Chad was a two-year, two-way starter for Coach Ken Fischer. Chad was a standout defensive back and quarterback for the Islanders and earned All-City and All-State Honors in 1984. Chad was also recognized as an honorable mention selection to the Bally High School All-American Team following the 1984 season. A captain on the North Shrine Bowl Squad in 1985, Chad earned a football scholarship to the University of Nebraska where he led the Nebraska Freshman Squad in pass interceptions and passes broken up, and was second on the team in tackles. Chad finished his collegiate athletic career at Hastings College where he was a standout decathlete. Chad was 3rd in the conference decathlon as a sophomore and second as a junior. An Islander standout on the track, Chad qualified for the state meet in the high jump and the long jump and was a school record holder in the high jump with a leap of 6'8 ¼". Chad was an All-East Big 10 Conference basketball selection for the 1984 and 1985 Islander state tournament teams. Chad finished his basketball career in the top ten all-time in total rebounds and assists.
Another in a long line of legendary Islander offensive linemen, Marty Rocca teamed up with Islander greats Harry Grimminger and Bill Wheeler to dominate opponents in the trenches on the way to a state championship in 1978. Marty earned All City, All BigTen Conference, and first-team All-State honors in 1978. Rocca's outstanding play also helped him to earn a spot on the North Squad in the 1979 Nebraska Shrine Bowl. Rocca went on to star at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1979 through 1982, for longtime Maverick Coach Sandy Buda. Marty earned first team All North Central Conference honors in both 1981 and 1982 and was voted the Maverick's outstanding offensive lineman in 1981.
Another in a long line of legendary Islander offensive linemen, MarAn outstanding running back in the early 1990s, Ryan Rathjen was a touchdown-scoring machine for the Islanders. Ryan rushed for 908 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior and 1,069 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior on his way to earning All-Heartland, All-Conference, and All-State honors as both a junior and senior. Ryan helped the Islanders advance to the Class A State Championship game in 1990. An outstanding student, Ryan also earned Academic All-State honors as a junior and senior. He was selected to play in the 1992 Nebraska Shrine Bowl and then accepted a scholarship to the University of Wyoming. An all-around athlete, Ryan was a starter for the Islander basketball team in 1992 and was a state track meet qualifier for theIslander track team. Marty Rocca teamed up with Islander greats Harry Grimminger and Bill Wheeler to dominate opponents in the trenches on the way to a state championship in 1978. Marty earned All City, All BigTen Conference, and first-team All-State honors in 1978. Rocca's outstanding play also helped him to earn a spot on the North Squad in the 1979 Nebraska Shrine Bowl. Rocca went on to star at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1979 through 1982, for longtime Maverick Coach Sandy Buda. Marty earned first team All North Central Conference honors in both 1981 and 1982 and was voted the Maverick's outstanding offensive lineman in 1981.
Gene Wells Family
Islander Nation. Dating as far back as the 1940’s Gene Wells attended Islander football games and supported Islander athletics for well over seven decades. As the General Manager of Pepsi Cola, Gene was instrumental in recognizing area athletes through the KRGI/Pepsi Cola Athlete of the Year selection. He was also among the original board members of the Grand Island Senior High Boosters Club.
Gene and his wife Doris were the parents of three GISH graduates. Brad (1972), Joe (1976), and Wendy (1989). Forever Islander fans and ardent supporters the Wells family is overwhelmed and humbled to be part of the 2022 induction class and wishes to thank the Hall of Fame Committee.