Where's Sixkiller? He Wasn't in the Lineup When Duke Game Started

As an onerous sign of things to come, the Washington quarterback wasn't in the lineup for the first two games of his senior season.
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For the second consecutive game in 1972, the University of Washington football team took the field without Sonny Sixkiller at quarterback. 

That wasn't the plan for this high-powered Husky team expected to heavily rely on his proven passing skills and make wondrous things happen.

Against Duke, though, Sixkiller trotted out to the huddle for the game's second series, replacing Greg Collins, normally his backup. 

UW followers instantly felt relieved. Without Sonny, sidelined by a badly sprained ankle, the favored Huskies had struggled to defeat Pacific 13-6 in the opener. They were penalized for it, too, dropped from ninth to 12th in the Associated Press poll.

The visiting Blue Devils were no easier for the home team and pressed the issue to the end before losing to the Huskies 14-6. Offense, rarely an issue before, proved to be a continual struggle.

"I'm glad we won, but it was let's move on to the next game," Sixkiller said. "It seemed like we were a little bit out of sync."

The teams struggled to a scoreless tie in the first half. Pushing across a couple of late scores, Sixkiller lobbed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Scott for the deciding points with 7:31 left in the game.

Offseting his team's inartistic performance, Sixkiller drew headlines for breaking Don Heinrich's school record for career passing yards. He finished the game with 4,511 yards, surpassing Heinrich's previous standard of 4,392 established 20 seasons earlier. 

Sixkiller completed 9 of 19 for 140 yards and Scott's six-pointer, but admitted he wasn't his normal poised self against the Blue Devils. He was rusty after missing two consecutive weeks of practice, necessitating the continued use of Collins as the starter.

"I felt a little nervous," Sixkiller said. "That's the first game I played in a year."

With a veteran team offering 18 senior starters, everyone across Seattle expressed amazement that this UW team had struggled so much coming out of the gate.

Yet a lot of Huskies, all of a sudden, were missing in action. Foremost among them was standout senior free safety Bill Cahill, who sat out the Duke game after suffering a debilitating thigh bruise in the opener. Countless others nursed various ailments.

Junior defensive tackle Tom Tymer had a much more tragic reason for skipping the contest. He rushed home to Vancouver, Washington, after learning that someone had murdered his grandfather at his residence using a crossbow.

It was totally unthinkable that Sixkiller had missed the Pacific opener -- his first absence in 22 outings -- let alone gone back-to-back games without starting. He was the whole show.

Unfortunately, for the senior quarterback, the Huskies and their much anticipated college football season, this wouldn't be a one-time thing.