Hunter Hall of Fame

Wally Smith

Born 1923
Died Dec. 25, 2008 in Diamondhead, Miss.

Wally Smith was a four-year starter on Denfeld's football team, leading the nation in scoring with 23 touchdowns in eight games his senior season and helping the team go undefeated. His 50 career touchdowns remains a school record.

Smith was invited to practice with pro football’s New York Giants between his junior and senior seasons.

Denfeld’s coach Walt Hunting not only named Smith to his “Dream Team,” but added at the end of his career, “I’ve seen many great players at Denfeld, but Smith was the best.” The University of Minnesota’s coach Bierman called him “the best recruit ever.”

Smith was awarded the Purple Heart and Presidential citation for bravery at the Battle of Tarawa Island during World War II. Duluth newspapers reported on the severity of his wounds and subsequent survival. Relieved he lived, Coach Hunting commented: “We might’ve known Wally would be in the thick of a fight like that. He likes the going tough.” Smith visited coach Hunting at his house upon his return.

Smith was a legend at Denfeld before he ever attended the school. While in the ninth grade at Lincoln Junior High, Wally busted loose and scored the only touchdown in a 7-0 victory over Central on Maroon and Gold Day in front of 12,000 people. Duluth sportswriter, Sid Peterson, called Wally’s performance that night the greatest individual performance he ever saw. Twelve years after his graduation, the Duluth newspaper commented, “Whenever football followers gather in these parts, one name bobs to the top of the list … Wally Smith, Head Hunter of them all.”

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