NOTE: This blog has been revised. Asa of Saturday, January 27 I have just found an earlier picture than the one for 1898 so it has been added to the blog. More about this in a later story.
1898 team picture from the Grant County Historical Society
I am working on several blogs, one dealing with some notes on early football games that wouldn’t have made for a blog of their own but combined I think they are very informative. However, sometimes a story jumps out at me and demands a wider scope. This is one such story. I’ve expanded to include some non-Wisconsin high school football to put, in my mind, some perspective.
Football in Lancaster goes back to the late 1890’s but economics, like for a lot of schools, held the program back for a few years. It weas back on in 1905 as some newspapers touted the squad as a possible title contender when they won their first and only for games by shutting out Platteville 16-0, Cassville 15-0, Prairie du Chien 49-0 and Dodgeville 5-0 as several schools cancelled in fear of the Arrows (Later named the Flying Arrows). But finances would cut deep into the school’s efforts to put up a team in future seasons.
Lancaster didn’t have a football team from 1908-14 but the sport resumed in 1915 thanks to a ringer/coach. Oak Park High School (IL) was declared the mythical national champion from 1910-13. A player who stared on the 1912-14 squads was Everett Royal, the starting right end on the 1914 Oak Park squad and team captain.
Note from the November 28, 1914, edition of the Boston Globe
While visiting Dr. J.H. Fowler, a Family friend in Lancaster, Royal offered his services to assist in coaching the team. He helped Coach H. F. Gay as an assistant. Besides being a coach, Royal actually played in several games during a 3-3-1 season. Coach Gay may have also played although the yearbook and newspapers don’t mention it but he had previously played at Lawrence University. Like the early Port Washington teams (Part of that forementioned blog on early teams that is coming soon) and many like them, there were few players to choose from, but Lancaster appeared to only play with high school students, except for Royal and no grade schoolers (As you will read about the Port Washington snippet). The 1916 yearbook showed only 119 students with three male seniors and a total of 44 males in the school. The yearbook, then known as "The Storm Center" , had a picture that showed the starting eleven, four substitutes, a young male mascot and two coaches. The names of the players are listed below the picture, but the names of the coaches and the mascot aren’t included. I suspect that Mr. Gay is the man in the coat and tie on the upper left and Royal is on the upper right.
Photo of Everett Royal from the Oak Park team picture as posted in the November 28, 1914, edition of the Boston Globe
1915 Lancaster football team...photo from the yearbook the "Storm Chaser"
When you look at the player’s names below you will note that Orton is listed as the right halfback. All the other players list what grade they are in, but Orton is listed as “Special”. Looking through the yearbook I couldn’t find his picture anyplace with any of the classes, so I don’t know what “Special” signifies. The newspapers listed him as “Skip” Orton and he was a pretty good player, according to the papers. By my tally he scored at least six touchdowns and kicked at least three extra points.
However, like many old yearbooks there were recaps of each game instead of a scoreboard of the team's schedule and the recaps showed Coach Royals name all over the place as a great tackler and runner. No opponent seemed to not have a problem with Royal playing even though it violated the rules of the WIAA, long after the rule for high school eligibility and outlawing adults playing in games. Before you write me that in the 1915 newspapers of the Grant County Herald or the Lancaster Teller Royal is only mentioned as a coach, I would say you are correct. However, the yearbook told me a different story as against Platteville Mining School (UW-Platteville), Royal had a 75-yard touchdown run (Orton scored from 45-yards out as well). The team also faced the Keewatin Academy, an Indian college preparatory school in Prairie du Chien and lost 74-0 but the Lancaster yearbook said that Royal was the only Lancaster player who could tackle Guyon.
That player for Keewatin was a halfback named Joe Guyon who had played with the great Jim Thorpe at the Carlisle (PA) Industrial School in 1912-13. He then attended Keewatin to become college eligible from 1914-15 and then went to Georgia Tech. He had a great career there and went on to play pro football. He was also a very good baseball player and after pro football became the head football coach at different times at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Later he coached baseball at Clemson University as well as several minor league teams. In 1969 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The name Everett is known to national high school football historians. Both Everett Massachusetts and Everett Washington can claim the title of Mythical National Champions. Everett (MA) is considered the 1914 and 1915 title holder while the 1919 and 1920 squads from Washington are listed as champs. The 1914 Everett (MA) team is often considered to be the best high school football team EVER…HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL'S BEST TEAM MAY HAVE BEEN EVERETT, MASS., 1914 - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
In 1912 Oak Park (IL) played Everett (MA) for the “National Title” in a game played in Boston at Fenway Park. Sophomore right halfback Everett Royal was listed by The Chicago Tribune in a story the before but for some reason he was left off of the starting roster the day of the gams as noted in the Tribune and the Boston Globe. Oak Park won 32-14 before, what the Chicago Tribune called a “monster sized crowd”. The two teams again matched up in 1914 and Everett destroyed Oak Park 80-0. Oak Park is considered to be the 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1920 (Tied with Everett, WA) national champs.
After the 1915 season Everett Royal left Lancaster, returning home to Oak Park. I'm sorry to say that I can’t find additional information on him after going back to Illinois.
I hope you liked a little of national perspective. I hate to keep teasing on future blogs but I'm waiting on some information to finish several stories, but I'll post them soon. Thanks.