- - - Shelby Football - Beginnings: 1894 - 1906 - - -

Part III

The 1901 Shelby football season
Sometime prior to the start of the 1901 football season, the football rules and guidelines were revised.The first article appearing in the Shelby Daily Globe related to this season, presented and explained those changes, all mostly minor in nature.
Shelby Daily Globe - September 06, 1901

The following article typifies the difficulty the newspapers had in reporting Russell Johnston's name. The headline for the article had the spelling correct, but in all other instances within the body of the article his name was spelled omitting the "t".
Shelby Daily Globe - September 23, 1901

The December 12, 1900 Globe article " COACHES AND CAPTAIN For Shelby's 1901 Foot Ball Team are Practically Decided."was very close in their prediction. Russell Johnston would be chosen team captain and Charles Gleason will be coaching the 1901 Shelby A.A. team. Coach Dr. Stratford moved to Northwestern University for advanced studies. Art Rice, owner of Rice Brothers Grocery, would become the new team manager replacing Ralph Wells. The team line up shows many returning members of the championship 1900 team. New players include: Clyde Enslow, John Shafer, Jake Wolfe, and James Guthrie.
Shelby Daily Globe - September 27, 1901

Shelby Daily Globe - October 07, 1901

The 1901 Shelby High School starting line up was as follows: Frank Schiffer, John Rice (Art Rice's younger brother), Frank Strock, Hal Crum, Henry Dunn, Clifford Skiles, Bob Smiley, Howard Hunter, Carl Sutter, Frank Kubbs and Frank Seltzer. Others would be added as the year progressed.
The above article mentions line "bucks" and previous articles have referred to "bucking the line". Since the forward pass was not a legal play at this time, plays were generally limited to sweeps around the ends or direct runs into the line. This second play in many variations was a line "buck". Trick plays were allowed to some extent. Hiding the ball under the jersey or multiple passes between players in the backfield to confuse the opponent was allowed. "Bucking the line" caused the majority of injuries when performed with the players in a wedge formation. During these years, Shelby's team used Bill Harris to lead their flying wedge. He wore a wide leather belt with a large handle attached to the back and when the ball was centered, the quarterback, usually Smith "Dubie" Weiser, would grab the handle and Harris as well as the rest of the team would push forward through the opposing line and drag the quarterback along. This made for a rough game and the defense was also free to use various methods to stop the offensive play. Kicking was quite acceptable and was freely used as a means of slowing down and stopping an offensive play. At this early stage of football, the most important article of football gear was usually knee and shin guards. This was the area of the body that was most effectively kicked and the area that benefited most from padding. The game was played without many rules and depended on the referees to stop plays before too many injuries were incurred. The use of the fist was not allowed and could result in expulsion or a penalty; most other forms of play were allowed. Many injuries and deaths occurred on the football field during this period. The following photo demonstrates the "flying wedge" formation.
Photo from "The History of Shelby Football 1894 - 1985" by Fred Eichinger

Shelby Daily Globe - October 14, 1901


A new player was added to the Shelby High School team, Worley Wilkinson, but the Shelby squad was only able to earn a 0 - 0 tie with Mansfield. Note that Dr. Bland was umpire and Vivian Abernathy was refereeing the high school game.
Shelby Daily Globe - October 18, 1901

Playing at right end is Steven Metzger who made his first appearance in the published team line up against Galion High School. This game and the previous meeting with Galion started a competition between rivals that would endure for over 100 years.
Shelby Daily Globe - October 19, 1901

In their first encounter with Wooster and their star player, Charles Follis, Shelby A.A. proved the winner by a score of Shelby 5 and Wooster 0. The article narrative indicates that the game was close and the teams well matched. Charles Follis demonstrated why he was Wooster's most outstanding player!
Shelby Daily Globe - October 21, 1901

Shelby Daily Globe - October 26, 1901

Bill Harris' leather belt that facilitated Shelby's successful "line bucking" provoked an objection from the Fremont A.A. team. The rules were consulted and finding none to outlaw the belt, the game continued and resulted in a 12 to 0 win for Shelby. For more details see the following article. Note that Dr. M.W. Bland is playing left tackle.
Shelby Daily Globe - October 28, 1901

Shelby Daily Globe - October 29, 1901

Injuries of this type were quite common in this era of football. Little or no protective padding was being employed by the majority of players, mostly knee guards and shin and possibly thigh guards made from bunching a few extra layers constructed from the cotton pants material. Helmets were sometimes used, however the helmets and nose guards were constructed of a single layer of leather with a bit of foam padding around the ear flaps that provided little protection in the instance of head to head contact.
Courtesy of the Shelby Museum

Courtesy of the Shelby Museum

William "Bill" Harris wearing the uniform (minus his leather belt) that was typical for the 1900 - 1902 era, jersey and cotton pants with knee pads and shin and thigh guards. He wore a helmet like that shown above and probably a leather nose protector.
Shelby Daily Globe - November 02, 1901

A sign of the times is the statement, "It was a hard fought game but none of the players were injured.". It seems to assume a "hard fought game" required some to be injured and it generally did occur in this era, but luckily many of the common injuries were not of a serious nature.
Shelby Daily Globe - November 04, 1901

A couple more new Shelby High School players' names appear for the first time in this write up. Yarnell was Dale Yarman playing the left guard position and See was Orley See who played right end. The final score of the game was Shelby 12 - Crestline 0.
Shelby Daily Globe - November 04, 1901

Shelby Daily Globe - November 08, 1901

Challenges of this nature were not uncommon during this period of sports development. Many weekends were "open" on teams' schedules and if the challenge was made public, it was sometimes considered an honorable thing to accept and play a team that thought for whatever reason, they deserved to play (or replay) a team that was not on their current schedule.
Shelby Daily Globe - November 11, 1901

Shelby A.A. 5 and Akron A.C. 0 This was a big game for Shelby. The Akron team had been unhappy with the results of their contests with Shelby in years past and were out to claim the championship title for 1901. They went home disappointed.
Shelby Daily Globe - November 18, 1901

Shelby A.A. 30 and Cleveland American A.C. 0. This was a blow-out game with a team that had been challenging Shelby for the better part of the year. The Cleveland team was certain they would be able to win over a small town team like Shelby's. They also went home disappointed.
Shelby Daily Globe - November 29, 1901

Having just played Sebring and winning 28 to 0, Wooster was prepared for this game. They were playing for the championship of Northern Ohio and expected to win. The score ended at Shelby A.A. 28 and Wooster A.C. 5. Wooster's score came in the last minutes of the game when it was so dark that many were surprised (and upset) the game was not called. Notice that Charles Follis' name was not mentioned in the recount of the game.
Shelby Daily Globe - December 03, 1901

Russell Johnston - photo courtesy of the Shelby Museum

Russell Johnston wearing his uniform: jersey and cotton pants with knee pads and shin and thigh guards. He is also wearing a helmet and holding his nose guard in his left hand. This would be the full complement of gear for football in the early 1900s.
Shelby Daily Globe - December 03, 1901

Shelby Daily Globe - December 07, 1901

Professor W. D. Turner and Jeff Morris hosted the dinner party and recounted their football adventures at Bethany College for the Shelby High School football team. This party must have been quite an experience for these young players. (W. D. "Bill" Turner and Ada Jane Morris (Jeff Morris' sister) were married in July of 1900 just a month after Jeff married Sara Z. Roberts.) Bill Turner would serve as the high school team coach in 1902.
This concluded a wonderful football season for Shelby, Ohio. The Shelby High School team won three games and tied three, while the Shelby Athletic Association won the State Championship for the second straight year, having only 5 points scored against them (and in the very last game). What would the next year bring?


Part I

 1894 - 1898 Teams

Part II

 1899 - 1900 Teams

  Part III

  1901 Teams

  Part IV

  1902 Teams

 Part V

  1903 Teams

  Part VI

  1904 Teams 

"The History of Shelby Football 1894 - 1985", written by Fred Eichinger, published ca. 1986.

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