MHS 14-member football team undefeated in 1914

Friday, August 18, 2017
Courtesy 1914 MHS football team.

The Ford Motor Company announces eight hour work days and $5 per day wages! U.S. Warships occupy Veracruz, Mexico for 6 months! Wrigley Field opens in Chicago and Babe Ruth makes his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox. Colorado National Guard attacks a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners in Ludlow, Colorado killing 24! New York stock exchange closes for nearly four months due to war in Europe. Germany invades Belgium and England declares war on Germany for its violation of neutrality. Last living passenger pigeon dies. A disgruntled servant kills seven people at Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and home in Wisconsin. A bomb being built by Lettish section members of the Anarchist Black Cross explodes prematurely in the home of Louise Berger, a member and editor of Mother Earth News, at 1626 Lexington Avenue, killing four and injuring dozens!

Do we yearn for simpler times? History proves those yearnings wrong. The young men attending high school in McCook during the 1914-15 year may have had a clue that life as they knew it would be changing dramatically in the near future, but for the MHS 14-member foot ball team, being named Southwest Nebraska champions was foremost on their minds.

The MHS high school year book, surprisingly named, The Comet, put it this way: “Here’s to the team of 1915 which never knew the taste of defeat. Some years we have shown how to lose without sulking or making excuses; this year we demonstrated that we could win without ‘rubbing it in’.”

The coach’s last name was King. He had attended Doane College making the all-state team for two years as a tackle. Frank Jeffries was the Captain and quarterback. Boyd Willetts was a senior tackle. Ray McManigal played full-half-tackle as a junior and his classmate, Vernon Finity, was a halfback as was a McMillin boy whose nickname was “Toughfy.” Chester Burton was the heaviest weighing in at 175 and playing fullback. Gaylen Morris and George Miller, both freshmen, played end. Reeder Phillips, center, and Johnny McKillip, tackle, both topped the scales at 160 as did guards Dean Hoyt and Russel Somerville. Archie Campbell, guard-end, and Harvey McMillin, end, completed the team.

Teams they played included the Agricultural School in Curtis, Bartley, Cambridge, and Oxford and on Thanksgiving Day, Beaver City came to McCook only to experience a payback loss of 28-0 after having soundly trounced McCook the previous year resulting in McCook declaring themselves Southwest Nebraska Champions.

The Franklin Academy had a different point of view. McCook had not had the opportunity to play them that season and Franklin declared they were champions because their win over Cambridge was by a higher score.

McCook answered back in the Omaha Bee, Dec. 20, 1914: “McCook’s record is absolutely without defeat, while Franklin has played two less games and lost one of them to a team twice defeated by McCook. It is on the strength of these games that McCook claims the championship over Franklin.”

Again from The Comet:” In the front of the assembly room hangs a banner which shows that McCook High in the year 1914 was the champion of Southwest Nebraska.” (I wonder where that banner is today.)

Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society continues their open library hours, Tuesday and Thursdays from 1-4 p.m.,110 West C Street, Suite M-3. Upcoming SWNGS events include a Heritage Cemetery Tour and an Adoption and DNA Exposition.

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