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Everett High champion football team wins national high school title on January 1, 1921.

HistoryLink.org Essay 7365 : Printer-Friendly Format

On January 1, 1921, the 1920 Everett High School football team plays against East Technical High School of Cleveland, Ohio, and wins the United States High School Football title, the highest honor possible in high school football. Coach Enoch Bagshaw (d. 1930) and halfback George Wilson (1901-1963) lead the team. Both coach "Baggy" and Wilson will join the Huskies of University of Washington (UW) in the fall of 1921. Other Everett High School players will follow. Coach Bagshaw will take the UW team to their first ever win at the Rose Bowl. Wilson will become an All-American football player and have a professional career with the Providence Steamrollers. UW will name him the greatest football player of the university's first half-century.

1920 a Winning Year

High school football in the 1920s was a far cry from what it is today. Teams filled out their season by playing all comers, including college and prep school teams.

Everett High School, “the pride of Washington,” had consistently good football teams, but 1920 was an especially good year. The team consisted of:

  • Glenn Carlson
  • Carl Michel
  • Leslie Sherman (team captain)
  • George Wilson (halfback)
  • Roy Sievers
  • J. Corbally
  • Merle Dixon
  • Clarence Torgeson
  • Ray Witham
  • Chalmer Walters
  • Arthur Ingham
  • Harold Britt
  • Fred Westrom
  • Reynolds Durand
  • Walter Morgan
  • Edward Manning
  • A. Anderson.
They got off to a good start on September 27 with a win against Sedro-Woolley High School. A “fair-sized” crowd watched.

“The high school team shows increased power and had little difficulty running up a big count against Sedro-Woolley,” a reporter for the Everett Daily Herald wrote. There were changes in the lineup every quarter of the game, but “the Everett High School 1920 football eleven” did well offensively and defensively (Everett Daily Herald). (Newspapers of the day referred to the front line of a team as "the eleven.") The reporter noted that George Wilson had taken the place of a player named Hickey who had graduated.

In 1920, Everett High did well against all comers. As early as October 12, arrangements were made for East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, to play a game in Everett on Thanksgiving Day. Everett guaranteed the Salt Lake City team $2,500 to help with expenses. Couch Bagshaw “decided that the extra amount would be needed by the visiting team to enable them to come here several days before the game to become acclimated and rested up for the big game” (Bellingham Herald).

The Everett team beat the freshman team at the University of Washington on October 23 and beat St. Martin’s college on Everett's Athletic field 19 to 0 on October 30. An Everett newspaper commented that “Saturday’s victory once more establish[ed] Everett High as the strongest prep school eleven in the Northwest. The visitors were stunned by the strength of Everett’s opening attack in the first quarter ... before they had a chance to realize what had happened” (Everett Daily Herald).

Throughout the fall, the team racked up victories.  It also racked up controversy. After they smashed The Dalles, Oregon, team 90 to 7 for the interstate championship, Chehalis cancelled their game when “hostile propaganda” suggested that Everett was using ineligible players and “otherwise violating the spirit of sportsmanship” (Everett Daily Herald).

After that, the team faced difficulty in securing games. There was concern that the planned Thanksgiving Day game to be held in Everett with East High of Salt Lake City, Utah, might be canceled. Eventually, the rumors were discredited and the game was on. Before a record crowd, Bagshaw’s team crushed the Utah team 67 to 0. Which left them with one more challenge.

Sometime around the beginning of November, several schools on the East Coast began to angle for a game with Everett High School. In the end, East Technical High School of Cleveland was the challenger. The schools set the game for New Year’s Day, in Everett.

On December 24, “Coach Sam Williaman of the East Technical High School football squad, twenty strong left here today for Everett, Wash. where they will contest New Year’s Day with the holders of the Pacific coast title for the national high school football honors. A workout is planned at either Pasadena or Los Angeles” (Bellingham Herald).

In the end, Everett was victorious, beating the Ohio team 16-7. Bagshaw would be selected the new coach at the University of Washington. Many of his players would join him in the fall.

Sources:
“High Team shows Increased Power,” Everett Daily Herald, September 27,1920; “Stunning Attack Sends College Nine Down to Defeat; Everett High Scores Brilliant Victory,” Everett Daily Herald, November 1, 1920; “Bagshaw’s Eleven to Slay Salt Lake High On Thanksgiving Day,” Bellingham Herald, October 12, 1920; “Everett High School May Land Big Contest,” Bellingham Herald, November 10, 1920; Lawrence E. O’Donnell, Everett Past and Present (Everett: K & H Printers, 1993), 43; “Rotary Club Resents Tactics Used Against Football Team,” Everett Daily Herald, November 5, 1920.
Note: The name of Harold Britt was corrected on April 15, 2006, and this essay was further corrected on September 1, 2010.


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Everett High School championship football team, 1920
Courtesy Everett Public Library


 
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