Everett High School wins the mythical national championship of high school football on January 1, 1921.

  • By Janet Oakley
  • Posted 7/27/2005
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7365
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On January 1, 1921, the Everett High School football team defeats East Technical High School of Cleveland, Ohio, 16-7 to claim the unofficial United States high school football championship for 1920. Coach Enoch Bagshaw and star halfback George Wilson (1901-1963) lead the team. Coach "Baggy" will later join the University of Washington football program, and Wilson and other Everett players will follow him to UW. Bagshaw will direct Washington to its first Rose Bowl, after the 1923 season, and Wilson will become an All-American player for Washington and have a professional career with the Providence Steam Roller. UW will name him the greatest player of the program's first 50 years. 

That Championship Season

High school football in the 1920s was much different than today's game. Teams filled out schedules by playing all comers, including college, military, and prep school teams. Everett High School was known as the most powerful program in Washington, consistently fielding strong teams under coach Enoch Bagshaw (1884-1930), but 1920 was an especially good year. The roster consisted of:

  • Glenn "Scoop" Carlson, Quarterback, Senior
  • Carl "Mickey" Michel
  • Leslie Sherman, Fullback, Senior (captain)
  • George Wilson, Halfback, Junior
  • Roy Sievers, End, Senior
  • George Guttormson, Quarterback
  • Merle "Pete" Dixon, End, Senior
  • Clarence "Clibbets" Torgeson, Tackle, Senior
  • Ray "YMCA" Witham, Guard
  • Chalmer "Brute" Walters, Center, Senior
  • Arthur Ingham, Guard
  • Harold "Tubber" Britt, Tackle
  • Fred Westrom, End, Senior
  • Reynolds "Toughie" Durand, Student Manager, Senior
  • Walter Morgan, Halfback, Senior
  • Edward Manning, Halfback, Senior
  • Anders Anderson, Asst. Student Manager

After a practice game against an Everett alumni squad, Bagshaw's team began the season on September 25 with a 68-0 victory against Sedro-Woolley. A "fair-sized" crowd watched. "The high school team shows increased power and had little difficulty running up a big count against Sedro-Woolley," wrote the Everett Daily Herald ("High Team Shows ..."). Everett next defeated a pair of military squads, Bremerton Navy Yard (27-9) and Naval Base Hospital (84-0), before moving on to face two collegiate teams. Meanwhile, as early as October 12 arrangements were being made for East High School of 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. 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" ("Bagshaw's Eleven ..."). 

Everett defeated the freshman team at the University of Washington 20-0 on October 23 and beat St. Martin’s College on Everett's Athletic Field 19-0 on October 31. The Daily Herald 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" ("Stunning Attack ..."). 

Everett continued racking up victories. It also met controversy. After Everett smashed The Dalles, Oregon, 90-7 for the so-called Interstate Championship on November 13, Chehalis cancelled its scheduled game with Everett when "hostile propaganda" suggested that Everett was using ineligible players and "otherwise violating the spirit of sportsmanship" ("Rotary Club Resents ..."). There was concern that the planned Thanksgiving game with East High might be canceled. Those rumors were discredited and the game was on. Before a record crowd, Bagshaw’s team crushed the Utah squad 67-0. In December, Everett traveled to Long Beach, California, where a crowd estimated at 15,000 watched "Baggy's Boys" defeat Long Beach High School 28-0. 

Meanwhile, several schools in ther eastern U.S. began to angle for a game with Everett. 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, 1920, according to a report in the Bellingham Heald, "the East Technical High School football squad, twenty strong left (Cleveland) 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."

East Tech and Everett played a spirited game on New Year's Day before an overflow crowd of 11,000 at Athletic Field. Wrote the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "For a number of seasons Everett has been famous for two things -- shingles and football teams. Of the two, football teams have been by far the harder to break and bend. Yesterday another product of Coach Enoch Bagshaw, called by some the wonder coach of prep football, was conceded to be the best interscholastic eleven not only for 1920 but for many years back, following their defeat of the East Tech High School team, claimants of the Eastern prep title, at Everett, by a 16 to 7 score" ("Bagshaw Is Handed ..."). Everett powered its way to victory. "Everett completed but one pass, that for a gain of twenty-two yards near the end of the first quarter, but they smashed their way down the field on line plays and tackle smashes under perfect interference ("Bagshaw Is Handed ...).

On January 26, 1921, less than a month after Everett's New Year's Day triumph, Bagshaw was introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Washington. He received a three-year contract paying him $4,500 the first year, $4,700 for the second and $5,000 for the third. Several Everett players, including George Wilson (1901-1963), joined him in Seattle and helped UW reach the Rose Bowl after the 1923 and 1925 seasons. 

Everett High School 1920 results:

September 25 -- defeated Sedro-Wooley, 68-0
October 2 -- defeated Bremerton Navy Yard, 27-9
October 9 -- defeated Naval Base Hospital, 84-0
October 23 -- defeated University of Washington freshmen, 20-0
October 31 -- defeated St. Martin's College, 19-0
November 13 -- defeated The Dalles (Oregon), 90-7
November 25 -- defeated East Salt Lake (Utah), 67-0
December 17 -- defeated Long Beach (California), 28-0
January 1 -- defeated Cleveland East Tech (Ohio), 16-7


"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 Play 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: This essay has been updated several times, most recently on February 1, 2021.

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