History Class - 1917

Herdhaven takes a look back 100 years ago.

Herdhaven.com begins a series today of taking a look back at moments in time of Marshall football history.  Marshall football has had a ton of great moments, from winning National Championships at the division 1 level (the only school in the state to do so,) to having Heisman contenders, upsetting big schools, second half comebacks and so on, but what about moments in history that have been lost, seasons that have literally never been discussed.  Today, Herdhaven takes a look at one of those seasons.  Let’s take a look at 1917.  That is 100 years ago.


World War I was going on, the National Hockey League was formed, and Oregon beat Penn in the 3rd annual Rose Bowl, 14 – 0.


This is the season summary exactly  as it was typed in the 1917/1918 “Mirabilia, Marshall College,” aka the yearbook.


“Another season of football has passed into history at Marshall College.  If its classification as a successful or unsuccessful season depended on the number of victories scored, the season would be considered a failure, but it was not.  Marshall, during the season of 1915, had in the field one of her greatest teams.  The breaks were not with her.  Success in football, however, does not entirely depend on the number of games won.  So it is with the season of 1917.


A review of the team and material would not be amiss.  To begin with, the male student body numbered scarcely eighty, half of whom were first year students.  The material was small and light in weight.  Experienced football players were at the premium, even the Captain-elect from the 1916 squad not returning.  Thus a team had to be developed from almost totally green men – a difficult task in itself, and more so with little material from which to choose.  However, a team was formed, rounded into shaped, and played its schedule.  It was the lightest team that ever represented Marshall College in football, and it had one or the hardest schedules a Marshall team was ever called upon to face:  yet the team never winced, though defeat started them in the face on every hand.


Any why may the season of 1917 be considered a successful season?  Because of its indomnitable spirit.  The team had scarcely learned the signals when called upon to play its first scheduled game with Rio Grande.  Enthusiasm ran high, all anxious for the fray and off for a good start.  Alas, no team showed up.  Keen was their disappointment.  However, they prepared to meet their next foe, Denison University, the first game of the season. 


At no time was there more than eighteen men out for football, mostly green material and light, barely enough for a team, much less enough for a scrimmage, and then the fear that a good man might be injured and thus kept from playing.  With such a team, having only signal drills, no scrimmage, and never having played a game for the season, Marshall stacked up against the strong Denison University team on their home grounds.  Denison was represented by seven letter men.  On the way over to Granville, Ohio, the team elected their Captain, Foose.  To cap the climax, the teams captain was not able to start the game on account of an injury, only playing the last quarter.  The final score was a small matter, but the spirit was the big thing.  Their coach back home confined to his bed (Mr. LeCato having the team in charge,) their captain on the side lines for the first three quarters, outweighed twenty pounds to the man, facing an experienced team who had already played two games, and composed of seven letter men, Marshall went down to defeat.  But not an inglorious defeat!  At times Marshall played their opponents to a standstill, but they were not equal to the task physically – the spirit was there, but not the physical endurance.


Thus Marshall went through here season, the breaks against her, a schedule arranged entirely out of the question for a Marshall team, everywhere staking up against teams that never outweighed them by less than fifteen pounds to the man and composed of experienced men, except the last two games, Morris Harvey and high School.  Injuries also handicapped the Green and White on every hand.


Thus the season runs, Marietta, Otterbein, Georgetown, Lewisburg, and Muskingum, each game a repetition of the other except as to scores which were gradually cut down, through the teams played became better.  With these obstacles to overcome, the team of 1917 rises above that of former teams in the greatest thing to be had – spirit, made possible only by true Marshall men, such as Captain Foose, Cable, McCarraher, McDonald, Smith, C. Pettry, H. Pettry, LeSage, Watkins, McCullough, Taylor, Bonar, Exkard, Perry, Crist, and Sedinger.


Particular mention should be made of Manager Epling who proved quite helpful to the team: Coach Shipley whose coaching made possible the good record considering the material at hand: of Captain Foose, whose leadership made possible the record of SPIRIT.


Review of the Two Important Games of the Season


Marshall 7  - Morris Harvey 7

Marshall fo the first time during the season, won the toss and defended the North goal.  For once the team was up against their class.  Morris – Harvey scored their only touchdown around left end on a criss – cross which took our boys unawares.  Goal was easy.  Marshall scored her only touchdown through straight football and kicked difficult goal.  During the game Marshall gained three times as much ground as their opponents but the breaks were against her.  The whole backfield, Smith, Macdonald, Cable and McCarraher were at their best: on the line Foose at right tackle and Bonar at center were going good.


Marshall 0 – High School 12

Again Captain Foose won the ties for Marshall and defended the North goal.  This game was played in a sea of mud and water.  When the game was over you could scarcely recognize the boys.  Workman, for High School, scored the first touchdown around left end, making a twenty fiver yard run.  Their other touchdown came in the third quarter after a fumble by Marshall on her twenty five yard line.  Fumbles were made all the time by both sides but again fate decreed that High School should be favored.  Cable, Foose, Pettry, and Macdonal were the outstanding players for Marshall.”



Marshall College forfeit over Rio Grande

Marshall College – 0 …………………………Denison – 94

Marshall College – 0 …………………………Marietta - 68

Marshall College – 0 ………………………..Otterbein – 37

Marshall College – 0 ………………………..Georgetown – 33

Marshall College – 0 ………………………..Lewisburg – 38

Marshall College – 0 ………………………..Muskingum – 28

Marshall College – 7 ………………………..Morris Harvey – 7

Marshall College – 0 ………………………..High School – 12


Marshall finished the season 1 – 7 – 1.


Discuss the season at the link below –


Let's Talk Marshall History - 100 years ago


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