Archive for December, 2013

Paul Laroque 1907

December 27, 2013

I neglected to mention that Paul LaRoque played hurt in the last game of the 1905 season against Georgetown. He started the game with a broken rib but probably didn’t play long in this 76-0 blow out. So, diseased or injured, he probably completed the 1906 season on the field for the Indians. His grandson informed me that, instead of sitting quietly at home, he played for the “North Dakota Bison” in 1907. That prompted me to do a little more research.
I quickly found newspaper clippings of a couple of North Dakota Agricultural College (today’s North Dakota State) games in which LaRoque was on the line—right tackle against South Dakota and right end against Haskell Institute. “Gloomy” Gil Dobie coached the North Dakota Aggies (as they were generally called) in 1906 and 1907 contrary to what Wikipedia states. One would think NDSU fans would want to see Dobie mentioned as one of their successful coaches. However, CFBDATAWAREHOUSE.com has that right. That site lists the Aggies having played only three games that year. They likely played more but I haven’t found them. One wonders if playing for “The Apostle of Grief” convinced Paul to return to Carlisle or if the announcement of Warner’s return swayed him or if that was his plan all along. We’ll probably never know for sure.
Something that readers may find confusing is that LaRoque played on the line but was mentioned in newspaper reports as having made good gains carrying the ball. In those days, linemen were sometimes positioned in the backfield and also were handed the ball on criss-cross plays. It was a much different game then, particularly before teams adapted to the 1906 rule changes.

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Where was Paul Laroque in 1907?

December 24, 2013

The grandson of Paul LaRoque and the great grandson of Frank Jude both contacted me recently. LaRoque and Jude were both from Minnesota and played on the Carlisle football team together part of the time they were there. Something I learned about Frank Jude was that his family name was not pronounced as most assumed; it rhymes with today. And researching Paul LaRoque is made more difficult because his name was often spelled LaRocque. However, LaRoque is how he spelled it when he signed the Carlisle application in 1906. Today, we’ll address what he did while he was supposedly back home in 1907 healing his eye injury.

My first challenge was to determine if he had an injury or a disease (many Carlisle students had Trachoma, particularly those who came from the west). Paul’s discharge date for his 1904 enrollment was December 4, 1906. The discharge was “Bad Eyes.” That description implies a disease but Carlisle had long had an arrangement with an ophthalmologist who would likely have treated him if he had Trachoma. That his family believes he was home recuperating from an eye injury suggests that he may have been injured playing football at Carlisle. Laroque received praise in newspaper accounts for opening holes for Frank Mt. Pleasant in the November 17 game against Minnesota. Whether Paul played in Carlisle’s next game against Vanderbilt on November 22 is open to question since newspaper accounts are inconsistent. The most detailed coverage for the season-ending Thanksgiving Day game with the University of Virginia on November 29 lists him as playing his regular position of right guard. However, newspaper accounts of the day often included line-ups given to them a day or more before the game that didn’t reflect who actually played. Without names or numbers on their jerseys, reporters unfamiliar with the players didn’t know who was actually on the field unless they asked—and they often didn’t.

One report that summarized the season for Carlisle stated that the Indians had had no bad injuries during the season. That statement was most probably a matter of opinion and perspective that should be taken with a lot of salt. So, whether Paul Laroque had a football injury or an eye disease is still unclear.

<end of part I>

Warner Teams Scored the Most Points

December 15, 2013

While researching the 1906 Carlisle Indian School team, I came across something that might interest my sports statistician friend Tex Noel in the December 7, 1906 edition of The Arrow, Carlisle’s school newspaper. In addition to summing up Carlisle’s season, the article titled Football Resume closed with a list of points scored and points allowed by team for the top 34 college teams. Carlisle scored 244 points for the season where Cornell scored 237. The only team to outscore them was the University of Western Pennsylvania (known as Pitt today), which racked up 254 points. Pitt not only played an easier schedule that year than did Carlisle and Cornell, they lost to them 22-0 and 23-0, respectively. It is fair to say that Carlisle and Cornell far more points than did the other major football powers that first year under the revolutionary new rules. But why?

Sure, they had good players, but some teams had All Americans. I propose that it was the offensive schemes these teams ran that made the difference. Ironically, both teams ran formations developed by none other than Pop Warner. Warner stated that the Indians were the first team to run the earliest incarnation of his single-wingback formation and they first ran it 1906. But Warner didn’t coach Carlisle in 1906 because he was at Cornell then. However, he spent a week at Carlisle before the season started coaching the Indians’ coaches, Bemus Pierce and Frank Hudson, in his new offensive schemes designed to take advantage of what the new rules allowed, including the forward pass. It’s probably true that both Carlisle and Cornell ran Warner’s single-wing that year. Given that, even though they don’t use it themselves, some modern-day coaches acknowledge that the single-wing was the most effective running formation ever devised. In those days of run mostly, even an early version of the single-wing would have given teams running it an advantage that could show up on the scoreboard.

1906 points scored