Archive for the ‘Stancil Powell’ Category

100th Anniversary of 1912 Carlisle-Army Game

November 9, 2012

Follows is the short article I was asked to write for The Torch, the monthly magazine of the U. S. Army War College, to commemmorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1912 Carlisle-Army football game:

The Cadets of West Point took the field on The Plain November 9, 1912, aiming to avenge their 1905 loss to Carlisle Indian School in the two schools’ only previous battle, also on The Plain. Missing from the second battle were the players and coaches from both 1905 teams and Major William A. Mercer, Carlisle Superintendent and Calvary officer, who had arranged that game by gaining permission from the War Department. Also AWOL in 1912 were the large crowd, dignitaries, and media interest the first game attracted. Present in 1912 were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Joe Guyon, Pop Warner, Leland Devore, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Weyand (in the bleachers), and Pot Graves, a cast surely destined for a movie.

Ominous clouds filled the sky and a cold wind blew across the field, making passing and punting risky businesses. Both sides’ emotions ran high as the combatants craved a victory. Carlisle arrived undefeated, the only blemish on their record a scoreless tie with Washington and Jefferson College, a month earlier. Army was 3-1 with a 6-0 loss to Yale. Holding the Eli of Yale to only four first downs and a low score gave the Cadets hope for success over the Indians.

Newspaper accounts after the game never considered its outcome in doubt, but those looking only at the scoreboard, at least for the first half, may have thought otherwise. The Indians bested the Cadets for most of the first half but didn’t score due to errant forward passes in the end zone. The turning point of the second quarter came when Carlisle fullback Stancil “Possum” Powell was expelled from the game for punching Army quarterback Vern “Nig” Pritchard. The 27-yard penalty combined with Powell’s ejection dampened the Indians’ spirits. Army then moved the ball forward the remaining 27 yards with fullback Geoffrey Keyes pushing the ball across the goal line. Pritchard missed the kick after the touchdown.

Momentum shifted in the Indians’ favor on the kickoff opening the second half when All-America tackle and team captain Leland Devore jumped on Joe Guyon, who had been getting the better of him all day, getting himself thrown out of the game. Army defensive backs Dwight Eisenhower and Charles Benedict knocked each other out of the game for the rest of the quarter in a failed attempt to sideline Thorpe. The Indians scored 27 unanswered points to lick Army worse than any opponent had beaten them in many years.

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The 1911 Carlisle Upset of Harvard – Part 2

November 17, 2011

Carlisle received the opening kick off and moved the ball quickly to Harvard’s end of the field but were unable to push the ball across the goal line. They turned the ball over on downs at the Harvard 2-yard line. On their second possession, the Indians bogged down well into Harvard territory and Jim Thorpe kicked a field goal from the 15-yard line to open scoring for the game. Harvard soon countered when Hollister drop-kicked a field goal of his own to tie the score. There was no further scoring in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Carlisle rushed the ball to Harvard’s 40-yard line but could get no further on this drive. Thorpe then kicked his second field goal of the game from 47 yards out. Unfortunately for the Indians, they would later fumble the ball and a Harvard player, Hollister, recovered it on the 50-yard line. On the next play, Reynolds broke through the Indians’ line and, after the Indians thought he was down, popped to his feet and ran for a Harvard touchdown and 9-6 lead at halftime. Note that touchdowns were worth 5 points and the goal after 1 point while field goals counted 3 points at that time.

After a series of line plunges late in the third quarter, Alex Arcasa pushed the ball over for Carlisle’s only touchdown of the day. Thorpe kicked the point after. Thorpe also kicked another field goal to close out scoring for that quarter. Harvard put in its fresh first team for the fourth quarter and made good yardage at first, but the Indian line eventually held. Thorpe kicked his fourth field goal of the day to complete Carlisle’s scoring. Harvard would get its second touchdown for the day when Storer blocked Thorpe’s punt from the 36-yard line, recovered the ball, and ran it in for a touchdown. Fisher completed the scoring for the day at 18-15 by kicking the point after touchdown. Carlisle almost had a touchdown of their own in a similar fashion but, instead of falling on the ball, several players attempted to pick it up and run with it. A Harvard player eventually fell on the ball behind his goal line for a touchback.

Possum Powell excelled at line plunging throughout the day while Gus Welch, Arcasa and the badly injured Thorpe ran around the ends. The Carlisle line, without Captain Sam Bird for the whole game and Bill Newashe for most of it, outplayed the Crimson line making the backs’ gains possible.

This game has been rated as one of the greatest college football games of all times by experts.

Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals

May 7, 2009

Galleys for Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, the first book in my upcoming series on Native American Sports Heroes, have arrived. At about 160,000 words, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs is too long for most middle school and many high school students to read. So, I am splitting it up into a series by state, the first of which is Oklahoma because it has the largest Indian population of any state. It also was home to many of the Carlisle stars. Splitting up the book into smaller volumes has another advantage; it makes room for some more players. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs got to be so long that I had to stop adding players, but now I have places to tell their stories. For example, Henry Roberts and Mike Balenti  are in Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals but aren’t in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

The new book will be in hardback so that it is attractive to libraries and is under 200 pages long, including the index and appendices. My hope is that school and public libraries across Oklahoma, and elsewhere, add this book to their collections. A book reviewer suggested that grandparents may be interested in giving this book to their grandchildren as gifts. I would like that because my readers to date tend to be over 40. Young people should know about the lives and achievements of Carlisle Indian School students.

Like my other books, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is heavily illustrated with rarely seen period photos and cartoons. Bob Carroll of the Professional Football Researchers Association even drew portraits of all the players for the book. This book will be released in September.

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Returning Indians to Prominence in Football

October 6, 2008

Coming across a 1937 newspaper article in which Gus Welch launched a movement to return Indians to prominence in football. He was quoted as saying:

 

“The Indian is disappearing from football just like he disappeared from the forests. There used to be a lot of good Indian athletes—Thorpe, Guyon Mount Pleasant, Sweet Corn, Jim Levi, Tiny Roebuck and Mayes McLain. Pop Warner developed a dozen great ones at Carlisle and Haskell Institute produced a number. But they are fast dwindling. Most of the Indians we see in athletics today are impostors, or at best half-breeds. And they might as well be cigar store Indians in so far as I’m concerned.”

 

The article went on to say that Gus and his wife had recently adopted a baby girl. He insisted that the next child would be a boy adopted from one of what he considered the two fiercest tribes.

 

“I’m going to visit the Sioux reservation first and look over their crop of babies. If they don’t have anything to my liking, I’m going to pay the Cheyennes a call. I’m determined to find a real all-American and restore the Indian to his proper place in football.”

 

You already know that didn’t work out, but did you know that Bacone College attempted to revive Indian football after it was de-emphasized at Haskell Institute during the Great Depression? It was a natural thing for the little Muskogee, OK college to do because the school’s original name when it was founded in 1880 at the Cherokee Baptist Mission in Tahlequah by Almon C. Bacone was Indian University. Oklahoma’s longest-running institution of higher education was renamed Bacone Indian University in 1910. Later, its board of trustees gave it its current name. An irony is that Bacone and Haskell, both now four-year schools, play each other.

Gus Welch between Possum Powell and Jim Thorpe

1912 Olympics – Part IV

August 11, 2008

Thorpe received a lot of hype, even before dominating the Pentathlon tryouts. One such example is shown below. As coach of the Carlisle track team, Pop Warner placed himself in charge of Thorpe’s and Tewanima’s training for the Olympics. As part of their training regime he had them sit out most of the school’s spring meets. So, for the first time in several years, a team other than Carlisle won the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s track meet held on Hargest’s Island (today’s City Island) at Harrisburg. Thorpe did not attend the meet but Tewanima made an appearance. He ran 18 miles from the Indian School to Hargest’s Island, arrived at the field when the 2-mile run was underway. According to the report in The Carlisle Arrow, “he circled the field amid the cheers and applause of’ nearly everyone on theground. Tewanima made the eighteen-mile run in a little less than one hour and fifty minutes and seemed fresh at the finish and able go many more miles.”

 

Thorpe’s absence gave others an opportunity to shine. Bruce Goesback placed 1st in the 220 hurdles, 3rd in the 120 hurdles, 4th in broad jump and high jump. Possum Powell finished 2nd in both high jump and shot put. John Squirrel was 3rd in both 440-yd dash and broad jump. Sampson Bird came in 2nd in the hammer throw and 4th in discus. Gus Welch place 2nd in the half-mile and won the 440-yd dash but was disqualified of “alleged interference” with another runner. Arthur Coons placed 3rd in pole vault, Joel Wheelock came in 4th in both hurdle events, and Blackdeer, the only distance man to score points, came in 4th in the 2-mile run.

 

Carlisle still placed second to Penn State without its Olympians and beat all other colleges in the meet.

Jim Thorpe's Physique

Jim Thorpe's Physique

 

 

 

 

Galleys Received

May 27, 2008

The advance reading copies (called ARCs in the trade) arrived for my new book and are being sent out to reviewers. This is a big moment in a writer’s life: seeing thousands of hours of hard work turned into something tangible. In the old days (pre-computer), ARCs were called galleys, bound galleys or galley proofs. Authors, editors and publishers go over these babies with a fine-tooth comb looking for errors, typos or things that have changed since writing was complete. It is an impossible task because, after all this scrutiny, some typos escape and find their way into the final book. But we try.

Another important use of ARCs is to see how the photos and artwork come out in print. Overall they came out very well, better than expected. But a cartoon about the Oorang Indians from a 1922 Baltimore newspaper is too dim. The challenge now is to figure out how to darken it without losing the detail.

This weekend I received some additional information and a correction regarding Louis Island from a family member who happened to see a previous blog. That was fortuitous because I want the book to be as accurate as possible. This blog is already proving to be of some value. That encourages me to continue with it.

Having these ARCs provides local booksellers the opportunity to provide their customers something extra. People can look at an ARC and pre-order the book if they choose. The bonus, besides being sure of getting a copy of the book as soon as it comes out, is to receive an inscription of his or her choice signed by the author. On-line booksellers also take pre-orders but personalized inscriptions are impractical.