Posts Tagged ‘Percy Haughton’

100th Anniversary of carlisle’s Great victory

November 12, 2011

100 years ago on November 11, 1911, Carlisle achieved perhaps its greatest victory when the Indians defeated the Harvard Crimson 18-15 at Cambridge. This game is also considered to be Jim Thorpe’s greatest and one of the best games ever played in the annals of football.

Newspaper articles in the days leading up to the game, reported that Harvard Coach Percy Haughton planned to start his second team to wear down the Indians, who were known to make few substitutions, and put his first team in later in the game to finish off the exhausted Indians. So confidant in his strategy was Haughton that he didn’t bother attending the game. Instead, he spent the day in New Haven, CT scouting Yale for the upcoming rivalry game. Warner was confident about his team’s chances even though he said Captain Sampson Bird and tackle Bill Newashe would probably be unable to play because of injuries but he said nothing about Jim Thorpe’s leg and ankle.

Prior to the game, Warner bandaged his star tailback’s leg and swollen right ankle so that he could play, even if he couldn’t run at full speed and cut to escape would-be tacklers. Warner kept Thorpe’s condition a secret as part of his game strategy. Knowing that Harvard would be keying on his All America halfback, Warner used him mostly as a decoy who blocked for the person who was actually carrying the ball. A well-run single-wing offense, with all its fakes, makes it difficult to determine who has the ball. Guessing that Thorpe had it wasn’t a winning strategy for Harvard’s defense that day. Newashe was able to start but couldn’t finish the game as Hugh Wheelock substituted for him later in the game. Thorpe was eventually replaced by Eloy Sousa but not until his damage was done.


Was Haughton at 1911 Carlisle-Harvard Game Conclusion

February 3, 2011

The November 10, 1911 Washington Post reported that Haughton intended to rest his first string backs and ends for the Carlisle game but might change his mind before the game. On the morning of the game, The New York Times reported that Haughton was going to rest his entire first string and play them against Carlisle only if it became necessary. No article has been found that stated his intention to skip the game to scout the Eli. However, a search of The Daily Crimson might find something related to that.

A Washington Post article published three days after the game does shed some light on the issue. That piece included the missing information: “…Head Coach Haughton, who missed the Indian fireworks, being at New Haven, from where he returned with the impression that Yale has a mighty good team, which he ‘made no bones’ about admitting.” The article also stated, “[H. B.] Gardner went to Yale with Percy Haughton on Saturday, previously seen Yale and West Point play.” Late in the article, Harvard Captain [Robert] Fisher denied rumors that he had countered Haughton’s orders not to play the first string against Carlisle: “Fisher says he was in charge of his own team Saturday and that it had not been planned to hold the regulars on the side lines all afternoon, but to send them all in if it was thought advisable and necessary, and both these conditions existed after the end of the third period in that game.”

This report issued close to the date the game was played seems to confirm that Percy Haughton was indeed off scouting Yale.

Was Percy Haughton Present at 1911 Carlisle-Harvard Game?

February 1, 2011

Recently James Vautravers asked me a question about the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game which was arguably the Indians’ greatest victory:

Everything I have ever read about the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game says that Percy Haughton was in New Haven scouting Yale that day. But almost everything I’ve read about the game is false. So I was wondering if this might be false too.
Wheeler’s Jim Thorpe book (which omits all the popular false info about this game) does not directly confirm or deny the story, but he has a quote from Haughton which seems to imply that Haughton was at the game to witness it.
Do you know whether or not Percy Haughton was actually in New Haven that day?

Most of what Wheeler included about Percy Haughton regarding the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game was quoted from Pop Warner as indicated in Wheeler’s endnotes. A reader could easily interpret what Warner said to imply that Haughton was present at the game. However, Warner attended only one of Iowa State’s games in 1895, the year that he coached two teams: Iowa State and Georgia. Actually being present at a game was less important for a head coach than it is today for several reasons. First, coaches not only did not call the plays then, they were prohibited from doing so. Coaches’ legal involvement in the flow of the game was greatly limited as compared to today. Second, team captains played a much larger role then than now. Lone Star Dietz even had to resort to bribery to get his quarterbacks to call pet plays that they didn’t like. Captains were much more involved in the running of the team than they are today. And there was generally only one captain because players played both ways and very often were on the field for the whole game. So, it is plausible that Haughton may have been away scouting Harvard’s rival for their upcoming grudge match. A parallel would have been Bo Schembechler skipping the Michigan-Wisconsin game to scout the Buckeyes.

To be continued…

Wing-Shift or Dead-Indian Play

July 19, 2010

One of the problems with dating Pop Warner’s innovations is that his memory 20 years after the fact was far from perfect, as are most people’s. The well-known difficulties in dating the births of the single-wing and double-wing with certitude are due, at least in part, to Warner’s inconsistent memories. A month and a half ago, I wrote a bit about the 1903 game with Utah in which Joe Baker led the Indians to a 22-0 win over the Mormonites by running the new wing-shift play several times for three second-half touchdowns (they counted 5 points in those days).

In his autobiography—actually a series of magazine articles written by Warner that were compiled into book form—Warner stated that during the 1912 Thanksgiving Day game against Brown, Harvard’s coach, Percy Haughton, was his guest on the sidelines to see Warner’s new surprise play—the wing-shift. Haughton disapproved, saying, “These series plays are never worth a darn. If such plays do work, it is usually in the first attempt, because they are trick plays and surprise is the feature that usually makes them successful.” After seeing Carlisle run them for long gains later in the game, Haughton grudgingly admitted, “Well, it did work that time.”

For a newspaper series of favorite plays from several coaches in the 1930s, Lone Star Dietz described the “Dead-Indian Play.” What he described was the old wing-shift that Carlisle ran so well. Because the wing-shift, or dead-Indian play, was a series of two plays it had to be called ahead of time. The player, generally a back, who carried the ball on the first play would linger on the ground long enough to give six of his teammates time to line up to one side of him. The rest would position themselves in the backfield. When the downed man could see that all were in place, he hopped up and snapped the ball to a backfield man to start the second play, catching the defense off guard.