A Look Back at Dover Football in 1931
Back then, they were called the Crimsons.
They played their games on autumn Saturday afternoons. Home contests unfolded at the Fairgrounds, the smokestacks of industry providing a backdrop, the cars of their parents parked along the end zones, wooden bleachers lining the sidelines.
Their stock formation was the single wing, from which a halfback or end was as likely to fling a pass as the man taking the snap from center.
They dressed as many as five dozen on-field hopefuls each game – but the rules on substitution meant once you headed for the sidelines, you were out for the rest of the quarter. So guys got used to playing both ways.
1931 was the curtain-raiser on the “Bup” Rearick era. The dawn of Dover footballers winning 29 straight. Of the legendary Paul Brown refusing to schedule the upstart squad from down south in Tuscarawas County against his mighty Massillon Tigers, lest their own run of state championships be interrupted.
Of course, nobody one knew that then, as August scrimmages turned into September games.
Rearick was a local kid made good. A former member of Dover’s state-title-winning basketball squad of only a few years past. He’d been through Wittenberg, earned his B.S. in Education. Early on in his first season, newspaper coverage remarked on the seemingly endless lineup of kids Rearick was willing to put in cleats and send into battle. Was he program-building? Was he getting a feel for whatever talent could be rounded up from the Roosevelt High School halls?
All that really mattered to the crowd whooping and hollering from the fairgrounds turf, in the end, was wins. Same as ever.
And back then, Dover wasn’t known for them. The cross-town Quakers were seen as the class of the conference. In the 24 games played against hated New Philadelphia since 1897, the Crimsons had come up short 13 times, winning just 6. The other 5 contests ended in a draw. In that time, the Quakers had piled on 371 points to Dover’s 91.
But there was reason for Crimson fans to count on a brighter forecast for scoreboards in 1931.
The previous season had ended in a 4-4-2 record for the home squad. Good enough for a county championship in Gus Peterka’s final season as coach. Many players had returned from the 1930 campaign. And most important, they were coming off a sensational victory against their bitter rivals.
Arguably the brightest star in the 1930 Thanksgiving grudge match was Don Foutz, a junior halfback who also handled punting and place-kicking duties for the Crimsons. He would be back again to line up at right halfback and fling the occasional pass, as he had done to notch the game-winning 50-yard touchdown play against the Quakers a season before.
This week-by-week account of the 1931 Dover team’s season will run in tandem with the 2010 Dover Tornadoes’ football schedule. The series officially begins tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 26, as the 2010 Tornadoes square off against Carrollton.
Each week, I’ll share photos and game stories from the pages of my grandfather Don’s scrapbook. You’ll learn more than the score 79 years ago. You’ll get to know the players who turned in one of the school’s most memorable seasons on record. You’ll bear witness to a town who followed with breathless anticipation and unbridled passion every inch that pigskin-covered ball moved, at home and away.
From what I know of my hometown and football in Ohio, I’d say that not much has changed.
SETTING THE STAGE FOR 1931 – READ ALL ABOUT IT
[[[Below, read the exciting game account of the 1930 contest between Dover and New Phila, from the pages of The Times-Reporter, as taken from the scrapbook of Don Foutz. Each week, I’ll excerpt portions of the article, and provide a link to the entire scanned account.]]]
BRILLIANT WORK BY FOUTZ UPSETS RED BLACK PLANS
By Gene Hurst
Dover 13, New Philadelphia 7.
That tells the tale. Tells why all Dover today is singing the praises of those stalwart wearers of the Crimson and Grey and tells why all New Philadelphia is blue today, lamenting the defeat of those luckless Quakers who failed.
It all happened last Saturday afternoon at school stadium in this city before the six thousand eyes of the three thousand rabid fans from the two cities who gathered to watch the two schools battle in their annual gridiron meeting which they were deprived of on Thanksgiving Day because it was postponed until the weekend on account of adverse weather conditions.
It all happened in the last six minutes of play when Jim Smith, tow-headed Crimson wingman, leaped into the air to receive a forward pass thrown by Don Foutz and dashed forty-seven yards of Red and Black football turf to cross the Quaker goal line for a touchdown, breaking a 7 to 7 tie which had existed since the second period.
It was a spectacular run, a run which electrified the Dover following into a state of hysteria and which will go down in the annals of Dover High as one of the most sensational and noteworthy ever executed.
[[[READ THE ENTIRE 1930 Dover-Phila Game STORY BY CLICKING ON THE THREE PAGES BELOW]]]