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1942 Miners won Wabash Valley championshipPosted Thursday, November 6, 2008, at 1:50 PM
The 1942 Linton Miner football team was arguably one of the best in the history of the school.
But it seems likes their accomplishments went largely unnoticed, despite being champions of the Wabash Valley and earning the Tribune-Star Trophy.
The Miners posted a 8-1-1 record under the guidance of coach Roy Williams, who later was the athletic director at Linton and the football field now bears his name. Williams started coaching at Linton in 1933 and was promoted to head coach in 1941.
"Williams was a nice guy and a pretty fair coach," said half back Jack Woodward, who wore No. 86.
Harold Morrison said that coach Williams did not yell and expected them to do their job.
"He had played football at IU and everybody respected him," said Morrison.
The Miners opened the season on Sept. 4 with a 40-0 victory over Plainfield.
A week later they edged Terre Haute Tech 7-6.
On Sept. 24, the Miners suffered their only loss of the year, falling to Terre Haute Garfield 21-19.
The month of October produced four victories, including a 13-7 win over Boonville, a 46-0 blanking of Worthington, a 26-12 decision over Vincennes and a 20-6 win over Brazil.
The Miners then shutout Bloomington 6-0 and Bicknell 26-20, its sixth and seventh wins in a row.
On Veteran's Day 1942, all-Wabash Valley and second team All-State quarterback Paul Steele scored with three minutes remaining to give the Miners a 7-7 tie with Sullivan. This was the next-to-last game for Sullivan coach Paul "Spike" Kelly, who left after a disappointing 3-5-2 season and went to South Bend Riley. Kelly was later inducted into the Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame.
"Paul was our captain," said 1944 Linton graduate Harold Morrison, whose played right guard on that '42 team. "He was a very good player.
"He was the one that called signals and led us to that great season. He was a great leader. Everybody listened to him."
The season was bittersweet for Woodward, who now lives in Bloomfield.
"I got laid out in the first game against Plainfield," said Woodward. "I was headed for a touchdown and was clear of everybody.
"All of a sudden, the lights went out. I got hit from behind and had my ankle drove into the ground. I came back for the last game of the season against Sullivan, but it was kind of a lost season for me."
Morrison said the men's club in downtown Linton invited the team to have lunch weekly during that season, but not during a 2-6-1 1943 season, after most of the team was called away to serve in World War II.
"They used to preach to us about how the way we played the game was more important than if we won or lost," he said. "But they never asked us out to lunch one time when we lost about every game in 1943.
"I never forgot that. That really soured me."
He said that 1943 was pay back for a lot of their opponents.
"Teams that we beat the year before were beating us 55-0," said Morrison. "We were playing the same teams every year and they really took it out on us my senior year."
Morrison said that Steele was injured going into the Bicknell game and that Williams kept him out of the game until half-time.
"Bicknell was ahead of us at the half," he said. "Paul came back in and we won the game."
John Wade earned All-Wabash Valley honors for his play at tackle. Center Bob Blevens was named second team All-Wabash Valley.
Other key performers included Jack White (guard), Bob Fitzpatrick (end), John McBride (end), Joe Baker (tackle), Max Woolsey (half back), Glenn Giffin (full back), Tommy Shouse (guard), Eugene Cole (end), Junior O'Hern (half back), Warren Pope (guard), Earl Mitchell (tackle), Harvey Miller (full back), Bob Gillan (guard), Daniel Bough (tackle) and Elmer Dean (end).
Other team members included John Curtis, Bob Lucas, Harry Gabbard, Gene Inman, Clyde Wright, Caryl Himebrook, Willard Ham, Paul Goshen, Noah Miller, Tommy Dudley, Robert Bernes, John Smith, Harold Richardson, Bob Keller, Wilbur Page, John Stefancik, Winifred Baize, Donald Tuttle, Robert Lovelace, Warren Pope, Bill Huff, Oran Reed and Harvey Miller. Frankie Coakley was the water boy and Reverend R.B. Baldridge aided coach Williams during that season.
"We had a really good team in '42," said Morrison. "But we lost our entire backfield in '43 and were not the same after that.
"But going to war to help defend our country was more important that football."
B.J. Hargis is sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at email@example.com.
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