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"Several States are already making efforts to prevent the murderous institution of football. Modern football is too brutal for civilized Ore-gon." - Salem Sentinel newspaper, December 11, 1897

When football came to Salem--more than two decades after its fuzzy beginning back East--it appeared first in the program of the YMCA.

The Y team combined with some willing players from Willamette University to play Oregon State, University of Oregon, George Fox, Multnomah Athletic Club, and Chemawa Indian School.

Willamette University team
Willamette University records show that it ventured into the rough sport offici-ally in 1894 with "no recognized coach." WU just about had no recognized schedule, for it played Pacific University once, winning 18-4, and met the Sa-lem YMCA five times, losing four of them. Then, with a little more prestige, WU was able to play in 1895 against the U. of O. twice, Oregon Normal (now Western Oregon State University), and Oregon State.

Those early years, however, created some records still standing at WU.  One was the 105-yard kickoff return by Luke Rader of WU in 1910 against Mult-nomah Athletic Club.  Another was the 80-yard touchdown run with a fumble, scored in 1905 by S.M. Kerron, U. of O. against WU.

Willamette has had its share of grid teams, but the best the Bearcats have accomplished was a berth in the NAIA semifinals in 1969 against Troy State. The 'Cats lost, but WU made its place in National grid history.

Willamette had produced a long list of little All-Americans. Included in the 1970s were linebacker Cal Lee; halfback Jim Nicholson; tackle Bob Buries; tackle Gary Raid; defensive end Bruce Anderson, who played several years of professional ball in the NFL; and center Gary Long.

Salem High School Team
Back in the days of the old Salem High School, a football team was called an "eleven." And that's just about what it was--at least such as the case with Sa-lem's first high school team.  There were 13 players on that 1904 team--11 starters and two substitutes. Except for injuries and brief rest periods, the play-ers just assumed they'd "go all the way" in a game.

Salem High School opened in 1904 at 13th and Center Streets, a location now occupied by a Safeway store.  The school fielded a football team--an organiza-tional feat in itself--that very first fall. Some information on that team is found in the files of the North Salem Clarion, which at that time was a combined news-paper-annual which published eight times during the school year.

Those early reports were written with remarkable bravado, seeming to indicate that there had always been a high school football team in Salem. For instance, in telling about the team's coach, the Clarion said:

"Mr. Frank Grannis, the coach of our football team this season, is well-known in this city. He is attending Willamette University and is in his Junior year. As a coach he is well-prepared, having trained under such men as Mosser, Dietz, and Bishop, the coaches of the Willamette Univ. team for the last three years. His work this year certainly speaks volumes for himself."

This team was apparently a very good one, for it boasted a 4-1 record against an independent schedule. The first game was on the road, against the "O.S. Mute School," and the last four were "home" games played at Sweetland Field on the Willamette Campus.

The one defeat came in the first game, as the "Mute" School bested Salem 0-6. Despite the close score, the Salem boys must have looked rocky indeed, for the Clarion brazenly states later that Coach Grannis " . . . took the squad, who was playing like a flock of sheep, and made a winning team of it" in short order. He must have done just that, as the remainder of the Salem High schedule shows. In the team's second game, revenge was found against the "Mute School" in the form of a 30-0 Salem victory.

And not a point was scored against SHS for the rest of the season. The team, which as yet had no official nickname, went on to beat the Oregon State Re-form School 10-0, beat Willamette University's second team 10-0, then fin-ished with another 10-0 win - - this time over Albany High School.

"The team scored 66 points to the opponents' 10," the Clarion proudly states. The last two games were played just two days apart, on Nov. 10th and Nov. 12th.

It wasn't in vogue at this point in history for news reports to chronicle first names.  Except for Coach Grannis (who, you must remember, was "well-known in the city"), the other members of the team just went into history as last names.

Oldtimers and other experts of local lore may well recognize many of the names just the same. Some of them are still familiar in Salem. The Clarion provides a rundown on the team in this manner:

"Manager Moores made the team a financial success and has been re-elected for next season. Through his efforts, the student body of the school donated to the team the large red jerseys.

"The high school coach next season will probably be Mr. Miller, who has played on the Willamette team for three years and, under all probability, the school will have a strong team, as many new players are expected to make their appearance at Salem High next fall."

About the 1904 team, the Clarion said: "Rhoades and R. Moores played a plucky game at end, as did the guards, Eyre and Slater. The tackles, Miller and Mourer, played exceptionally good ball, especially the latter, who made both touchdowns in the Albany game. Niles was found to be always working hard at the center positions. C. Moores at quarter played a strong game and used good head work.  The halves, Grannis and (Captain) Hughes, never failed to make their yardage. Cross at fullback played a steady game during the season and scored the only touchdown in the game with the State Reform School. The sub-stitutes were Williams and Carey."

The Nov. 12, 1904, Capital Journal newspaper carried a Page 1 story on the Albany game, which began: "A small but enthusiastic crowd at Willamette Field this morning witnessed the football game between Salem and Albany High Schools.  It was the unanimous opinion of the crowd that the boys put up an excellent game....."

The report also states that Salem's first touchdown was set up by Hughes, "who set around the end for a 40-yard run, which materially aided in the touch-down" later scored by Mourer, who later scored again on a 60-yard romp. A TD was worth only five points in those days, and Salem "failed to kick its goal (extra point) either time."

The article also notes that "The game throughout was clean and . . . everyone was as good-natured at the end as at the start."

Numbering only 13, the first Salem High School team was a good one. It would take a good one to allow five opponents just 10 points. And it would take a super "tackle" to score two touchdowns in one game, as the newspapers tell us Mourer did.

The members of that first Salem team, Class of '05, may not have stopped to think that they were paving the way to a rich high school football history in Salem.

Four more high schools almost 100 years later, it is still going strong.

South Salem High School had the most of its bit of glory with the State AAA title in 1971. South also won a share of the title back in 1954 with Marshfield, while North Salem took a co-title with Grant in 1963. South won a State AA grid crown in 1965, with Brown handling the coaching

Compiled by Al Jones

Beverly Maddock of the North Salem High School office, made the school's files available and reproduced two pages from the June, 1905, edition of the Salem High Clarion


Willamette University football team
Willamette University's first football team
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YMCA, 1904, at Commercial and Chemeketa Streets
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