"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.
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
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
"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
"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
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