San Diego State played its first football game 100 years ago


Eleven men took to the field that day to represent the state of San Diego, although you wouldn’t know from looking at them.

The colors of the school were blue, white and gold.

They wouldn’t be changed to scarlet and black for another seven years.

Although the student newspaper wanted them to be called “Wampus Cats”, the local media called them “Staters” or “Professors” (it was, after all, a college of teachers).

They would not be called the Aztecs for another four years.

It was October 1, 1921 – 100 years ago Friday – that the state of San Diego played its first game of football.

School historians recorded it as a 6-0 victory over the Army and Navy Academy JC, the first contest in a 10-game schedule.

San Diego State Football Results in 1921

October 1 – SDS 6, Army-Navy Academy JC 0

October 6 – Reserve Destroyers 3, SDS 0

October 13 – USS Birmingham 14, SDS 0

October 15 – Naval Air 12, SDS 7

October 19 – SDS 14, USS Birmingham 6

October 21 – SDS 12, Army-Navy Academy 0

October 28 – in Santa Ana JC 26, SDS 0 *

November 4 – at Fullerton JC 20, SDS 0 *

November 11 – FDS 14, Chaffey JC 0 *

November 19 – at Riverside JC 19, SDS 7 *

* Southern California Junior College Conference

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A newspaper article did not include a score and stated that “the training consisted of scrum practice” in a three paragraph article the next day.

There was no mention of who scored for the San Diego.

Like today, the defense dominated.

Someone in the know would say that the run / pass ratio was then probably similar to what it is now.

The article provided insight, noting that although the team “had little difficulty advancing the ball on the lighter Army and Navy team, their work showed the need for a polish work and still a lot of difficult scrum work. “

Nevertheless, coach CE Peterson predicted a championship for his team.

A century ago, SDSU football didn’t exactly grab the headlines.

In fact, the San Diego Union made no mention of the game the day it was played.

What was in the news?

“San Diego to be ‘Home’ of Pacific Fleet” was the headline that caught the attention of most readers that day.

New York News detailed an impending operation by “eminent and experienced surgeons” would transplant a monkey gland into a human.

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, with Rudolph Valentino, performed at Rialto. Any of the four daily performances could be viewed for 50 cents.

Arrow Market at 822 Fifth St. advertised fancy rib steaks at 18 cents each and picnic hams starting at 80 cents. Pure lard was 12 1/2 cents a pound.

Dr. HL Young announced “Teeth as low as $ 10” and “The best sets at $ 15”.

On the sports page, the New York Giants played a benefit game at the Polo Grounds for former star pitcher Christy Mathewson, who was battling tuberculosis (caused by gas poisoning during an exercise). training in France during the First World War).

Bowling scores littered one corner of the page, although space was set aside to report that duck season opened that day across San Diego County.

The most popular location for hunters is said to be Sweetwater Lake, where “more birds have been killed on this lake than on any other lake of similar size in Southern California.”

Much of the county – including the land on the Normal School campus on Park and El Cajon boulevards (the school did not move to its current location until 1931) – looked like lakes.

The area had the wettest September in 50 years, with a drop of 1.1 inches over a 24-hour period the day before the game.

Many details of the game are lost in the story.

No box score appeared with the San Diego Union play recap, which qualified the practice play.

It was the first in a series of what were then called practice matches against service teams for a four-game Southern California Junior College Conference schedule.

In the SDSU media guide, the 1921 team is credited with an overall record of 4-6 and a score of 1-3 on the SCJCC.

The conference losses were against Santa Ana, Fullerton and Riverside.

The conference’s only victory was a 14-0 home win over Chaffey. Second-half touchdowns by “Hi” Dillin and quarterback Herman Harris provided the offense for the San Diegans.

Players from San Diego Junior College and Chaffey Junior College meld together in the home side’s 14-0 victory on November 11, 1921.

(San Diego Union, 1921)

The sports program was starting to attract more male students to the former Normal School, a teacher training institution.

Enrollment was 421 in 1916, but male students gradually left during World War I. In 1918, enrollments fell to 172, with only one male student.

In July 1921, President Edward L. Hardy announced that the college had hired “male teachers in subjects of particular interest to male students,” including chemistry, math, and business studies.

Charles E. Peterson has been appointed director of athletics. He first came to school in 1916 as a physical education teacher, then served in World War I before Hardy convinced him to return.

Peterson was responsible for tidying up the athletic fields and locker rooms so that the school could offer boxing, wrestling, baseball, soccer, track and field, and rowing.

Hardy, who was trained as a coach and player, would regularly join Peterson in giving training instructions.

In the 1922 school yearbook, Del Sudoeste, it was noted that 25 players tried for the team.

“Although the season did not end in a burst of glory,” the yearbook read, “it was the foundation of the academic spirit and sporting activity.”

Fullback John Hancock and guard Alfred Tarr, the team captain, have been recognized by Southern Junior College.

Harris has been called a “sneaky” quarterback. Sam Russo and Alvin Morrison have been declared “demons” in the back. Half-backs Dillin and Hancock “crossed the line for long wins”.

“The material that came out had the makings of a world-beating team,” according to the yearbook article, “and with more experience and training would have surprised the northern camps.”

Indeed, Peterson’s team showed marked improvement in 1922, winning the first of three consecutive SCJCC championships.

Peterson was the school’s football coach from 1921-29 (rising 43-31-4) as well as his basketball coach from 1921-26 (rising 70-30) and track and field coach. He later became Dean of Men and Associate Dean of Students before retiring in 1953.

Peterson Gym was dedicated in his honor when it was built in 1961, two years after Peterson’s death.

Peterson was a member of the inaugural SDSU Hall of Fame class in 1988, some 67 years after the football program began.

From this 1921 season, it was thus summarized in the yearbook: “Truly, the school is proud of its pioneers, who worked in difficulties and were faithful to the end.

Union-Tribune Research Director Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report.


Above this article is the 1921 team photo:

Bottom row, left to right: Herman Harris, Harry Stuart, Joe Varney, “Said” Mott, “Hi” Dillin, “Doc” Gorham,

Middle row: Lyman Scheel, Walt Bryant, John Hancock, Wilfred Knudtson, Everett Wise, Carl Wise, Alvin Morrison, Thomas Hester.

Top row: CE Peterson (trainer), “Jonas” Hathaway, “Tiny” Wilson, “Tilden” Van Ransselaer, Arthur Heilbron, A. Tarr, Sam Held, Ross Bond.

Members of the 1921 San Diego <a class=state football team were pictured on page 72 of Del Sudoeste, the school yearbook for 1922.” srcset=”×2574+0+0/resize/320×507!/quality/90/? 320w,×2574+0+0/resize/568×900!/quality/90/? 568w,×2574+0+0/resize/768×1217!/quality/90/? 768w,×2574+0+0/resize/840×1331!/quality/90/? 840w” width=”840″ height=”1331″ src=”×2574+0+0/resize/840×1331!/quality/90/?” data-lazy-load=”true” bad-src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==”/>

Members of the 1921 San Diego state football team were pictured on page 72 of Del Sudoeste, the school yearbook for 1922.


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