COVINGTON FOOTBALL...THE EARLY YEARS
The early years of Covington football began in 1904 and ended in 1910 after an injury to a player.
The History of Football in Covington High School…
Edited by Ralph Boggs and published by the Covington Boosters Association in 1952.
Football – The Early Era
Football, as was basketball, was introduced here by James Bartmess, a graduate of 1904. Although the odds against its survival were many, the sport was continued for six years and disbanded on October 28, 1910.
In those early days football was frowned upon by the people and deemed too dangerous for active competition by high school boys. However, a group of aggressive boys secured the consent of the board of education to play football; but no funds or equipment was provided. A lawn fete was held and from the sale of ice cream and sandwiches enough money was obtained to purchase a football and a new sport was born in Covington.
Under the leadership of James Bartmess, two games were played in 1904, one at Tipp City and one at Troy. Authentic scores of these games are not available, but on October 19, 1904 when the team journeyed to Troy, a Troy boy, Garrett Perrin, suffered a broken leg. This incident put a damper on the sport for the rest of the year.
At this period in school history, the classes were dispairingly small and to graduate from high school was considered quite an accomplishment. This fact accounts for the difficulty in securing enough boys to make a team. Also, before a boy was eligible to play, his parents were required to give their written permission. It is believed, during the really years, that some of the boys who played were not high school students, although playing under the name of someone duly enrolled at the school. These players were called “ringers”.
The aforementioned James Bartmess was the first “coach” and in later years, Carson Rike assisted in giving the team a few pointers although at this early date, no one seemed to know much about the game and the players largely coached themselves. They furnished their own uniforms and played without helmets although some had nose-guards made of leather and padded with pieces of worn-out horsecollars. These were made by John Metzer, local harness-maker.
The hosting team furnished transportation, via traction lines and railroads, and provided an evening meal after the games which were played on Friday afternoons. A touchdown counted five points and a team had three downs to make five yards. The forward pass was unknown. Tickets for the games were sold at 25 cents per person although the larger majority of the watchers “sneaked” in. It was considered ill-mannered for the feminine gender to watch the sport.
From 1904 to 1910…
The games were played at four different locations: (1) East of Covington on the Brown Pike on the Jack Shade farm, in 1952 occupied by Wilbur Tobias; (2) South of Covington on route 48 north of the lane leading to the residence of George Brandt; (3) In the mill bottom, north of the sewage disposal plant; (4) West of the Stillwater River immediately south of the West Covington bridge.
During this period, games were played with Tippecanoe, Troy, Piqua, Greenville, Sidney, and East Dayton High (Stivers). Early records and newspaper files are incomplete and many lost through fire and flood. However, the following scores were obtained and can be recorded as authentic:
October 21, 1905 – Tippecanoe 28, Covington 0
November 16, 1906 – Troy 6, Covington 0
November 16, 1907 – East Dayton High 5, Covington 6
November 22, 1907 – Piqua 30, Covington 0
October 16, 1908 – West Milton 0, Covington 15 (Milton’s first game)
September 30, 1910 – West Milton 6, Covington 0
October 28, 1910, in a game between Covington and Troy, Tom Ramsey was seriously injured and that evening his father, Z.L. Ramsey, a member of the school board at the time, called a special meeting of the board which resulted in the abandonment of the sport in Covington High School. However, some of the members of the team organized independently and continued football in Covington, although not a school function.
As far as can be ascertained, the membership of those early teams consisted of the following:
1904 – Russel Minton, Lester Darst, Gibbs Rike, H.A. Johnston, Roy Shaw, Luther Tobias, Frank Black, Glen Eidemiller, Otto Fulknor, Fred Holsinger, Joe Ullery, Larkin Younce.
1905 – Russel Minton, Fred Holsinger, Gibbs Rike, Luther Tobias, – Huffman, Larkin Younce, Lester Darst, – Fisher, Neth Schilling, Frank Black, Glen Eidemiller, Otto Fulknor, Joe Ullery.
1906 – Fred Holsinger, Lee Black, Joe Ullery, Glen Eidemiller, Neth Shilling, Carol Flory, Lester Faulkner, Albert Landis, Frank Black, Homer Wright, Roscoe Sease, Russel Minton, Bob Stoltz, Dick Fletcher, Chalmer Driver, Russell Pearson.
1907 – Clarence Nicodemus, Russell Pearson, Bob Stoltz, Albert Landis, Richard Fletcher, Chalmer Driver, Gordon Hake, Byron Finfrock, Minor DeVault, Joe Landis, Earl Richeson, Howard Johnston, Lee Black, Neth Shilling, Harry DeHaven, Russell Etter.
1908 – Lee Black, Clarence Nicodemus, Howard Johnston, Joe Landis, Chalmer Driver, Caris Driver, Gordon Hake, Wilbur Beery, Clarence Beery, Minor DeVault, Byron Finfrock, Neth Shilling, Russel Pearson, Earl Richeson, Leslie Rike, Clyde Fashner, Roger Mohler, Russell Etter, Richard Fletcher.
1909 – Joe Landis, Minor DeVault, Wilbur Beery, Chalmer Driver, Caris Driver, Russell Pearson, Tom Ramsey, Earl Richeson, Lynn O’Roark, Clarence Beery, Gordon Hake.
1910 – Wilbur Beery, Tom Ramsey, Minor DeVault, Caris Driver, Earl Richeson, Joe Landis, Russell Etter, Gordon Hake, Leonard Rench, Earl Branson, Clarence Beery, Howard Wright.