Friday Flashback: First High School Football Game

oneida
Oneida Football Club was the first “high school” football team

 

As you know from reading my blog, I am a high school football fan.  As I thought about the subject of this week’s Friday Flashback subject, I wondered about the first high school football game.

My research turned up that the first recorded high school football game was played in 1825 by Oneida Football Club in Boston, Massachusetts.  There is an inscription near Frog Pond on Boston Common which reads:  “On this field, the Oneida Football Club of Boston, the first organized football club in the United States, played against all comers from 1862 to 1865.  The Oneida goal was never crossed.”

There isn’t any record of the first game but 13 of the 16 Oneida players attended Epes Sargent Dixwell’s Private Latin School.  At that time, football was mostly a recess game and resembled more like rugby than today’s modern American football.

A “touchdown” in this early, prehistoric version of football was scored by crossing a line at the end of the field. There were no goalposts. To start the game, the ball was dropped into the middle of the field, and play was continuous until one side crossed goal line. The ball itself was not the oblong ball used today but was more like a square with the corners rounded off.

The most celebrated game Oneida ever played was on Nov. 7, 1863, against a combined team from Boston English and Boston Latin. Oneida won the game and the ball which was used can be found at the Historic New England museum, on Cambridge Street.

In the State of Georgia, Cedartown is the earliest recorded team to play in 1887.  Back during those days, games were played in the community.  Thomasville and Valdosta played as far back as 1895 as well.  According to the Georgia High School Football Historians, the first organized championship games were played in 1948.  Lanier (Macon) beat Marist 15-14 for the AA title, Fitzgerald defeated Decatur 20-19 for the A title, West Point topped Cordele 20-6 for the Class B title and Fort Valley defeated Gordon Lee 25-14 for the Class C championship.

The first high school football game I attended was on November 21, 1975.  It was the Region 2B Championship Game between Clinch County and Charlton County which was played in Waycross, Georgia.  Charlton County won the game 6-0.  I was attending middle school in Folkston, Georgia in the Charlton County school system.  My dad’s alma mater was Clinch County where he had played football.  Needless to say, it was a house divided.  I remember thinking how cool it was to attend the game at historic Waycross Memorial Stadium.  As I recall, Clinch County dominated the game statistically but Charlton County scored early then held on to win the game.

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