Posted in Champions

Origin of Champion

Have you ever wondered how, when and why our beloved Yearbook, The Champion was named?

When the third edition of Central’s annual was published in 1914, the cover was embossed with “The Champion 1914”.  Previously, neither the first 1911 edition  “Sleepless Eye”, nor the second in 1913 “The Central” carried any hint of what would follow.  The Forward on page five of 1914 edition states,

“The Champion” was chosen as the name of our annual because of a few very distinct characteristics of the word. In Ancient times the Champion went forth from his castle to fight for the right and to represent those principles to which he had pledged his allegiance. So shall this annual strive to represent the best there is in this school. We have activities in our school that should be represented to the world.  Go forth, O Champion! And may you help win greater laurels for our school.  –The Annual Board”

Almost 100 years later, it’s still our much loved Champion!

Posted in Central Symbols, Historical Marker on Dodds Avenue

Tennessee Historical Marker for Chattanooga Central High School on Dodds Avenue

On February 17, 2012, the Tennessee Historical Commission, unanimously approved our application to erect a State of Tennessee Historical Marker at 500 Dodds Avenue recognizing the historical significance of Chattanooga Central High School.

Coordination for a public ceremony August 4, 2012 to dedicate this memorial to our beloved school is underway.

As previously reported, the Monuments and Markers Committee of the Tennessee Historical Commission recommended minor changes to the text we submitted with the application.  Those changes were approved by the Commissioners.

Thanks to the alumni who prepared and submitted the application, coordinated with the City of Chattanooga for permits to erect the marker, and donated the funds to pay for its production and installation.

Posted in Homecoming Queens, Student Honorees

Homecoming Queens

The Central Digests of October 1, 8, and 15, 1949 detailed the selection process of the first homecoming queen to be crowned at halftime of the Central-Rossville game at Chamberlain Field on October 22, 1949.  The Senior English classes nominated 8 contestants, then the student body selected 5 finalists, with the person getting the most votes crowned by the Alumni President (at that time Jerry Perry).  Subsequent queens would be crowned by the previous year’s queen.  Betty Bridges, Betty Drinnon, and Diane Haynes were eliminated by the student vote, leaving the top 5 – Evalynne Anderson, Hulene Huff, Geraldine Maxey, Shirley Sewell, Jeanne Watson – to appear on the field for the presentation, which was won by Shirley Sewell.

  • 1949:  Shirley Sewell
  • 1950:  Peggy Kistler
  • 1951:  Pat Williams
  • 1952:  Dot Wood
  • 1953:  Joy Schroeder
  • 1954:  Norma Jean Coulter
  • 1955:  Patty Rector
  • 1956:  Mary Ruth Neyman
  • 1957:  Linda Scruggs
  • 1958:  Ann Travis
  • 1959:  Carolyn Hale
  • 1960:  Donna Reed
  • 1961:  Jill Keef
  • 1962:  Judy Jackson
  • 1963:  Pam Piercy
  • 1964:  Janie Young
  • 1965:  Cheryl White
  • 1966:  Teri Tinker
  • 1967:  Martha Hollis
  • 1968:  Ginger Nye
  • 1969:  Jayne Arnold
  • 1970:  Karen Sue
  • 1971:  Vicky Thacker
  • 1972:  Debbie Hunt
  • 1973:  Robin Hall
  • 1974:  Annie Owen
  • 1975:  Cheryl Williams
  • 1976:  Robin Rozzell
  • 1977:  Kim Ellis
  • 1978:  Sheri Bankston
  • 1979:  Sherri Bradford
  • 1980:  Cathy Russell
  • 1981:  Nancy Lonas
  • 1982:  Emily Schaerer
  • 1983:  Tamye Yarbrough
  • 1984:  Denise Knowles
  • 1985:  Ava Kirby
  • 1986:  Kim Freezell
  • 1987:  Lorena Stitts

Note 1:  Research by Charlie Sedman and Bob Johnson

Note 2:  Year show is year crowned.

Posted in Central Athletics, Purple Pounders

Frawley Field and the Legendary Purple Pounders

Mr. Fred Frawley

Research by Ed Hoback:

Description: Article taken from The Frawley Field and the Legendary Central High Purple Pounders by Harmon Jolley posted May 21, 2008

article_128352 Frawley Field and the Legendary Central High Purple Pounders by Harmon Jolley posted May 21, 2008

The new Frawley Field was one of several photographs in “Report of Hamilton County Schools, 1937/1938.” Click to enlarge. A reader recently asked me a question about the origin of the name of Frawley Field, which was the old Central High School football/baseball field. What a quest this turned out to be!

Let’s first review the historical setting of Central High School itself. In “A History of Hamilton County, Tennessee, “  Dr. James Livingood noted that the county education program began to move from the days of one-room, all-grades schools to the high school concept following Tennessee government’s funding of secondary education. Around 1902, Hixson, Sale Creek, Soddy, and Ridgedale (soon renamed Central High) acquired new high schools.

On January 3, 1908, Central High School was dedicated. At a cost of $72,000, Hamilton County had constructed the school on Dodds Avenue near McCallie Avenue. The location was at the time outside the city limits of Chattanooga, which operated a separate school system. However, Chattanooga residents were allowed to attend Central High as long as they provided their own transportation.

Class sizes of Central were initially relatively small in the early years. The graduating class in 1911 numbered only 65 students. However, by 1934, there were 1,730 students being taught by 38 teachers. Central High’s curriculum included a variety of the arts and sciences.

Even in its early years, the school chose purple as its primary school color. The Central High Digest was even printed in purple. The school fielded athletic teams before other high schools began to offer sports. The players who would be called the Purple Pounders needed an athletic field.

The book “Report of Hamilton County Schools 1937/1938” reported that funding of $30,008 for Frawley Field was included in a system-wide building program. Work started December 23, 1937 and the field was accepted on April 30, 1938.

But who was Frawley?

* I consulted the library’s inventory of Hamilton County Schools personnel booklets, and did not find a principal or teacher by that name. I did see that S. Dean Peterson was the team’s football coach in the late 1930’s. Mr. Petersen was later a Chattanooga City Commissioner of Education.

* I reviewed newspapers on microfilm from 1938, including the date in April when Frawley Field was completed as well as the September editions that covered the start of the football season. No Frawley was mentioned. However, I did note that September, 1938 had more coverage of baseball clubs in pennant races and University of Chattanooga Moccasin football than any other team. High school football received very little coverage. Central High had far-away teams on their schedule, since there were few local opponents other than Notre Dame.

* I perused the library’s newspaper clipping file on Central High School. There was lots of other interesting information, but no Frawley.

* I browsed the Chattanooga city directories of the era, and saw that there was a C.E. Frawley Furniture Company on Dodds Avenue. That lead also turned up empty, as I could not connect the business owner with the nearby school.

* I remembered that William Frawley, later a star on “I Love Lucy” and “My Three Sons,” was a vaudeville performer. Chattanooga had some vaudeville houses, so maybe William Frawley was in town and donated funds for a school athletic field. It was plausible because he loved sports –  I read that he had it written into his “I Love Lucy” contract that he would be given time off if the New York Yankees were in the World Series. I kept the thought of this being William Frawley Field to myself, until now.

I put the research aside for a few days. Then, undaunted, I returned to the library to have one more look at the “Report on Hamilton County Schools, 1937/1938” which had mentioned Frawley Field. Just inside the cover of the book was a group photo of the Hamilton County Court, which had oversight responsibility for the school system. There was a new lead shown in the lower right corner –  Fred Frawley, County Chief Clerk.

My next stop was a check of the library’s Local Obituaries link on its Web site. The passing of Fred Frawley was first reported in the December 3, 1940 Chattanooga Times. I read through the obituary, but still could not find mention of a connection to Frawley Field. I had to check one more possibility, that a subsequent printing of his obituary contained more information.

Eureka! In the announcement of Mr. Frawley’s funeral service, it was reported, “Members of the Cnetral High school band will form an honorary escort for the funeral. Mr. Frawley’s friendship to Central High school resulted in the naming of Frawley field in his honor.” Judge Will Cummings announced that the courthouse would be closed out of respect for Fred Frawley, who was a prominent local businessman and political leader. He had been purchasing agent since 1926, and likely was instrumental in the acquisition of land and building of Frawley Field.


No article on Frawley Field would be complete without also mentioning the rich history of Central High School athletics. For that information, I called my uncle, Jack Jolley, a 1948 graduate of Central and authority on the Purple Pounders as well as the Tennessee Volunteers.

My uncle recalled Frawley Field, and said that it was reported at the time that it had been named for a coach. That is possibly correct, for Mr. Frawley may have served as a part-time coach or was at least on the sidelines encouraging his team.

By the time that my uncle attended Central, the school was playing many of its football games at Chamberlain Field on the University of Chattanooga campus. Many were sell-outs, such as game against its storied local rival, Chattanooga (City) High School. Uncle Jack still remembers the 81-6 victory over the City High Dynamos in 1945.

He recalled that teams from Memphis, Knoxville, and Birmingham often requested games on Central’s schedule. Central won several state championships. The Purple Pounders, led by many years by Coach E.B. “Red” Etter, included players who went on to outstanding college football careers. Ed Nobles (University of Chattanooga) and Bob McCoy (Georgia Tech) were known as the “Touchdown Twins.” Even players on the second squad were often given college scholarships.

Frawley Field also served as the baseball field of the Purple Pounders.


As early as 1955, studies were being made concerning relocating Central High School, which was still a Hamilton County school but physically located inside Chattanooga’s city limits after annexation. In 1957, some Central High alumni favored switching the school to the Chattanooga system, and having its name be attached to the new high school in Brainerd. Others favored a plan to move Central to the Glenwood community.

In the fall of 1969, Central High School opened at its present location on Highway 58. Considerable discussion and controversy took place over disposition of both the old school building and Frawley Field. Proposed uses for the school included relocating the library to it, as well as re-opening it as a part of the Chattanooga school system.

Many alumni waxed nostalgic as the former Central High building was eventually demolished, and the property became part of the McCallie School campus. Yellow bricks from old Central were offered to interested individuals, with my uncle being one such person. I remember that he called us from his relatively new out-of-town address, and asked us to be sure to get a few bricks for him.

As for Frawley Field, it is today the site of Parkridge Hospital.

While much is remembered and written about the old Central High School, let us not forget that the Central High students and teachers of today are also creating many positive memories to be shared in the future.

If you have memories of Central High or Frawley Field, please send me an e-mail at Also, anyone who would like to correspond with my uncle, Jack Jolley, about Central High or Tennessee Volunteers history may contact him at

Posted in May Queens and Kings

Central’s May Queens and Kings

Research by Charlie Sedman:

May Day celebrations have been a part of America’s heritage since the first European settlers landed.   There are many accounts of schools holding May Festivals; in the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh there is a large painting of a May Festival held in 1816 at a Raleigh Girl’s School. May Festivals in the Chattanooga area were popular well into the early 1900s, and several were held at the Memorial Auditorium after its opening in 1924.

Central’s first May Festival was instituted in 1925 as an annual finale of the new Girl’s Athletic Association program.  Here is an excerpt from the 1925 Champion:  “The Girl’s Athletic Association, under the sponsorship of Misses Anna Lee Marsh and Dorothy Bachtel, is the largest student organization in school.  The first event of the 1924-25 calendar was the Christmas Festival presented by the Rhythm Class on December eighth.  The second event was the intramural basketball tournament with eight color teams participating.   Perhaps the greatest responsibility of the Association was the presentation of all its members in the May Fete, “The Farmer’s Garden Party,” which was presented under the direction of Miss Anna Lee Marsh, director of physical education. The May Queen was selected by the student body from the Association.  Her identity was not revealed until the day of the fete.  The Association was organized for the first time this year…”

The following year (1926) the Champion recorded:  “..The May Day Festival was held on May the seventh and every girl taking gymnasium took a part.  A gymnastic exhibition, consisting of military arching, calisthenics, and a track meet, was held in the early part of the afternoon.  This was followed by the ‘The Dawn of the May,’ a beautiful pageant representing springtime in all its glory.  Miss Elizabeth Whaling from the senior class was crowned queen of the May….”

Champions from 1927-67 were apparently issued too early to include events happening in May, including May Day celebrations, except that senior girls usually included participation in the May celebration on their senior resumes, and after 1932 some seniors indicated that they were a May Queen candidate.   This is perhaps due to the May Queen candidates being narrowed to five before the student vote starting in 1932.  The Central Digest thus is the only source for May Day news after 1926; unfortunately Digests before 1930 have disappeared from the Central High Library collection, so we have no information on May Day from 1927-1929.   In 1930 the April 17 Digest reported tersely that Virginia Lowery had been selected May Queen.  In 1931 the April 23 Digest reported that Mary Richards, a junior, was to be crowned on May 7 on the school lawn by Mary Alice Witt, who would play the role of Spring, and that Miss Richards would represent Central in the County Pageant to be held at the Memorial Auditorium.

In the fall of 1931 Sarah Hubbard was hired as the first full-time women’s athletics director.  One of her innovations was to replace the Girl’s Athletic Association with a new hierarchy, called gym staff, to implement the various programs, including the May Day Celebration each year.   And, to reward those staff, five seniors were selected by Ms. Hubbard as May Queen Candidates, and the Queen selected by a general student vote each April.   Ms. Hubbard was well-schooled in publicity, as fairly detailed write-ups of May Day may be found in Digests after 1932, with the exception of 1935, when the last Digest for that year was apparently published on April 30.

When looking over these Digest articles, two curious variants in the celebration are revealed: (1) May Day was not always held in May; for whatever reason, a few celebrations were held in late April; (2) the venue varied according to the location and the weather; some were held in the front lawn, some during the 30s were held at Central Field (likely the athletic field used by Central at East Third Street before Frawley Field became available in 1938), the boy’s Gym was used in 1933, presumably because of weather, and in the mid-50s Patten Field on the McCallie campus hosted several May festivals when Frawley Field was unsuitable.  From 1958 to 1969 the festival played out on the front lawn at 400 Dodds Avenue.

Finally in 1937 the Letterman’s Club got into the act by selecting 5 male escorts for the May Queen Candidates, one of whom would be elected May King by the student body.  The May King title was never fully embraced, because the Digests in several instances did not report a May King.  In 1968-69 printing technology allowed the Champions once again to report a May Queen, this time with photos of the event, but no May King was reported.

Herewith is my compilation of the Central High May Queens from 1925-1969, with escorts/Kings listed where reported:

  • 1925:  Gertrude Smith
  • 1926:  Elizabeth Whaling
  • 1927-29:  ??
  • 1930:  Virginia Lowery
  • 1931:   Mary Kathryn Richards (junior)
  • 1932:   Mary Kathryn Richards
  • 1933:  Barbara Daugherty
  • 1934:   Irene Guinn
  • 1935: ??
  • 1936:  Helen Gross
  • 1937:  Charlotte Blair/William C Wheat
  • 1938:  Ruth Wheeler/Albert Muerth
  • 1939:  Rubie Archie/David Porter
  • 1940:  Harriet Turner/John Collins
  • 1941:  Irene Ellington
  • 1942:  Betty Standifer/Joe Henry
  • 1943:  Alicia Ware/Eugene Shrader
  • 1944:  Mary Pfitzer
  • 1945:  Ruth Bass
  • 1946:  Peggy Bell/Howard Sompayrac
  • 1947:  Anna Harrison/Clarence Frank
  • 1948:  Imogene Baker/Lamar Wheat
  • 1949:  Ruth Carden/Ed Woy
  • 1950:  Betty Ann Drinnon/Bill Tate
  • 1951:  Barbara Drinnon/Norman Hofferman
  • 1952:  Peggy Watkins/Gene Hall
  • 1953:  Hildegarde Landers/Ivey Bishop
  • 1954:  Elizabeth Runyan/Robert Tate
  • 1955:  Charlotte Reeves/Jim Maclin
  • 1956:  Bonnie Slatton/Gene Spriggs
  • 1957:  Dee Hoffmeyer/John Davis
  • 1958:  Charlotte McLain/Chink Brown
  • 1959:  Wilma Stoner/George Shuford
  • 1960:  Gail Delaney/Wayne Huling
  • 1961:  Jackie Indermill/Don Giles
  • 1962:  Sandra Ferguson/Jack Woods
  • 1963:  Frances Gault/Scott Campbell
  • 1964:  Patricia Ramsey/John Slaten
  • 1965:  Pam Meyer/Ernie McCarson
  • 1966:  Sharon Richards/Phil Lewis
  • 1967:  Nancy Feagans
  • 1968:  Jo Smith
  • 1969:  Debbie Senterfield
Posted in Early History, Graduating Class

Class of 1909

I’m posting this information to amend erroneous and/or missing information in the “purple books” sponsored by the Alumni Association in 1994 and 2007. Maybe your parents or grandparents show up on these lists?  Were there any 3rd generation Pounders?   One of the more notable grads of 1909 was three-sport star Hawley Cushman, who returned a fumble for the only score in Central’s first football victory over City High and later started for John Heisman’s football and basketball teams at Georgia Tech.  Horace Jones was a “ringer” recruited from Baylor, who pitched Central to an undefeated season in baseball, including a win over previously undefeated Baker-Himel of Knoxville for the unofficial East Tennessee Championship on May 24, 1909 (which was also graduation day).

The 35 members of the Class of 1909 per the May 24, 1909 Chattanooga Times:

  • Oscar Barr
  • Frank S. Barker
  • Isabelle Rankin Bible
  • Richard Brown, Jr.
  • Mary Burger
  • Alma Cartwright
  • Laurel Crozer
  • Lily Crozer
  • George Hawley Cushman
  • Lois Carter
  • Mary Cochran
  • Mamie Alley Farris
  • Frank Griscom
  • Frank Hancock
  • Myrtle Holmes
  • Julius Horton
  • Horace Jones
  • Rufus Kelley
  • Nan Martin
  • Annilau Miller
  • Penelope Moore
  • Earnest W. Morrison
  • Reba Moulton
  • Willellah Neal
  • Mary Orrill
  • (Julius) Herbert Poindexter
  • Grace Shackelford
  • George H Shackelford
  • Norman Shackelford
  • Miss Willie Sutton
  • Joseph Tatum
  • Alice Taylor
  • Virna B. Wall
  • Audrey Watson
  • Harvey Wiley
Posted in Early History, Graduating Class

Class of 1910

Research by Charlie Sedman:

The following 40 students graduated from Central per the Times May 25, 1910:

  • Leonard Acheson
  • Burton Benjamin Annis
  • Irene Jackson Barnes
  • Karl Leonard Becker
  • Mae Emma Becking
  • Hollis Hines Brixey
  • Cyrus Russell Brown
  • William Posey Bryant
  • Augusta Casey
  • Ellen Creswell Converse
  • Penelope Cornell
  • Agnes Cuneo
  • Grace Elizabeth Dodds
  • Ruth Hughes Dodds
  • Amelie Dickert
  • Ruth Hughes Gray
  • Mary Isabel Hall
  • Elba Gray Holmes
  • Rufus Clayton Kelly
  • Charles Kiser
  • Sadye Lide
  • Nell Liles
  • Hazel Ellen Marsh
  • Eula Lee McKenzie
  • Douglas Eton Morrison
  • William Andrew Ohls
  • Beulah Peckinpaugh
  • James M Pearson
  • Lois Pearson
  • Lamar S Poindexter
    John H. Revington
  • Nellie Grace Rogers
  • Elsie Shoemaker
  • Winnie Mae Smith
  • Ethel Naurine Stokes
  • Carol Lucille Stratton
  • Bessie Lucile Trimbey
  • Jessie Eugenia Turner
  • Nannie Elizabeth Wade
  • Lewis Wallace
Posted in Early History, Graduating Class

Central’s First Graduating Class

Research by Charlie Sedman:

I’ve been disappointed at how many errors occur in the two editions of the Central Alumni Directory.  The list of grads after 1963 are only partial lists.  But as I compared the graduation announcements in the Chattanooga Times, the seniors shown in the Champions, and the Alumni Directory listings, I became compelled to clean up the record.   For starters I am going to list the early graduates, and eventually get to the rest, with one caveat:  I have access only to those who graduated in the spring of each year, as announced in the local papers; any mid-term grads may not be accounted for.

By the way, the 1912 grads listing in the Alumni Directory is completely bogus; most of that list actually graduated in 1911 and some didn’t ever graduate, at least in the spring.

Central’s first senior class in May 1908 graduated 19 as follows:

  • William Edgar Barr
  • Paul Marshall Beane
  • Blanche Church
  • Orva Cleveland
  • Nora Cowan
  • Katiebel Darrah
  • Ethel Madge Gray
  • Edith Berry Iler
  • Charles Mason Love
  • Gertrude May Kelley
  • Ruby Inez Krichbaum
  • Mary Malinda Harris
  • Elsie Hayes
  • Collye Mae Poe
  • Mary Ella Terry
  • Florence Lee Shehee
  • Pauline McDonald Wallace
  • Charles Alan Ward
  • Mattie Drummond Ward

I’ve tracked most of these folks down and have short bios in preparation. The last of Central’s first senior class, Katiebel Darrah, the principal’s daughter, lived to be 98 years old, passing away in November 1989 in Nashville.

Posted in Early History

Origin of the Name Chattanooga Central

Research and information by Charlie Sedman:

Central was in fact the first accredited high school (1907) in Hamilton County and was referred to as “Hamilton County High School” in the beginning.  After Tyner opened in 1907 and Hixson in 1908 (followed by Soddy-Daisy and Sale Creek), Hamilton County High is then referred to as”Hamilton County Central High” then “Central High at Ridgedale”.  After Ridgedale was annexed by Chattanooga in 1912, Central was most often called Chattanooga Central, although it was never a Chattanooga City School.

Posted in Early History, Library

Central Library

This CENTRAL HIGH HISTORY moment was copied from Central Alumni NewsLetter authored by Susan Watkins Kendall Class of 1978 (see Central News).

There’s no better time to research, show off, and preserve Central’s history than during our Centennial year!   I thought everyone might enjoy this bit of history about Central’s E. Y. Chapin Library.  Ed Hoback

HISTORY OF THE E. Y. CHAPIN LIBRARY written in 1970 by Mrs. Pansy Allison, Central High Librarian

When Central High School was organized, a library was not included in the original plans.   In the early 1920s, Mr. John Setliffe, a Latin teacher, felt the need for an organized collection of books.   He gathered together a number of books which were located in an area under the south stairs on the first floor.   In 1926, Central was given some donations from a private classical library, and in cooperation with the Chattanooga Public Library, the Hamilton County Board of Education was able to organize a library for Central.   The library was then located behind the rotunda, directly over the cafeteria.

During the years of the Depression, Central’s book supply was running low.   Just when it seemed Central would have to give up the library, the Hamilton County Board of Education, in order to meet standards set by the Southern Association of Libraries, appropriated $2,000 to buy enough books to maintain the library.   After the Depression, Central built the left wing of the school, and in 1937 the library moved to that location.   Until 1952, Central maintained three librarians, but when student enrollment dropped below 2,000, two librarians were enough to run the library.

In 1938, the library was added to the school as a branch of the Chattanooga Public Library and was named in honor of Mr. E. Y. Chapin.   Several years later, Central’s library broke away from the Public Library and since that time has been supported by the Hamilton County Board of Education.   In 1950, Mr. E. Y. Chapin donated $3,000 to buy books.   In his will, he left the school an endowment fund which has gone a long way toward making Central’s library the largest high school library in the South.

Since 1927, the head librarians of Central High have included:

  • 1927-29:  Garnett Leader
  • 1928-29:  Mary W. Atkinson
  • 1929-30:  Elizabeth Lacey
  • 1930-43:  Augusta Kolwyck
  • 1943-61:  Mary Sanders
  • 1961-69:  Ellen Mullennix
  • 1969-70:  Ariel Colburn
  • 1970-86:  Pansy Allison

In 1969, the Central High School Library moved into its new location at the school on Highway 58 in Harrison.

Posted in Central Seal

Central Seal

I was the President of the Class of ’61 (Charles Smith) and our senior class gift to the school was the school seal.   Attached should be a newspaper photo of me presenting the seal to W. Holbart Millsaps.   I have the original sketch shown in   the photo along with the 2 other designs that were considered before we agreed on the final design – they are approx. 14″ by 14.”   I also have the first embossed seal on paper from the hand seal that we had fabricated to use on stationery, official papers, etc.

Some background:  In the spring of 1961, the class officers had a meeting with Mr. Millsaps to discuss a class gift.   He suggested that we could “present an official seal” which was needed on school communications.   I thought that would be very easy since we were all busy with the end of school activities.   All that we would need to do is get a copy of the seal and have a hand stamp fabricated.   However, Mr. Millsaps informed us that the school did not have a seal, and we would have to design one.   This initiated several months of activities to design the seal which is now used on most communications from Central.   It includes the front of the building on Dodds Ave., “open book” representing knowledge, “torch” representing leadership, and “anvil” representing school spirit.

Posted in Central Athletics, Early History, Football

More of Charlie Sedman’s Posts to The Central Connection

September 9, 2008:

On Tuesday, September 10, 1907, the Chattanooga Times reported on page 3, “The Central high school is now figuring on a football team.   Among the members of the county high school faculty is Coach (Curtis) Green, formerly of the Battle Ground Academy, Franklin, Tenn….it is believed he will put out a fast team at Central high school, providing money can be secured to start the movement..”

This answers the question, “Which came first, Central or the football team? And the answer is the school, but only by a few days.   The football team did precede classes in the new building by nearly three months. I’ll have a few followup notes under the 101 Years ago heading, leading to Central’s first two football games in October 1907 against Baylor and City.

September 12, 2008:

Central’s football teams have faced many great players and coaches over the years.   One such encounter occurred in the Fall of 1919. New head coach Rusty Cornelius had to cope with losses of star players who were “recruited” along with Coach Rike to Baylor, and an inexperienced team that had played only three games the previous year with no head coach. Cornelius hastily cobbled together a schedule of seven games with whoever was available. Remarkably, with great leadership from a junior quarterback named Dean Petersen, Cornelius forged a 5-1-1 record, with five shutout wins, the only blemishes being a 0-0 tie with Rike’s all-star Baylor team and a decisive 33-6 thumping by an obscure military school, Fitzgerald-Clarke Academy of Tullahoma, Tennessee. The 33 points by Fitzgerald-Clarke were the only points allowed by Central that season.

So what was Fitzgerald-Clarke Military Academy? Turns out it was one of a handful of college prep schools used by Vanderbilt and other colleges to help promising athletes pass college entrance exams. In this particular year, 1919, Fitzgerald-Clarke had, amongst others, a 6-1, 210 lb lineman named Lynn Bomar from Texas, who would later become an All-American at Vanderbilt and play professional football for the New York Giants. Ironically, 1919-20 was Fitzgerald-Clarke’s last year as an institution, for the school barracks burned down just after the football season ended, then the school burned down and never reopened.   But perhaps more noteworthy was their young football coach who, out of a job after the school calamities, followed the pipeline to Vanderbilt as an assistant coach. By 1923, at age 31, he was head coach at Alabama, then by 1930 head coach at Duke, where he would remain until 1950. Overall he won three National Championships at Alabama in seven years and had an unprecedented winning   (110-36-7) record at Duke. Plus a 1-0 career record against Central. His name   –   William Wallace Wade.