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Reflections with Sammy Way: 1908-09 state champs are undefeated

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 11/30/19
Reflections remembers one of Sumter's finest athletic programs, the 1908-09 football teams, and the spectacular record they produced in the course of two years. These teams hold records that would be difficult to exceed in any sport. The 1908 team …

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Reflections with Sammy Way: 1908-09 state champs are undefeated

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Reflections remembers one of Sumter's finest athletic programs, the 1908-09 football teams, and the spectacular record they produced in the course of two years. These teams hold records that would be difficult to exceed in any sport. The 1908 team managed to score 111 points while holding their opposition scoreless.

Improving on this record appeared to be impossible; however, the 1909 team scored an unbelievable 244 points while again holding their opposition scoreless. Reflections provides an overview of the '09 season utilizing an Item article published in December of 1936. Photos were acquired from The Item archives, and a small degree of editing was required because of the length of the article. The article, which appeared in the Sumter High News, expressed appreciation to Marion Moise "for the information in this informal account of the 1909 football team. He is the son of Mr. Francis Moise, quarterback of the 1909 team."

"One of the finest football teams Sumter High School has ever produced was the team of 1909. This was one of the few undefeated and untied teams from Sumter. They rolled up a total of 244 points and were not scored on by their opponents.

"One of the outstanding players and captain of the team was Nobel Dick, a fast-running back and a good pass receiver." He later became a physician in Alaska. The most outstanding lineman was Willie Burns, who became a hardware dealer in Sumter. He weighed over 200 pounds and played center. He was considered the largest lineman in the state and when a yard or two was needed, the quarterback called for the ball and got behind Willie Burns charging over the center.

"The ends were Hammond Bowman, a teacher in Sumter and later becoming a minister in Weytheville, Virginia. The other end was Willie Marshall, who settled in Columbia. The quarterback was Francis Moise, who became a prolific passer. In those days, the quarterback took the ball from the center on every play and dispensed it to the other backs. The running backs were Fred Nigels and Harry Davis. Nigels was the fastest man on the team and was used frequently for end runs, while Davis, the larger of the two, was used for crashing the line. Davis won the name of 'Bull' for his ability to open holes in the line. He soon became recognized as the best running back in the state.

"The linemen were Bob Haynsworth and Allen Brown at tackle with Julius Cooper and William Brogdon playing at guard. Haynsworth took residence in Sumter while Brogdon and Cooper became successful farmers in the county. The manager of the team was Bob Brown, who began the season as a player, but who had to take the position of manager on account of an injury.

"The teams did not play as many games then as they do now due to the difficulties associated with transportation. The team was restricted to scheduling local teams with Darlington, Columbia and Florence being traditional rivals. The game which attracted the most local interest was perhaps against Columbia High. The '09 game was played in Sumter before a surprisingly small crowd. From the opening whistle, the game belonged to Sumter. The Gamecocks proved too big and powerful and scored at will. Three passes were thrown, one of which was incomplete, and the other two were good for 15 yards each. The final score was 37-0 in favor of Sumter.

"Practicing was a problem for the team, as it was done at school and usually held two times a week. Harry Davis was noted to ride his bicycle 10 miles along the railroad to the school, as did William Brogdon. The team's coach was Capers Smith of Charleston, a teacher and lawyer."