Putting 100 years of Evansville football into perspective

100 Years of Football


EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) – The sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of a high school football game are unmatched.

Any player on the field will tell you how special it is, but it takes those who haven’t played the game in a long time to give the perspective of how long the feeling lasts.

“I just always knew I was going to play football. The biggest thing is just making the friends and the comradery. Being with all the players, I’m still friends, I still talk to a lot of the guys I played with in both high school and college,” recalls Bob Hawkins, a former North kicker and lineman.

A bond built on the field in a few short years, lasts for decades.

“When they had reunions and stuff, I came back to all of them. We talked about everything,” says James Anderson, a former Lincoln High football star.

All it takes is for one student to be struck by the emotion the game brings in high school, to begin a tradition of spending Friday night with the same people that seemingly never ends.

“They have some wonderful people. They have some wonderful memories,” recalls Jimmy Hummel, Memorial High class of 1954, “Their kids go there and it just keeps going and going. I enjoy that standpoint. Not only watching the games and seeing the teams play, but seeing some old friends every week too. It makes a big difference.”

But in talking to more than a dozen former players in the Tri-State on this 100 year anniversary of football in Evansville, what stands out most is how many who have been removed from the game for so long, feel like their character is forever shaped by their time in pads.

“For me it was something that helped me grow into a man. I was kind of this awkward kid. I started playing football and I got knocked around. It was something I could have a sense of pride in. Because I knew what I was doing made a difference to help the team,” said Dan Engler, a former Reitz football player,” The people that came before me, all the players that had played there I know the hard work that they had put in, all the sacrifices they had made. All the championships and everything they had done for Reitz football because they loved the program. They loved the school and that was a way for me to give back too.”

“I don’t think I would trade those memories for anything. I certainly believe it made me the person that I am today. It helped me to generate life and get through life’s trials. I wish I could go back and recreate it. It’s over fast. It’s a short time span. You think it’s forever when you’re in that time span, but it’s very short.”

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