Evansville high school football tested by major events in last 100 years

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Football as a sport has changed a lot over the last century in Evansville.

“There would be 0-0 ties, or 3-3 ties, or 7-6. It really depended on the matchup. It’s not like today,” said author Dan Engler.

Even having a football season has been tough some years, due to outside events like the stock market and the Great Depression that followed.

“A lot of the guys did not finish school. They dropped out and got work, whatever work they could get to help the family. You lost people out of the school system that would have been playing sports. It was more important if they could get some type of work for them to do that for their families,”

Then came World War II only a decade later, once again causing families to put sports aside, meaning it was hard for some schools to put 11 players on the field.

“Especially when you got toward your junior and senior year a lot of guys were going into the military. That affected high school sports. It affected even more college sports because unless you’ve got a draft deferment. That’s one of those, not just football but basketball, all of those. Even professional, the ranks thinned out and the quality went down,” said Willard Library historian Stan Schmitt.

COVID has hit Evansville high school football hard, but in some ways its history repeating itself. A little more than 100 years ago another pandemic actually halted sports, and closed schools completely.

“You get in middle, toward the summer of 1918, and then through the spring of 1919. I mean they shut things down. The death rate, the illness rate here even in Evansville is way past anything you can think of the last year for COVID,” added Schmitt.

It’s been a rough road, but like the players who hit the field this Friday, every time a hits given it gets back up.

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