In our quest to tell the story of Evansville football over the last 100 years we’ve discussed schools that have closed and the final teams to wear their jersey. But in our final installment, we take a look back at what it was like to start something knew. Harrison High School opened in 1962, with the expectation that its football team would take time. This morning we take a look back on how a tradition was set way ahead of schedule.
“Harrison hit the athletic world in third gear. We just took right off and went gangbusters.”
When Evansville’s newest high school opened it was common thought it would take 5 years for its athletic department to find its footing. By the looks of its football field that would have been a good guess.
“Our first field was a rock pile because they just build the school. They barely got the school done in time to open for students.”
Before school, Ron Overton and the rest of the football team had to go to other nearby schools to practice.
“Harrison was in the country. On North Green River Road, there was just one or two businesses and that was it. Everything North of the state hospital was just country.”
That practice paid off. In just its second year as a school Harrison won it’s first game against an Evansville school.
“We won our first city game which was against Rex Mundi. I never will forget that. It was 7-6. John Jacoby kicked the extra point to win that game for us.”
That win was a part of the first winning season for the school that had no standard set by previous alumni.
“There was no tradition of course with kids coming from all 3 or 4 different schools into one place. We hadn’t played together and stuff like that, and getting used to the coaches and things like that.”
In just its second year as a school Harrison was able to win the SIAC trophy, marking the top athletic program in the conference. Overton played a big role in that as the quarterback of the football team, and leading the basketball team to an undefeated regular season. Suddenly a school with no tradition, had a standard set.
“To know that you were there to help, like I said we had so many outstanding kids and you were one of them to help get things off the ground and start the traditions they’ve had out there. It’s rewarding.”
Overton went on to play football at Indiana State University. In 2015, he was inducted to the Harrison High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Proof of the legacy he and the first team at the school built, standing right next to him that night were two NFL players, Scott Studwell and Kevin Hardy.