I played football against the blind
November 16, 2011 - It was only 60 years ago, but the fall of every year I recall high school football playing days. I've only written about this experience twice, so it'll be new to most.
The size of teams may have changed, but the "win at all costs" attitude hasn't.
I was a starter for my three years at Morrice High School. Of course I was a starter. There were only 8 eligible boys and two of them were more timid than me.
The teams had a center, quarterback, two ends and two backs. I wanted to be an end to catch passes, so the coach made me a quarterback.
I was tall and thin, the backs were short and stout. They were also old enough to be through school. Just kidding.
It was 1940. Morrice, Vernon, Byron, Bath, Laingsburg, Haslett and New Lothrop were all class D schools, and all had 6-man football teams. A couple years before that Vernon fielded an 11-man team. In 1943 Vernon High School was closed.
Then came WWII, the economy grew along with housing and soon 11-man football was back.
Anyway, in 6-man football the ball had to be touched by two in the backfield before one could start running.
The other option was to pass the ball to an end. Having a back sneak out of the backfield for a pass hadn't been thought of yet.
Plays were drawn up by our coach/science teacher and used up on the first series of downs. After that the halfbacks improvised.
In every huddle the only thing I heard was "Gimme the ball," from each of them. So I did that. I didn't want to get hit.
I did catch a pass once from a halfback, for a 25-yard gain. The coach knew we would try that play again, and yelled, "No! No! No!" I got smashed.
I made one good defensive play in my three years. It was against dirty Laingsburg. All our opponents were dirty players.
I knocked the ball carrier into next week. Trouble was, the webbing in my helmet broke and it settled over my eyes. And, there were no replacement helmets.
I can't remember our record for any year. I do remember winning one game. That was against Bath and it was a big upset.
There was no seating for fans. Heck the only ones on the sidelines was the 2 subs and the coach.
My home was across the road from the school. But, no one in our family of six ever saw me play. My sister played cymbals in the MHS band and still she didn't come see me play.
Now that I'm the only one left I'll tell you I was named to both the All League and All State 6-man football team all three years.
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The School for the Blind in Lansing had a 6-man team, but they weren't in our league. Our coach signed us up to play them.
There was an unwritten rule about playing this team. We were not to call pass plays. These mean looking gents came up to the line, touching each other for position and lunged at us.
The game was scoreless near the end and science teacher/coach called for a pass play. We won. So much for sportsmanship, courtesy and respect. Winning is what's important.
Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.