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Football above all else; Roswell’s enthusiasm for football began decades before the sport became America’s favorite pastime

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Baseball was definitely America’s favorite pastime in the first half of the 20th century. Boxing ranked second. And if you’ve seen the comedy movie “Leatherheads” starring George Clooney, then you know that pro football was all but a joke in its early days, even if the movie is pure fiction.

But thanks in part to its popularity as a college sport and the Army-Navy rivalries, it is easy to see retrospectively how enthusiasm for football would eventually transcend it to America’s favorite pastime.

Here in the Alien City, high school football has been hugely popular for over a hundred years.

Here are some memories of the good old days of Roswell football.

Remembering Roswell High School’s football season of 1909

Cecil Bonney began his senior year of high school Sept. 6, 1909, graduating in May 1910. One of the few photographs that we have of Bonney as a young man was taken during his senior year. It is the Bonney family’s honor to share this vintage photo of Roswell author Robert Cecil Bonney wearing his football uniform taken his senior year at Roswell High School as well as the Roswell High School football team photo from the year 1909.  Here are news articles gathered pertaining to that school year to go with the vintage photos.

Roswell Daily Record, Nov. 26, 1909

“The Roswell High School football team journeyed down to Artesia yesterday and took the Artesia High School team into camp very easily by the score of 33 to 0.”

Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 31, 1909

In Roswell news: “An automobile ride for all visitors and a high school football game, in which Roswell defeated Artesia, seven to five, occupied the afternoon.”

A Roswell Daily Record news article by Donna Ikard, a guest writer for the family of Cecil Bonney, dated Nov. 8, 1906, records the first mention of creating a high school football team in Roswell, simply stating, “A meeting of the football enthusiasts of Roswell will be held tonight at seven o’clock at Hamilton Bros. tailor shop for the purpose of discussing the organization of a team to play the Military Institute team on Thanksgiving.”

More than a century later. Roswell and Goddard high schools, NMMI and others take to the field for a season of greatness. We at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico and Roswell Daily Record would like to wish all the teams of 2017 good luck!

Following are more articles, photos, quips and quotes taken from old Roswell High School Annuals and newspaper stories.

Roswell High School Annual, 1918

The season of 1917 was a good one for RHS taking everything into consideration. The schedule of games was the best the school ever had, and the team while not the best ever produced by RHS Would compare favorably with any of them. Of the six games played with high schools we won four and demonstrated ourselves to be in the same class with El Paso, said to be one of the strongest, if not the strongest, high school team in Texas. Naturally, we were beaten by NMMI, but so was every other team that played them, only two teams holding them to as low a score as we did, the “Aggies” and Wayland College.

An Appreciation

We of the athletic teams of RHS wish to express our appreciation for the tireless efforts of Coach E.A. Brock in our behalf. Mr. Brock has been always on the job, always working that Roswell might come out ahead in any contest we went into. He leaves for training camp as soon as school is out, and if he hits the Hindenburg line as hard as he continually urged us to hit that of our opponents, are sympathies are with Hindenburg.

RHS 1917 team

Verne Haymaker, captain and right half. If he can’t go under or through he goes over the top. Always leaves a considerable portion of his physiognomy on the field.

Verbal Wheeler, right guard. Steady as the Rock of Gibraltar. Has fattened up about 20 pounds in his short Naval career.

Ogle Jones, left half. Comes from a family of football players and upholds the family reputation.

David Blayney, center. Says the greatest drawbacks he finds in playing football are getting his feet stepped on and the difficulty in finding a locker large enough for his shoes.

Walden Bassett, end. Looks grouchy and dissipated in this picture, but in reality is neither.

James Cannon, left guard. First experience at football. Says if he had known how much fun it was, he would have started long ago.

Noble Dunlap, full back. When he hits the line headfirst, something has to give way, and so far his skull is undenied.

Jess Corn, left tackle. Gets everything that comes his way. The harder they come, the better he likes it.

Otis “Toad” Brenneman, end and quarterback. The biggest man on the Institute team, who weighs 209, said “Toad” is the hardest tackler that ever hit him.

Dan Burrows, right tackle. Also wept at Clovis. Becomes angry only under great provocation.

Guy Turner, quarterback. An old hand at the game and knows football like a book. Handles the team like a general.

Wayne Ingram, center. Has a warm spot in his heart for a certain referee with whom he became acquainted with at Clovis. Sheds tears occasionally when moved to anger.

Walter Wilfley, end. Light as a feather but chuck full of grit. A spook at gathering passes.

Clarence Hinkle, end and backfield. With a little more development he will make a football star.

The line up as follows:

SENIORS                                             ALL STARS

Bradley……………………R.E. ……………….Shrader

Atkinson………………….R.T. ……………….Cooper

Cullen……………………..R.G. ………………Sherman

Bonney…………………….C. …………………Foster

Cullen C. …………………L.G. ………………Dunn

Smith ……………………..L.T. ……………….White

Ammonett………………..L.E. ……………Jones, C. B.

Hill………………………….Q.B. ……………….Crile

Conn……………………….R.H.B. ……………Jones L.

Turner……………………..L.H.B. ……………Aydelott

Holland, (Capt.)…………F.B. ………Clements (Capt)

1912 RHS football

The Senior-All Star game, played after the regular season had closed, was the best game of the season. But for the high wind and the I’ll luck the boys of 1912 would surely have carried off the honors. And as it was, the ball was kept in All Star territory most of the time.

When the teams lined up for the kick off, many predicted victory for the Husky All Stars, but when the ball was put into play, the Seniors soon demonstrated their superiority. The Stars were unable to gain. The line was held firm as a rock by the big Cullen twins. At the end of the period the ball was in the Stars’ territory, and the seniors were prevented from scoring at the end of the half only by the whistle.

In the third quarter, affairs were fought on equal terms, but again and again, in the last quarter, Hill, Turner, Conn and Capt. Holland made long gains, but to no avail, as Bradley’s drop-kick was carried aside by the strong wind, and the whistle blew with the ball near the center of the field.

Roswell Daily Record, Oct. 18, 1930

Institute to Meet Miners Next Saturday

The School of Mines, with the greatest football team in it’s history, defeated Texas Tech at Lubbock last night by a score of 31-0. The Texas Miners passed through Roswell Thursday and held a short workout on the Institute field.

The New Mexico Military Institute has two games on its schedule this year which are going to be tough battles. One is with the Texas Miners. The cadets meet the Texas Miners at El Paso next Friday and Wayland College at Plainview the following week.

Roswell Daily Record, Oct. 2, 1930

Roswell and Artesia Ready Annual Game

Roswell and Artesia high schools will meet at the city athletic park at 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon in a game which may have an important bearing on the eastern New Mexico high school football championship.

The Artesia Bulldogs are rated as one of the best football teams in the valley this year, especially after holding the strong Albuquerque Indians to a 6-0 score last week.

Coach Shinkle has been working hard with the Coyotes this week attempting to smooth out the weak spots which developed in the game with Carlsbad here a week ago which the Coyotes won by a score of 18-0.

The game tomorrow afternoon is expected to be one of the best high school games of the season here in the large crowd is expected.

Tomorrow will be “Dad’s Day” at the football game between Roswell and Artesia high schools. Each member of the team and substitute will bring his dad as a special guest of the Roswell high school to witness this contest.

Janice Dunnahoo is an archive volunteer at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or email at jdunna@hotmail.com.

Editor’s note: Community news writer Timothy P. Howsare contributed to this article.