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1917 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team

1917 [[Template:Infobox NCAA team season/team]]
350px
1917 Tech backfield. Left to right: Strupper; Harlan; Guyon; and Hill.
Consensus National Champions
SIAA Champions
Conference Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1917 record 9–0 (3–0 SIAA)
Head coach John Heisman (14th year)
Offensive scheme Jump Shift
Captain Walker Carpenter
Home stadium Grant Field
Seasons
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1917 SIAA football standings
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† – Conference champion

The 1917 Georgia Tech Golden Tornado football team represented the Georgia Institute of Technology during the 1917 college football season. The team was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). The Golden Tornado was coached by John Heisman in his 14th year as head coach, compiling a record of 9–0 (3–0 SIAA) and outscoring opponents 491 to 17 for its first national championship. Heisman considered the 1917 team the best one he ever coached,[1] and for many years it was considered the greatest football team the South ever produced.[2] The New York Sun then wrote "Georgia Tech looms up as one of the truly great teams of all time."[3] "Tech beat its opponents by an average score of 55 to 2. The Golden Tornado played eight home games at Grant Field. Its only road game was against Tulane.

Georgia Tech shocked many with the 41 to 0 the victory over Penn. Davidson, led by later Tech star Buck Flowers followed the Penn game, and was sometimes called the second best southern team this year.[4] The Tornado underperformed, leading only 6 to 3 at the half, but still won 32 to 10. Tulane and Vanderbilt were both respectable but unspectacular foes. All of Tech's backs ran for 100 yards or more in the Tulane game, and that 83 to 0 Vanderbilt game is still the worst loss in Vanderbilt history. The season closed against Auburn who had lost only to Davidson and had tied undefeated Big Ten champion Ohio State. If Auburn could have managed a win, it would have won the conference title. Still Tech decisively won 68 to 7. The Golden Tornado shut out all opponents aside from Davidson and Auburn.

Several Georgia Tech players received post-season honors. Walker Carpenter, Everett Strupper, and Joe Guyon were selected All-American. Carpenter and Strupper were the first two players from the Deep South ever selected All-American.[2] Bill Fincher, Pup Phillips, Si Bell, Shorty Guill, and Albert Hill were selected All-Southern. Its backfield of Hill, Strupper, Guyon, and freshman Judy Harlan was very famous,[4][5][6] called the "Four Horsemen" years before the 1924 Notre Dame backfield commonly called such.[7] Hill carried the ball the most and led the nation in scoring with 22 touchdowns. Strupper was second place.

Heisman's offense ran a "jump shift." The quarterback, both halfbacks, and fullback would be in a line, as you would in an I-formation with an extra halfback. Then the three players which were not to receive the ball from center would shift all to one side. A split second elapsed, then Tech hiked the ball and the wall of three blockers charged on.[8]

Schedule

Date Time Opponent Site Result Attendance
September 28, 1917

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Furman* Grant FieldAtlanta, GA W 25–0  

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September 29, 1917

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Wake Forest* Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 33–0  

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October 6, 1917

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Penn* Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 41–0  

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October 13, 1917

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Davidson* Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 32–10  

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October 20, 1917

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Washington & Lee* Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 63–0  

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November 3, 1917

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Vanderbilt Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 83–0  

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November 10, 1917

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at Tulane Tulane Stadium • New Orleans, LA W 48–0  

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November 17, 1917

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Carlisle* Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 98–0  

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November 29, 1917

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Auburn Grant Field • Atlanta, GA W 68–7  

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*Non-conference game.
File:1917GaTechTeamPic.png
1917 Georgia Tech football team.

Season summary

Preseason

Notable losses from the previous year include guard Bob Lang and fullback Tommy Spence. Captain Walker Carpenter was responsible this year for training new recruits Si Bell, Bill Fincher, and Dan Whelchel.[9]

15 of the 21 players on the 1917 roster were from the state of Georgia. 10 of the 11 starters came from Georgia high schools.[1]

Week 1: Furman

The Golden Tornado opened its season with a doubleheader in three inches of mud. On September 28, 1917, Georgia Tech faced Furman and won by a 25 to 0 score, playing mostly substitutes. Albert Hill scored two touchdowns and Walthall another. The second of these was Walthall's, scored after he recovered a fumble by Theodore Shaver upon crossing the goal line.[9]

Starting lineup for Tech against Furman: Ulrich (left end), Higgins (left tackle), Walthall (left guard), Johnson (center), Wright (right guard), Doyle (right tackle), Colcord (right end), Hill (quarterback), Smith (left halfback), Shaver (right halfback), Harlan (fullback).[9]

Week 2: Wake Forest

Week 2: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
</th> </tr>
1 234Total
Wake Forest 0 000 0
Georgia Tech 14 1360 33

Everett Strupper and Joe Guyon had rested for the previous game. Strupper ran for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns on 9 carries, one a 70-yarder. The first score came on the play after Strupper dashed around end for a 17-yard gain. This was Guyon's first ever carry from scrimmage for Tech; and it was a 75-yard touchdown run.[9][4] Strupper scored the next touchdown on a drive set up by his 40-yard punt return. Soon after the beginning of the second quarter, Strupper shot through the line for a 79-yard touchdown.[9] The last touchdown came with considerable effort and a methodical drive, ending in a 15-yard dive for a touchdown from Strupper.[9]

End runs by Guyon and the line plunging of Simpson set up the fifth and final score. Guyon ran in a 6-yard touchdown.[9]

Starting lineup for Tech against Wake Forest: Bell (left end), Fincher (left tackle), Thweatt (left guard), Phillips (center), Dowling (right guard), Rogers (right tackle), Carpenter (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right half back), Armsley (fullback).[9]

Week 3: Penn

File:TechPenn1917.jpg
Strupper running against Penn.
Week 3: Penn at Georgia Tech
</th> </tr>
1 234Total
Penn 0 000 0
Georgia Tech 14 6147 41

One writer notes "This was Strupper's finest hour, coming through against powerful Penn in the contest that shocked the East."[4] Penn was the first Eastern team to play in the South.[11] Strupper rushed 13 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Albert Hill managed 104 yards in 27 tries. The Tornado outgained Penn 276 yards to 11 at the half. Undefeated Pittsburgh beat Penn 14 to 6. Georgia Tech won 41 to 0.

The starting lineup for Tech against Penn: Guill (left end), Whelchel (left tackle), Fincher (left guard), Phillips (center), Dowling (right guard), Thweatt (right tackle), Carpenter (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback), Harlan (fullback).[10]

Week 4: Davidson

Davidson, which scored the most (10) on Tech, had later Tech running back Buck Flowers. Davidson defeated Auburn handily 31 to 6. Auburn tied undefeated Big Ten champ Ohio State. This was the only game none of Tech's backs gained 100 yards rushing. Tech only led 6 to 3 until Everett Strupper broke open the game in the second half.[4] Davidson got desperate and tried the pass, getting to within the 15-yard line. Walker Carpenter broke through the line and got a 10-yard loss.[12]

Davidson captain Georgie King said “I consider Georgia Tech the best football team I have ever played against or ever expect to play against.”[13]

Starting lineup for Georgia Tech against Davidson: Guill (left end), Whelchel (left tackle), Higgins (left guard), Fincher (center), Rogers (right guard), Thweatt (right tackle), Carpenter (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback), Harlan (fullback)

Week 5: Washington & Lee

In a 63 to 0 rout of the Washington & Lee Generals, Harlan said that Joe Guyon knocked a Washington & Lee player out of the game by "wearing an old horse collar shaped into a shoulder pad but reinforced with a little steel."[2] Turner Bethel was one player knocked out of the game.[14]

Starting lineup for Georgia Tech against Washington & Lee: Ulrich (left end), Fincher (left tackle), Whelchel (left guard), Phillips (center), Dowling (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback), Harlan (fullback).

Week 6: Vanderbilt

Week 6: Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech
</th> </tr>
1 234Total
Vanderbilt 0 000 0
Georgia Tech 27 142121 83

The 83 to 0 defeat of Vanderbilt was Vandy's largest suffered in its history. The team was by no means the Commodores' worst, having beaten Alabama for instance. Joe Guyon ran 9 times for 124 yards with 2 kick returns for 95 yards and 80 yards passing. He scored on 48 and 1-yard runs, and had a 75-yard kick return to set up a touchdown. He threw a pass to Shorty Guill for a score as well. Everett Strupper raced for 4 touchdowns and 147 yards in 14 carries. He also returned 5 punts for 111 yards. Albert Hill got 169 yards in 25 carries and three touchdowns. Judy Harlan carried 15 times for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.[4]

Vandy captain Alf Adams praised the Tech team: "Tech's magnificent machine won easily over Vanderbilt. It was simply the matter of a splendid eleven winning over an unseasoned, inexperienced team. "Tech played hard, clean football, and we were somewhat surprised to meet such a fair, aggressive team, after the reports we had heard. I think that Vanderbilt could have broken that Tech shift if we had had last year's eleven. Being outweighed, Vanderbilt could not check the heavy forwards, or open up the line. Thereby hangs the tale."[15]

Starting lineup for Tech against Vanderbilt: Guill (left end), Fincher (left tackle), Whelchel (left guard), Phillips (center), Dowling (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback), Harlan (fullback).[15]

Week 7: at Tulane

Week 7: Georgia Tech at Tulane
</th> </tr>
1 234Total
Georgia Tech 14 21130 48
Tulane 0 000 0
  • Date: November 10, 1917
  • Location: Second Tulane Stadium
    New Orleans, LA
  • Referee: Watkins (Sewanee)

Tech played the Tulane Olive and Blue for its only road game, winning by a score of 48 to 0. A solid foe with a 5–3 record, nonetheless all four Tech backs eclipsed 100 yards. The Times-Picayune praised Tech's backfield: "Strupper, Guyon, Hill, and Harlan form a backfield with no superiors and few equals in football history."[4] Joe Guyon threw 2 touchdowns and ran for 1, passing for 91 yards and running for 112. Albert Hill ran for 140 yards on 24 carries, including a 48-yard touchdown. Everett Strupper accounted for two scores, one a 33-yard pass from Guyon. He ran for 118. Harlan netted 111 yards. The game was called with six minutes to go because of darkness.[4]

Starting lineup for Tulane: Guill (left end), Fincher (left tackle), Whelchel (left guard), Phillips (center), Thweatt (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback), Harlan (fullback).[16]

Week 8: Carlisle

Week 8: Carlisle at Georgia Tech
</th> </tr>
1 234Total
Carlisle 0 000 0
Georgia Tech 28 282814 98
In a 98-0 win over the Carlisle Indians in 1917, Strupper drew praise for his performance. The Atlanta Journal wrote:
"Everett Strupper played like a veritable demon. At one time four Carlisle men pounced on him from all directions, and yet through some superhuman witchery he broke loose and dashed 10 yards further. On another occasion he attempted a wide end run, found that he was completely blocked, then suddenly whirled and ran the other way, gaining something like 25 yards before he was downed."[4]

Strupper scored five touchdowns against Carlisle, including a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown.[4]

Starting lineup for Tech against Carlisle: Fincher (left end), Higgins (left tackle), Whelchel (left guard), Phillips (center), Dowling (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback) Guill (fullback).[17]

Week 9: Auburn

Week 9: Auburn at Georgia Tech
</th> </tr>
1 234Total
Auburn 0 007 7
Georgia Tech 20 132114 68

Mike Donahue's Auburn team had lost only to a strong Davidson squad, and had held undefeated Big Ten champion Ohio State led by Chic Harley to a scoreless tie the week before the Tech game. Ohio State was favored in the betting booth 4 or 5 to 1.[3] Heisman and his players were at the game, rooting on the Tigers.[3] Heisman previously coached at Auburn. Moon Ducote starred for Auburn.

In the game with Auburn, Tech piled up 472 yards on the ground in 84 rushes, and got 145 yards through the air. Guyon racked up four touchdowns. Strupper had a 65-yard touchdown run that drew the following praise from the Atlanta Journal:
"It was not the length of the run that featured it was the brilliance of it. After getting through the first line, Stroop was tackled squarely by two secondary men, and yet he squirmed and jerked loosed from them, only to face the safety man and another Tiger, coming at him from different angles. Without checking his speed Everett knifed the two men completely, running between them and dashing on to a touchdown."[4]

In the second quarter Ducote broke through the line for what seemed like a sure touchdown with the help of the blocking from Pete Bonner and William Donahue. Guyon dove at him and missed, and then raced him down from behind with a showcase of tremendous speed, bringing Ducote down at the 26-yard line.[18] The only Auburn score came when Ducote circled around end for 17 yards and lateraled to Donahue, who ran down the sideline for a 6-yard touchdown.[3] Auburn was considered a strong team despite the large score; Ducote and Bonner were the only players not from Georgia Tech to be selected consensus All-Southern.

Starting lineup for Georgia Tech against Auburn: Fincher (left end), Higgins (left tackle), Mathes (left guard), Phillips (center), Dowling (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Hill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Guyon (right halfback), Guill (fullback).[18]

Post-season

On December 8, the Golden Tornado celebrated its national championship season during a team dinner at the Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta. Each member was presented with a gold football inscribed "National Champions." Clarke Mathes, William Thweatt, Dan Whelchel, Theodore Shaver, and William Higgins had already enlisted in the U. S. Marines for the First World War. Just a week later Si Bell, Jim Fellers, Pup Phillips, and Charles Johnson also left for the Marines.[3]

Heisman challenged Pop Warner's Pittsburgh team to a postseason contest to determine a national champion, but as such a match did not occur until the next season, Tech was named national champion. The Golden Tornado was invited to play a 4–3 Oregon team in the Rose Bowl, but by then many players had joined the war effort as described above.[1]

"I consider the 1917 Tech team the best football I have ever coached," Heisman said. "It's the best team I have seen in my long career as a coach. I was lucky in having under me a team whose members possessed much natural ability and who played the game intelligently. I have never seen a team that, as a whole, was so fast in the composite.[1]

Players

Varsity letterwinners

[19]

Other players

  • W. Simpson, Atlanta, Georgia - running back
  • Wally Smith, Atlanta, Georgia - running back
  • Walthall

Stats and scoring leaders

The following is an incomplete list of statistics and scores largely dependent on newspaper summaries.

Player Touchdowns Extra points Field goals Points Yards Carries
Albert Hill 22 1 0 133 669 125
Everett Strupper 20 0 0 120 1,002 99
Joe Guyon 15 8 0 98 618 84
Bill Fincher 0 49 0 49 0 0
Judy Harlan 5 0 0 30 341 59
Shorty Guill 4 1 0 25 108 12
Wally Smith 2 0 0 12 0 0
Pup Phillips 1 0 0 6 0 0
Dan Whelchel 1 0 0 6 0 0
Si Bell 1 0 0 6 0 0
Theodore Shaver 1 0 0 6 0 0
TOTAL 72 59 0 491 2,738 379

[20]

Coaching staff

  • Head coach: John Heisman
  • Assistant coach: Charles "Wahoo" Guyon

Awards and honors

References

  1. ^ a b c d Adam Van Brimmer (2011). 100 Things Yellow Jackets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. 
  2. ^ a b c Wiley Lee Umphlett (1992). Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0313284040. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Heisman, John M. (2012). Heisman: The Man Behind The Trophy. Simon and Shuster. pp. 160, 164. ISBN 1451682913. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bernie McCarty (February 1988). "Georgia Tech's 1917 backfield, better than the Four Horsemen Part 1". College Football Historical Society 1 (3).  Part 1 Part 2
  5. ^ "Everett Strupper, Tech Immortal, Passes Suddenly". Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine 28 (4). 1950. 
  6. ^ Adam Van Brimmer. Stadium Stories: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. p. 7. 
  7. ^ Pat Edwards. "Ramblin's". 
  8. ^ John Heisman. "Jump Shift Is A Legal Play". The Washington Herald. Retrieved June 2, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Jackets Win Double Bill" (PDF). The Technique. October 2, 1917. p. 4. 
  10. ^ a b "Athletics". The Pennsylvania Gazette (Weekly Magazine of the University of Pennsylvania) 16 (2): 47–48. October 12, 1917. 
  11. ^ "Georgia Tech Digital Portal". 
  12. ^ Technique 9 Oct 1917, Print.
  13. ^ (16 November 2010) In "Technique Newsletter Volume 07, Issue 11." Retrieved November 16, from http://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/26083
  14. ^ "Georgia Crushes W. And. L" (PDF). The New York Times. October 21, 1917. p. 3. 
  15. ^ a b c "Vanderbilt Completely Overwhelmed" (PDF). The Technique. November 6, 1917. p. 4. 
  16. ^ a b "Tech Swamps Tulane" (PDF). The Technique. November 13, 1917. p. 4. 
  17. ^ a b "Tech Smothers Indians" (PDF). The Technique. November 20, 1917. p. 4. 
  18. ^ a b c "Golden Tornado Wins Great Victory" (PDF). The Technique. December 4, 1917. p. 4. 
  19. ^ Dick Jemison (November 4, 1917). "Golden Tornado A Real Southern Eleven Atlanta Has Right To Be Proud Of Them". The Atlanta Constitution. p. 3. Retrieved March 18, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  20. ^ "Albert Hill Led In Points Scored". Atlanta Constitution. December 2, 1917. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read