With the country less than a year into World War II, the 1942 high school football season started off with the 5th annual Vic Dessert Merry Go Round spectacle at Gonzaga University’s football field. It was an early version of today’s jamborees and 17,000 showed up for the event won by Lewis and Clark.
At halftime, each school put on stunts. Gonzaga High advertised the nearly $97,000 the school had raised in War Bonds.
Rogers High suffered the only major casualty that evening with returning back, Ernie Cress, being sidelined for the season with a broken leg.
As it turned out, even with the loss of young Cress, Rogers was the team to beat that year. With only a narrow 7-0 loss to Gonzaga, the Pirates were undisputed City Champions.
To end the season, a game was arranged with undefeated Ellensburg for Thanksgiving Day. There were no playoffs to determine a state champion in 1942, however Ellensburg was 7-0 and the game was advertised as the state crown. Tickets were to be 50 cents, or 20 cents for servicemen in uniform.
Unfortunately for them, Ellensburg had one more game the Saturday before they were to meet the Pirates against another undefeated team, Dayton. In three inches of snow, slush and mud Dayton came away with a 25-0 victory.
The Athletic Round Table, who was sponsoring the game, and officials at Rogers wanting to keep the Thanksgiving contest a state championship caliber game, tried to get Dayton to replace Ellensburg as the opponent, but received the reply, “We have everything to lose and nothing to gain.” The attempted switch angered Ellensburg, with Coach Bill Wilson stating about his team “they wouldn’t get beaten again, particularly to a Spokane school.”
On November 26, a disgruntled and injured Ellensburg team took to a frozen and windy Gonzaga University field against the Pirates and suffered their second straight loss, 13-0. The passing of Tim Marier and the running of Rogers all-star halfback Rich Shulkin was too much to overcome for the Bulldogs.
After the win, Pirate fans proclaimed their heroes state champions. Dayton, sporting their 8-0 record, probably disputed that claim.