In the early days of high school football, you would occasionally see someone lining up sporting a five o’clock shadow and the appearance of last seeing the inside of a classroom sometime a few years in their past.
It was enough of problem, the Washington High School Association decided to come up with some rules about making sure the players were actually students of the school they were representing. One such rule had to do with age. If you’re 26, you probably shouldn’t be out there.
In 1934, the Spokane City League was having a spirited football campaign, and Rogers High was enjoying a very good year. They won their first five games in league and only a 12-6 setback to Gonzaga High in the annual Shrine game spoiled an undefeated league season.
Gonzaga also was having a good year, with their only loss being to Rogers in an earlier game. They also had a 0-0 tie with Lewis and Clark.
Early in November, it was pointed out by the State Association that three players were over the newly established age rule. They were legitimate students at the schools they attended, but the Association ruled that games in which they had participated would be forfeited. Rogers, Gonzaga and North Central were the schools affected.
The State Board insisted the decision was no reflection on the schools, saying that the evidence clearly indicated that school officials acted in good faith, and believed the players were eligible as certified.
Nonetheless, it made a mess of league standings. Rogers went from 5-1-0 to 2-3-0. Gonzaga’s ineligible player only took to the field in one game, that being with North Central. Since both schools played with an offending player, the game was ruled a non-counter in league, leaving the Bullpups with a 4-0-1 record and the league crown. Lewis and Clark was the only team not penalized, and went from winless to 2-3-1. The Rogers-North Central game was also ruled a non-counter.
Rogers, with only the one loss on their season before the state ruling, salvaged some pride with two wins over non-league opponents to end the year. One of those was a 14-7 victory on the road against a strong Helena, Montana squad that was considered that state’s best team.
After the 1934 forfeit parade, the Spokane City League only saw one more forfeited game due to an ineligible player in the rest of its long 50 year history.