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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Bill Pierce’s almanac: Spokane high school football in 1894

Spokane high school football dates back well over a century.  When the first Spokane High team was organized is difficult to confirm, but Thanksgiving of 1894 saw the local school taking on a major opponent in Washington Agricultural College, now known as Washington State University.

It was the first year of football for the college, and the second of two games it played that season, the other being an earlier loss to the University of Idaho.  Fans were encouraged to pick up tickets for the game at local businesses, including  John W. Graham’s, for 25 cents.

The game was played in Spokane at the local ball park and newspapers of the time kept track of the high school’s practices leading up to the contest. R. Lewis Rutter agreed to act as coach, and wasn’t impressed with the squad’s practices, believing them to be too individual and not oriented toward team play.

“If there is not a big change in the next few days Pullman will win without half trying,” stated Rutter.

The two teams were about the same size, with the Pullman athletes averaging 157 pounds, barely beating out the Spokane boys, who came in at 153. Spokane High sported the colors of red and black, while the college took to the field wearing the interesting combination of pink and blue. About 2,000 fans showed up for the game, which, in spite of Rutter’s concerns, was dominated by his team. Spokane scored four touchdowns in the first half, and a safety in the second, to win easily.

That evening after the game, the two teams were entertained at the home of ex-Spokane mayor, E. L. Powell.  Music, vocal and instrumental , was furnished by some of the guests and part of the evening was spent dancing. A delicious supper was served. About 100 attended.

Back home, the Pullman contingent said they were satisfied with the treatment they received in Spokane, but regretted not being there a day earlier and bringing their A game. They only played Spokane High twice more, in 1903 and 1905, but by that time were no longer a first year pick-up team and overwhelmed the high school lads by 40-0 and 51-0 scores.

Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

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