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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tivy High School Football in 1920 -- 100 years ago

Kerrville Tivy High School football 1920
Tivy High School football team -- 1920
Click on any image to enlarge

I enjoyed reading through “KDT Varsity” special section in Thursday’s edition of this newspaper, and I know many folks are happy to see high school football start up again.

Mike Keith’s photo of the 2020 Tivy Antler football team, trainers, and coaching staff was particularly impressive. What a fine-looking group of young men and women – guided by a dedicated group of coaches and educators.

One thing that impressed me by the photograph was the sheer number of folks involved, each playing a part to make the football season successful.

It reminded me of photographs I have of another Tivy football team – from 100 years ago: The 1920 Tivy football squad.

The 1920 Tivy High School football team

In 1920, public schools were on Tivy Street between 3rd and North streets, the site today of B. T. Wilson 6th Grade Campus and the Kerrville Independent School District offices. Across Barnett Street was also part of the 1920s schools; today some of those buildings house the Alamo Colleges campus.

(Although there is a school campus on the site today named for a local African-American educator, B. T. Wilson, in 1920 Kerrville schools were segregated, and remained so until the mid-1960s.)

Looking at the photographs of the 1920 Tivy football team, there are lots of things that have changed in the last 100 years.

First off, there are very few folks in the 1920 photograph – just 15 young men. They are wearing an assortment of uniforms. Protective padding is minimal, if present at all, and not all of the players have helmets. The uniforms look torn and ragged, and none of the players is sporting a player number on their sweaters.

In the shot where the players are in position on the line, you can see the homemade goalpost behind the players. Beyond that, a line of scraggly oak trees. Two folks can be seen leaning against the goalpost, and the shadow of the photographer can be seen.

Tivy High School, 1918

The Tivy High School building in 1920 was quite different from today’s large Tivy campus, three stories plus what looks like rooms in the attic. Much of that cut-stone building was still in use until the early 1980s as the Hal Peterson Junior High School. When I was a student there in the mid-1970s, portions of the building were closed off to students. You could feel the floors shake slightly when someone walked across a room.

In 1920, enrollment at Tivy High School was 151 students; 20 of those were seniors that year. From elementary to high school, there were 420 students enrolled, which was a record for the school district. Six teachers, including the district’s superintendent, R. A. Franklin, taught in the high school that year.

While I’ve found news stories about the 1920 Tivy team, the information is very limited. I know they played 10 games, though 2 of those games were against Junction. (Junction won the first one; Tivy, the second.) They also played St. Mary’s Academy of San Antonio, the West Texas Military Academy of San Antonio, and Llano. I do not know the other teams they played that year.

The games were played in the afternoon – there were no stadium lights to illuminate the football field.

The news story about the Llano game was published on November 5, 1920, and tells the last names of a few of the players: Flach, Wilson, Remschel, Horn, and two players named Rees, ‘G.’ and Casper. It appears Remschel was the quarterback. The story tells about unfair calls by a referee, and called them “prejudiced and poorly informed.”

One thing is certainly missing from every news story about the 1920 Tivy football team. Never once, in any of the stories, was the team called the ‘Antlers.’ I’m not sure when the team adopted that mascot – but it seems it was after 1920.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has enjoyed watching many a Tivy football game. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 26, 2020.

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