• Penny Weichel

100 Years Ago: Both Oil City and Franklin had their moments

The football seasons for both Oil City and Franklin in 1920 – 100 years ago -- were fairly unspectacular, record-wise.

Oil City started 0-3, but won its last four games. Franklin was 3-4 in Henry Pierson’s only season as coach.

Strangely, though, the Oilers did post one of their most lopsided victories ever over Franklin – then known as the Nursery – 54-0 on Nov. 6. That Franklin had its Nov. 13 meeting with Meadville called off due to injuries and illness might have had something to do with it since comparative scores don’t foretell of such a trouncing.

The Oilers were not without their woes, though, as the game got off to an ominous start for them. “(Harold) Peterson, local quarterback, sustained a dislocation to his collarbone, a cracked rib and injuries to ligaments on the side. The accident happened early in the game, but he continued to play,” The Derrick reporter wrote.

Coming off a three-touchdown game against Titusville the week before, Peterson added two more against the Nursery.

But, the big star for the Oilers was Bob Begley, who rushed for 113 yards on 31 carries, scored four touchdowns and kicked four extra points.

“(His) line plunges (were) oddly reminiscent of Jack Cleaves, with his lunging start before he hit the line,” The Derrick said. Cleaves, who starred for Oil City a few years before, was playing college ball for Princeton in 1920.

The Oilers also got two returns for TDs against Franklin, a 35-yard interception by Fred “Pete” Fox and a 45-yard fumble recovery by George Chacona.

Both teams beat Titusville 39-0 that season. Franklin rebounded to end the campaign with its victory over the boys from the Queen City as Al Wilt passed for more than 100 yards. Four went to Harold “Len” Hill for 52 yards and Arnold Vogan caught two for 40, including a 30-yard TD.

Vogan also scored on an 80-yard interception return and Eddie Burns added two more touchdowns, one on a 25-yard fumble return as Nursery posted their second victory of the season over Titusville.

The first was on Oct. 2 when Wilt scored on a pair of 10-yard runs and Hendry “Dutch” Ramsey ran 30 yards for another TD in a 20-0 triumph.

Wrote The News-Herald, “Ramsey was penalized four times for alleged hurdling during the last quarter.”

Ramsey scored after a blocked punt in the third quarter to tie the game with Greenville, and Franklin went on to win 12-6 when Elgin “Yinga Skinny” Wood ran 30 yards to paydirt with four minutes to play in what was its only other victory of the season.

Franklin lost to its Alumni (6-0), Grove City (7-0) and Slippery Rock Normal (27-7).

Meanwhile, after blanking Franklin, Oil City topped Greenville, 7-0, on Tom Detar’s 65-yard interception return. The Oilers finished with an 18-0 victory over Warren.

Oil City opened with two road games, the first Oct. 9 in a 13-7 loss to Meadville. “The trip will be made by automobile and the machines will leave at 10 o’clock in the morning,” The Derrick noted.

Chacona’s 45-yard run accounted for the Oilers’ only TD against the Bulldogs. The next week, in a 21-6 loss at Warren, Fred Moore dashed 70 yards for a touchdown, but before it was over, the Oilers were treated to a rude awakening.

“Chacona and Moore were kicked in the head in the final period and had to be carried from the field,” The Derrick reported. “This doubtless had a demoralizing effect on the remainder of the squad.”

The Oilers did lose to Grove City, 10-0, in their next outing before cruising past Titusville to begin the season-ending win streak. The momentum would carry into 1921 with an 8-0-1 regular season before a 42-0 loss to WPIAL recognized champion Monessen in a challenge game.

Chacona, Begley and Peterson led the 1920 Oilers with five touchdowns apiece, and Begley and Chacona each added five PATs. Fox threw both of the Oilers’ touchdown passes.

The 1920 Oilers. The "H" on the football stood for "High" as in Oil City HIGH School.

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