• Penny Weichel

1933 season -- just because

So let’s start where the season ended – Nov. 11, 1933. Franklin vs. Oil City at Miller-Sibley Field.

The Nursery – as the Knights were called back then – had a pretty good team – 4-1-2, the only loss coming to Meadville, 21-0, which cost them a shot at the Skillen Cup, and the Oilers 3-4 in an injured-riddled season.

Nobody had “to throw out the record books.” Franklin won 12-0. What was different, was that while other games in the region were called off due to the weather, the Nursery and Oilers forged on at Miller-Sibley Field.

A snow plow was working the field on the eve of the game. The first half was played in a cold wind; the second half in sleet and snow.

Reported The News-Herald, “The playing field resembled a section of Little America (whatever that means) and only an igloo and walrus or two were needed to complete the illusion.”

Nick Monarch scored both touchdowns for Franklin on runs of 35 and 7 yards. He also recovered a fumble when Oil City’s Johnny Toth slipped as he was crossing the goal and the ball flew out of his hands – and into the hands of Monarch.

The Oilers were deep in Franklin territory three times, but lost the ball on downs at the 9 and 3 the first two trips. Bill Walker made a sensation leaping catch at the three before Toth’s fumble.

The only other blemishes on Franklin’s record, besides the loss to Meadville – which was led by future Pitt All-America Bill Daddio – were 0-0 ties with Punxsutawney in the Sept. 18 opener and Titusville on Oct. 28 after the Meadville game.

In between, Franklin blanked Greenville, 13-0, and then played and beat Cochranton and Farrell 6-0 and 13-0 on back-to-back days, Oct. 6-7.

Greenville completed 20 – yes, 20! – passes, and the Nursery intercepted five others. Lew Judson scored one of Franklin’s touchdowns and Steve Marchibroda passed to Leonard Sitkowski for the other. An exhibition baseball game featuring Pie Traynor and Hank Suhr was played on the Greenville field only days before the football game.

Now, about those back-to-back games. It seems Meadville was scheduled to play Farrell that weekend, but the game was postponed due to an epidemic of infantile paralysis. So, Franklin picked up the game with the Night Riders, playing them in a rare Friday night contest at Farrell. The Nursery won the game in the last five seconds on a 2-yard run by Roy Perry after Ted Nalepa caught a 40-yard pass to set up the TD.

Franklin had held Farrell at the one-foot line in the third quarter.

The next afternoon, in its home opener before 400 fans, Franklin blanked Cochranton behind Monach, who scored one of the TDs, and reeled off runs of 34 and 28 yards. Everybody got into the game for Franklin.

The tie with Titusville came against a Rocket team that had practically everybody back from 1932. The Nursery was on the 10 as the game ended after a long pass from Sitkowski to Nalepa. Earlier, Titusville had a TD called back due to a clipping penalty. Judson had an interception for Franklin.

Franklin rebounded for a 6-0 victory over Oil City St. Joe. The only touchdown came on a 3-yard run in the opening quarter by Jim Cole, who had moved to fullback from center. John Myer recovered a blocked punt on the 10 to set it up.

Franklin scored only five touchdowns in its eight games, three of them by Monarch, who made first team All-Skillen Trophy along with tackle Paul Steele. End Bill Beith, center Ted Maloney, tackle Leo Cotterman and guard Bob Jones made the second team.

After the season was over, The News-Herald reported that the school was losing $400-$500 a year because there was no fence around Miller-Sibley. The Rotary and Kiwanis clubs were working to remedy the situation.

Bell leads Oiler efforts

Meanwhile, Oil City opened with back-to-back shutouts over Corry, 26-0, and Girard, 27-0, Its only other with was called back then one of the greatest in OCHS history – 38-0 over that veteran Titusville team.

Alfred “Pete” Bell, a 200-pounder, scored four TDs on short runs and two PATs. Bell’s 27-yard pass to Dick Bickel set up his first touchdown, and his 14-yard run on a reverse led to the second. It came after Joe Wojtowicz recovered a fumble on the Titusville 25.

Johnny Toth scored the last two touchdowns, the second on a 22-yard run. Joe Szafran’s 10-yard pass to Bell set up Toth’s first TD. And Szafran’s 22-yard burst led to Bell’s third score.

Bell, Toth and Szafran all made big plays in the victories over Corry and Girard. Turnovers set up three touchdowns against Corry – a blocked punt by Alex Synkowski and fumble recoveries by Wojtowicz and Bill Copley.

Toth and Bell both converted drop kicks for extra points against Girard.

But the Oilers were blanked the next two games and four of the final six. They racked up 21 first downs against Warren, but couldn’t find the end zone. Oil City also picked up two safeties after blocked punts, one by Sherd Stoudt.

Bell, who scored on a 71-yard run against Grove City, scored seven touchdowns and was first team All-Skillen Cup along with Walker and tackle Spunk Anderson. Toth, who added five touchdowns, was second team along with Szafran and guard Jerry Brown.

1933 Franklin Nurserymen. Coach Ed Treadwell would be at the far left in the second row.

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