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April 27, 1996

By the time the fall of 1936 arrived, Perry high school football fans had grown accustomed to wining. During the previous two seasons, the PHS Maroons had lost only one game and three consecutive winning seasons had the local populace begging for more. Since his arrival here in 1931, Coach Hump Daniels had instilled a fresh new spirit not only in the student body, but indeed in the community as a whole. Perhaps no one expected the abundance of thrills awaiting them in 1936.

Sixty boys turned out for pre-season workouts directed by Daniels and his chief assistant, V D. Petree, a high school science teacher. The squad included eleven returning lettermen from the 1935 team which finished with a 9-1-1 record, but Hump commented on September 5, in an interview with The Journal's sports editor, that the team lacked both depth and experience. Several new players were being counted on to fill the breach.

One of the returning linemen, center Kenneth Carmack, was unable to juggle his work schedule and school schedule, so his playing status looked doubtful. Orville Winters was expected to take over for Carmack. Some of those looking good in early practices were Jack Wurtz, quarterback; Clay Rook, halfback; and Kenneth Evans, fullback. Gene Dauman or Bob Burke was expected to be the other halfback for the first game of the season at Fair Park Field, when Medford would come to town.

On the Thursday before that first game, city crews were adjusting floodlights at the fairgrounds grandstand in preparation for a night contest. A record crowd was expected. On the injury front, Hump announced that end Bill Jensen probably would not play because of a jammed toe. He gave this rundown on probable starters: Winters, center; Jimmy Cain, right guard; Woody Foster or Pat Dennis, left guard; Gerald Miller or Robert Edwards, left tackle; Ralph Treeman, right tackle; Bruce Wilson or Vester Wilhelm, right end; co-captain, Paul Kehres, left end; Wurtz, quarterback; Rook and Dauman, halfbacks; and Kenneth Evans, fullback. Other backs likely to play were Paul Walter, Raymond Sanders, King Montgomery, Gene Hanna, Burke, Carl Laird Jr., Frank Jones Jr. and Bill Smith.

"Maroons Romp to Easy Victory" was the headline on the story in The Journal after the game. The Maroons defeated Medford 33-0 as Hump used 30 players. Peppy music was provided by Prof. Leopold Radgowsky's PHS band to add a little color to a rather one-sided game. The Perry team outweighed the visitors by a considerable margin. Wurtz scored the first touchdown on a 20-yard run. Rook, in his first game for Perry high school, kicked the first extra point.

One week later, Evans scored in the last minute of play to hand the Maroons a hard-fought 6-0 victory on a rain-soaked field at Ponca City. Carmack intercepted a Wildcat pass seconds later and scooted from the PHS 35 to the Ponca City 10 yard line before he was dragged down. Later in the season, Clay Rook was declared ineligible because his home was outside the Perry school district. As a consequence, Perry was compelled to forfeit the Ponca game and thereby wiped out a perfect unbeaten, untied season. The bitter taste left by that ruling was extremely difficult to overcome in this football-happy town.

On the following Friday the Maroons defeated Coach Jim Lookabaugh's Capitol Hill squad, 60-0. The Oklahoma City team claimed they sent their "reserves" here for the game, but local fans believed it was the varsity. In any event Perry's first string played less than half a game. Newkirk was the next Maroon victim, falling 52-0, then Oklahoma City Classen came to town with a strong team a week later. The Maroons won that one, 19-0, and considered it a real triumph even if the comets asserted that they also sent their "B" team. Perry defeated the Enid Plainsmen, 20-0, in the sixth game of the season. It was homecoming and a record crowd attended. During halftime, Mary McClellan, a sophomore, was crowned football queen by co-captains Paul Kehres and Robert Edwards. Attendants were Priscilla Thompson, a senior, and Helen Fitzhugh, a junior. Fans also presented gifts that night to Hump and his assistant coach, V D. Petree.

Hominy became the only team to score on the Maroons a week later when they recovered a fumble over the goal line. Jensen scored on a 60-yard run in the afternoon game at Hominy. Fullback Evans had three touchdowns, one on a 65-yard gallop. Perry won the game, 32-7. The Maroons then outclassed Drumright on the Tornadoes' home field, 31-0. Three Perry touchdowns were called back in a game marked by "miserable officiating," according to The Journal's account.

On the following Friday Perry defeated the always-tough Fairfax Red Devils, 27-0. It was the Maroons' final Northern Conference game of the year. One week later, Perry easily defeated Crescent, 38-0. There were no post-season playoffs back then, but on the day after the Crescent game it was announced that Perry would play at Henryetta on Thanksgiving Day. The Hens also were undefeated and were reputed to be the strongest team in the eastern half of the state. To wind up the regular season, the Maroons mauled Carmen 58 - 0. Kehres, Laird, Evans and Jensen each scored two touchdowns. Cockrum also scored a TD. Extra points were kicked by Dauman (2), Carmack and Evans.

To climax the year, Perry defeated Henryetta 12-0 in the "turkey bowl" game. "The Maroons completely outplayed the Hens," The Journal story said. Evans scored from the one yard line early in the second quarter. Defensive back Paul Walter intercepted a Henryetta pass and ran 50 yards to score the other TD. Perry had 259 yards rushing, Henryetta had 56. The Maroons had 17 first downs, the Hens had. four, including two by penalties.

Despite their wonderful record, Hump's Maroons did not win the Northern Conference crown because of the forfeiture to Ponca City. The final standings showed Pawhuska on top with a 4-0-1 (.900) record. Blackwell and Ponca City (both 6-1-0 .857) tied for second and Perry finished fourth with an official record of 5-1-0 (.833). It was a big conference. Other members were Enid, Guthrie, Fairfax, Stillwater, Drumright, Hominy, Newkirk and Cushing.

Wurtz was chosen as a quarterback on the Tulsa Tribune's 1936 All-State team and tackle Bob Edwards was named to the Tulsa World's All-State squad. Paul Kehres, Wurtz and Edwards were on the All-Conference team; Wurtz was named a captain of the team. Edwards won the Lions club trophy as most valuable football player of the year.

The Poor Boys club, Lions and Rotarians sponsored a banquet to honor the Maroons on December 14. Visiting coaches who spoke at the affair in the Methodist church basement included Vie Hurt, 'Tulsa University; Ted Cox, Oklahoma A.&M.; Spec Moore, OU end coach; and Dewey Luster, Norman high school coach and newly named OU backfield coach. Dr. A. M. Crowder led group singing of "America," and Dr. O. W. Boyer gave the invocation. Hump introduced each player. V. D. Petree, Hump's assistant coach, and Jack Snyder, whose truck transported players to the practice field each day, were guests.

Thus did the great 1936 season end. One game was forfeited to spoil an otherwise superb record, but the Maroons should have reigned supreme in the conference and probably would have been crowned state champions if a playoff system had been in existence. Hump Daniels' teams had other exciting years. In 1944 they almost grabbed the brass ring in the state playoffs. No doubt a case could be made for the greatness of many of those teams, but in the minds of most followers, 1936 was the peak year for the Maroons under Coach Harold Daniels. Two more installments remain to wrap up this series of columns.