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May 2, 1996

Photograph of the 1944 PHS Football Team
PHS Football Team made it to the semi-finals of the state playoffs in 1944 when Coach Harold “Hump” Daniels was at the crest of his illustrious career here. It was the first year of prep playoffs in Oklahoma. Linemen crouched in three-point stance, from left: end Charles Lawson, tackle Charles Harman, guard Calvin Kelley, center Charles Plumer, guard Roger Dale Silver, tackle George Hall and end Jim Dolezal. In the backfield with Coach Daniels, from left: halfback Joe Sewell, fullback Bob Bechtold, quarterback Bob Cutsinger and halfback Omer Peters. Houses shown in background were on Fir avenue facing south. A corner of the old high school band building also is shown. (Photo courtesy Calvin Kelley)

The recent series of columns about the legendary feats of Perry high school football teams under Coach Harold "Hump" Daniels in the 1930s was not intended to be a comprehensive history of his great record at PHS. The focus was on the decade that began when he came to Perry from Yale high school in 1931, but in reflecting on that era and researching records for those columns, several facts became apparent. For one thing, Hump had a number of teams that were distinguished for several reasons -- more than just their won-loss records. It would be difficult to pinpoint any single team as "the best" coached by Hump, but you'd have to give serious consideration to the Maroons of 1944.

Post-season playoffs sanctioned by the Oklahoma High School Activities Association were introduced that year. Until then, there were no officially recognized state champions in football. Several teams through the years claimed to be the uncrowned champs, and Hump himself could have made a valid claim for one or more titles. But it would have been a hollow victory because there was no real way to select a legitimate winner.

For the first year of playoffs, only three classes were used. Perry was placed in class A, along with the much larger schools in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Muskogee, Enid and Lawton. That was OK with Hump and his Maroons. They were accustomed to playing -- and defeating -- such Goliaths during the regular season.

As the season began, Perry's starting lineup looked like this: center, Charles Plumer; guards, Roger Dale Silver and Calvin Kelley; tackles, George Hall and Sam Harman; ends, Jim Dolezal and Charles Lawson; halfbacks, Omer Peters and Joe Sewell; fullback, Bob Bechtold; and quarterback, Bob Cutsinger. Hall and Harman, weighing 200 and 210 pounds, respectively, were being counted on to anchor the defensive line and blow away enemy defenders on offense. Hump's box formation usually featured a five-man interference leading the way for ball carriers.

Oklahoma City Central spoiled the Maroons opening game by taking a 7-0 victory at Taft Field in the capitol city. That was to be Perry's only loss of the regular season. In sequential order, the Perry team defeated Drumright, 20-0; Newkirk, 33-0; Hominy, 32-14; Stillwater, 7-0; Fairview, 39-7; Blackwell, 31-0; Guthrie 26-0; Ponca City, 20-0; Bristow, 33-19; and Enid, 14-7. Pat Jones was crowned homecoming queen in that last game, with Sarah Lou Gibson and Genevieve Moore as attendants. The coronation had been postponed from November 3 when a downpour of rain made conditions miserable during the Guthrie game.

By defeating Bristow, Perry won the district 8A championship and thus qualified for the class A playoffs. The Maroons also won the Northern Conference championship, but that has no bearing on the playoffs.

For the first round game, Perry was sent to Sand Springs to face the Sandites of Coach Lester Secrest, whose wife was a Perry girl, the daughter of Mrs. Frankie Stoltenberg. The Sandites also had an excellent record, but they were no match for Perry's offensive prowess and defensive strength and the Maroons won handily, 22-0. That set up a semi-final game with the powerful Tulsa Central Braves at Tulsa.

Hump's team was virtually injury-free for the first time all season as preparations began for the showdown with Central. The game was scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, December 9, at Tulsa. The winner would be in the championship game one week later.

Foul weather had plagued the state's prep squads most of the season, but when the day dawned for the Perry-Tulsa semi-final playoff contest, few were expecting just how bad it could be. Cold, wet and generally miserable. It affected both teams. In the end, the Braves prevailed, 33-27, and that ended the season for Hump and the 1944 Maroon squad.

Tulsa Central lost to Oklahoma City Central, 22-6, in the championship game. It was the same Oklahoma City team that squeaked past Perry, 7-0, in the season opener.

George Hall and Bob Cutsinger were selected for the all-district team as post-season honors were handed out. Hall also made the All-State teams selected by the Daily Oklahoman and The, Tulsa Tribune. Cutsinger was on the Tribune's All-State team and was honorable mention on the Oklahoman's. After graduation, Cutsinger was recruited by several major colleges and played briefly at both Tulsa University and Oklahoma University. A knee injury precluded further play for Hall.

Hump retired from the school system in 1966 and spent the next five years getting reacquainted with his wife, Edna, and tending to a highly productive garden at his home, 1415 Kaw street. He died February 22, 1971, at the age of 70, after a heart attack at his home. He had other projects besides gardening -- fishing was one of his hobbies -- but for the most part his twilight years were placid and very much unlike the turbulent decades when he was coaching one or more sports.

Hump was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame on August 4, 1969, a long overdue honor. His composite won-lost record in football, baseball, basketball and track has never been figured out, but it would be spectacular. In football alone his career record here was 150-51-9. Not too shabby. The things l appreciate most about Hump, as I knew him, also include his genuine love of children, his ability, to deal with young men struggling to make athletes of themselves, and the high moral code he taught, along with how to run, swim, pass a football, shoot a basketball and hit a baseball. I don't expect to meet his equal in my lifetime.

These facts are reported because they are interesting and no attempt is being made to choose Hump's best team. If you played for him or attended any of his team's games, you surely know what kind of man he was. Perhaps those who didn't know him can get a sense of his unique accomplishments as a coach by studying the records of his teams and his players. They are, after all, the best testimonial to his character.