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August 27, 1999

For a time back there in the 1930s and 1940s, the Perry Maroon football team was feared by every opponent on the schedule, and with good reason. The locals of that era regularly defeated such worthies as the Enid Plainsmen, Ponca City Wildcats, Stillwater Pioneers and even an occasional much bigger city school from Oklahoma City. The Maroons didn't win every game but they always fought furiously. Indeed, they were known as "the fighting Maroons" because they never stopped trying until the final whistle. The stern tactics of Coach Harold (Hump) Daniels provided the motivation for some of that attitude and spirit. To thank him, the people of this town named the football arena at Perry Stadium in his honor.

Hump's teams, spanning the two decades from 1930 to 1950, fashioned a sterling record of 150-51-9, a mark that has never been equaled here. Men who played on one of his teams will tell you that games with other schools were fun compared to the intense practice sessions conducted by Coach Daniels. The nickname "Hump" was the verb form meaning to exert vigorously. Coach Daniels certainly demanded vigorous exertion from his players. He drove them hard. Laps around the practice field were dreaded but they were used to underscore a muffed assignment by some recalcitrant but remorseful gridder. Mr. Daniels' techniques might not work today, but they produced wonderful results during his tenure as Perry high school's football coach.

This year we are celebrating the 60" anniversary of Perry Stadium, the home of Daniels Field. Men of the federal Works Project Administration (WPA) at an estimated cost of $100,000 built the sandstone structure in 1939. To those too young to remember, the WPA was an agency conceived by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help overcome the Great Depression. Originally the stadium included a baseball field as well as the football gridiron, but old age caught up with the Baseball Park years ago when some of the walls began crumbling, and that part of the stadium was converted to a football practice field.

The stadium instantly became one of the city's proudest possessions. To understand the community's elation, you need to know where the Perry Maroons played their home games before the stadium was built. The old Noble county fairgrounds, located on the east side of Perry where the present-day exhibition area stands, included a rickety wooden grandstand facing an oval racetrack wrapped around the field. That was where Perry high school teams played their home football games. Rodeos were held there too, and calling cards left behind by some of the livestock were still found on the field on those Friday nights each autumn when the PHS team had a home game. Also in the mix were bits of broken glass, stones of many sizes, a few rusty nails and assorted other health-endangering hazards. Patches of grass, where they existed, were extremely thin.

The new Perry Stadium lacked seats on the east side and other amenities when the first football game was played there on September 22, 1939. It was the second game of the season for the locals, and they defeated the Billings Bulldogs, 54-0, in an inter-county match. The last game at the old fairgrounds park was played the previous week, and in that one the Maroons downed Crescent 27-0. They were en route to a perfect 12-0 season, and it's not too much of a stretch to believe that the brand-new stadium and the discipline instilled by Coach Hump Daniels contributed substantially to that record. Here's hoping more of that glory lies ahead for the Maroons of Coach Baetz this year and beyond that into the next century as they return to the venerable Daniels Field at Perry Stadium.