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The Redbud City: Shawnee turns in another fantastic season

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
The 1933 Shawnee Wolves football team was another of the outstanding teams produced by Ray LeCrone in his 20-year reign as the coach.  (l-R) FRONT ROW: J.U. Cagle, Melvin Skelton, Tydfil Bringhurst, queen, Jack Baer, Roy Willhoite, & Dick Perry. SECOND ROW: Jack Britain, L.T. Best, Ed Thompson, Carl Anderson, Alf Jones, Bill Owens, & Roy Whited. BACK ROW: Jack Roberts, Clarence Ehrlich, Orie Williams, Beverly Rhyne, Elmer Gentry, Buddy Corgan, & Coach Ray LeCrone.

The Shawnee Wolves came off the most amazing season in the history of Oklahoma high school football in 1932, going undefeated, winning the state championship, and not allowing a single point to be scored against them during the entire campaign. Although they loss several top players by graduation, it appeared Ray LeCrone’s squad was “loaded” again.

The season began with a night game at OBU’s Hurt Field against the invading Wewoka Tigers, considered a formable opponent. Shawnee recorded its 13th straight shutout, whitewashing the Tigers 20-0. The following week, the Pack hosted rival Seminole in another game at Hurt Field. Although the Chieftains were considered as much stronger competition, the Wolves recorded a 14th-straight shutout, 14-0. The team was led in its first two victories with the veteran work of Jack Baer at quarterback and 175-pound fullback, Melvin Skelton.

Week three saw the Wolves take their first road trip, traveling to Oklahoma City to take on the powerful Central Cardinals. Melvin Skelton scored early on a short-yardage plunge and the Pack hung on for a hard-fought 6-0 victory. This raised their season mark to (3-0) and upped their unbeaten and unscored on streak to 15 games.

Game four was an inter-state matchup with the Pampa, TX, Harvesters. The Wolves appeared to be in big trouble for this contest. Star quarterback Jack Baer was out with diphtheria, and Melvin Skelton had a leg injury. Dick Perry filled in admirably for Baer and the defense played great. Halfback Roy Willhoite scored on a 10-yard run in the third quarter and the Wolves hung on for a 7-0 victory. It was their 16th straight shutout.

Skelton was back the following week during a trip to Norman to take on the Tigers. He scored twice as the Pack recorded their 17th straight shutout in a 12-0 whitewashing of the home team. Baer began practicing again late the next week, but not in top form for the Wolves when they traveled to play Capitol Hill. This was no contest, and the Redskins handled the local boys, 26-0.

Week seven was a scheduled game at home against the Guthrie Blue Jays. A torrid rainstorm and cold weather forced the cancellation of the game. After a two-week layoff, the Wolves were well-rested and traveled to Lawton. Skelton scored three times in this game and the Wolves racked up another shutout, 20-0. Game eight was the last home game of the season against the El Reno Indians. It was no contest, with the Wolves running roughshod over the visitors, 40-6. El Reno’s only score came on an interception return for a touchdown.

The season closed on Thanksgiving Day at McAlester. The Buffaloes possessed one of the top running backs in the state, but the Wolves were too strong on the defensive end and whipped the Thundering Herd, 13-6.

The season ended with another stellar record in the books for the Wolves. The (8-1) record on the campaign raised the all-time school mark to (127-89-20). Coach Ray LeCrone raised his amazing six-year career mark at Shawnee to (51-6-3).

In the post-season awards, Shawnee did not land a player on the All-State first squad, announced by the Daily Oklahoman. However, Jack Baer and Ed Thompson were awarded positions on the second team. Baer was placed at quarterback and Thompson at guard. In those days, the Daily Oklahoman picked the All-State team and they set it up as a first team, second team agenda.

This story about the 1933 SHS football team appears in Volume Two of the six-volume history of Shawnee. The Shawnee Wolves football team experienced a time-period favorably known as the “Golden Age” of Shawnee football, when Ray LeCrone led the Pack to domination in Oklahoma High School football for almost 20 years. The first three volumes, through 1969, are now available for purchase through me or the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. Volume Four, (1970-1989), is nearing publication and should be ready before Christmas. If you wish to purchase one of the current volumes, call (918) 470-3728, and I will arrange to get you copies.