Victorious 1939 SHHS Football Season Ended with Toppers on Top
The November 22, 1939 edition of Science Hill High School’s student publication, “The Hilltop,” contained a bold lettered headline: “Victorious 1939 Football Season Ends.”
The Toppers beat nine teams that year most handily and won the Big Five Conference Championship. The accompanying article stated that the mighty Hilltoppers of Johnson City, going through the most successful football season since 1933, made every team they played know just what it was like to go up against the best defensive team in the conference. Team after team tried to break through the maroon and gold “brick wall” defensive, but all they could do was harmlessly bounce back. End runs, spinners, cutbacks, passes and laterals were useless against SHHS’s mighty defense. Every team seemed to have a different strategy but none was successful.
The publication further explained that the offense was not to be ignored, routinely pulling the Toppers out of tight situations with some razzle-dazzle plays of their own. Proof of this was the fact that the season yielded 219 points for the Toppers while giving up only seven points to the competition. The offensive players put on their running shoes and plowed ahead, overcoming any resistance put before them.
The season opened with a blowout in Jonesboro by a score of 40-0. The squad then traveled to Knoxville and squeaked by a stubborn Trojan team 6-0. The next victory was at Saltville where it “salted down” the opponent 26-0. The gridironers experienced another close call at Bristol High, surviving with a score of 7-0.
“The following week put Johnson City face to face with the mighty Indians of Kingsport, but this didn’t discourage the Toppers. They went out on the field and gave Bobby Cifers and his company something they had not expected, outplaying the Indians on offense and defense. However, the final score was 0-0.
“Then came little Mountain City who got whipped by a score of 26-7. Appalachia boasted a good team but could do no more that the other teams. They went under 14-0. The spinners, pass and cutbacks of Elizabethton were smothered and the Toppers took that ball game with a score of 7-0. The little Rogersville team was like playing with a “bunch of babies.” First, second and third string teams were used against them. Thegame finally ended 45-0 with Johnson City the obvious victor. The mighty Toppers had masterfully won the Big Five Conference championship.
The Johnson City Press and Chronicle along with fans of Johnson City sponsored a banquet at the John Sevier Hotel dining room on December 1 and invited all athletes on the team to attend. The varsity boys each received gold-plated footballs with their names engraved upon them. The coaching staff also received gifts in appreciation for their efforts in achieving a winning season. Honorable mention was made to seven athletes who were seniors and had made significant contributions to the team: Captain Allan Chandler, Jack Green, Joe Summers, Bernard Kyte, Fred Dulaney, Sam Johnson and Raymond Webb.
Others on the 34-member team included Dulaney, a hard running and a good tackler; Osborne, good as kickers come, a good passer and an excellent runner; Darden, a passer to compare with the best and a good runner; Tipton, the best of blockers, a smart quarterback and a good broken field runner; Webb, a hard driver, good tackler, excellent passer and a hard man to tackle; Cox and Green at ends; Caughran and Captain Chandler at tackles; Peoples and Kelsey as guards and Storie at center.
The football accomplishments of 1939 produced a year of bragging rights for the SHHS Hilltoppers.