Historically speaking


NEGAUNEE Negaunee High School has one of the oldest interscholastic programs of any school in the Upper Peninsula. It dates back to the 1894-95 school year.

Until the arrival of H.B. Krogman, who had been involved in athletics at the University of Michigan, the only activities of any athletic nature were games of Hare and Hounds, held in the fall and indoor baseball played by neighborhood teams at Adelphi rink, which was an indoor rink.

Krogman persuaded the board of education to authorize the purchase of football equipment and he agreed to serve as the first coach. three games were played in 1894, the first being a practice game with the opponent being an independent team known as the Colts.

It was one by the high school team with a score of 4-0, and was played in a field at the end of Main Street. A challenge was issued to Marquette with home and home games. Both games were won by Negaunee, but scores were not recorded. Following is an account of a game between Negaunee and Marquette that appeared on the front page of the Negaunee Iron Herald on Friday Oct. 15, 1895. “In the game of football, at Union Park (between Negauanee and Ishpeming) a game was played between Negaunee and Marquette high school football clubs. The visiting team was not in it from the beginning.. Negaunee had 11 points and the visiting team had none.”

It was a pretty game all the way through, kind of rough at times but no one was seriously hurt.

However, skinned noses and limping players were conspicuous after the game. In the evening, the visitors were brought to the McDonald’s Opera house where a fine supper was served.

After all had appeased their appetites, the floor was cleared and the balance of the evening was spent dancing to the strains of the Twin City Orchestra. The visitors returned home on a special train at 11 o’clock. The above account was one of the first sports stories ever published by an Upper Peninsula newspaper. From a a historical point of view, was the fact that it appeared on the front page of a weekly newspaper.

Devoting front page space to an athletic event was almost unheard of. In reading about scores of games in the first 10 to 15 years of football could be confusing.. One might wonder how games ended with scores of 5-3, 5-5, 6-5. In those days touchdowns had a value of five points a team could accumulate six, today’s value for a touchdown. by scoring a TD and an extra point. There was also a difference in advancing the ball.

A team had three plays to gain five yards and then pick up a first down. Uniforms were one piece and there were no shoulder pads and hip pads. In some cases they wore shin pads. Helmets were leather and had no protection for the mouth, nose or any parts of the face. The ball was shaped more like a sphere.

It’s shape was popular for a drop kick, which was the method at that time to get a point after the TD, as well as for the field goals. Its shape made it more difficult to throw a pass because a player could not get a good grip on the ball. The football field was not level, nor was it covered with grass or sod. There were no bleachers, spectators stood along the sidelines or behind the goal posts.

You can see how far the sport of football has come. Negaunee has a great football stadium, they have had many successful seasons under good coaches. They won a state title in 2002.

The Negaunee Historical Society congratulates Coach Jacobson and the 2022 football team on a successful and exciting season.


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