When the game was young, football coaches were hard to come by. In 1901 Miami University couldn’t locate a mentor until they belatedly hired Sidney Episcopal Minister Thomas Hazzard. The Reverend was already coaching the Sidney High School team in addition to running the church. During that 1901 season Hazzard did all three while logging many railroad miles in the process.
In 1902 he took a ministerial assignment in Bellefontaine and also became high school head football coach in that community. He did not continue at Miami as they opted for a coach who would reside in Oxford. Seems the boys were puffing too many cigarettes whenever Hazzard was back in Sidney, according to The Miami Student newspaper. The Reverend’s lone season at what would become “The Cradle of Coaches” ended 1-3-1 with a win at Antioch and a tie at Earlham.
Entering the 1902 season Sidney needed a coach but never found one, so they went without. The “orange and black” hadn’t lost a game since 1897 and good talent was returning. Two players ran the squad as George Millholland was named “captain” with Perry Griffis serving as “manager.”
The 1902 campaign opened at the South Miami Avenue Ball Grounds (now Berger Park) with a 29-0 win over Ada. Next was a trip to Urbana and the visitors led 6-5 when the contest was stopped prematurely due to a dispute. A pair of wins over the former coach and his Bellefontaine 11 followed. Then powerful Dayton Steele came to town with the locals prevailing 17-5 and the Shelby County Democrat terming the encounter as “the fastest and best game ever seen in Sidney.”
A traditional Thanksgiving Day game was set to conclude the schedule. Cincinnati Woodward was to ride the Cincinnati Hamilton and Dayton railroad north to provide the opposition but snow and mud forced cancellation. A fifth consecutive perfect season was complete with a 24 game winning streak intact, a school record that would stand for 68 years. 1903 opened with a loss to Kenton.
Sidney’s four local newspapers provide little detail of the 1902 season. The 1903 Reflector yearbook lists this starting lineup from the previous autumn. Kelley- right half, Herzstam- full, Millholland- right end, Heffelman- right tackle, Carothers- right guard, Joslin- center, Griffis- left half, Pappin- left guard, Baker- left tackle, Cheney- left end, and Beebee- quarter.
What else was happening in 1902? The Cincinnati Reds opened a new ballpark and sold beer “a dozen for a dollar.” President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” Michigan beat Stanford 49-0 in the first Rose Bowl. Finally, the nation’s most popular song was “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey.”
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has covered pro, college, and high school sports for various Sidney area media since 1975. He authored a book on the first century of Sidney football, available at the Ross Historical Center downtown.