Sidney High School fielded its first football team in 1896, making 2021 the 125th anniversary. The colors of black and orange were chosen, and there was no nickname until “Yellow Jackets” in 1926. Yellow was gradually added as a third color and orange was eliminated in 1960, though orange continued through that decade in older uniforms and the music department.
That 1896 squad played a single contest in early December against the team from the Lima YMCA, a 40-0 defeat at Orbison Farm east of Sidney. This was outside the city limits so the local prohibition against “ball playing of any kind” was observed.
Some SHS players then joined a squad that journeyed to the Wapakoneta area for another encounter that resulted in a 44-0 victory. News accounts said that rooters from both sides were poorly behaved.
Presenting some sidelights from the past century-plus…..
Current Sidney Vespa QB Club President Todd Cagle had a unique accomplishment 30 seasons ago in 1991. The lineman also was a fine kicker and booted a field goal of at least 30 yards in four straight Sidney games.
When Dave Haines became SHS head coach back in 1960, his opening night opponent was Piqua Catholic, which merged with Sidney Holy Angels into Lehman a decade later and still coached by Bob Heil. The Cavaliers also visited in 1961 before the lidlifter series with St. Marys began. Though the St. Marys relationship had a couple of gaps, it remained in force until recently when Sidney’s schedule allowed for only one non-league game. At that point, Bellefontaine was chosen for the opening slot.
In 1961, Sidney visited Bellefontaine and lost 16-12. A year later the Chieftains came to Sidney and were drubbed 74-10 as nine Yellow Jackets scored. That’s a 68 point turnaround.
100 years ago: In 1921 the Yellow Jackets were 5-0-1 after six games. Consecutive losses to Wapakoneta, Piqua, and the University of Dayton prep school made the final ledger 5-3-1.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross is the historian of Sidney High football and authored a book on its first century, available at the Ross Historical Center, downtown.