Here in 2015 there’s much excitement and optimism as the Sidney Yellow Jackets prepare to open another football season. A century ago the 1915 squad was hoping to expand on the success of the 1914 campaign which saw a 5-3-0 record under first year field boss Charles Eccles, whose handsome appearance was viewed “with adoring eyes” by the girls of SHS.
His second and final Sidney team scored solid wins at Lakeside Park (current city pool site) over Bellefontaine 22-6 and Dayton Stivers 27-6. The Sidney boys wore new “sweaters” (jerseys) that were donated by local physician Dr. H.E. Beebee. While the gesture was admirable, the cost was likely minimal since no two of the uniform tops were alike.
Next came the first road game of 1915 at Lima and a resounding 64-0 defeat. A return home saw a 41-6 loss to Piqua. What turned out to be the finale at Troy was a 68-7 demolition that triggered swift and decisive action by the Sidney Board of Education. Remaining games with Springfield, Urbana, and Defiance were cancelled, leaving a final ledger of two wins and three losses.
How had the season gone so sour, so quickly? A local newspaper wasn’t bashful in identifying the problem, “The Sidney team had only three sound men, loafed too much, and was generally not in shape.”
This was 11 years before the nickname “Yellow Jackets” arrived at Sidney High. The orange & black received an indirect diagnosis from Piqua Principal Allebarger who openly boasted that his team was a major contrast to Sidney by proclaiming, “This is our best team in eight years. Our players shun cigarettes and keep regular hours.”
SHS regrouped under a new head coach in 1916 and went 5-1-0. You might guess that the only loss was to Piqua.
Dave Ross is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News and authored a book on the first century of SHS football that is available at the Ross Historical Center in downtown Sidney.