H. W. "Bill" Hargiss
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Emporia Gazette
Presbies invent pass

Emporia Gazette news article discussing early football's  forward pass

The Emporia Gazette
E. T. Lowther

GIVES CREDIT TO C. OF E.

 
    This story properly belongs on the sports page except that old timers, who can remember 'way back when it was happening, probably no longer read the sports news too carefully. So here it goes.

It is the story an earlier generation of football fans in Emporia long has known how the development of the forward pass, generally accredited to Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais in an Army-Notre Dame game along about 1913, should be accredited to Coach Bill Hargiss and his College of Emporia teams of 1910-12.

Alfred G. Hill comes up with it and that fact testifies to Scoop Hill's mellowing as the years go by. For it is about the success of C. of E. at the time that college was the hated rival of the Kansas State Normal, on whose teams Hill played hard and well. The reminiscences appear in Ernest Mehls column in the Kansas City Star and relate that in 1910 Bill Hargiss, then C. of E. coach, took his team to Topeka where Washburn was beaten through the forward passing of Arthur Schabinger. That was three years before Dorais threw his first pass.

"That College of Emporia victory over Washburn was an upset in our small league." Hill writes, "comparable to Notre Dame and West Point three years later. C. of E. went on to greater heights in 1911 and 1912. In the latter year it defeated Haskell at the peak of its fame.

"Hargiss and Schabinger developed two other passers at C. of E., Jimmy Russell (of Dodge City) and Harlan Altman (of Emporia, now living in Wellington), who were far ahead of their time. I can remember the underhand passing, prior to 1910 but the College of Emporia passing was overhand in strict accordance to modern procedure.

"Football was serious business in Emporia in the period I am discussing. The rivalry between the two schools was personal and tense. Class players were developed. Amos Brenneman, now a certified public accountant in Tulsa and a member of the 1912 Teachers, played end on the championship Illinois team In 1916, against Eric Larsen, now a distinguished surgeon (Wilshire Bldg., Los Angeles), a tackle for Chicago who had played alongside Brenneman in 1912. They were criticized for unseemly fraternizing during the Chicago-Illinois game.

"This 1912 Teachers team," Hill continues, "scored nine touchdowns in the third quarter of its game against Friends university on Thanksgiving day, 1912. Remember we had to take the ball away from Friends eight times in the quarter. The key to this score, which I believe is a record for 15 minutes, was W. P. (Ducky) White, later mayor of Wellington and still living in Wellington. He was one of the truly great backs in any league. Yet this 1912 Teacher team lost to College of Emporia by five touchdowns and they were made largely by passing."

So you get the idea that the forward pass is nothing new to Emporia whose football dates back 40 years. Not mentioned by Hill is the use by Hargiss and his College boys of the standard T formation. With Schabie handling the ball with considerable deception as quarterback, the Presbies made the T as feared then as it later became in recent years. And another innovation of this Emporia team was Hargiss' "hike" play in which the players lined up in wedge formation with the center spearheading the lineup and the others forming two sides of a triangle. Later rules required the linesmen to play on the line of scrimmage but C. of E. learned to come out of its hike formation, up to the scrimmage.