Scholastic football was still a developing phenomenon when
Harrisburg Tech fielded a sensational team in the fall of 1919.
World War I had ended the previous November and the country was
still struggling back to normal after the War and the influenza
epidemic. The 1919 Tech Maroon squad outscored its twelve opponents
by an amazing 701-0. Portland, Maine, was beaten 56-0 in a
post-season game and a national championship was claimed.
Harrisburg Tech was located in the old City Hall on Walnut Street.
In the mid-20's two new schools, John Harris and William Penn, were
built and Tech was closed after the 1925-26 school year. Home games
were played on the Island Park field.
The Maroon schedule included the best Pennsylvania could muster
among both public and prep schools. Mercersburg Academy and Erie
Central provided the stiffest opposition, each going down by 20-0.
Greensburg, a Western PA power, was beaten 39-0. Outside the state,
Baltimore Poly was slaughtered 89-0, while the Naval Prep School in
Washington, DC, was a 79-0 victim.
In-state foes ranged from Erie to Wilkes-Barre to Chester. The
Delaware River City's team lost by an astronomical 93-0.
Halfback Carl Beck scored 204 points - 34 touchdowns - many on long
runs. To this day, he is considered one of the greatest running
backs ever developed in Pennsylvania. Beck totalled an amazing 445
points in his three-year career. He scored six touchdowns in each of
three games, and five in four more. He returned four kickoffs for
TD's. In one 1919 game, Beck scored four touchdowns in the first
Fullback Tony Wilsbach scored an equally astonishing 409 points in
the same three-year span.
In 1919, Wilsbach scored 27 touchdowns and five conversions for a
total of 167 points, while Bud Lingle tallied 19 TD's on his way to
a total of 118. Drop-kicking tackle Cy Comfort converted "goals"
after 51 Tech touchdowns.
Beck later played for West Virginia and Vermont. He was a pro star
with both the Pottsville Maroons and the Frankford Yellow Jackets in
the early days of the NFL. Comfort became a star tackle for Carnegie
Tech, then on its way to becoming a national power. Tackle Hap Frank
was a standout at Penn State and played for the Lions in their first
trip to the Rose Bowl. Bud Lingle went to Bethlehem to play for
Lehigh. End Snaps Emanuel became a successful high school coach.
Emanuel's older brother, Vic, played for Tech in 1912-15, captained
Gettysburg College, and played pro football throughout the 1920's.
In 1914, Beck's younger brother, Clarence, had scored a 105 yard TD
for Tech - against rival Steelton. Clarence Beck, bigger than Carl,
became a star tackle at Penn State. Legendary Nittany Lion
All-American Glenn Killinger was a 125 pound three-sport star at
Tech before walking on at State.
1918 had been almost as stunning a season as 1919 for the Maroon.
Nine games were played and won - Tech amassed another amazing total
- 597 points - an average of 66 per game - to just 10 for the
overwhelmed opponents. In addition to Beck at 168 points and
Wilsbach, Captain Gil Ebner went over the 100 point mark
In 1917, Tech had annihilated Altoona 117-0.
1918's state champion starters were:
E Bill HOERNER
T Johnny ARNOLD
G James PEIFER
C Vic BIHL
G Fred LAUSTER
T Calvin "Hap" FRANK
E Hen KOHLMAN
B Charles "Bud" Lingle
B Gil EBNER
B Carl BECK
B Tony WILSBACH
The usual lineup for the 1919 national champions included:
E Leon "Zip" MALICK 165
T Johnny ARNOLD 188
G Harry "Fats" ELLINGER 180
C Johnny "Phog" SMITH 153
G George "Cy" COMFORT 180
T Calvin "Hap" FRANK 165
E Ed "Snaps" EMANUEL 150
Q Charles "Bud" LINGLE 145
H Carl BECK 170
H Jack GARRETT 165
F Tony WILSBACH 180
Other strong players on the marvelous 1919 team including tackles
Carl HOFFSOMMER, 153, and Bill PLEAM, 155; end Carlisle "Goose"
ERDLEY, 155; guard Barney ALDINGER, 185; and backs George GARMER,
145, and Bob BOOKS, 150.
The magnificent Maroon 1918 and 1919 seasons:
83 MT. CARMEL 0
13 LEBANON 0
67 TOME SCHOOL 0
24 MIDDLETOWN AVIATOR 0
94 BELLEFONTE ACADEMY 0
100 WILLIAMSON TRADE 3
67 STEELTON 0
73 LEBANON 0
76 JOHNSTOWN 7
67 COMMONWEALTH A. C. 0
73 WILKES-BARRE 0
93 CHESTER 0
89 BALTIMORE POLYTECHNIC, MD 0
20 MERCERSBURG ACADEMY 0
32 PERKIOMEN PREP 0
63 BETHLEHEM PREP 0
39 GREENSBURG 0
79 NAVAL PREP, Washington DC 0
70 STEELTON 0
20 ERIE CENTRAL 0
56 PORTLAND, ME 0
Paul Smith was the coach of this fabled team - which may have been
the best ever produced in Pennsylvania. Smith, a native of
Harrisburg, had played on a fine team at Harrisburg Central. He
attended law school, became a member of the Bar, then returned to
football as coach at Central. When Central became a girls-only
institution after the 1917-18 school year, he agreed to become head
coach at Tech. His record in six years with the Maroon was 56 wins
and only seven losses.
So gifted were these athletes at Harrisburg Tech that, when Penn
State and the PIAA co-sponsored the first state championship
basketball tournament in March 1920, Tech won with a starting five
that included captain Beck, Frank, Lingle, Emanuel and Smith. Four
games were won in two days.
The contribution of information and the team photograph from the
late Clarence "Bus" Funk's 1967 book, "Gridfax", is appreciated and