Picking All-Time Teams Can Venture Off Course

The selector of an all-time Ohio high school football team makes some odd claims about two of the Four Horsemen.

A sportswriter at an Ohio newspaper recently took on a daunting task – selecting the all-time Ohio high school football team.  For all the great players the Buckeye state has produced over the years, there would almost certainly be some controversy over his picks  Maybe that was, in part, the point of the exercise.

Not surprisingly, the Fighting Irish show up prominently on the list.

The first-team defensive line is anchored by Alan Page (Central Catholic HS, Canton) and Ross Browner (Western Reserve HS, Warren).  And the first-team tight end is none other than current Irish star Kyle Rudolph (Elder HS, Cincinnati).

The second team features lineman Jack Cannon (Aquinas HS, Columbus) and linebacker Jim Lynch (Central Catholic, Lima).

A fairly lengthy Honorable Mention list includes players such as Bob Crable (Cincinnati Moeller), Bob Dove (Youngstown South), Marc Edwards (Norwood), Ray Eichenlaub (Columbus East), Hiawatha Francisco (Cincinnati Moeller), Ralph Gugliemi (Grandview Heights), Tony Hunter (Cincinnati Moeller), Rip Miller (Canton McKinley), Brady Quinn (Dublin Coffman), Frank Stams (Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s) and Harry Stuhldreher (Massillon).

And it was speaking of that final name (and his fellow Four Horseman Don Miller) that the writer definitely veered off course from the facts.

About Stuhldreher, the quarterback of Notre Dame’s 1924 national champions, the writer admitted that he was “a significant player for the (Massillon) Tigers,” but wrote that he “played his senior year at Kiski Prep in Pennsylvania.”  The inference was that Harry might have been rated higher, if not for his supposed transfer out-of-state.

Just one problem – Stuhldreher played his senior year, and did quite well, for Massillon High in 1919.  Previously a swift, though undersized running back, Harry stepped into the quarterback role when Massillon’s regular QB suffered a broken leg six minutes into the season’s first game. He scored key touchdowns, and showed “speed and savvy on the defensive side of the ball.”  Massillon hammered Wooster, 56-7, behind “a flashy attack which was featured by the open field work of Stuhldreher.”

“Stuhly” graduated from Massillon in the spring of 1920. But still barely 140 pounds, he felt ill-suited to attempt to play in college. He decided to spend a post-graduate year at Kiski Prep, to develop both athletically and academically.

But it was the writer’s comment about the other Ohio “Horseman” – Don Miller of Defiance – that really leaves a student of Notre Dame football history scratching his head:

“Miller sat the bench and barely played at Defiance High School. Can’t have benchwarmers on this team.”


donmillerDon Miller at Notre Dame

It is true that Don Miller wasn’t as flashy as his brother Gerry, who was older but had missed years of school due to illness, putting them in the same backfield for Defiance High for their senior year, the 1920 football season. Don had been a regular while Gerry had been away from the game the previous couple of years.

A 26-0 win over Findlay was led by “the terrific plunging of D. Miller.” As an encore, Don scored five touchdowns in a 75-0 romp over Bowling Green High.

In mid-season, Gerry was disqualified from further
competition because of his age, but Don continued to lead the Defiance squad, to a 6-2-1 record in which it outscored the opposition, 328-64.  Don Miller was far and away the team leader in rushing, scoring, conversions and punting.

Hardly a benchwarmer.

For the full story on how Stuhldreher and Don Miller became half of the most notable backfield in college football history, be sure to read Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions, by Jim Lefebvre (Great Day Press.).