Patrick D. Kennedy
Troy-Miami County Public Library
TROY — Almost any Trojan can tell you that most of the people in this city love sports, but football is king! Troy High School football is especially loved by many of the residents of our community and at an early period developed an intense following.
The love of football so entranced many Trojans in the 1920’s and 1930’s that high school ball alone did not seem to be enough to quench a thirst for the game. Therefore, in the early 1930’s there was a drive to field a professional football team in Troy.
The 1931 publication “Troy – The Best Small Town in Ohio,” noted the imminent arrival of “independent” football in the city. One of the obstacles in starting a team was the cost of equipment and the financial partnership between players and the team. That can be tricky at any time, but this was during the Great Depression. However, by the Fall of 1933 everything had been worked out and Troy had a new football team.
Several years ago a longtime friend of mine, the late Jack Shanesy, recalled watching this team play when he was a youngster. He remembered that the team played their home games at the Troy Athletic Field, which is the area of the present Troy High School baseball and softball diamonds. He would sit on the wall along Rose Hill Cemetery and watch the games, which were played at the north end of the park. According to Jack, “The team’s locker room was on the third floor of the Brown Building,” now the Market Square Community Room. The coach of the team was Earl Smitley who, in the days prior to Hobart Arena, also held wrestling matches in a makeshift gymnasium on the same floor.
Initially, since the local merchants sponsored the team, so it was called the Troy Merchants, but the players quickly adopted the ‘Troy Flyers’ as the preferred moniker.
The team’s most full and productive year was in 1933. Although they played for two more years, the season of ’33 was the “glory year” for this early attempt at semi-professional football in Troy.
The team was made up of former high school and college stars from the area. Most had their own businesses or were working in one of the local industries to make a living, but took advantage of playing the game they loved for one more season with the hope they might make a little money while having fun.
Some of the members of the team were Ellis Kerr, QB; Hugh Rehmert, FB; Joe Scott, HB and Don Scott, End. Later in the season, a young man by the name of ‘Buck’ Eyler would thrill the crowds. The big guys up front included: Chuck Covault, Guard; Ralph Moyer, Center and Bob Scott, Tackle. Most of these guys had been All-Valley selections at least once while in high school.
One interesting note is that a gentleman by the name of Kazmaier is mentioned as playing as substitute at halfback. A first name is not mentioned in the news, but there is little doubt that this was Carlton Kazmaier, who was a former star at nearby Wittenberg and had graduated and moved to Tipp City a couple years prior to 1933. Mr. Kazmaier would later become well known in Troy as a coach and a teacher at Troy High School.
The first game of the 1933 season was an exhibition played in Troy against the Cincinnati Reds, which was actually a professional team with the NFL. It did not turn out well for the local boys as the NFL Reds beat the Flyers 59-0. The news called it a “one-sided beating.” A crowd of approximately 2,000 came out, but most of them were there to see Vernon “Chief” Elkins, a Native American athlete who was considered second only to Jim Thorpe.
The regular season began in earnest on Sunday, October 1st when the Flyers played the Greenville Generals and won by a 6-0 tally. Troy also played Urbana, Sidney, Middletown, Dayton and Piqua (2 games) during that inaugural season and finished with a 3-2-2 record. They had scheduled three other games that year but the December weather turned decidedly harsh and out of necessity they cancelled the remainder of the season. Most of the games were low-scoring affairs and not very exciting for those who enjoyed a lot of offense.
Whether the bumps, bruises, and abrasions of the previous season played into the remaking of the team the next year is not known, but the team of 1934 consisted mostly of Piqua players. The one local player who remained was Ralph ‘Poge’ Moyer. Most of these Piqua players had been on the opposing Piqua Kiefer Drugs team in 1933, but were looking for another opportunity since their old team had folded.
After a 44-0 exhibition loss to a Louisville (Ky.) team, it was announced that most of the season would be played ‘on the road’ because playing in Troy was a losing proposition, financially speaking. One other game is noted as being played against Greenville, which resulted in a 0-0 tie, but then there is no local coverage of what happened during the remainder of the season.
In 1935, it seems that perhaps the merchants of Troy, which had been sponsoring the team, realized it was not a profitable investment and pulled their financial support. American Legion Post 43 scooped up the ball and started to run with it during the ‘35 season. Trying to create excitement about the prospects, a newspaper article boasted that the players on the team were some of the “best college and high school stars produced in this county in recent years.” Poge Moyer was back, as were a few others from the first season, as well as several players from Piqua, Bradford and other places around the area … this was truly a county team.
In an effort to try a different tactic, the team played on Wednesday evenings under the lights and things seemed to start well since the ‘Legion Eleven’ was 2-0 after beating Kessler A.C. (Dayton) 6-0 and the Buckeye Stages of Columbus by a 7-0 score. Unfortunately, the crowds were not coming to the games and the local Legion announced they would not sponsor any more contests. Nothing further was reported on the team in the local news and so ended Troy’s first experience with semi-professional football.
Perhaps, the eagerness of former stars wanting to get back out on the field and the love of the game by Troy residents was misread by those who desired a team. Maybe it is true … that the only game in town is Troy High School football!
— Patrick D. Kennedy is the archivst for the Troy-Miami County Public Library Local History Library