1911 Liberty College Bells


As has been mentioned previously, in the early days of college football, when the game was still changing on an almost yearly basis (more changes were coming in 1912!), the strongest teams were centered in and around Pennsylvania. That was still the case in 1911 when a trio of Pennsylvania schools dominated the sport. Centerville, with their "pugnacious" coach and stellar halfback, played all comers and won a whole lot more than they lost (11-1-0); Philadelphia-based George Fox was 9-1-0; and the Liberty College Bells went unbeaten and untied at 9-0-0, allowing just 22 points for the season to be named (retroactively in 1936 by the Omni Sports Bureau) as the national champions.

Centerville and Coach Pug Johnston had the nation's best player (in most opinions) in junior halfback Jack Oxendine. Oxendine was the featured player in the team's game plan and was a dominant player both offensively and defensively. Though everyone played both ways, it was common that most players were more talented in one facet than the other - such was not the case with Oxendine whose athleticism made him a terror on both sides of the ball. With Oxendine leading the way Centerville downed quality teams such as Eastern Virginia (30-6), Dickson (17-3), St. Pancras (16-7) and Ellery (33-0) with their lone loss coming to a spirited St. Matthew's squad on October 14th, falling 17-10 in a game Oxendine played on a sprained ankle. Coach Pug wasn't happy to have failed to go unbeaten, but he was a hard man to please.

George Fox also had a star played in wingback Elwood "Tuffy" Danvers. Tuffy wasn't as fast as Oxendine, but he was strong - and mean. With Danvers running over and through opponents, the Reds whipped Hartford Wesleyan 48-0 to get their season started, followed that with a 34-0 whipping of St. Patrick's before winning a grueling 7-0 grudgefest over St. Pancras on October 7th. Their lone loss came the next week (the same day Centerville was defeated) when Chesapeake State matched Tuffy's physicality and won easily 27-3. After that, George Fox got back on a roll, heading south to down Rome State 14-0, then taking down a pair of New York schools: Empire State back in Philly 24-10, and Bigsby in New York by a 17-7 margin. Three straight Academia foes followed - and all were hard-fought games that Fox won: 20-0 over Ellery on 11/11; 12-10 over Sadler on the 18th and a season-ending 6-3 victory over Dickson on the 25th.

But it was Liberty College who stole everyone's thunder in 1911. With a solid all-around squad good on both sides of the ball that featured three All-Americans, the Bells rung up victory after victory. After the usual pair of cupcakes to start the season, Liberty faced Brunswick and won 14-3 on October 14th. Penn Catholic fell the next week 30-7; two more small schools fell 37-0 and 40-0 the next two weeks as tuneups for Liberty's stretch run: 28-3 over Empire State; 10-0 over Annapolis Maritime; and a 59-0 whipping of Philadelphia Central, who folded their program following the defeat.

While the three Pennsylvania schools were leading the headlines, there was good football going on in the rest of the nation as well. College of Omaha posted an 8-0-0 record and Chesapeake State had a 7-0-2 record that included their big win over George Fox. Noble Jones was 8-1-0 as John Christian continued to innovate in Augusta. St. Andrews was 8-2 in Tennessee; Central Carolina was 7-1; Arkansas A&T was 8-1; Eastern State was 8-2. The rising midwestern programs Detroit City College (6-2) and Chicago Poly (5-0-2) started to draw more attention as well. 

Mott's All-American Team for 1911:

QB Willard Umstead (SR) Liberty College
HB John Oxendine (JR) Centerville
HB Tom Young (SR) St. Andrews
FB Elwood Danvers (JR) George Fox
E Patrick O'Neill (SR) Liberty College
T Tim Leonard (SR) Noble Jones
G Edward Andrews (SR) St. Andrews
C Joseph Bannon (SR) Liberty College
G Ronald Thorpe (JR) College of Omaha
T Henry Swift (SR) Annapolis Maritime
E Quincy Adams (JR) Chicago Poly