CWs greatest football teams

Canal Winchester High School’s varsity football program has had a rich and successful tradition since players first donned the pads in 1909.

With that in mind, the Southeast Messenger contacted Canal Winchester football historian R. Scott Stiteler, author of the book "A History of Canal Winchester High School Football, 1909-2001," to get his take on who he thinks can be considered the top five Indian football squads of all time.

"There’ve been a lot of good teams," said Stiteler. "It’s hard to choose."

Going all the way back to 1909, Stiteler studied team histories and reviewed overall season records, opponents, points scored, and points allowed, as well as intangibles that set squads apart. After much thought, here is an unofficial list of the top five (which includes three undefeated, untied teams):  #1) 1975; #2) 1970; #3) 1974; #4) 1915 and #5) 1921.

#1 – The 1975 team

The 1975 team went 10-0 and won the Mid-State League. It holds the record for the most point scored in a season with 306, including a whopping 56-0 win over Berne Union.

Defensively the team was stingy, allowing only 13 points all season, the least amount of points allowed by any Indians football team. The team recorded eight shutouts.

The closest any team came to giving the Indians trouble was Pickerington, who Canal Winchester beat 12-0. No other team got within 16 points of the Indians that year.

"They (the 1975 team) were balanced on both sides of the ball," said Stiteler. "Plus the line was big, averaging 230 pounds, which was big for a small school."

Former Indians head football coach Mike Locke, who coached at Canal Winchester from 1967-91 amassing a record of 173-74-3 and seven league titles, said of his 1975 team, "We were just awesome. We were physical and fast. We had it all. That year we were also the smallest school in the league, but we had the biggest team."

"Mike (Locke) was a good coach," said Stiteler. "He definitely liked to run the ball. If teams couldn’t stop the run, Canal Winchester just kept grinding it out."

#2 – The 1970 team

The 1970 Indians were Mid-State League champions and compiled a record of 10-0.

The team rolled up 302 points for the year, second most all time, while only allowing their opponents 41, including five shutouts.

The 1970 team pummeled everyone they played, except for Pickerington, who the Indians beat 14-6. Only one team scored in double figures against Canal Winchester that season and that was Berne Union in a 50-14 Indians victory.

"Every team I coached had something special about them," said Locke. "They all gave everything they had."

#3 -The 1974 team

The 1974 Indians were Mid-State League champs finishing 10-0. They scored 225 points while giving up only 47. Six of the wins were shutouts.

But the team did have some close contests, including a 23-20 win over Bexley, a 13-6 victory over Fisher Catholic, and a 9-0 blanking of Liberty Union. Every other game was a blow out win for the Indians.

"The kids really bought into the program," said Locke. "They worked hard and were enthusiastic. They were good kids, smart kids, and good athletes, like the kids on all the teams I coached."

#4 – The 1915 team

In 1915 the Indians finished 6-1, the only loss coming at the hands of Columbus West High School.

The Indians scored 195 points while only allowing 47, including four shutouts.

Save for the season opening loss to West, no one else even came close to giving this rough and ready team a contest.

"These old teams were tough," said Stiteler, noting that the players played with little or no padding.

#5 -The 1921 team

The 1921 Indians finished 6-0-2, with both ties ending with a score of 0-0.

The team scored 130 points and gave up only 20, the second lowest point total allowed by any Indians defense.

The two scoreless ties were against Grandview and Columbus West on consecutive weeks. The two ties must have agitated the Indians because the following week the Canal Winchester players worked out their frustrations by blasting Westerville 69-0.

The skill and effort of the teams from the leather helmet era cannot be discounted. Though playing under different rules and conditions, they excelled in the circumstances in which they played.

Other good teams

"These were great teams," said Stiteler of the top five.  "But I also want to mention the three state playoff teams that didn’t quite make the top five."

Those teams were: 1984 (9-2); 1988 (9-2); and 2007 (10-2).

"Those were strong teams, too," said Stiteler. "The 2007 team produced the school’s first state playoff win."

Stiteler said he plans to update his book soon to include Canal Winchester football teams from 2002-07. The book sells for $15 and can be purchased by calling Stiteler at (614) 837-9825.

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