The First 13 Years: A Championship in Waiting

Galileo Football History: 1921-1933

This post is the writing of Edward Harlbut, Yearbook Staffwriter (June’34), written for the 1934 Galileo yearbook, the Telescope.

Galileo’s thirteen dry years of football were brought to a happy termination on November 7, 1933, when the Lions finally took the bacon off the gridiron for themselves.

SCORES BY SEASON

1921

Galileo  3 – Commerce 14
Galileo  0 – Cogswell 26
(the 9-Man Finish)
Galileo 0 – Lowell 83
(this is not a typo)
Galileo 0 – Mission 7
Galileo 0 – Poly 1 (F)
Galileo 0 – Lick 1 (F)

1922

Galileo 47 – Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 7 – St. Ignatius 6
Galileo 13 – Cogswell 38

1923

Galileo 0 – Sacred Heart 36
Galileo 0 – St. Ignatius 7
Galileo 7 – Cogswell 14
Galileo 6 – Commerce 6
Galileo 3 – Lowell 31
Galileo 0 – Mission 47
Galileo 0 – Lick 77
Galileo 0 – Poly 45

1924

Galileo 0 – Lowell 18
Galileo 12 – Commerce 0
Galileo 0 – Mission 16

1925

Galileo 14 – Cogswell 16
Galileo 0 – Sacred Heart 19
Galileo 0 – Mission 24
Galileo 0 – St. Ignatius 18
Galileo 13 – Lick 27

1926

Galileo 3 – Lowell 0
Galileo 0 – Lick 27
Galileo 27 – Mission 0
Galileo 12 – Cogswell 0
Galileo 13 – Sacred Heart 0
Galileo 34 – Commerce 0
Galileo 0 – Lick 7 (Playoff)

1927

Galileo 0 – Poly 21
Galileo 21 – Cogswell 0
Galileo 19 – Commerce 6
Galileo 6 – Lick 6
Galileo 7 – Lowell 13
Galileo 7 – St. Ignatius 0
Galileo 20 – Sacred Heart 0
Galileo 30 – Mission 0

1928

Galileo 13 – Commerce 0
Galileo 49 – Cogswell 0
Galileo 12 – Lowell 13
Galileo 12 – St. Ignatius 0
Galileo 13 – Mission 12
Galileo 26 – Lick 0
Galileo 12 – Poly 0
Galileo 25 – Sacred Heart 0

1929

Galileo 13 – Lick 6
Galileo 13 – Commerce 0
Galileo 7 – Mission 32
Galileo 0 – Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 0 – Lowell 19
Galileo 6 – Poly 39
Galileo 48 – Cogswell 0
Galileo 19 – St. Ignatius 6

1930

Galileo 6 – Poly 13
Galileo 32 – Cogswell 6
Galileo 0 – Misson 6
Galileo 27 – Balboa 0
Galileo 0 – Lowell 0
Galileo 27 – Commerce 0
Galileo 25 – Sacred Heart 7
Galileo 8 – St. Ignatius 6

1931

Galileo 13 – Commerce 6
Galileo 33 – St. Ignatius 7
Galileo 13 – Sacred Heart 0
Galileo 0 – Poly 6
Galileo 7 – Lowell 0
Galileo 22 – Mission 0
Galileo 32 – Balboa 6

1932

Galileo 7 – Poly 6
Galileo 6 – Balboa 2
Galileo 7 – Lowell 0
Galileo 14 – Commerce 6
Galileo 14 – Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 0 – Mission 13

1933

Galileo 19 – Lowell 0
Galileo 15 – Poly 6
Galileo 13 – Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 13 – Balboa 7
Galileo 20 – Mission 6
Galileo 7 – Commerce 6 (Championship)

For thirteen long years, since 1921, Galileo has gradually become a greater threat to the city gird powers. The school’s initial football call in the Fall of 1921 brought out just eleven candidates. Coach Bain, who is now on the coaching staff at UCLA, had to teach these boys American football, as rugby had been played for the past fifteen years. On October 17,1921, Galileo tangled with Commerce for the first league game of the San Francisco season since the return to American football. Despite their numbers, the Galileo contingent held Commerce to 14 points, while they themselves eked out 3 with a field goal. During the same term, Galileo won the esteem of the entire city by playing Cogswell. But those nine Galileans fought out the rest of the game. They Built tradition.

The following article is one of six Boy’s Sports stories from the 1921 edition of Pendulum, Vol. 1, No. 1, and is given in full:

“Galileo’s first season of football has not been a failure in spite of what may have been said. Many say it has been a failure because not only did the players show a limited knowledge of football tactics, but they had high scores piled against them, and not one victory throughout the season. Others say the season had been a success because in spite of the fact that the boys knew very little football, and many times played against men much larger than themselves, they always showed the right spirit and fought to the last. This good spirit will last through the coming years and will win many championships for Galileo.”

He’s right, that scribe of a bygone day. “This good spirit” has lasted through the years, and Galileo won many championships. Such was the football situation of the 1933 champions in 1921.

In 1922 came Coach Fred Swan, who just graduated from Berkeley High, where he had played quarterback. Swan went on to Stanford at the end of the term and became captain of the varsity. He is now at Temple University with “Pop” Warner. This year saw Galileo in its first football conquest. They put the Bates battlers to rout, winning 27-2. It was not a league contest, however.

This following letter was received by Mr. Nourse, and serves to show that Galileo memories follow Fred Swan across the continent:

“I have just received the San Francisco papers with the account of Galileo winning their first championship football game. May I offer my congratulations to all the players, the Student Body, and yourself on the realization of a cherished dream of all the Galileo alumni.”

In 1923 Galileo had another instructor, Mr. McKnight. Mr. McKnight stayed at Galileo until 1925, but did not accomplish much more than his predecessors.

1926 brought James E. Spaulding as coach to Galileo. Under Spaulding the football team wound up the season with a triple tie for fist place between Lowell, Lick-Wilmerding, and Galileo. Galileo was defeated by Lick in the playoff, 7-0. Lick was found ineligible, and the palm went to Lowell.

Galileo changed its football preceptor again for the 1927 season. This time James Bradshaw was the mentor. Galileo finished third in the title race.

The history of shifting men in the head football position continued through 1928, when Howard Ross was selected, and 1929 when Ralph Chase was disciplinarian. Chase had been a former All-American player. Galileo was fourth in ’29.

In 1930, ’31, ’32, and ’33, Galileo placed respectively third, second, and after all these years and coaches, first. Ras Johnson is the man who engineered these four proud seasons. Coach Johnson deserves all the praise that has been given to Galileo coaches in the past, and more.

The names of each members of the 1933 squad are next set down: Right end, Ted Spirz; right tackle, Louis Bedoni; right guard, Milt Seropan; center, Tyler McHugh; left guard, Vittorio Rebizzo; left tackle, Frank Stefani; left end, James Dillon; quarterback, Dario Lodigiani; right half, Bill Roberts (captain); left half, Leon Chevalier; full back, Gene Lacau. Orin DeVoto alternated at tackle.

The remaining players on this championship team are Clarke, Cohen, Crawford, Feguson, Hartman, Hebgen, King, Martinelli, McGuffin, Pedrin, Perry, Rosenthal, Russo, Schaupp, Sensi, and Thompson.

The record of Galileo’s San Francisco grid games for the past thirteen years which is printed in these pages was made possible largely through the kind cooperation of Principal J. P. Nourse. The two games which Galileo forfeited in 1921 were because of not being able to muster eleven men to start them.

A nice gesture was made by the ex-champion Mission High on Monday, November 13. Principal Drew of Mission, who needs no introduction to Galileo, where his brilliant son Bill was chief cook and bottle washer during his matriculation, brought the football trophy held by Mission last year over to Galileo in person. With him was Ray Niblock, the student president.

GALILEO 7, COMMERCE 6
(Championship)

The Galileo jinx was knocked for a loop when the mighty eleven from Commerce placed its head on the block for the Galileo executors. And the knitting women counted six and seven-Galileo seven.

On November 7, the Lions finally crashed through to grab the so long elusive San Francisco football trophy. The win over Commerce was the ninth straight over the Bulldogs for the Lions.

Early in the first quarter Commerce gave cause for alarm by going against the grain down to the thirteen-yard stripe. The Bulldogs shot a pass over the goal line, but it was incomplete.

Galileo’s ball on their twenty. Commmerce offside. One, two, three, four, five yards. Galileo’s ball on their twenty-five. Roberts calling ‘em. Look at those boys go! Chevalier’s off for twenty-five yards! Lacau through center-Roberts off tackle. The Bulldog is backing up. They are on the two-yard line. And Chevalier terminates the eighty-yard journey of the Galileo Juggernaut with a touchdown! Dario Lodigiani, who has done most of the converting this season, is back waiting for the ball to be snapped. Roberts places it for him and it is good! Galileo leads Commerce at the end of the first quarter 7-0.

Right Half Jimmy Coffis of Commerce showed lots of lightening. It was chained by Galileo until the third quarter when the Bulldog flash streaked down the sidelines sixty yards to a touchdown. He lanced through Galileo’s line and wormed through five Galileans. He was nearly overtaken on the five-yard line by Ted Spirz, who with a deseperate leap caused him to stumble. Purple and gold supporters crossed their fingers when Commerce got off its place kick. The ball missed the crossbars, however, and the game again settled down to airtight ball.

Orin DeVoto, who had been out most of the season with a broken shoulder, was acclaimed by his teammates as the best linesman of the day. All in all, Galileo outplayed Commerce, chalking up thirteen first downs to their opponents five.

GALILEO 19, LOWELL O

On September 16 Galiileo decisively defeated Lowell High School with a 19-0 victory. This was Galiileo’s first league game, and fans expected a close one.

After the kickoff, however, when Lowell received the pigskin from the well-educated toe of Dario Lodigiani on their eleven-yard line, the game just seemed to say, “Galileo for me”. Lowell’s first play was to kick out of a tough spot.

The game was spectacular, or erratic, with many kicks, fluke passes, and a firecracker that sent spectators swarming over the field two minutes before the end of the game. Play was resumed with several thousand students bounding the gridiron.

The first quarter especially was like a game of “Kickback”, with Bill roberts doing the booting for Galileo. It was Galileo’s ball on the Lowell’s fifteen-yard line when the quarter ended.

Lacau bucked the ball up to the one-yard line, and went undre center for the first touchdown. Lodigiani failed to convert. Following Lodigiani’s kickoff, the Lions beat the Cards back from their twenty-eight to their sixteen. Bedoni blocked the Lowell punt and Galileo got the ball ontheir seven. A few plays more, all in this dangerous territory, and a pass to Spirz ripped through the Cards for the second tally. At the half the scoreboard at the end of Kezar Stadium showed that Galileo led 12-0.

Lowell received the kickoff again, on their thirty-two. Phelan brought it up to the thirty-nine. Spirz and Bedoni smashed through and Spirz blocked the kick. His teammate captured the ball and scurried off for the third touchdown.

Although there was no score in the fourth quarter, there were several pretty tosses. Chevalier played hid and seek with one of Lowell’s passes by bringing the ball around his back. He dropped it. And so, despite the fact that the Lowellites forced the two extra, or rather, remaining minutes of play, there was no further scoring.

GALILEO 15, POLYTECHNIC 6

Galileo’s second game, with Polytechnic on October 6, was another colorful contest. The Lions again clawed through a stubborn opponent to a decisive victory. When the last gun went off, the score, 15-6, indicated that the best team had triumphed in a fairly close game.

Galileo’s scores were all sparkling plays. The first touchdown was netted when a Polyite fumbled Roberts’ kick on his one and one-half yard line. When Poly attempted to kick, Bedoni blocked it and Roberts recovered on Poly’s three. Lacau brought the stands to their feet with a dive over the goal line good for two yards. The convert didn’t click. The next Galileo score was after a beautiful pass from Chevalier to Dillon. The ball sailed forty yards and into Jim’s arms past the safety. Dillon turned and ran another thirty yards to the touchdown. Lodigiani lifted the pigskin over the bar to make the Galilean thirteenth point. After the kickoff following, Poly was penalized for clipping from behind. This put the ball on their one-yard line. Ted Spirz fought through to block Minvielle’s punt. Minvielle recovered, but was smeared for a safety. The score was now Galileo 15, Poly 6.

Poly’s six points were due to a brilliant thirty-yard run by their star, Al Minvielle.

GALILEO 13, SACRED HEART 6

And was Leo’s face red! Galileo 13, Sacred Heart 6. That is the way a “set-up” game ended on Friday, the thirteenth of October. Galileo won, however, and that’s what counts. This made the third hurdle successfully passed in the championship race.

When Galileo received the kickoff, and made four straight first downs, it looked like the Irish didn’t have so much fight after all. But it took plenty of fight to hold the Lions from scoring on the twelve-yard line, after the down-field march by the determined beast.

From the one-half yard line Gene Lacau had to “go hard” over center to make the first six points. Bill Roberts added to the score with a place kick. In this same third quarter Galileo got its second touchdown when Ted Spirz gobbled up a short pass from Chevalier and galloped forty-seven yards to the line marked “G”. The try for point failed.

GALILEO 20, MISSION 6

The score should read Klotovich 6, because without him there would not have been any Mission, on Thursday, October 26. Coach Elder of Mission stated that Galileo had plenty of power, which recalled Ras Johnson’s statement to the same effect earlier in the term. They had to have power to plow through the fog which enveloped the stadium. This game looked easier than the Sacred Heart one. This was the semi-final of the championship go for Galileo.

From the opening whistle, Galileo started to play fine football, backed by enthusiastic rooters. The lions’ first touchdown followed a seventy-five yard drive after receiving the kickoff. The long push was aided by a “Chevalier special”, a run of twenty-five yards. When Galileo reached the twelve-yard line, Spirz went around the right end for the six points on an end-around play.

Galileo scored again the first quarter after Roberts had punted the ball out of bounds nicely on the goal line. The Bears kicked to Lodigiani, who made his most skillful return of the season inbringing the ball up fifteen yards to Mission’s eighteen. Three plays and it went to the eight. Ted Spirz again dashed from his right end post around the flank, to complete another successful end-around, for the touchdown.

The third quarter belonged to Yotz Klotvich. He toted the ball eight times in a row and Mission advanced from their own thirty-five, over Galileo’s goal line. Yotz made the touchdown a final fifteen-yard ramble around right end. He failed to convert. Galileo made its last tally this period. Milt Seropan, right guard, recovered a Bear fumble somehow in that mist of their twenty-eight. Chevalier, Lacau, and Sensi moved it up to striking distance, and Lacau went over. Lodigiani converted. No more scores were reported by the referees and the game ended with the fog triumphant.

GALILEO 13, BALBOA 7

Galileo won another “breeze” game on October 18, by defeating Balboa High, the acknowledged underdogs, by the score of 13-7. This made the fourth straight victory.

On the opening play of the game, after the Buccaneers had received the kickoff, Galileo scored. Frank Stefani crashed through the line to block Balboa’s boot and “Sugar” Rebizzo, hard-working guard, pounced upon the ball over the goal line. Lodigiani put the ball between the crossbar to make the score Galileo 7, Balboa 0. At this stage of the game it looked as though the Lions would get their workout by running up and down the field between touchdowns.

The Lion’s tail was twitching when he resumed play in the third quarter. Leo smelled blood and pushed the pirates fifty yards until he drew it. It was drawn by Gene Lacau who clawed through left guard for the second touchdown. Dillion’s place kick went wide.

The Buccaneers gained the treasured six points by blocking a Galileo kick and running the ball over the goal. They converted.

Sensi of Galileo created a sensation when he ran a kickoff eighty-five yards to a touchdown. The points were not awarded to Galileo as Balboa charged clipping from behind. The final tally was Galileo 13, Balboa 7.

PRACTICE GAMES

Galileo opened its 1933 grid season at Galileo, against Marin Junior C0llege. The home-towners scored after Dillon grabbed a Marin fumble on their twenty-five. Chevalier moved it to the fifteen and Lacau bucked it over. Roberts failed to convert. In the fourth quarter, sauder of Marin intercepted a pass from Chevalier to Dillon and ran fifty-three yards to a touchdown. He also made the convert. The game ended shortly afterwards with the collegians ahead, 7-6.

The Lions took another jolt on the jaw on September 8, when they were handed a 6-0 defeat by Richmond High School, at Richmond. Coach Ras Johnson started the second stringers. They were scored upon in the second quarter when Richmond completed a long pass. Galileo fought hard and stopped the conversion. The varsity was sent in for the rest of the game, but they couldn’t nose out the cross-bayers.

On Admission Day Galileo journeyed down to Redwood City to take Sequoia to the tune of 19-13. The outstanding players for Galileo in this game were Chevalier, the greatest ground gainer on either side; Pedrin, who played a bang-up game at guard; and Bedoni, who shone as an end. Lacau, steady fullback, plunged for all the three touchdowns. Spirz blocked a punt and gave Galileo the ball on the opponents’  five yard line. The first touchdown followed a buck.

Lodigiani added to the score with a place kick. The second touchdown came after a drive down the field which ended over the goal line. The third Lion touchdown was the result of a completed pass from Chevalier to Bedoni, good for about thirty yards. The score followed. Sequoia got their thirteen points by totaling up two touchdowns and a conversion in the second half.

A scoreless tie ended Galileo’s fourth practice game. It was played at Stockton on the night of September 30. Leon Chevalier played up to form by eating up the turf. He was responsible in great part for the seven first downs won by the Lions. The Stocktonites made eleven first downs. The game being played under artificial illumination, a unique condition for Galileans, might have been responsible in part for the lack of a Galileo touchdown. The game was extremely close throughout.