Fifty years ago this September, football fever was running high in Greene County. East Greene was fielding its first-ever football squad, while Jefferson and Scranton were vying for championships in their respective conferences — the Jefferson Rams in the Midwest and the Scranton Trojans in the Coon Valley.
The early 1960s were a time of transition from fall baseball to football for much of the county. Scranton and Jefferson had long been “football towns,” but through the years the high schools in Grand Junction, Churdan, Paton, Rippey, Dana and Cooper all participated in fall baseball. Churdan was still playing fall baseball in 1963, but two years later the Rockets introduced football to celebrate their second year as Paton-Churdan.
Half a century ago, the football season “kicked off” later than it does now, with the 1963 season openers on Sept. 13. Much like today’s schedules with district games preceded by non-district games, the season openers for both the Rams and the Trojans were non-league encounters. Jefferson took on Guthrie Center of the Coon Valley and Scranton faced Prairie View of Gowrie. East Greene’s opponent in its football debut was United of rural Boone.
That first night of local football carried great promise as all three teams scored impressive victories. Jefferson rolled over Guthrie Center, 33-0, and Scranton drubbed Prairie View, 34-0. And East Greene had a most auspicious debut with a 19-0 win over United. The three Greene County teams blanked their opponents 86 to zero.
East Greene beat the Ogden “B” team the following week but then lost its next five games to finish 2-5 in its inaugural season.
Jefferson looked to make its mark in the Midwest Conference but found the going a bit rough. The Rams dropped their first three conference games before squeaking by Harlan, 7-6. The season ended with two big victories. On Oct. 27, the Rams upset Perry, 14-6. Perry had entered the game 4-0-1 and in first place in the conference while Jefferson was 1-4. Jefferson closed the season with a win over Carroll, 33-6, the following week to end the season at 3-4 in the conference and 4-4 overall.
Another highlight of that ’63 season was Jefferson High Schools second “decennial” all-school reunion held during Homecoming weekend, Sept. 26-29.
Scranton was the team in the spotlight back in 1963, as the Trojans were contending for a Coon Valley championship. Despite a 12-0 loss to league-leading Manilla in the third game of the season, the Trojans were still in the hunt for a league title when they took on Glidden in the second-to-last game of the season.
Scranton (4-1) was just a game behind Manilla (5-0), but Glidden’s 39-20 win dropped them to 4-2 in the league. The Trojans ended the season with a 21-13 win over Guthrie Center to finish 5-2 and conference runner-up and 6-2 overall.
The author of this story, Alan Robinson, is a member of the Greene County Historical Society board of directors. You can write him at email@example.com.