SIX-MAN FOOTBALL IN POMPANO
By Bud Garner
Spring is the time a young mans fancy turns to Love. Fall is the time a young mans fancy turns to------Football. Football as it was played in Pompano in the late 1930's and 40's, six man football that is. Did you ever hear of it?
Well, now you will.
We begin with the coach, E.F. Carmichael who also doubled as the math teacher. Coach Carmichael had only one eye having lost an eye when someone stepped in his face while playing football in college, (so went the story around school.)
This, or something, left the coach with a seemingly intense dislike for all aspiring freshmen football players (especially me, it seemed.)
Coach Carnichael had a sharp, pointed nose, black hair parted in the middle and plastered down. He sported a black bristly mustache that was rumored to cover a scar that was inflicted by the same cleated shoe that removed his eye. When not smoking "Wings" cigarettes, he had a cigar in his mouth.
Pompano fielded a six-man football team. There were several reasons for this. The one foremost was not that we couldn't field eleven men to play, but the teams we would have had to play would be in a conference, or class that would pit us against the "big-boys" (Ft. Lauderdale, South Broward, Delray Beach. etc., etc. ) We would play one non-conference game of eleven-man football each year against the Delray Seahawks and they always, "whupped-up" on us every year. We did finally beat them but we won't write about that at this time.
Letís "dress-out" now for football practice. The Pompano Gym, (located on NE 4th St where the middle school is now located, next to the tennis courts) had dressing rooms. (I call them that for want of a better term) The walls had cracks and knot holes in them, there were no lockers, no shower stalls, no hot water and just wooden benches and nails driven in the walls to leave your clothes on. The uniforms we wore were made of heavy canvas (resin impregnated sail-cloth I think) very stiff, heavy and extremely smelly. There were built-in thigh pads of a hard composition like material and in the waist there was a small pad, one on each side of the front, and one that came across the back-band. The pants were held-up by drawstrings that laced-up like shoe strings in a pair of shoes. On we small guys we could turn almost a full circle before the pants moved, (or so it seemed.) With the loose fit, the pants and shoulder pads chaffed and irritated the body in places that would heal slowly and be a source of intense discomfort for the entire football season.
The shoulder pads must have been made for a two-hundred fifty pound man, they would swallow-up a ninety pound freshmen making us look like a turtle carrying around next years shell. We had to furnish our own practice jerseys (white long sleeve sweatshirts.) The shoes, we also had to buy, they were black, high tops and had replaceable cleats weighing about ten pounds (it seemed) Our helmets were smooth with a wide band of leather-like material going completely around and covering the ears. No, there were no face masks if someone stepped in your face with those one inch "mud-cleats' stuck, their finger or fist in your eye or mouth then it was up to you to deal with it. Don't expect any sympathy from "the coach" in these situations, you wouldn't get any. I saw the helmet Doug Allen was wearing when someone stepped on it. It crushed like an eggshell. Luckily, Doug's head slipped out and he wasn't hurt.
Altogether we were wearing close to twenty pounds of equipment when we arrived at the daily practice session after school, where Kester park is now, or sometimes in the sandspur patch just east of the high school auditorium. (where the middle school now backs up to the houses East of the buildings.)
The coach would send us on half a dozen laps of the field to "just warm-up a little". A few minutes of push-ups, sit-ups and various other exercises then we were ready to practice football. This was the time that separated the "men from the boys" this was the time me and half a dozen other "teen-age tackling- dummies' would be sacrificed for the ongoing of the traditions that had not even been established in the annals of Pompano High school football.
We would be called onto the field by coach Carmichael, lined up on one end of the field while the regular players "mostly Seniors" and the biggest guys lined up on the opposite end.
Marvin Reagan, our punter, who could kick the longest, most beautiful spiral you would ever see (he kicked barefooted as a yard dog and a country mile,) would be handed the ball and this would begin our "contact practice" it was called "running down punts".
Marvin would kick the ball to the "big boys" and it would be the job of we "tackling-dummies" to evade their blockers and tackle the ball carrier. Sound easy, just try it, getting past the blockers was hard enough but if and when we did we still had to meet one of those long-legged, heavy suited, mud-cleat wearing, helmeted, freight trains running at full speed head-on After several trips "downfield" if still able, we would get a short break, just don't lie down, or drink more than one dipper of water or you would find yourself doing more laps. If you broke any rules Coach Carmichael could give a stare that would "curdle" the water in the water bucket.
Six-man football teams would line up as follows, the center, left end, right end, in the backfield the quarter back, the left and right halfbacks. The field was a regulation field and the ball was the same as in eleven man ball. Most of the plays were simple, around right or left end off right or left center end around, reverses and the pass plays. Even numbered plays to the right side, odd to the left. pass plays so designated.
Pompano always had a good football team (basket ball, also, more on that another time.) and played a challenging schedule including Jupiter,
Everglades city, Moore Haven, Clewiston, and Eau-Gallie, Believe me, some of those lake teams were tough.
The 1941 football season saw Pompano go undefeated with one tie in the Southeastern conference (six-man) competition and this was the last time many of the players would ever play football again as world war II began and some left, never to return. It is fitting I think to briefly recount that season of so long ago.
On October 9, we played Jupiter there and defeated them 66-27. This was the first game I ever played in and it was nearly the last. I was the right end and the play was an end around reverse, The half back was to hand the ball off to either end coming around and fake to the other. At the "hike" (not called snaps then) of the ball I along with the left end, (Cecil Miller,) instead of passing each other we collided head-on, knocking both of us silly.
So much for my participation in the rest of that game.
The next game was with Everglades city, (a long trip) defeating them40-0.
The first home game of that season was against Moore-Haven, game time 3:30 PM (Never played any conference night games) score, 45-6. The outstanding player of that game was Doyle Alderman, halfback who carried the ball seventy yards for a touchdown.
The second home game of that season was against Clewiston, they were beaten 47-18.
We traveled up to Eau-Gallie on October 31 who up until this time also were undefeated. They led Pompano 13-6 up until the last final seconds of the game when Billy Mc McClellan recovered a fumble on our fifteen yard line and ran for a touch down. The extra point was good and the game ended in a 13-13 tie.
Eau-Gallie had several good Japanese descendent players and their football field was a cow pasture, (could have been called "cow-pasture football "I suppose.) We "always" had to take a shower after playing there.
November 7 Pompano routed Jupiter for the second time by a score of 52-7.
The game was automatically stopped when our lead reached 45 points. (That rule should be re-instated today.) On November 14 we again met and defeated Moore-Haven by the score of 47-6
Clewiston was again defeated on November 21 by the score of 63-14. The final game of the 1941 season was with Eau-Gallie who tied us in our first meeting. They were defeated by the score of 21-7. and giving us an undefeated season.
Coach Carmichael, as tough and as unforgiving as he was has to be commended for the football and basket ball teams he produced in the early days of competitive sports in Pompano high school.
Some of the seniors playing in this undefeated season were, Forrest Cope, half back, Billy Mc McClellan Half back, Harold Kerchival end, half back, Marion Fugate center, Dwight Miller end, Doyle Alderman Half back. and H.C. Rowlett Quarter back and captain of the team.
Trying to name all of the people that played six-man football in Pompano would be impossible but here are a few of them that come to mind with no one being intentionally omitted, In addition to those already mentioned they are, B.Sam Walton, Revis Mickler, Cliff Dew, Marvin Reagan, Carlie Johnson, Bobby Mc McClellan, Clinton Lyons, Bud Garner, Oscar Johnson, James Mulkey, Brack Hogan, Cecil Miller, Robert Mitchell, Doug Allen, Hubert Helton, Billy Smith, Art Robinson. John Bill Johnson. Bill Cheshire, Bill Oggs, Bill Sanders, Billy Allis and Jim Hooten.
Six-man football was a tough game to play, there was no offensive team and no defensive team, Some players played the entire game and with fewer men on the field, that made for more ground to cover by fewer men, consequentially it made for a more tiring game.
Substitutions were usually made only for injuries, there was no unlimited substitution rule. If you started, you were expected to play most of the entire game. Six man football was the forerunner of the many fine football teams Pompano and later Pompano Beach fielded before the High School was closed.
The trophies commemorating these accomplishments are many and hopefully some day will again be publicly displayed so Pompano Beach will be reminded and proud of the great things that happened here in sports in the past, and will again in the future.