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Two county athletes lauded for efforts on football team in 1927

Photo from the Sept. 27, 1974 Warren Morning Mirror The headline for the 1927 Franklin & Marshall squad turned out to be a tad optimistic — the squad finished with a 1-7-1 record and was outscored 141-33.

Two Warren County men were key members of a 1920s football team that challenged one of the nation’s best.

And they did it in the early years of the forward pass.

Quay McCune and Karl Chapel were born just months apart in December 1904 and February 1905.

“CHAPEL AND M’CUNE RATED AMONG BEST OF FAST ELEVEN” graced the top of the sports page on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1927. “Local players taking prominent part in work of plucky Lancaster college team.”

Plucky – having or showing determined courage in the face of difficulties. Great word choice.

Photo submitted to the Times Observer Karl Chapel at the age of 17 prior to joining the football squad at Franklin & Marshall in Lancaster.

“Karl ‘Cut’ Chapel and Quay McCune, Warren county’s offerings to the Franklin and Marshall football team are making good in fine shape this season and both figured prominently in the battle wages at University of Pennsylvania last Saturday when Coach Lou Young’s big Red and Blue varsity had a hard struggle in defeating the tiny Lancaster school 8 to 0,” the report explained.

Young led Penn to a national championship just three years earlier in 1924.

The local sports reporter pulled from several bigger publications in telling the story of the game, calling the reports a “post mortem.”

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: “The lone touchdown came after the one successful forward pass executed during the afternoon. Written in red marks on the other side of the aerial ledger (if our figures are not faulty) are a total of ten incompleted tosses and three intercepted attempts. This must be discouraging to Bart Bell and Lou Young who spent hours on this line of attack at Sea Girt. On the other hand the stalwarts from Lancaster completed a trio of aerial thrusts for a total of fifty-four yards. Three other attempts were incomplete.”

It’s funny to look at a football box score and see that the Penn quarterback went one for 10 with three interceptions while Franklin and Marshall went 3-6 for 54 yards.

Photo from the March 30, 1974 Warren Times Observer. Dr. Quay McCune, one of two county boys on the 1927 Franklin & Marshall football squad.

But throwing that much was a giant shift from 1906 when the first forward pass was completed.

At that stage, according to a Smithsonian Magazine article, the legalization of the forward pass “didn’t seem like a radical move. Established coaches in the elite Eastern schools like Army, Harvard, Pennsylvania and Yale failed to embrace the pass.”

Part of the reason? The consequences. “Passes couldn’t be thrown over the line on five yards to either side of the center. An incomplete pass resulted in a 15-yard penalty, and a pass that dropped without being touched meant possession went to the defensive team.”

An incomplete pass was a turnover. I wouldn’t throw it either! The Philadelphia Record reported that “Franklin and Marshall from its strong showing against Penn when it had only about nine days of practice means that it will be a tough foe for any of the conference teams and will give Swarthmore a great battle later in the season when they face the Red and Blue at Franklin Field next Saturday.”

That report may have been a little optimistic on Franklin and Marshall’s prospects — they finished the season with one with, seven losses and one tie, according to historical data from Franklin & Marshall.

They scored just 33 points in the nine games, allowing a total of 141. Army thwacked the “plucky” squad 45-0.

The sole win was a 13-8 victory on Oct. 8, 1927 against Dickinson. The tie was what I’m sure was a scintillating 0-0 tie with Swarthmore.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a video of a 1927 Franklin & Marshall football game — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYAVF-YfLoE.

Chapel lived in Harrisburg, Franklin and Glenshaw throughout his life, according to his wife’s obituary. He died in Allegheny County in 1987 aged 82 and buried in Emlenton, Venango County.

McCune became a doctor and reports in the 1950s and 1960s show him practicing at Warren General Hospital. A 1974 article indicates that in his retirement he went back to school to learn emergency room best practices, returning to operate the emergency room at WGH.

He died in 1986 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery.

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