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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2003

Film lauds grid team from 1943


Six decades ago, the Perrysburg High School football team scored big.

“We were the first undefeated football team at the school,” said Charles Kopp who played end on the 1943 championship team.

To mark the 60th anniversary of that fine fall day when the team grabbed gridiron glory, notes, quotes, and anecdotes of team members have been recorded on tape as part of the Way Public Library s popular Front Porch Oral History Series.

Since June, 2002, the library has been conducting the oral history program, said Teresa Calderone, local history librarian. So far, about 30 local residents have been interviewed and videotaped. She runs the camera while Richard Baranowski, reference librarian, asks the questions.

People who participate receive a copy of the two-hour tapes, and a copy is placed in the library s circulation. A master copy is kept in a safe place at the library, Ms. Calderone said.

“It s an ongoing project. I don t see an end to it,” said Ms. Calderone who began the program after her father passed away. “I wish one more time I could hear him say I remember when bread was a nickel. ”

Mr. Kopp was one of the first people to participate in the oral history program. Those who have participated keep in touch with the library staff, she said, and sometime she would like to have a reunion of the participants. Because of the popularity of the program, the library hasn t had to recruit people. There are plenty of volunteers. “Pretty much they come forward and say they want to be involved,” she said.

The series success has sparked interest from others in the area interested in copying the program, said Ms. Calderone, who has spoken to community groups, including members of a local church.

For the members of the 1943 Perrysburg football team, the oral history program provided a chance to share their memories with others.

Mr. Kopp has been doing some research on the early days of football at the school. The first team, he said, was fielded in 1911. At that time, there weren t enough players at the small school. “A lot of men only went through the eighth grade,” he explained. However, young men from the community were enlisted to play to fill out the roster.

It was tough, too, to get enough players during the war years. “Three of the fellas on our team were inducted before they could play. One played two games and he was inducted,” Mr. Kopp recalled.

But the team managed to win all 10 games during that first undefeated season. Waite High School s team was undefeated, too, but that team only played nine games, Mr. Kopp said.

Perrysburg took on Sylvania, Napoleon, Bowling Green, Maumee (twice), Genoa, Rossford, Swanton.

“There was gas rationing and tire rationing. We couldn t go very far,” he said. “It was a great year. Our coach was quite good.”

The players developed some extra team work skills, he noted. “We all worked previously at the Rossford ordnance depot. The three coaches worked there too. They were our bosses. We were called the Junior Commandos. We worked hard. I think that helped knit the team together.”

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