EVERETT HIGH SCHOOL’S 1920 NATIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

The School of Champions is a label that carries tremendous pride for the Everett High School community.  This is a reputation steeped in legendary lore, stuff of great figures, rich in tradition, and time-tested grit. The roots of this label go back to the early 1900s when a young Enoch Bagshaw arrived at the Everett High School campus. From those roots, the greatest football program of any high school west of the Mississippi for the 20th century was forged in the hard-scrabbled mill town known as the City of Smokestacks.

The names of this era have lived on for 100 years, names like Bagshaw, George “Wildcat” Wilson, Carl Michel, Roy Sievers, Les Sherman, Glenn Carlson, Edward Manning, Chalmer Walters, Ray Witham, Fred Westrom, Merle Dixon, Harold Britt, Clarence Torgeson, Arthur Ingham, Walter Morgan, and George Guttormson, and others, many who went on and played for Coach Bagshaw at the University of Washington that culminated in a Rose Bowl appearance for the Huskies.

But while those young men were still wearing the blue and gold on that glorious New Year’s Day in 1921, 20,000 fans packed into the stands and lined the field for the battle between Everett High School and East Technical High, the undefeated team from Ohio that had traveled west to take on Baggy’s boys for the right to be crowned national champions.

This was a town where the contrast between the haves and the have-nots was striking.  And tension in the early 1900s on the streets of Everett was palpable. But it was at Everett High School where with the wealthy timber barons’ children sat next to the mill worker’s children, where the owners’ son blocked for the mill workers’ son to score. It was in the halls of Everett High that the next generation learned Champions come together.

Newspaper columnist and city leader Rosie Weborg wrote, “It did not matter whether it was banker or laborer, merchant or professional man. They all met on common ground when Baggy and football were under discussion. . . and from this sprang an era of civic solidity. . . .“ It was on the gridiron where a high school inspired the young town to believe that hard work, strict discipline, and working together could create something special.

Much work went into reaching the national championship game for the team that was to become known as the Seagulls. Games against colleges and military teams, games against the best teams from Oregon, Utah and Southern California; games that ended up with a lopsided cumulative score of 432-27. The final preparation for the right to play in the national championship game began with the boys from Everett dismantling the University of Washington freshmen 20-0.

Next team to fall was St. Martins College 19 to 0. Then came three games that would change Everett High School forever.  Against the best the west had to offer: the Oregon champs from The Dalles which ended in a lopsided 90-7 victory for Everett. Next, Everett took on East High of Salt Lake City, the champions from Utah, in a Thanksgiving Day showdown where they easily defeated the Leopards 67 to 0. Everett went on the road to provide a 28-0 thumping of the Southern California champions from Long Beach, a game that was attended by 15,000 fans. (This was a century before you could catch a flight from Paine Field to LAX; the Everett boys had a train car especially for them.)

Bagshaw was able to secure a game against East Tech from Cleveland, Ohio, a team that had outscored their opponents 462 to 7, including a win over the 1919 co-national champions from Scott High School from Toledo, Ohio. The game was scheduled for New Year’s Day 1921 in Everett.  All 20,000 tickets sold out in three hours.

To say the championship game lived up to its billing is an understatement. After a scoreless first quarter, Everett took a 16-0 lead in the second, in part due to a couple of East Tech miscues. Neither team scored in the third quarter, but East Tech seemed to dominate play into the 4th quarter.  Their persistence paid off with a touchdown, but that was not enough. Bagshaw’s team prevailed 16-7, securing their second consecutive national championship and their ninth consecutive state title. Bagshaw would move on to coach for the University of Washington the next year.

The 1919 and 1920 national championship teams were the beginning of something special. Ranked in the comprehensive source of all high school football for the 20th century as the best football program west of the Mississippi and 6th-best in the entire United States from 1900-1999, and once considered the cradle of football coaching by Sports Illustrated, Everett High School continues to cultivate a rich tradition of honoring the past and embracing the future.

-EXCERPTS FROM EVERETT HIGH SCHOOL 1920 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS VIDEO

Listen to the complete Prep Sports Weekly Podcast from Thursday, December 17, 2020. They called them “Baggy’s Boys,” the 1920 Everett High School National Championship Football Team coached by the legendary Enoch Bagshaw. We hear their whole story from noted Everett historian Larry O’Donnell, and then the plans for honoring the team on the centennial of their championship from current Everett head football Brien Elliott and athletic director Eric Jennings.

Prep Sports Weekly with Tom Lafferty & Steve Willits, is heard every Thursday from 7-8 pm on KRKO Everett’s Greatest Hits.

Here is the link to the Everett Championship Celebration Video:

Tom Lafferty is the Sports Director at KRKO/KKXA Radio. He is a member of the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame; the Snohomish High School Hall of Fame; the recipient of the Dave Duvall Award from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association District One and the Joe Martin Award for Service to baseball's Northwest League. Tom Lafferty & Steve Willits are co-hosts of Prep Sports Weekly, Thursdays at 7 pm on KRKO.