It’s Football Season, and 100 years ago, plans were conceived to create a football team for Camp Zachary Taylor. With the war winding down, and thousands of soldiers on base with little to get excited about, the army proposed to assemble a “Crack Football Team” that would compete against other army camps and universities that would be interested in joining the league. Trench and Camp, the weekly soldier newspaper, reported in August, that Capt. Samuel B. Jones (see photo below), was in communication with other camps and several universities to organize the teams.
Moral Officer, Major Forrest C. Braden, encouraged extra circular activities among the men to keep them their spirits ups, and not let them become idle. Sports competition among the men was a regular part of their training, which already consisted of Boxing, Basketball, Baseball and Tennis.
Brigadier General Fred T. Austin, the commanding officer at Camp Taylor, would review and approve the appropriations.
The camp organized several intramural teams and from those teams, organized a team that represented Camp Taylor outside of the camp.
Officers in charge of acquiring the best, and most experienced, football players in the region pulled out all of the stops when finding and recruiting ex-college and professional players to join their team. Camp Taylor was no exception, and had some of the best players available to them. Two of the biggest acquisitions were recent college champions, Arthur Hoffman from Cornell University and the great Al Feeney, from the University of Notre Dame.
Arthur L. Hoffman was a graduate of Cornell University and played from 1915 to 1918. He played the fullback position and was on the 1915 National Championship team. Cornell was undefeated that season with a 9-0 record. Four of the games were shutouts, with only 50 combined points scored against them, while scoring 287 points for Cornell. Their game against Harvard (10-0) was Harvard’s first loss in 50 games. They defeated Michigan (at Ann Arbor) 34 to 7.
Al Feeney was a graduate of Notre Dame University and a member of the Fighting Irish Football Team (1911-1913). Feeney played center alongside team Captain, Knute Rockne (Left End). Notre Dame was undefeated those three seasons, and dominated collegiate football those three years.
Al Feeney was 26 years old when he was summoned to Camp Zachary Taylor in 1918. After leaving Notre Dame in 1913, Feeney joined the Indianapolis Em-Roes (named after Em-roe Sporting Goods Co. of Indianapolis and team owner), a professional basketball team. He played in the guard position. From 1914 to 1916, the Em-Roes traveled the state of Indiana and took on all willing opponents. They won 122 consecutive games over that two year tour.
The football team that was assembled, “The Camp Taylor Huskies”, dominated their intramural schedule, and with the power of Fenney and Hoffman, they overpowered most of the other teams. Other members of the team were Lammars, Campbell, Caldwell, Callahan, Hancock, King, Coffeen, Briscoe and Howard. The team was coached by Ward “Piggy” Lambert, who was the head basketball coach at Purdue University. Lambert was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960, and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
The football squad was only organized for the 1917 and 1918 seasons, and had a record of 5 wins (Georgetown College 14-10, Camp Shelby 52-21, University of Indiana 7-0, Camp Grant 12-0, Camp Sherman 40-0) 2 losses (Camp Sherman 7-26, Centre College 6-10), and one tie (Camp Hancock 0-0).
Perhaps the most exciting game occurred on Thanksgiving Day 1918, when Camp Zachary Taylor took on Camp Sherman for the second time. Their first game in 1917 handed Camp Taylor their first loss, and they were eager to win this rematch. The newspaper account of the game describes it as an “onslaught” when the fourth quarter began. The score was 20 to 0 at the beginning of that quarter, and the Camp Taylor Huskies piled on another 20 points before the game ended. The Thanksgiving Day game was the last one played by the Huskies, and the team was disbanded due to the war having ended two weeks earlier.
Al Feeney would return to civilian life and play in the newly formed National Football League for the Muncie Flyers in 1920. After Al Fenney’s football career ended, he was appointed the Indiana State Safety Commissioner in 1932. He later became the Superintendent of the State Police. In 1948, Feeney (democrat) was elected Mayor of Indianapolis Indiana. He ran on a platform of “Quality Law Enforcement” and replaced the Chief of Police with a nonpartisan Chief, Edward Rouls, who happened to be republican. The two leaders announced a new “war on crime” campaign in 1948. Unfortunately most of Fenney’s plans were never fulfilled as he died in office on his 58th birthday, Nov 12, 1950.