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Archive For The “Parke Davis” Category

LFN Look Back: "Smokers"

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LFN Look Back: "Smokers"

The first organized cheering during the Rivalry games appeared to come up organically from Lafayette’s and Lehigh’s students.

By the 1890s and the advent of professional coaches, though, faculty and coaches got more involved in cultivating spirit in the teams.

Lafayette’s legendary coach Parke H. Davis, contributing to Athletics at Lafayette College, makes no bones about his contributions, making the “creation of an intense football spirit” at Lafayette one of his priorities when he was hired.

“We instituted college mass-meetings,” he said.  “We composed songs.  At that time there were none.  We invented new cheers.  We bragged and blustered, orated and printed glowingly about our prospects.  We worked the college and the town systematically up to a football frenzy.”

“Smokers” were athletic pep rallies which took place on the campus to celebrate a wide variety of events, as was the custom on college campuses at the time.  During these extravaganzas, the students got souvenir pipes from the smoker as well as complimentary tobacco products.

Smokers took colleges by storm in the 1910s, but for Lehigh and Lafayette, the history of these types of meetings goes back further.
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1887: Lehigh’s First-Ever Win

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1887: Lehigh’s First-Ever Win

Lafayette dominated the early Rivalry, but in the late 1880s the tides turned dramatically, thanks to a play devised by the founder of Lehigh’s football program.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the origins of the play have also been disputed with a distinct Lehigh/Lafayette flavor.

The “V Trick”, or “Lehigh V”, as it’s known in South Bethlehem, was a revolutionary play in college football at the time.

It involved, on a kick resulting in a change of possession, to have the eleven men form a “V” with interlocked arms to direct the mass of the entire team against a hapless weak link on the opposition’s line, with the halfback running behind the rush line.

This was especially effective after a kick, since the ten men would be able to run forward and get a head of steam going, applying their mass momentum to make larger gains.  To some, it was the basis of all the mass momentum plays that followed, such as the infamous “Flying Wedge” implemented by Harvard.

Though it would ultimately be banned, plays like the “V Trick” were an important historic milestone in the evolution of college football.

And the origins of the play come down to who you believe: Richard Harding Davis, the former Lehigh football player, or Parke H. Davis, the former Princeton and Lafayette football coach.
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How Punts, Slush, And A Hall-Of-Fame Coach Broke Lafayette’s Funk In 1898

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How Punts, Slush, And A Hall-Of-Fame Coach Broke Lafayette’s Funk In 1898

It was a rough time to be a Leopard in 1898.

It was that year that the trial of the former Lafayette professor that burned Pardee Hall for the second time went forward, whose vandalism and (what would be called today) terrorism earned him six years in the slammer, after an Easton trial that rocked the community.

It was that summer when the main fighting in the Spanish-American War occurred (with the founder of the Lehigh football team, Richard Harding Davis, as war correspondent), and General Charles Augustus Wilkoff, Lafayette alumnus and resident of Easton, was killed  leading his men preparing for an attack on San Juan Hill.

If any souls attending Lafayette were hoping to get an inkling of inspiration from their football team, though, they’d be even more disappointed.

After the not-too-distant glory years of mythical national championships, upsetting Penn in 1896 and being considered a football power in the East, the Leopards fell upon hard times in 1898, losing eight straight in that dreary fall.  As Wilkoff was laid to rest on a rainy day in October, and the plans for yet another renovation of Pardee Hall were drawn up, Lafayette had to find out a way to beat Lehigh on Thanksgiving Day.
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