Prior to 2010, only FOUR coaches in Ellwood City football history have posted career winning records. The best percentage is held by Denny Schill 8-1-1 in the single season he coached during 1935. Howard Gills is next in winning percentage after coaching two seasons during the war (1944 and 1945). Not many people would argue that the two most successful coaches in Ellwood City football history were Peck Lee and Dutch Croft. Lee coached ten seasons from 1919 to 1930 (missing the 1922 and 1923 seasons) and had a winning percentage of .667. Coach Croft coached from 1938 to 1953 missing 1944 and 1945 years for World War II while posting a .640 winning percentage with the most wins (88) and most losses (48).
Coach Ganzy Benedict still holds the school record of most tie games with eight in just three years of coaching. Other notable head coaches that coached here at Ellwood City include NFL Head Coach Chuck Knox, Kansas University Head Coach Mark Mangino, and Butler Head Coach Jim Rankin.
For the first half of the decade, the Ellwood City coach was not measured by wins or losses, but whether or not they beat New Castle. However bad we beat Evans City, usually worked out to how bad New Castle beat us; until 1925 when Ellwood City beat New Castle for the first time. New Castle cried foul that the Head Coach had water-downed the field to make a muddy mess to slow down the smaller, faster New Castle team. I do not know if there is any truth to this but as you can see in the pictures, it was a “little” muddy.
This would not be the last time that New Castle would use this excuse to try to justify a loss to the “Big Blue”. Sue Campbell recalls hearing back in the 1930′s folks from New Castle complaining that Ellwood City went to New Castle and watered the field until it was nothing but mud and Ellwood said that New Castle did it themselves. The day after this “sprinkling” the Wolverines pulled off the upset and won the game and the controversy began again. She recalled still hearing the charge of “watering” in 1961 when she graduated from Lincoln High School.
Due to the size of the schools, Ellwood City and New Castle did not play each other in regular season games for a number of years until New Castle dropped down to Triple A in the late 1990′s. The two schools would occasionally meet in pre-season scrimmage games and the rivalry was surprisingly still there. I recall in a pre-season game 1993 or 1994 the banter back and forth between the two teams along with the pushing and shoving and etc., caused the referees to walk off the field. The teams decided to continue the game with coaches officiating and coincidently New Castle and Ellwood did not play each other in pre-season games again for a number of years.
We may never know if the “watering” was true or not or even if it affected the outcome much as both teams still had to play in the mud but someone always knows someone who knows. One rumor we heard was that the owner of the Ellwood City Ice Company who hired football players during the summers to keep them in shape and ready for the upcoming season, took one of his delivery trucks full of suspects to New Castle the night before the game in the 30′s and the dastardly deed WAS done. Of course we also hear rumors that someone’s grandfather told them that they were in New Castle the evening before the game and SAW with his own eyes a fire truck at the field and knows that it was New Castle that watered the field.
If you would like to leave a memory you might have about the coaches or the rivalry with New Castle, please leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com
Originally Posted July 23, 2010