Chapter 84

The 1922 Season

          1922 Centre "Praying Colonels" 

Bottom Row, left to right-Howard Robertson,* Ben Cregor, George Jones, Herbert Covington, Clifton Lemon, Red Roberts-Captain, Tom Bartlett, Hope Hudgins, Hump Tanner, Jimmy Green, Terry Snowday

Second  Row, left to right- Coach Jim Bond, Frank Rubarth, Dewey Kimbel, Minos Gordy, Weldon Bradley, Leslie Combs, Case Thomasson (?), Charles Cecil, Edwin Alexander, Richard Gibson, Jerome Berryman, student manager

Third Row, left to right- Proctor Wood, Ed Kubale, Jack Rowland, Joe Sharon, Howard Lynch, Carl Kagin, Jim Priest, Shearer, Rhodes Ingerton

Top Row, left to right- Clarence Jones, Baxter, Moore


Press Day 1922 had the Colonels line up on the field for photographers to get their shots.

Press Day 1922- Identifiable players are Terry Snowday ( 11 ) far left.  From the far right in the line are Red Roberts, Bill Shadoan, Bill James, Ed Kubale, Frank Rubarth, Ben Cregor ( hat ) and Hennie Lemon. Tom Bartlett is apparently the player in the backfield with hands on knees. Herb Covington is not seen in the picture. 

While everyone knew that the "freshman rule" would eventually harm Centre and similar schools, things still looked rosy in Danville. The Colonels would lose only 3 players, each of whom had significantly contributed to bringing such acclaim to Centre College during the past 5, glorious years.

Bo, Army and Bill James had suited up for the last time. 

Bo McMillin

Army Armstrong

Bill James

Certainly the loss of the 3 great Colonels would be felt.

Red Roberts, Ben Cregor and Chick Murphy could have graduated but had another year of eligibility due to the war year of 1918 not being counted. Red and Ben decided to return. Chick, now relegated somewhat to a reserve role due to the abundance of backfield talent, chose to take his diploma and not play anymore but to stay at Centre as the freshman team football coach. 

Red Roberts

Ben "Baldy" Cregor

Joe Murphy, the freshman coach for 1922

While the incomparable Bo would be hard to replace, Herb Covington had been well tutored by Uncle Charlie and had gotten enough playing time to be ready to take over at quarterback. You don't actually replace a Bo but simply try to find the next best person available, and Herb Covington certainly more than filled the role. He became a star in his own right.

Herb Covington

Army had provided not only consistent, steady play for 5 years, but quiet leadership. He had been an inspiration to the other players and helped set the tone which contributed much to the Colonels being so admired in every city they visited.

It was often said of the much loved Army that he was the quintessential Colonel, a gentle man, and a gentleman, but as tough on the gridiron as they came. People who mistook his subdued demeanor for lack of desire, or thought he wouldn't put a hit on them, did so at their peril.

Bill James never sought the spotlight. He was simply there when needed. He had matured over the years until Tiny Thornhill looked to James to be the steadying influence amongst a group of freshmen who went to Cambridge and outplayed the front wall of the mighty Harvard Crimson in 1921. Nobody worked harder.  No one played so consistently up to, and beyond, his ability.

Like Bo, and Army, Bill James would be missed.

When prognosticators began to size up Centre for 1922, here's what they saw. The backfield was set.

Covey would be the quarterback. Hump could step in and relieve him if needed.

At half, Terry Snowday and Tom Bartlett were experienced and talented. Tom could also play fullback if needed. Hump would be the regular fullback, and of course, Red could slip into the position if needed.

Case Thomasson, a sophomore from Newport, Kentucky, who had played well in the backfield against A&M, was coming back. Case could also play end.

Hope Hudgins, another sophomore from Amarillo, Texas, could literally fly and even though he was small, he was expected to get significant action at halfback.

So even with the loss of Bo and Army, the Centre machine would continue to run a high-powered offense, and the prospects looked good.

One player who was expected to get significant time in the backfield ended up missing the whole season and never saw action as a Colonel either in 1922 or afterward.

There were 3 of us Robertson brothers who eventually entered and graduated from Centre. William Howard Robertson, Jr. was the oldest and entered in 1920, a year before I did.

Robert Lawrence Wintersmith, Jr. was the mayor of Elizabethtown and is pictured in front of his home with his 3 grandsons, William Howard Robertson, Jr., Robert Wintersmith Robertson, and Frank Gault Robertson

Howard was the star of the family. It seemed like he could always do things easier than I could. He was the best looking, the best athlete, certainly the fastest, the smartest guy in his class, the most popular with the girls- it just seemed that he was destined to do great things at Centre when he left Elizabethtown for Danville and Centre.

William Howard Robertson, Jr. 

Howard had received a lot of publicity as the 1922 season approached. When Chick Murphy decided not to return playing but to take over as the freshman coach, Howard was projected to be the back who could break big plays like Chick used to do, because he was the fastest man on the team.

1922 press photo of Howard Robertson

Caption on back of photo

He had been on the team in 1920 and 1921 but was hardly ever able to even practice much because he was always having these attacks of abdominal pain which would literally put him in bed. No doctor could figure what caused his problem because about the time he'd get to a doctor, the pain would be eased but he'd still be so weak that he'd have to rest for a few days.

However, in 1922 he seemed better and it looked like he was going to really be a factor on the team but then just as the season started, the attacks got so bad that Dad took him to see Dr. Irving Abell in Louisville who was considered the best surgeon there, and Dr. Abell advised him not to play football because maybe the contact from playing was contributing to his problem.  So, Howard reluctantly quit the team which was a major disappointment not only for him, but to me also, because I loved watching him make those breakaway runs in practice.

Even after Howard had to quit football, he continued having attacks and Dr. Abell ended up operating on him in late 1923 which almost caused him to die from the surgery. It was thought that he had something like "chronic appendicitis." Howard was out of school so much that he missed more than a semester of credits and ended up in my class, graduating in 1925 like I did.

Howard Robertson's rather wrinkled 1925 Centre College diploma 

However, Howard had a great track career and specialized in the 440 yard dash which he set a state record in, and also was clocked in the 100-yard dash at a flat 10 seconds which was really fast in those days.

Spring 1922- Dewey Kimbel, 1st left, also played football. Howard Robertson, 2nd left, Jerome Berryman, 3rd left, who was the only individual faster than Howard Robertson, beating him by a nose in the 100-yard dash. Rice Mountjoy, far right, had a 34-year career as a football coach at several high schools in Kentucky. 

Howard and his teammates won the Drake Mile Relay for Centre in Des Moines, Iowa in 1922.

Centre won the mile relay  at the prestigious Drake Relays in 1922 over 19 other colleges with Howard Robertson running one of the legs. The other 3 participants  were Dewey Kimble, Rice Mountjoy, and Jerome Berryman. 

Bo was the Centre track coach in the spring of 1922 and accompanied the relay team to Des Moines. While there, he joined 2 college championship golfers and the Drake football and basketball coach in a foursome for a round of golf at the local country club.

Country Club where Bo played while in Des Moines

The Des Moines "Tribune" covered the event and mentioned Bo's "versatility" by shooting..."an 83-a splendid score over a strange course." 

Des Moines "Tribune" coverage

Howard Robertson continued starring on the Centre's championship track team in 1923, setting a state record in the 440 yard dash. 

Centre track team 1923

Left to right-Chick Murphy, coach of the 1923 Colonels' track team, Jerome Berryman, Dewey Kimbell, Howard Robertson, Minos Gordy, Rice Mountjoy, Bill Shadoan, Joe Sharon.  C6 HO on the front of Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium remained there for years. On the back of the photo, Red Robertson wrote, "My brother held the state record for the 440 yard dash for 15 years."

Gold medal won by Howard Robertson

Mile Relay medal with state record of 3:26 in 1923

Howard Robertson's letter certificate, 1923

Chief Myers booked Howard and the Centre "Six" though the Chief's booking agency and sent them all over the country in the summers including a tour out west where they had young lady who served as their manager taking care of all of the arrangements.

Howard Robertson, far left, in all 3 photographs

The Centre "Six"

I'd have to say that Howard had a wonderful experience overall at Centre, but he always told me was one regret was not being able to play on the great Centre football teams.

The brothers remained close throughout their lives even though living 75 miles apart, with Howard living in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Red Robertson being in Paducah, Kentucky. They are both carrying some type of recognition obtained during their reunion. 


The starters in the line against Harvard the year before in 1921 were:




Left end

Bill James


Left tackle

Minos Gordy


Left guard

Bill Shadoan



Ed Kubale


Right guard

George "Buck" Jones


Right tackle

Ben Cregor


Right end

Red Roberts


Everyone except Bill James was coming back for 1922. The freshmen from 1921, Gordy, Shadoan, Kubale, and Jones, would all have another year of experience. Red Roberts and Ben Cregor were coming back for a 5th year.

In addition to the returning regulars, the following had contributed in the line during the 1921 season and could be expected to be factors in 1922.

               NAME                                                          WEIGHT
               Clifton "Hennie" Lemon                                    165
               Howard Lynch                                                     180
               Dick Gibson                                                          180
               Frank Rubarth                                                     175
               Clarence Jones                                                     176

                                       THE ANTICIPATED 1922 ROSTER

NAME                           HOMETOWN             AGE      HT          WT       POSITION


Ben Cregor                      Springfield, Ky                  23       5' 11"         180         Tackle
Red Roberts                    Somerset, Ky                     23       6'1"            235         End/Fullback
Terry Snowday               Owensboro, Ky                 23       5'10"          175         End/Halfback
Dewey Kimbell               Louisville, Ky                    23       5'10"          134         Halfback                                                                             Charles Cecil                   Danville, Ky                      20        5'8"           160         End                                                                                               Hump Tanner                 Owensboro, Ky                22        5'5"           165         Quarter/Fullback


Tom Bartlett                     Owensboro, Ky              22        5'10"         160        Full/Halfback
James Green                     Louisville, Ky                 20        5'9"           145         Halfback
Clarence Jones                 Louisville, Ky                 21        5'10"          176         Guard
James Liggett                   Pittsburgh, Pa                23        5'9"           167         Halfback
Howard Robertson*        Elizabethtown, Ky        20        5'8"           145          Halfback

* Howard Robertson didn't continue on the team due to illness. 


Edwin  Alexander             Jacksonville. Il              20        5'10"         163         Halfback
Leslie Combs                     Lexington, Ky                20        5'11"         156          End
Herb Covington                Mayfield, Ky                   20        5'5"          158          Quarterback
Richard Gibson                 Louisville, Ky                 21        6'1"           180         Tackle
Minos Gordy                      Abbeville, La                  21        5'10"         182         Tackle/End
Hope Hudgins                   Amarillo, Tx                   21         5'7''           160         Halfback
John Hunter                       Detroit, Ml                     21         5'8"          155         Halfback
Ted Johnson                      Lawrenceburg, Ky         21         6'1"           186        Guard
George Jones                     Dallas, Tx                        19         5'8"          213         Guard
Ed Kubale                           Fort Smith, Ak               22         6'             177          Center
Clifton Lemon                   Mayfield, Ky                    20        5'10"       165          End
Howard Lynch                  Amarillo, Tx                    20        5'10"       180         Tackle
Jack Rowland                    Racine, Wi                      20         5'8"         150         Halfback
Frank Rubarth                  Gatesville,Tx                   22         5'11"        175         Guard
William Shadoan              Somerset, Ky                  27          6'1"         196         Guard
Case Thomasson              Newport, Ky                    19          6'             175         End/Fullback
Proctor Wood                   Millersburg, Ky               22         5'8"         170         Center

There would be 6 seniors, 5 juniors, and 17 sophomores on the anticipated 1922 roster. The new "freshmen rule" would have severely handicapped the 1921 team if it had been in effect then, as there were 18 first-year men on that team, 17 of whom were returning to compete in their sophomore year in 1922. 

For the first time since 1916, there were no young men on the team from Fort Worth North Side High. An era had passed.

One person who wasn't returning in 1922 was the line coach, Tiny Thornhill.

Tiny Thornhill

Tiny had developed such a reputation with his line's play against Harvard that he became a "person of interest" to programs across the country. While the team was visiting Stanford in Palo Alto in December, the athletic director there received Uncle Charlie's permission to talk to Tiny. Soon after the first of the year, Tiny was signed, sealed and ready to be delivered to Stanford as an assistant to the famous Glenn "Pop" Warner who'd taken over the program there in 1924.  To replace Tiny, Uncle Charlie and Centre hired another Pitt graduate, Jim Bond.

( After being on "Pop" Warner's staff for 9 years, Tiny became the head coach at Stanford in 1933 and compiled a 35-25-7 record in 7 years there. Interestingly, Tiny's 1935 squad went 7-1 during the regular season and beat SMU, coached by Centre graduate Matty Bell, '20, in the Rose Bowl, 7-0. Tiny took his 1933 and 1934 teams to the Rose Bowl also, losing to Columbia and Alabama.)

As always, Dr. Rainey, the Chief, and Uncle Charlie had worked on the schedule together for the 1922 season. The Danvillians had a much easier time than they had 5 years earlier when they almost had to go hat-in-hand to be included on a team's lineup.

Now they had dealt from strength.

"Centre wants to play us? Just ask them where and when, and we'll consider it if we have an opening!"

California had sent word in early January that the Bears wanted a game. There was a feeling on the West Coast, even after the tie with W&J, that the two best teams in the country in 1921 hadn't met, but had come so close. California didn't want to leave it up to the uncertainties of hoping for a post-season pairing in a bowl. The college wanted to add an early December game following its November 25 match-up with Stanford. Cal requested that Centre agree to a contract and date between two mighty programs.

Centre reluctantly declined. There was some sentiment on campus amongst the professors that another "barn-storming" tour wasn't advisable, even if it was only for a "tacked on" regular season game. They worried about the college becoming known only because of its football team, and not its academics. Additionally, the S.I.A.A sent word that post-season games weren't going to be allowed, and the Southern Conference frowned on them as well, and it was not until the January 1, 1925 Rose Bowl, three years later, that Alabama represented the Southern Conference in a bowl game.

Harvard was the team that was a "certain" for 1922. Centre had decided to open with a "breather," and then play some more significant teams in preparing for a return to Cambridge. Significantly absent from the schedule were two old rivals. Transylvania and Georgetown sensibly sent word that they wouldn't be available, understandably.

( Transy reappeared on the schedule in 1924, and Georgetown in 1925.)

Centre was determined to play at least 4 games at home, and had firmed up the card for 1922 prior to the end of January.


               DATE                       OPPONENT                               LOCATION
               Sept. 23                   Carson-Newman                      Danville
               Sept. 30                   Clemson                                     Clemson, S.C.
               Oct. 7                        Mississippi                                Danville
               Oct. 14                     Virginia Tech                             Richmond, Va.
               Oct. 21                     Harvard                                      Cambridge
               Oct. 28                     Louisville                                   Danville
               Nov. 4                      Kentucky                                    Lexington
               Nov. 11                     Washington & Lee                   Louisville
               Nov. 18                     Auburn                                      Birmingham
               Nov. 30                    South Carolina                         Danville