Chapter 112

October 20, 1923   Centre-Oglethorpe

Two questions were on everybody's mind leading up to the next game in Danville.

"Where is Oglethorpe?"

"What in the bejeesus is a "Stormy Petrel?"

The first was fairly easily solved by going to the library and grabbing an "O" encyclopedia and looking up "Oglethorpe." It told of James Edward Oglethorpe, an Englishman, who came to the New World in 1733 and founded and helped colonize what is now the state of Georgia.

Also in the encyclopedia would have been a section conveying information about a school named in honor of James which had a rather turbulent history. Oglethorpe was founded in 1835 in Midway, a small town near Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia from 1804-1868 which included the Civil War years. The college suffered much during the war as its students went off to fight, its buildings were turned into barracks and a hospital, and its endowment was invested in Confederate bonds which proved to be valuable only for use as wall paper in the impoverished, post-war South.

The administration picked up and moved to Atlanta in 1870, but things got no better, and the doors were closed 2 years later.

In 1913, Oglethorpe was re-chartered, a cornerstone was laid in 1915 for the first building on Peachtree Road in Atlanta, and the college was in its 11th year of its rebirth when the game with Centre was played. 

Oglethorpe's Lupton Hall with bell tower and chimes, built in 1919 

Oglethorpe had begun playing football in 1917 and hoped to quickly gain attention by beginning to push its athletic programs, and there was no better way to do just that than by playing the most famous team in the South, if not the nation- the "Praying Colonels" of Centre College.

But what about a petrel, and a "stormy" one at that?

Colleges have often seemed to have a preference for using birds for the nickname of their athletic teams.

There are Eagles, Golden Eagles, Falcons, Cardinals, Jays, Ducks, Owls, Ospreys, Hens, Herons, Peacocks, Penguins, Ravens, Sunbirds, Roadrunners, Redbirds, Gamecocks, all kinds of Hawks, including just plain Hawks, Red Hawks, Jayhawks, Mountain Hawks- bird species rule the roost regarding this sort of thing.

However, there is just one team that goes by the "Stormy Petrels," and it would seem to be a safe bet that Oglethorpe will maintain that exclusivity.

 "Stormy Petrel" flying over a turbulent sea

Incidentally, the petrel is pronounced "pea-trel," and is a bird which can fly at sea against the strongest winds and fiercest storms, thus the "Stormy" part of the name.

Oglethorpe came to Danville with a record of 0-2 record. However, the losses were to good teams and were on the road. Georgia Tech won 28-13, and Georgia, 20-6.

1923 Oglethorpe "Stormy Petrels." Coach Jim Robertson, top row, far right, was the coach for one season, 1923. He had starred at Dartmouth as a fullback and halfback from 1919-21 and was still wearing his old school's sweater with the "D" when this picture was taken. 

Centre not only wanted to win the game, but wished to make a statement regarding its strength when compared to that of Georgia Tech and Georgia.

The Colonels thoroughly beat the Stormy Petrels. Again, Herb Covington dominated the play. Oglethorpe never got close to the Centre goal. The only part of its game which was impressive was in punting yardage, hardly a statistic consistent with a winning attack. 

It was 10-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, and 17-0 at the half, with the Colonels threatening to score on the 4 yard line when the whistle blew.

Centre literally ran up and down the field at will, picking up an astonishing 27 first downs for the game to 3 for the Petrels.

Hope Hudgins from Amarillo, Texas scored twice, Covey and Thomasson each got one T.D. Hennie Lemon kicked 2 extra points and a 30 yard field goal.

The final score was 29-0.

After the game, Oglethorpe's coach, Jim Robertson, came into the Colonels' dressing room to congratulate the team on its play. He told Uncle Charlie that his team lost to Georgia Tech and Georgia, but didn't get really beaten, being in both games all of the way.

Coach Robertson said that against Centre, his team not only lost, but got beaten in every sense of the word.

Coach Jim Robertson with his Dartmouth sweater. His 1923 team was 5-6.

Centre was now 3-0, having outscored its first three opponents, 70-7. After the somewhat slow start against Tom Moran's Carson-Newman team, Uncle Charlie's team seemed to be really jelling.

Now, it was time for the annual excursion to the East.