Waite and Scott both have something else in common heading into this year’s historic meeting Friday — they once had nationally-recognized football programs.
This year, both schools are celebrating their 100th year of football. In its early years, the annual East Toledo-West Toledo rivalry between Toledo’s only two schools was played on Thanksgiving — drawing up to 20,000 fans to either school’s horseshoe-shaped concrete and steel stadium.
If you were a Toledo football fan before World War II, your family was at that game before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. Soon, new schools DeVilbiss and Libbey also began playing on Thanksgiving, and later Macomber, Bowsher, Start, Woodward (at first a vocational school), Rogers, and seven different Catholic schools were added to the fold. The final Waite-Scott Thanksgiving game was played in 1961, the late Andy Toth once told The Press.
|This painting of a Waite-Scott Thanksgiving game at the Waite
Bowl, which typically drew 20,000 fans before WWII, is on display
at the Weber Block, Front and Main Streets, East Toledo.
(Press file photo by Ken Grosjean)
The original Waite Bowl was located where Mollenkopf Stadium is today, but extended into where the baseball field currently sits, and pictures make it look more like a college stadium.
Waite moved into Waite Stadium, now Mollenkopf Stadium, in 1934, while Scott’s bowl was used for several more decades until a crumbling foundation led to its razing.
Waite and Scott were the teams to beat before WWII, both earning national recognition — each school has two national championships and Waite has five state poll championships. Waite won national titles in 1924 and 1932, Scott in 1919 and 1922, according to researchers Doug Huff, West Virginia; Barry Sollenberger, Arizona; and Bob Pruter, Illinois.
One Waite team was invited to the White House after defeating Miami Senior (Fla.) in the national championship game. Throughout the season, the team traveled across the country by train to play other prep powerhouses, taking tutors and books with them.
Waite coaches Don McCallister (39-4-1) and Jack Mollenkopf (91-25-7) went on to successful NCAA Division I college coaching careers at South Carolina and Purdue, but it was coach Larry Bevan (45-5-1) who started it all in 1918. Mollenkopf became a Boilermaker legend and even has a building named for him on the West Lafayette, Indiana campus.
“Coach Jack Mollenkopf was the very best coach in town and his teams were extremely well-coached,” wrote Lew Cross, Class of 1946, for the 90th anniversary publication of Waite High School published by The Press 10 years ago.
When the two schools opened in 1914, they replaced Toledo High School, which stood where the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library’s main building is on Michigan Avenue.
Even the Toledo Central High Mastadons were a powerhouse dating back to the 19th Century, ultimately playing the University of Notre Dame freshman team in 1913, but losing to the Fighting Irish, 10-0. Toledo Central lost the 1904 national championship game to Detroit Central, 6-5 (scoring was different then).