Mural will commemorate the accomplishments of the 1920-1921 semi-pro football team in Exeter, ceremony will take place on Oct. 16
EXETER – This year marks the 101st anniversary of the 1920-1921 two-time state champion semi-pro football team in Exeter, and their legacy is finally getting commemorated in town. A new mural will be added at Exeter Union High School (EUHS) to the Holaday Gym wall facing Rocky Hill Drive, and will be unveiled to the community on Oct. 16 at 10 a.m.
On the gym wall, the first section of the mural will have a team picture with their names at the bottom. The next section will be an action shot from the state championship game in San Diego against San Bernardino, with other important people to the team being highlighted around the corners. There will also be a banner across the top which will tie the two photos together, plus a plaque in the middle which will briefly explain the story of how the team came to be. The ceremony will likely last an hour and Rocky Hill Drive will be closed for the duration of the event.
The mural will be painted by the CK Mural Team of Colleen Mitchell-Veyna & Kelsey Gilles. The team has designed six of the murals in downtown Exeter and refurbished several others. Several descendants of players on the team will be in attendance for the ceremony and it will be live streamed on the high school’s YouTube Channel, Exeter Student News. A website has also been created with details about the event plus photos of the legendary team at www.exeterinvincibles.com.
The history of the Exeter football team is being researched by local resident Dwight Miller who graduated from EUHS in 1971. He approached the Exeter Unified School District (EUSD) with the idea of the mural along with David Nielsen of Nielsen & Associates Insurance. The company has decided to sponsor the cost and maintenance of the mural in honor of Nielsen’s late father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Nielsen’s great-grandfather, Bill Springer, owned a coffee shop in downtown Exeter and played semi-professional football in New Jersey. In 1915 he became the first ever football coach at Exeter High School.
Miller is now working to compile a book detailing the history of football in Exeter, and telling the stories of the players on these teams. Through multiple online outlets such as archives.com and newspapers.com, he’s been able to find a number of descendants of players and other figures that played a role with the team. He is still looking to connect with other descendants of any players that played on these teams between 1919 and 1921. He can be reached at [email protected]
Invincibles live on
The 1920 football team was an important part of Exeter’s history as they won two state championships in the American Legion semi-pro league. The team was led by star player Al Griggs who etched his name in The Guinness Book of Records. In 1916 Griggs set a national high school record for most points-after-touchdown (PATs) in a single game. He kicked 15 PATs in Exeter’s 120-0 rout over Hanford. Griggs would go on to be a captain and quarterback for the football team at St. Mary’s College of California before eventually coming home to play for Exeter’s semi-pro team.
The team was managed by Jim Pogue, who’s family founded Rocky Hill, Inc. He graduated from Exeter High School in 1916 and played an important role in forming Exeter’s football team. He recruited several all-American college football players to come play for the small-town team. One of the most notable players he helped recruit was Paul Dobson who played in one game for the team. Dobson had played for the Olympic Club in San Francisco and decided to stay in Exeter after playing for the squad. He’d go on to become one of the town’s most popular citizens and has Dobson Field named after him.
Known by the local town as “The Invincibles,” the Exeter football team went on to have a 13-0-1 record over two seasons, and outscored opponents 334-23. In what was considered the state championship game, they defeated San Bernardino 14-0 on Jan. 24, 1922. The team would draw crowds of thousands of people from various cities, to a small Exeter town that had a population of less than 2,000.