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Written by: Hal Wilson on Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
Dating from the 19th century, Lower Merion football has a long and rich tradition. Over the years, the suburban Philadelphia school has fielded many fine teams. Perhaps the greatest of all was the perfect record squad of 1923.
This Maroon team from Ardmore scored 349 points in ten games while allowing the best opposition the suburbs and city had to offer nothing – Lower Merion was unbeaten, untied and unscored upon. In fact, after a 7-7 tie with Berwyn ( now Conestoga ) at the start of the 1922 season, Lower Merion won 29 straight games before finally losing to Wilmington, Delaware, 7-6, in fourth game of the 1925 season.
The 1923 season began with a 52-0 destruction of rival Upper Darby. 2,000 water-soaked fans at Upper Darby watched Lower Merion literally tear the home team apart. The Scull brothers, end Folwell and halfback Paul, emerged as the team leaders. Folwell’s punting and tackling were outstanding.
Back in Ardmore, the Main Liners faced a very good Germantown team from Philadelphia’s then Interscholastic League. In the first half, a 45 yard run by fullback John Fleming and an eight yard plunge by halfback Paul Scull brought the ball to the Cliveden 22. Lower Merion then lost the ball 18 inches from the goal.
LM finally scored after quarterback Walter Derham threw to end and captain Folwell Scull for a 30 yard gain. Three line bucks resulted in a touchdown and the Maroon and White team led 6-0 at the half. End Charles “Whitey” Peterson caught a pass for a second half TD and Lower Merion had won 12-0.
Germantown went on to win the Interscholastic championship in the City.
The next week, 1922 nemesis Berwyn was hammered 69-0. Decisive victories over northern suburban foes Cheltenham and Abington followed. The Haverford College “seconds” were beaten 48-0.
West Chester was expected to give Lower Merion a stiff battle but the Chester County Seat squad succumbed 43-0. At Ardmore, Peterson featured with an amazing end-around dash where he cut back across the field twice deep in enemy territory to be finally cornered and tackled at the five yard line. In the game, the Maroon were credited with displaying a “machine-like brilliance”.
Before 10,000 at Lansdowne, half from Lower Merion, the visitors had expected a routine win. Lansdowne had other plans. A Paul Scull to Peterson pass gave LM the lead. In the third quarter, the home team reached the previously unscored-on LM ten before being stopped by a “brick wall” of Maroon defenders. The final score was 7-0.
Back at Ardmore, a crowd of 5,000 saw the Main Liners win 44-0 as Peterson ran for broken-field TD’s and Paul Scull drop-kicked conversions. Despite the margin, visiting Jenkintown provided the season’s most serious threat to the LM goal. In the third quarter, Jenkintown reached the Lower Merion one. Four thrusts were repulsed as Paul Scull tossed the enemy ball carrier for a loss on fourth down and the unscored-on record was again preserved.
Ancient arch-rival Radnor was beaten 23-0 at Ardmore and the remarkable Maroon and White season became history.
Folwell and Paul Scull were outstanding throughout the 1923 campaign on both sides of the ball. End Peterson, a ten second sprinter at 100 yards, was brilliant with his frequent sprints of 60 and 70 yards. Derham’s passing and Fleming’s off-tackle smashes were other important aspects of the overwhelming Lower Merion attack.
The 1924 team was nearly as good.
At West Chester, junior end Edward Lockwood ran 40 yards with a recovered fumble to score as Lower Merion prevailed 16-6.
A huge crowd of 15,000 in Ardmore saw the game with Lansdowne. Lower Merion reached the visitor’s 30 after taking the opening kickoff. Then Paul Scull ran 20 yards to the 10 on a reverse and captain Frank Peabody charged to the five and then five more into the end zone.
After an exchange of punts, Lansdowne found itself on the home 30 yard line. However, guard Dilworth intercepted a Lansdowne pass and returned it 15 yards. In the drive that followed, Scull ran for 15 and Peabody took the ball in. The final score was 13-0.
Coach Frank Forstburg was a football star at Franklin & Marshall College He later became Athletic Director and coach at Chester High School, then moved to Lower Merion in 1922. Success was immediate. After the 1924-25 school year, he went on to the University of Delaware as football and basketball coach.
Lower Merion’s perfect 1923 lineup:
E 1 Folwell SCULL 5-10 165 ©
T 2 Eugene KUEN 5-8 166
G 3 George HILL 5-7 145
C 4 Orlando BARR 5-7 187
G 5 Edward LOCKWOOD 5-9 148
T 6 Curtis DOHAN 5-11 165
E 7 Charles PETERSON 5-9 150
Q 8 Walter DERHAM 5-10 143
H 9 Frank PEABODY 5-8 148
H 10 Paul SCULL 5-6 155
F 11 John FLEMING 5-8 164
Among key reserves were 16 James COSTELLO, only 5-4 and 130, and 15 Alfred ODIORNE, 5-9, 157, in the backfield, and end 13 Willaim MARKEE, 5-6, 135, and guard Lloyd DILWORTH, at 5-10, 150, up front.
The 1924 Maroon and White varsity starters:
E James FAULK
T Eugene KUEN 5-11 165
G Robert LEITCH
C Howard KURTZ
G William DILWORTH
T Curtis DOHAN
E Edward LOCKWOOD 5-11 150
Q Paul SCULL 5-8 170
H Frank PEABODY ©
H Joseph MORRIS
F Alfred ODIORNE 5-9 160
The perfect 1923 season record:
52 UPPER DARBY 0
12 PHILADELPHIA GERMANTOWN 0
69 BERWYN 0
31 CHELTENHAM 0
20 ABINGTON 0
48 HAVERFORD COLLEGE RESERVES 0
43 WEST CHESTER 0
7 LANSDOWNE 0
44 JENKINTOWN 0
23 RADNOR 0
1924 – Continuing the winning streak
15 BERWYN 6
31 PHILADELPHIA NORTHEAST 0
27 CHELTENHAM 0
50 HAVERFORD COLLEGE RESERVES 0
26 ABINGTON 0
16 WEST CHESTER 6
13 LANSDOWNE 0
32 POTTSTOWN 0
7 RADNOR 0
The brothers from Bala, Folwell and Paul Scull, went on to outstanding football careers at Penn. Paul became a consensus All-America halfback in 1928.
Alfred Odiorne and Gene Kuen were also squad members at Penn while Edward Lockwood joined the team at Penn State.
Lower Merion fielded fine perfect record teams in 1932 and 1933, winning eight and then nine games.
Under the legendary tutelage of Fritz Brennan, Lower Merion enjoyed another “golden age” of football as the now Aces stormed through an unbeaten string of 33 games from 1953 through 1957. Guard Bob McNeil was named to the All-State first team in 1956. Other outstanding players from this era included back Dave Bishop and end Bill McMillan.
Lower Merion’s basketball prowess is well-documented. State titles have been won in 1933, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1996, 2006 and 2012. Among many great players, Greer Heindel, Don Evans and Kobe Bryant stand out.
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