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Eagle Archive: Gridiron beginnings 120 years ago were humble for 'Green Terror'

This season has marked the 120th anniversary of the football team at McDaniel College.

According to Dr. James Lightner's history of the college, "Fearless and Bold," the first football season at then-Western Maryland College, in 1891, consisted of five games.

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"On October 31, 1891, the first WMC football game was played in Westminster" against Pennsylvania College, now known as Gettysburg College.

WMC lost that day, 64-0.

Lightner reports, "Presumably, they practiced for the next two weeks before playing Pennsylvania College again …on November 14." Nevertheless, WMC lost again. This time the score was 98-0.

The following week, WMC played New Windsor College in Westminster. "WMC had its first football victory by a score of 66-0."

The 1892 season consisted of only one football game played "against Baltimore City College, and it resulted in a tie."

In 1994, Jay Graybeal wrote about his research of the McDaniel College football team for the Historical Society of Carroll County. Graybeal and Lightner both call to our attention that "1893 college yearbook, THE ALOHA, included a brief history of the new sport…"

The Aloha commented, "We claim no superior excellence for our football team, but we are not ashamed of our beginning, and are confident that once firmly established, our college will win no meager honors."

A reader recently asked me about the origin of the name for McDaniel's athletic teams, Green Terrors. According to two sources — Lightner and a history of the football team on the McDaniel website, penned by Steve Peed, class of 2001 — the first known appearance in print of Green Terror is in the Western Maryland College Monthly, released Oct. 15, 1923. The name was used in describing the football team's play in a hard-fought loss to Washington and Lee.

In "Fearless and Bold," Lightner writes that, "For the first three decades of the sport… the team was referred to as 'the Methodists,' the 'Marylanders,' or 'our boys.' "

Peed adds, "yet others credit the phrase (Green Terror) to coach D.K. Shroyer. … While another school of thought holds alumnus W. Wilson Wingate, who wrote for the Baltimore Sun, accountable for the name."

In October of this year, McDaniel football was honored as one of the top tailgating schools in the country by The Weather Channel.

Childs Walker wrote in a Baltimore Sun article in October that, "At a McDaniel football game … You back into a parking spot, flip open the rear of your vehicle to reveal the grill, and there you are, with a perfect spot to both watch the game and cook up delicacies."

Even if you have absolutely no interest whatsoever in football, you'd still love going to a McDaniel College football game. It's not just a sporting event, it's a social and cultural phenomena.

When he is not watching his wife, a rabid Green Terror and Ravens fan, watch football, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

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