Century-old rivalry comes to an end

Tim Caldwell
Posted 8/26/21

On Feb. 22, 1918, the first recorded athletic contest between Port Townsend and Chimacum high schools took place. The boys’ basketball game was a hard-fought, low-scoring affair won by Port …

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Century-old rivalry comes to an end

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On Feb. 22, 1918, the first recorded athletic contest between Port Townsend and Chimacum high schools took place. The boys’ basketball game was a hard-fought, low-scoring affair won by Port Townsend even though Chimacum held their opponent to only one point in the second half. 

The Leader reported the home team was breezing along with a
9-3 lead at the end of the first period. 

A late rally by Chimacum forced PT coach Hertzler to bring in starter Smith for a short time to stifle the Chimacum rally.” Final score, PTHS 10, CHS 9.

The two schools started competing at a time when America was at war. Boys in the American Expeditionary Force had been in the Western Front trenches for nearly a year. Closer to home, Chimacum was preparing to graduate its first senior class. 

Over the next 103 years, the two schools would compete against each other in more than 400 boys and girls athletic events comprising 11 different sports. 

From available sources, the school win tallies are: PTHS, 316 (boys 195, girls 121); and CHS, 99 (boys 51, girls 48). There were two ties. 

The first Chimacum victory over Port Townsend on record occurred in 1926, when the boys’ baseball team defeated Townsend 6-3. 

The team rosters both noted several still familiar names. Players for Townsend included McCurdy, DeLeo, Welch, McLarney, Minish, and Bruzas. 

For Chimacum — Eldridge, Learned, Werner, Broderson, Jasper, and Gould.

Two years later Chimacum would take another baseball game from Townsend: An extra-inning affair where Broderson, the starting pitcher, won his own game when he hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning.

Also in 1928, Chimacum claimed its first basketball victory. The girls’ basketball team defeated Port Townsend 19-14. 

The Chimacum boys’ basketball team could have claimed that distinction a year earlier but lost to Townsend 25-24, in a three-overtime thriller when Townsend’s star player Harry O’Neill — fouled at the buzzer — sank the winning free throw with no time on the clock.

The games of the 1930s firmly established the East Jefferson County rivalry. 

The decade saw two games end in a tie, two games left unfinished, a Chimacum first in football, and a great shellacking in basketball.

The baseball team continued its success over Townsend, winning again in 1930 by a score of 9-2. The Townsend team included Enfield, Benedetto, Cameron, and Haines. The Chimacum team included Nisbet, Minnihan, Giles, MacMillan, and Johnson.

The following year both schools were touting strong football teams and Chimacum was looking forward to meeting Townsend on their own turf. 

Chimacum played its home games at Yarr Field, named in honor of the Yarr family and their six sons who played football for Chimacum (John, Danny, Jim, Allen, Oscar, and the eldest Tom, who would go on to play for Notre Dame, elected the team captain, and in 1930, lead the Fighting Irish to a national championship.)

The 1931 meeting at Yarr Field on Halloween night was a spooky date. A couple of days prior to the game, Chimacum Coach Bo Campbell visited Port Townsend High School and met with administrators regarding the eligibility of two of his star players, Gould and Johnson. During the game, it would become evident the results of the meeting were unclear.

Townsend scored early in the game on a Martin Sofie touchdown run. The score remained 7-0 until the third quarter when Coach Campbell sent in Gould and Johnson. Time was called by Townsend Coach Bruce Blevins who argued the two players were ineligible. 

Referee Felix McLarney huddled with the two coaches to resolve the issue. It proved a futile effort. 

Blevins refused to allow the game to proceed with these boys in the lineup and Campbell refused to continue without them. 

According to the Nov. 2, 1931 edition of The Leader, “Unable to resolve the dispute, Referee McLarney carried the ball off the field and declared the game ‘No contest.’”

Townsend lost its first football game to Chimacum in 1934 when the boys from Chimacum defeated Townsend 14-0. Coach Campbell’s team included Kilmer, Eldridge, Kendricks, Johnson, and two boys from the Yarr family. Townsend Coach Blevins’ roster included McCroskey, Morris, Norwood, Delaney, Sturrock, Sofie, and Peach. 

The next time Townsend and Chimacum met for a football game was in 1937. It was reminiscent of the 1931 meeting. The Oct. 28, 1937, Leader headline says it all: “Fists Fly as Grid Contest Ends in Riot.” 

Played at Flint Field, Townsend’s home field down below the Lincoln Building, Chimacum scored first and led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter. 

Townsend scored early in the final period and was leading 12-7 with Chimacum driving toward the go-ahead touchdown. An unnecessary roughness penalty was called on Townsend when Chimacum running back Bob Nesbit was injured. 

When referee Felix McLarney only assessed Townsend a 15-yard penalty, spectators charged the field. 

While trying to restore order, McLarney was the target of abusive language coming from some of the players. 

He had had enough. For the second time in a Townsend-Chimacum football game, McLarney picked up the ball and walked off the field, this time declaring the game a Chimacum forfeit. 

Although ahead 12-7 when the game was called, because it was a forfeit, the actual score was 1-0 in Townsend’s favor.

The two teams met again a month later at Yarr Field. 

For only the second time in four meetings, the entire game was played. 

There were no coaches’ arguments or fights, but there was also no score. The 0-0 tie festered for nearly a year until the teams met again on Oct. 8, 1938, at Flint Field where they battled to another
0-0 tie. 

Between Oct. 28, 1937, and
Oct. 7, 1938, Townsend and Chimacum played each other in football three times.

The cumulative score for the three slugfests was Townsend 1, and Chimacum 0.

Scoring points was not an issue for one of the teams when they tipped off in basketball. 

In 1936, Townsend scored 48 and held Chimacum to 4. 

In 1938, Townsend was held to 41, while Chimacum tallied 19.

Basketball games between the two schools in the 1940s would be dominated by Townsend. 

Football was another story.

Tim Caldwell is a member of the Port Townsend High School Class of 1968, Jefferson County Historical Society board member, and research center volunteer.

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