As time passes by, old football teams seem to get better and better.

    Playoff teams are often thought of as state contenders, margins of victory get wider and wider, and team leaders become heroes with the passing of years as stories fall from generation to generation.

    The 1942 Dodge City High School Red Demon football team has had 66 years for its story to grow, though with the passing of many of its team members, the story of the first football team in DCHS history to go undefeated and "untied" has now begun to fade.


As time passes by, old football teams seem to get better and better.
    Playoff teams are often thought of as state contenders, margins of victory get wider and wider, and team leaders become heroes with the passing of years as stories fall from generation to generation.
    The 1942 Dodge City High School Red Demon football team has had 66 years for its story to grow, though with the passing of many of its team members, the story of the first football team in DCHS history to go undefeated and "untied" has now begun to fade.
    But team members who are still around are every bit as excited to tell the tale of their team as are members of some of the more recognized teams of the 1970s and 1980s.
    "We were beating teams 60-0," said Karl Biehler, who was a sophomore right tackle and defensive tackle for DCHS in 1942. "We would have run right over the University of Wyomung with the team we had that year."
    Actually, the biggest blowout wins of the season for the Demons that year were two 39-0 wins against Kinsley and Stafford, but embellishment seems to go hand-in-hand with gridiron lore.
    The team also handed Great Bend, which fielded a bigger team than Dodge and most teams in the area, a 37-0 loss.
    "Supposedly, Great Bend was going to roll right over us," said 1942 right guard Bill Switzer. "But they found out that the weight of their players didn't give them a whole lot of advantage over a team with better conditioning."
    The 1942 Demons have been chosen as the sixth-ranked high school football team in Dodge City history by a committee of former Red Demon coaches and will be honored as such at Memorial Stadium Friday at halftime of the 2008 Hatchet Game against Garden City.
    The 1952 Demons will also be honored at the game as the fifth-best Red Demon football team of all time.

Looking back
    But the '42 Demons found their success with innovation and speed. Coach Chalmer Woodward was one of the first football coaches in the state to bring the T-formation from the college football game to high school, and he preached that three touchdowns per game would put the Demons over the top.
    In 1942, though, his Demons came through for an average of more than 30 points per game, while holding opponents to around six. 
    "We surprised them all except for Garden City," said 1942 Demon quarterback Ed Gibbons.
    By all accounts, Woodward was a patient man and a teacher as much as a coach, who expected the best from his players on a weekly basis. He coached Wichita State University's football team after his time at DCHS and eventually coached the Southern Methodist University Mustang football team during the 1953-1956 seasons.
    "Both he and coach [Guy] Barnes seemed to have a lot of faith in their players," said C. A. Long, a senior defensive end on the 1942 team. "Woodward was a heck of a coach."
    "There was always a candy bar at halftime," Biehler said. "He said the sugar would help us in the second half."    
    Woodward's run-heavy T-formation offense was executed to a tee by the Red Demon offense in large part because of a star-studded backfield Joe Beebe and Eddie Hanna.
    Switzer claims that Beebe ran the 100-yard dash in just under ten seconds, and whether that figure is a truth or a legend will never again be known, but Beebe, who transferred to Dodge from Great Bend, did score nine touchdowns for the Demons in 1942, which made him the leading scorer in the Southwest Kansas League.
    "He was a little streak," Switzer said. "He was especially fast but a rather small individual. We never printed a true weight for him all season for fear that someone might kill him."   
    To go along with the strong running game, Demon quarterback Eddie Gibbons was named third-team All-State after the 1942 season.
    "He was one of the best — just a great quarterback," said backup signal caller and safety George Musseman.
    "He was quite tall and had good vision of the field," Switzer said. "He was a very good natural leader."
    "They're all liars," joked Gibbons.
    He said that the two speedsters Hanna and Beebe as well as fullback Jim Van Dine and end Don Young made his job easier than the quarterbacking position is often made out to be.
    Many of the members of the 1942 Demon team entered military service either after high school or went to war prior to graduation. Musseman joined the Navy after his junior year in 1944. Biehler served in the Navy, Army and the Air Force throughout his military career, playing service league football in Germany and North Africa during World War 2.
    "Those were the days before faceguards," Biehler said. "Which may be the reason I'm as crazy as I am now. I broke my nose seven times that I counted."