Lexington High Football's First 100 Years

LEXINGTON – Nebraska’s favorite sports season is just around the corner and locally, the evidence shows as the LHS Minutemen report for early morning conditioning and the marching band begins learning their drill this week. Football is coming.

At the Clipper-Herald office we stumbled across an interesting stack of papers documenting some of the biggest moments in Lexington football, covering their first 100 years of operation. There’s no better way to look ahead to a fun season than to look back at where they come from.

On Thanksgiving day in 1897, the first Lexington football game was played. Lexington played and lost to Gothenburg, 0-4. In 1898, Lexington football gained their first coach, Professor Delzell, and the Lexington Football team met with Cozad for the first time. The game went to Cozad, in the Feb. 11, 1898 game, 19-20.

Lexington’s first year of Association football was 1899, the year the team adopted their first nick-name, the “Tigers.” In November of 1901 the Lexington Tigers played their first game with the Overton Alfalfas. Lexington won the game, 0-2.

The 1907 season was a big year for the Lexington Tigers. They won the honor of Central and Western Nebraska Champions and were Co-State Champions with Omaha Central High School. The Lexington Tigers were undefeated that season, but the only known score from the season was a 23-5 win over Grand Island High School.

In 1910 the forward pass became legal and in 1911 the Tigers adopted Orange and Black as the school colors. Guy Chamberlin coached the 1917-18 Tigers, and later became a player for the original Chicago Bears.

In 1919 the Lexington Tigers were no more and the team became the Colts. The newly nick-named team claimed the largest score in Lexington school history with a 123-0 win over Gibbon that year. ‘The Colts’ appeared to be a bad fit for Lexington football as just four years later they did away with the name and became the Minutemen in 1923.

The Lexington Minutemen recorded a flawless season in 1928 with an undefeated record of 6-0-2 under head coach Brian Harrell. On October 2, 1931 Coach Monte Kiffin took the Minutemen to play their first night game with Kearney. Lexington won the game, 7-6.

The 1933 season was a rough year for the minutemen, scoring just 39 points in the 10 game season. The 3.9 average was the lowest on record in team history. The following year, in 1934, the Minutemen played on a new field (the junior high field) where they played their first night game at home.

The Minutemen saw another big season in 1946 when they won the Class B Central Nebraska State Championship with an 8-1-0 record under Coach Willis Trupp.

The Minutemen suffered a tough stretch in their history starting in 1948 with the worst defeat in school history, a 0-51 loss to Cozad. In 1955, under Coach Merle Applebee, the Minutemen ended their season with a record of 0-9-0, the only season Lexington had never won a game. Just two years later, in 1957, Applebee led the Minutemen to be Class A State Champions with an 8-0-0 record. They recorded a 33-6 win over North platte as well as wins over Broken Bow, Cozad, Gothenburg, Holdrege, Kearney, McCook and Omaha Westside. Curtis cancelled their game with the Minutemen that year due to a flu epidemic.

On October 20, 1967, the Minutemen played their first game at Memorial Stadium with Holdrege. The Minutemen won the game, 34-27.

In 1970, under Coach Noel Martin, the Minutemen recorded another undefeated season, 8-0-1, and in 1972 became the undefeated Class B State Champions with a record of 9-0-0. The list of opponents in the season included Broken Bow, Cozad, Gothenburg, Holdrege, Kearney, McCook, Minden, Ogallala and Ord.

In 1973, Coach Martin led the Minutemen to a second consecutive Class B State Championship with a record of 10-0-0.

The year 1975 marked the first year of state playoffs as well as the implementation of tie breakers. Lexington qualified for the first state playoffs in 1976 when they lost to Schuyler, 6-31, in the first round. The season ended 8-2-0 under Coach Dennis Thorell.

The Minutemen qualified for the state playoffs once again in 1980, also under Thorell, with an 8-2-0 record. Lexington lost in the first round of the 1980 playoffs to Grand Island Central Catholic, 0-28.

In 1983, the Minutemen played their first overtime game. They won at the end of the extra time over Cozad, 14-13.  The 1983-84 season was also Coach Ron Laux’s first year as head coach of the Minutemen.

Another big year for Lexington, 1988, the Minutemen took state runner-up with a 10-3 record, which was also a record for games played in a season. the crew of ’88 earned the school’s first playoff victory but lost in the final to Blair, 14-26. 

The following season, Laux led the the Minutemen to a 9-2-0 season and qualified for state playoffs. Lexington fell in the second round to Centura, 13-15. The 1990 Minutemen qualified, once again for the state playoffs. They fell in the second round to Pierce, 7-16, and ended their season with a 9-2-0 record.

The Minutemen persisted in their state playoff appearances and qualified again in 1991. Lexington faced Imperial in the first round and fell, 6-24, ending their season 8-1-0.

The Lexington Minutemen took state runner-up in 1992 with a 10-2-0 record. They lost to Elkhorn in the final, 12-36. Lexington qualified for state playoffs again in 1993 where they lost to McCook, 0-6, in the first round to end their season with a 6-3 record. The 1995 Minutemen also qualified for playoffs but lost to McCook in the second round, 6-14, ending their season with a 6-4-0 record.

The 1996 season marked the 100th season of Lexington Football.

The Lexington Minutemen begin their 123rd season this month with their homecoming game, when they host the Crete Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 30. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

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