Skip to main content

Cheer on the Huskies: A History of the Bloomsburg Football & Albert Aldinger

The Early Years
The First Football Team, 1892

 


The story of football at Bloomsburg begins with the organization of the first team in 1892 by Prof. Warren H. Detwiler. He had been captain of the Haverford College team for two years and wanted to continue his playing days at Bloomsburg. Prof. Detwiler came from Montgomery County, PA, and graduated from the West Chester State Normal School in 1887 and Haverford in 1892. In May of that year he was hired at the Bloomsburg State Normal School as head of the Department of History and Political Economy. But the one thing he will be remembered for is as founder of the football team.

The first team was organized to begin practice at the start of the fall term in September, 1892. Uniforms were ordered, and twenty-two players began practicing at the town Athletic Park. The first game in Bloomsburg history was played on October 22, 1892, at home against a team from the city of Wilkes-Barre. They were much more experienced, and this showed in the final score of 26-0 in their favor. Prof. Detwiler started for Bloomsburg as the right halfback, which was legal in those days as there were no rules on player eligibility. 

Prof. Warren H. Detwiler 
Football coach, 1892-1893

It took two weeks, but after a tie with the Bucknell Academy Bloomsburg earned the first victory in school history at home on November 5 against a team from Nanticoke by a score of 24-0. The season concluded on Thanksgiving Day with a second victory, this time 14-2 over a Northumberland team. Prof. Detwiler and his players finished their inaugural campaign with a winning record of 2-1-1.

Although his second season as a coach was not as successful, Bloomsburg did begin one longtime rivalry. In the opening game on October 7, 1893, they journeyed to Kingston for the first road contest in school history against the Wyoming Seminary, a Methodist school. They might as well of stayed home since they were routed 52-0, but it did begin a fierce rivalry that lasted until 1929. This was the most anticipated game every year by both schools, even though it eventually became very one-sided. From 1898-1915 the teams divided the games 6-6-1, but overall Wyoming held a decided 23-6-3 advantage. 

Bloomsburg also played the Missionary Institute (now Susquehanna University), the Bucknell Academy, and the Pioneer Football Club of Hazleton, but could only win two of the six games, even with Prof. Detwiler at fullback. It was in 1894, however, that Bloomsburg athletics received its biggest boost with the hiring of Albert K. Aldinger as Director of Gymnasium.

During the 1894 season he and Prof. Detwiler shared coaching duties and time as captain, although Dr. Aldinger finished the year in control of the team. Prof. Detwiler resigned as captain midway through the season and did not play again for Bloomsburg. He was the team's manager in 1896 and 1897, and also worked games as a referee, umpire, and linesman before leaving the school in August, 1901. Before his departure from Bloomsburg Prof. Detwiler also served as the school's librarian, a different sort of occupation from that of most head football coaches.

Dr. Aldinger, as he would be called after receiving a medical degree from the University of Vermont in 1899, was born on the 4th of July, 1873, in York, PA. He attended the York Collegiate Institute and worked at Y.M.C.A.s in Philadelphia and Oil City, PA, before coming here to teach physical education. He held the football coaching record at Bloomsburg for the most seasons coached at ten and the most victories with 50, but both records have long since been broken by Danny Hale. 

The 1897 Bloomsburg State Normal School team 
Dr. Aldinger is in the top row, far right

Dr. Aldinger enjoyed immediate success at Bloomsburg, directing the football program to winning seasons his first three years and a record of 13-8-1. He also contributed on the field as well, playing end, fullback, halfback, and quarterback. This duty could be hazardous, which was shown when he suffered a broken nose in a game in 1894 and was forced to leave two games the following year due to injury.

In 1897, however, Bloomsburg won only three of the seven games played. But this season deserves some attention because it was one of the most difficult schedules in school history. Dr. Aldinger did not play this year, but the family was well represented with his brother Harry at quarterback.

The season began with Lafayette College coming to town on September 27. Although Bloomsburg lost 14-0, it was a great tribute to our defense to hold them to that score, since their record the previous season had been 11-0-1, and in 1897 they finished 9-2-1.  Normal, as the press often called them, rebounded later that week with a 12-0 victory over the Berwick YMCA, and then hosted one of the more renowned teams from the turn of the century, the squad from the Carlisle Indian School. They came to Bloomsburg on October 9, and even though the home team lost 26-0 the crowd was still pleased by a well-played, gentlemanly game. 

Bloomsburg returned the favor the next game by routing the YMCA team from Mt. Carmel by a score of 48-0. Harry Aldinger did fine work at quarterback, and the Normal defense limited Mt. Carmel to only one first down. But Bloomsburg could not sustain their momentum as they went to Lewisburg on October 20 for their first road game of the year and lost to Bucknell 6-0. 

Members of the crowd at the October 20, 1897 game 
with Bucknell University in Lewisburg

The final home game on Nov. 6 was against the reserve team from the University of Pennsylvania, and Bloomsburg evened their record at 3-3 by winning 13-0. The game started at 3:10, and in a situation that would never happen today the second half was greatly shortened so that the Junior Quakers could catch the 4:17 train back to Philadelphia.  The season concluded with a trip to State College and the only meeting ever between Bloomsburg and Penn State in football. The Normal boys played an excellent game against the college team but lost 10-0. There was talk of playing again, but all further games between the two schools were limited to Penn State's reserve and freshmen teams.

Every game this year ended in a shutout, and although Bloomsburg had a losing record of 3-4 they did outscore the opposition 73-56. The Bloomsburg State Normal School Quarterly called it one of the most successful seasons of football Normal has ever had. Although this was somewhat overstated, considering the level of their competition the team of 1897 had a very credible showing.

Dr. Aldinger went on to coach Bloomsburg's football team for six more seasons through 1905, not leaving until January, 1906, to go to New York City to teach physical education in the city schools. He stayed there for twenty years before joining the faculty at the University of Vermont as Head of the Physical Education Department. After three and a half years there he returned to New York, where he stayed until his retirement in 1946. In 1953 Dr. Aldinger, who received a degree from Bloomsburg in 1904, was presented with the Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Association for all of his accomplishments. Even though he died 60 years ago in October 1957, he should always be remembered as the founder of modern athletics at Bloomsburg, and one of the greatest coaches in its long and memorable football history.

The Redman Era
Robert B. Redman, head football coach, 1947-1951
 

Bloomsburg's football program enjoyed success in the years before World War I (1892-1917), posting only four losing seasons in 23 years, for an overall record of 102-68-10, winning almost 60% of their games. It was, however, a completely different story between the First and Second World Wars. From 1919 to 1945 Bloomsburg had a record of 65-108-10, a winning percentage of just .383, and had only seven winning seasons in 25 years. The football teams during that time were greatly undermanned, especially after 1935, and could not compete with most of the other teachers colleges in Pennsylvania.

This situation changed dramatically with the end of World War II and the addition of hundreds of returning veterans to Bloomsburg's student population. The coach hired in 1946 to run the team was Alden Danks, who tragically died before the season began. John Hoch then took over as acting head coach and led the Huskies to their best season since 1935 at 4-3-1.

It was in 1947 the move was made that led to the most memorable five years thus far in school history, the hiring of Robert B. Redman as head coach. Redman was born in Sayre, PA, and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1930, lettering in football, baseball, and basketball. From 1931 to 1942 he had great success as head football coach at both Sayre High School and North High School in Binghamton, New York. During World War II he served in the United States Navy and was discharged in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant commander. He came to Bloomsburg to coach football and teach economics and mathematics.

Redman's coaching career got off to a slow start with a 7-6 loss to Mansfield, followed by close wins over Lock Haven and Clarion. The Huskies then routed Millersville 37-0 at home, before losing their homecoming game to Shippensburg the next week by a count of 19-12. So after five games Robert Redman had a record of 3-2, but he would end his career here losing only two of his final 37 games. 

The 1948 Bloomsburg State Teachers College football team

Bloomsburg won their last three games in 1947 by a score of 71-19, a  preview of what was to come. The next year in 1948 the Huskies enjoyed the  first undefeated season in school history, going 9-0 and burying the  opposition 185 points to 19, recording seven shutouts in the process.  It was  the highest victory total the team had ever had and the most wins since 1904.

Bloomsburg won with a hard running game and an extremely tough defense,  limiting the opposition to an average of only 95 total yards a contest. The  defense also forced 38 turnovers in the nine games, giving the other team  few chances to score.  The Huskies tied California (PA) for the mythical  Teachers College Conference championship that year, with both schools  going 6-0 in conference play. Players for Bloomsburg who made the  Associated Press All-Teacher College football team for 1948 included  quarterback Joe Apichella, end Elmer Kreiser, and tackle Tom Donan on the  first team, with guard Frank Luchnick a second team pick. Dan Parrell at  fullback was the Husky’s leading scorer with 11 touchdowns and 67 total  points.

The next two seasons followed a similar pattern, with Bloomsburg posting a combined record of 15-2, winning by a total score of 434 points to 142. A strong rushing attack was again the main weapon as the Huskies rolled up an average of over 200 yards per game. The only loss suffered by Bloomsburg in the 1950 campaign was a 31-6 setback to West Chester, which broke a 14 game overall winning streak, and a 19 game streak against other teachers colleges.

Bob Lang, star halfback

The 1951 season would prove to be the crowning achievement for Robert Redman at Bloomsburg. The Huskies finished with their second unbeaten season in four years at 8-0, and won those games decisively by a count of 226 to 55. The only close contest was a 16-7 victory over West Chester at Crispin Field in Berwick. The Golden Rams jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Bloomsburg came back with 16 first half points on a safety and two touchdowns, one of them a 35 yard run by halfback Bob Lang. He ended the season with 12 touchdowns to set a then modern school scoring mark of 72 points. In a reversal of the previous year's situation, West Chester had their own 18 game teachers college winning streak broken. The win for Bloomsburg also clinched the first official championship in the then newly formed Pennsylvania State Teachers College Conference.

Redman resigned in 1952 to take over as head football and baseball coach at East Orange, New Jersey High School, primarily because of a large increase in salary (his final year here he made $5000), and free summers to give him the opportunity to work on a graduate degree. He coached the high school football team there four seasons and once again had an outstanding record of 29-8-3. In May, 1960, after having served since 1956 as principal, he was named superintendent of the East Orange school district, but had a heart attack a week later and died on June 9 at the age of 51.

Robert Redman will always be remembered not only for his athletic accomplishments as a player and a coach, both in high school and the college ranks, but also for his contributions as a teacher, a member of the community, and as a fair and dedicated individual. The Bloomsburg University stadium was named in his honor in 1974 for all of those reasons, and his legacy, now over 50 years after he coached his final game here, will not be forgotten.

Homecoming


The postcard sent to alumni in 1936, drawn by
art department faculty member George Keller.


 The 2009 season marked the 82nd consecutive year that Bloomsburg has celebrated Homecoming, dating back to November of 1928. The beginnings of this collegiate tradition can be traced to 1909, when two senior societies at the University of Illinois asked that a weekend be set aside where alumni and former students could come back to renew friendships and meet with current students. This celebration was first held in October, 1910, and was centered around the Illinois-Chicago football game.

Schools around the country began adopting this tradition, and Bloomsburg was no different. Alumni started returning to campus for a few years during the 1920s to see old friends and a football game, which led to the first official Homecoming held on Saturday, November 17, 1928. The activities for the day were limited, but our opponent on the gridiron was Bloomsburg's oldest and most bitter rival, the Wyoming Seminary of Kingston.

Alumni, parents, and friends were invited to participate in all of the Homecoming Day festivities, but the game they watched was a disappointment as Wyoming won 25-0. It was played before a crowd of 3000 spectators and turned out to be the last time the Seminary would ever play a football game in Bloomsburg. The rest of the day though turned out well, beginning with an informal reception that was held in the gymnasium. This was a time for the alumni to be together and get reacquainted. Dinner was served at 6:00 in the college dining hall, followed by a dance for the alumni and their guests in the gym from 7:30-10:30. It was decorated in Maroon and Gold, and the music was furnished by Alexander’s Orchestra. Hundreds of alumni returned for the day, which was a big success even with losing the game.

The dance held in the old gym the night of Bloomsburg's 
10th Homecoming, October 23, 1937

The second Homecoming in 1929 was more involved and turned into an all-day event. A committee was set up to coordinate activities and letters were sent out to notify the alumni, more than 1000 of which responded, along with hundreds of guests. They enjoyed the planned events and this time the football game as well, when Bloomsburg defeated East Stroudsburg 13-0. 

Homecoming during the 1930s developed into a very well organized and successful celebration. It was sometimes tied in with other events, such as the dedication of the Ben Franklin Training School in November of 1930. Student committees were responsible for decorating the campus in the colors of both schools, and the freshmen hung streamers from the monument in Market Square and from light poles and trees in the business district on Main Street and down East Street.

The first three football games had music supplied by the high school band and the Elks band, but in 1931 the Maroon and Gold band was founded to provide Bloomsburg with its own music to fire up the fans.  Technical innovations were started during these years, beginning in 1934 when for the first time a speaker system was installed to provide play-by-play, announce player information, and give the scores of other games. A novel way of beginning the football game was tried in 1936 when a local aviator, Roy Snyder, dropped the game ball from an airplane passing over the stadium. The football was decorated with thirty foot long streamers of maroon and gold and red and black, for the school colors of Bloomsburg and Mansfield. The ball came very close to hitting its target in the center of the field, which the Bloomsburg Press writer remarked was a better show of accuracy than any of the Husky passers exhibited that day, with Mansfield winning 19-0

 Float in the October 12, 1963 parade

The decorations in the gym for the dances became more elaborate under the direction of Art professor George Keller, with the 1938 motif including a huge silhouette of Carver Hall. Through 1941 the schedule for the day did not vary, with a band concert in the morning, then lunch, the football game, tea, dinner, and a dance.  This changed in 1942 due to World War II. The varsity football team was dropped for two years, and in its place a soccer match was substituted the first year, and for the second a football game was held between two squads from the Navy V-12 program.

Patriotic themes were the order of the day, and through 1945 the ceremonies included a review of the navy units. Food was restricted because of the war, and during 1943 and 1944 no meals were served.  Following the war the morning band concert was replaced by an assembly, which evolved into a student talent show. But the major change was the introduction of a parade in 1954. It was originally conceived as a pep parade held the night before the game, followed by a rally and bonfire. It was not until 1958 that it was first called the Homecoming Parade.

Homecoming at Bloomsburg has always been an important and festive occasion, highlighted by the football game. Through the 2014 season we have celebrated 85 Homecoming games, with an all-time record of 54-30-1.  Even though Homecoming has changed a lot over the years it remains one of the high points of the school year, and an important way for Bloomsburg alumni to relive their college days and once again root on the Huskies.

Hale to the Huskies

Danny Hale, center, at his first spring practice, April 1993.

One of the most important announcements in the history of Bloomsburg football was made on December 22, 1992 when Danny Hale was introduced as the new head football coach of the Huskies.  Hale, a 1968 graduate of West Chester State College, began his coaching career in 1974 at the University of Vermont.  After stops at Bucknell and Colgate he was named head coach of his alma mater in 1984, where in five seasons he won 40 games and lost only 13.  After four seasons out of the collegiate ranks he saw an opportunity at Bloomsburg and took it.  As he said on that December day in 1992, "I am so excited for the opportunity to get back into college coaching.  I have been away from this level for four years and myself, my family and everyone around me is enthused about the possibilities at Bloomsburg University."

Success wasn't immediate for a team that had won only one game in 1992, but it didn't take long.  After losing five of its first six contests during the 1993 season, the team won four of its final five.  Two losses to begin the 1994 campaign were followed by eight victories in nine games, and a share of the PSAC Eastern Division title.  The next year Hale's team won nine of eleven games and a second straight share of the eastern division crown.  In 33 years from 1960 when the conference first split into divisions until 1992 Bloomsburg had only had one shared and one outright title, in 1984 and 1985, respectively.  In just Hale's first three years he matched that total, and broke it with his first outright division crown in 1996.  Success had come to the Huskies and they had no intention of slowing down.

Running back Irvin Sigler

Bloomsburg finally reached the Division II play-offs again for the first time since 1985 during their 10-1 campaign in 1996, at the time the second most wins in a season in school history. A loss to Indiana (PA) in the second game was followed by nine consecutive victories, including a 64-0 win over Lock Haven (the second highest point total against non-high school competition in school history, bettered only by a 67-0 win over Millersville in 1916), and the new record set three weeks later in a 74-13 demolition of Mansfield. The following week the Huskies had their most dramatic game of the season when Irvin Sigler scored from four yards out with one minute to go to secure a 21-17 win at Millersville.

The most exciting game all year though was the regular season finale at home against East Stroudsburg when Bloomsburg, down 42-37 late in the third quarter, scored three touchdowns, all by Sigler and the last from 80 yards, to win 58-42 and secure the Eastern Division title for the third consecutive year. The 100 total points was the most in school history, and the game boasted 1,243 total yards and broke a number of NCAA, PSAC, and school records. It was a memorable game to cap a great season, since the following week the Huskies lost to Clarion in the first round of the Division II play-offs by a score of 42-29. 

In 1997 Irvin Sigler continued running the ball and assaulting the school and conference record book.  That season in just ten games he rushed for a then record 2038 yards and scored 20 touchdowns.  For his accomplishments he was named the best player in NCAA Division II football by winning the Harlon Hill Award, and finished his career with school records of 5034 yards rushing, 55 touchdowns, and 330 total points.  And he has been just one of the many great players to contribute to the Huskies during Hale's tenure at Bloomsburg.  The 1998 and 1999 seasons did not see any division titles, although the latter year saw Danny Hale became the winningest head football coach in school history, surpassing the record of 50 victories by Albert Aldinger. But those two years served as  a warm-up for what the the 2000 Husky football team would accomplish.

The stadium in Florence, Alabama,
December 9, 2000.

Following losses in the first two games the 2000 team reeled off nine straight victories, including six in a row by at least 24 points.  Their 9-2 record propelled them into the Division II play-offs, where their momentum continued.  Home wins over Saginaw Valley and Northwood sent the Huskies out to California to face UC-Davis in the national semi-finals, and things looked bleak as Bloomsburg was down 48-29 entering the 4th quarter.  But in the greatest comeback in school history the Huskies scored 29 unanswered points to gain a 58-48 victory, sending themselves to the Division II National Championship game in Florence, Alabama.

Even though Bloomsburg lost that December 9 title game to Delta State, it took nothing away from their accomplishments of being the national runners-up and tying the 1985 team's school record for the most victories in a season with 12.  It was a memorable year that those involved with it have never forgotten, and showed the true potential of a Danny Hale coached team.

Through the 2004 season the Huskies enjoyed more success, with another trip to the play-offs in 2001 and three more eastern division titles.  The arrival of running back Jamar Brittingham in 2004 brought yet more excitement, and a combination of youth and experience positioned Bloomsburg well for the 2005 campaign, which resulted in only the fourth undefeated regular season in school history.  The Huskies won 11 straight before falling to East Stroudsburg in the NCAA play-offs.  The 2006 season saw similar success, as an opening loss to James Madison was followed by 12 consecutive victories, taking Bloomsburg to the national semi-finals where they finally fell to NE Missouri State.  Although 2007 did not see a trip to the play-offs Brittingham completed his career with 27 school and conference records, cementing his position as one of the best running backs ever in Division II history.  The Huskies rebounded during the 2008 campaign, once more reaching the play-offs, posting 11 victories to run the school total to a stellar 512 over 111 seasons.

Bloomsburg's fans have seen many great games over the years, and had some of the finest players and coaches in the history of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.  With a rich tradition behind the Huskies all their fans can look forward with certainty to many more exciting moments in the years to come.

Two Great Teams

Headline from the November 14, 1959 issue 
of the Maroon & Gold


Following the departure of Robert Redman in 1952 the head coaching reigns at Bloomsburg were handed over to Jack Yohe. He ably coached for five years, and won the State Teachers College championship in 1955. It would unfortunately be the school's last title until a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division crown in 1984. Yohe was followed by Walter Blair, who was responsible for one of the biggest upsets in school history on November 7, 1959, versus West Chester. The Golden Rams had won 15 consecutive games by an average score of 46 to 4, and had not lost a conference game since losing to the Huskies in 1955. But on that day Bloomsburg, after falling behind 10-0 at half-time, came back and won 13-10 on a one yard run by quarterback Richard Rohrer in the fourth quarter. It was one of the most emotional and satisfying victories in school history, with the fans pouring onto the field afterwards to congratulate the players. 

The Big Three from the 1967 team (L to R): 
Bob Tucker, Rich Lichtel, Stan Kucharski

Russell Houk took over in 1964 and had one of the most exciting teams in school history, the 1967 squad that went 6-3. Unlike Redman’s running teams this one’s success rested on the passing arm of quarterback Rich Lichtel. He threw for 2771 yards, averaging nearly 308 per contest with 26 touchdowns, and twice passed for five in one game. His favorite target was tight end Bob Tucker, who shattered school records with 77 receptions, 13 of which went for touchdowns, and 1325 receiving yards. He caught four touchdowns passes against Millersville, a feat that was duplicated versus Shippensburg by the other talented end, Stan Kucharski.

In just three games Kucharski caught 28 passes for 485 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 64 total points, all of which led the nation at the time. But an injury to his left knee on the first play of game number four with Susquehanna ended his season and career at Bloomsburg.  Injuries took their toll on the team, which was a major factor in the three losses. Lichtel played the last five games with a broken thumb on his passing hand, and Tucker the last three with a bad back. But even so this team established 32 school records, and went down as one of the most memorable to have played for Bloomsburg.

The Huskies would match those six wins only once in the next 17 years, going 6-4 in 1978, and by the 1980 and 1981 seasons the team managed only one victory total.  The real turn-around in the program began in 1984 under third-year coach George Landis when Bloomsburg went 6-5 with their first PSAC Eastern Division championship.  The most dramatic game and single play during this championship season was at West Chester when quarterback Jay Dedea threw a 50 yard touchdown pass to Curtis Still on the final play of the game to give the Huskies a 34-31 victory.  Watching that play from the Golden Rams' sideline was their first-year head coach and future Husky coach Danny Hale.

Coach George Landis and QB Jay Dedea 
celebrating the win over Indiana

The following season completed the comeback when the 1985 team won the PSAC title outright and the most games in school history with twelve. The Huskies marched through the regular season at 10-0, which included a 49-14 victory over Lock Haven and an Eastern Division clinching 8-6 conquest of West Chester.

The PSAC championship game was held on November 23 in Redman Stadium, with the Huskies facing Indiana (PA), who was coached by 1958 Bloomsburg graduate George Chaump. The Husky defense picked off five passes and limited Indiana (PA) to three field goals in a 31-9 victory. Bloomsburg was ranked number three in the country, and for the first time made the NCAA Division II play-offs.

Their first game was against the Hampton (VA) Pirates, and Bloomsburg came back to win with three fourth quarter touchdowns for a 38-28 victory.  After twelve consecutive wins arguably the greatest season in school history ended with a 34-0 loss to North Alabama on their home field.  But it was a year that will never be forgotten.  Team leaders were quarterbacks Jay DeDea and Mike Glovas, who combined for 2154 yards passing and 18 touchdowns, and running back Tom Martin with 1017 yards rushing, 10 rushing touchdowns, and 68 total points. The defense forced an incredible 53 turnovers, and was led by All-American linebacker Frank Sheptock with 159 tackles, and defensive backs Tony Woods and Randy Bullock who had 19 interceptions between them. 

Following the landmark 1985 season George Landis left to coach football at Bucknell, and although the Huskies had several more decent years the magic of that year could not be recaptured.  By 1992 the program had only a single victory and had unfortunately returned to the level of just over a decade before.  A spark was needed to reignite the proud tradition of Husky football, and Bloomsburg found that spark in the person of Danny Hale.

Albert Aldinger & Football at the Bloomsburg State Normal School

Coach Albert Aldinger in 1894


What is now Bloomsburg University began as an academy in 1839 and became a normal school in 1869, but it was in 1892 when football made its initial appearance. The first coach was Warren H. Detwiler, who came to the Bloomsburg State Normal School in the spring of 1892 after having graduated from Haverford College where he earned honors in history and political science, and most importantly, was captain of the football team. Upon graduation he was hired in May of 1892 to teach history and civics.

When it was decided to organize a football team during the fall term of 1892 Prof. Detwiler was the man for the job. He had more playing experience than anyone else and the only uniform. After six weeks of practice the first game in school history was finally played on October 22 at the Bloomsburg town Athletic Park against the Wilkes-Barre Academy. The Normal team played hard but was inexperienced, and lost 26-0 with Detwiler starting at right halfback. It was on November 5 that the first victory in school history was achieved, a 24-0 triumph over a town team from Nanticoke, once again at home. Interest in the game gradually grew and more people continued to turn out as the team completed its inaugural season with a record of 2-1-1.

In 1893 Bloomsburg was only 2-4, but late in 1893 one of the most important developments in the history of athletics at the school occurred with the hiring of Albert Kurwin Aldinger as Director of Physical Education. He was born on the 4th of July in 1873 in York, Pennsylvania and headed YMCAs in West Philadelphia and Oil City before coming to Bloomsburg. In addition to his general duties in teaching physical education, Aldinger coached and played football and baseball, and started the school's basketball program. 

The first touchdown scored in the 1895 season 
Left tackle E.H. Harrar was rushed over the goal line

Professors Aldinger and Detwiler both played and coached the team at the beginning of the 1894 season, but by the last half of the year Aldinger was in charge as coach and captain while contributing at left halfback.

Normal won five of the eight games played, outscoring the opposition by over 100 points. Two of the three losses were to a prep school in Kingston, Pennsylvania, the Wyoming Seminary. It became Bloomsburg's greatest rival and the two schools fought in many fierce contests over a 36-year period. Unfortunately the Normal team won only six of the 32 games that would be played between them.

The 1895 football team opened the season on September 28 with a 14-0 victory at the Athletic Park over a team from Berwick. The newness of football as a sport in the area was reflected by the fact that a rematch with Berwick was scheduled to be played on October 12 as just another event at the Bloomsburg Fair. The game was to have been held on the track in the Fairgrounds, but it was canceled the day before when it was decided that the narrowness of the track would have limited what could be done only to smashes straight into the line. As the Bloomsburg Daily newspaper said, play like that merely 'shows up the rougher side of football and fails to show the beauty of it.

Normal won its first three games, but the rest of the season the team did not fare as well, losing three of the final four, including two more to the Wyoming Seminary. The roughness of this early version of football spared no one from injury, not even the coach. Prof. Aldinger started at quarterback, halfback, and fullback in 1895, and was forced out of two games due to injury, and in 1894 suffered a broken nose.

In 1896 the season started a week later than had been intended when the opening opponent, the Wilkes-Barre YMCA, decided not to show up. This did not occur very often, but demonstrated the unreliability of football in the early years. When the YMCA finally did appear a month later it lost 30-0. The first game was actually played on October 3 versus Susquehanna University on the Normal Field, and the advertisement in the local paper practically guaranteed the team from Selinsgrove would show up. They probably wish they hadn't as Bloomsburg won 22-0.

Two games were again played this season with the Wyoming Seminary, but neither was completed. In the first contest Normal's star back William Worthington was hurt late in the game and Bloomsburg left the field, so it ended in a 0-0 tie in Kingston. In the return match two weeks later in Bloomsburg only nine minutes were played before the Seminary team quit the game.

While the 1896 season was the most successful one thus far for Bloomsburg with a record of 4-2-1, 1897 was something of a disappointment as Normal lost four of the seven games played. The main reason was an extremely difficult schedule, as Bloomsburg played and lost games to Lafayette, the Carlisle Indians, Bucknell, and Penn State. The quarterback this year was Harry Aldinger, who came to Bloomsburg to play for his brother. The game with Bucknell was a close 6-0 loss, and the defeat by Penn State was by a 10-0 count. This marked a trend that Bloomsburg was to follow in these early years. They could defeat almost every team at or below their level with the general exception of the Wyoming Seminary, but could not extend this success to the college teams they played. Most of those teams were given a run for their money in some very tight contests, but Normal was never able to come out on top. 

The 1898 season was one that started with promise, but did not turn out the way that Bloomsburg fans had hoped. The season began with two losses, and then after a number of cancellations only one further game was played until a November 19 contest versus the Wyoming Seminary. It was played in a drizzling rain, and Bloomsburg scored the only touchdown in a 6-0 victory. This would be the first of only two wins that Normal would ever have over Wyoming on the enemy's gridiron, and proved to be Bloomsburg's last official football contest for nearly three years. 

The manager of the team, mathematics professor William B. Sutliff, had become frustrated with trying to schedule games, and the B.S.N.S. Quarterly speculated in December 1898, that there would be no team in 1899. This was confirmed in a letter dated October 14, 1899, to Principal Judson P. Welsh from Sutliff.  He stated that due to the cancellation of a number of games the previous season, and the fact that colleges would not schedule them at all or wanted to wait until after the season had started to see how good a team Bloomsburg had, there was no point in trying to create a schedule or field a team.  Sutliff basically felt that colleges did not want to play a school as good as Bloomsburg for fear of losing. Because of this reluctance there would be no more official football at B.S.N.S. until 1901.

 The 1897 team from the Carlisle Indian School  

In the interim Prof. Aldinger coached basketball and baseball, and earned a medical degree from the University of Vermont in 1899 to become Dr. Aldinger. A number of former players competed on football teams at other institutions, including Dickinson, Haverford, Lehigh, Ursinus, and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as several YMCA squads. 

Illustration from the BSNS Alumni Quarterly 
October 1901

When football did resume in the fall of 1901 close to 30 men came out for the team. They were determined and enthusiastic, but mostly inexperienced. It did not take Aldinger long to whip the players into shape, however, as Bloomsburg won seven of the ten games played, with the only losses being on the road versus Susquehanna University and, of course, the Wyoming Seminary.

 Several games were canceled this year as well, including one on November 2 with the Hazleton Athletic Club at Hazleton. The newspaper there speculated that the school principal had confined the Normal team to campus as punishment for acts committed on Halloween. The Bloomsburg newspaper reported a very quiet evening in terms of vandalism, but the Normal School faculty minutes of November 12, 1901, reveal a different story. They said that a communication signed by 15 students who were engaged in the 'fracas' of October 31 was received, petitioning for the reinstatement of three students who had been suspended on November 2, one of whom, Albert Newton, was on the football team. A motion tabled from the previous meeting on November 6 to allow them back by December 1 was amended, and all three were reinstated at once. No further information has currently been found to reveal what actually happened, but it was not the last time that games would be canceled because of student misbehavior. Principal David Waller called off the final two games of the 1909 season. Although this type of punishment seems severe today, it was in an era when male and female students were reprimanded simply for talking together anywhere other than the school grounds.

In 1902 close to 40 men came out for football, giving Dr. Aldinger a surplus of talent to work with. This season saw the introduction of several modern innovations in football to Bloomsburg's method of operation. The first of these was in early October when the manager announced that a training table would be started to feed the team, an announcement that was met with great joy among the squad members. In anticipation of the food they would receive on Monday, they went out two days beforehand and buried St. Thomas College, now the University of Scranton, 58-0.  Bloomsburg won three of the next five games before it once again prepared to face the dreaded rivals from the Wyoming Seminary. For this game Dr. Aldinger did everything possible to win, even instituting secret practices for the purpose of developing new plays.

This season and this game in particular seemed to mark a defining moment in the maturation of the football program, and the introduction of many aspects of the game of football that have since been taken for granted. In anticipation of the game with Wyoming, students were elected to use megaphones to lead the crowd in songs and yells. The main cheer consisted primarily of "Ra! Ra! Ra! Tiger Normal!" This year was also the first time that school colors were mentioned at Bloomsburg football games, although writers at the time couldn't decide what they actually were. The B.S.N.S. Quarterly mentioned lemon and garnet, while earlier in the season for the Pennsylvania game the newspaper called them yellow and maroon. But regardless of the shade, the Normal team was determined to win, and scored a touchdown in each half for a 12-0 victory, the first time Bloomsburg had ever beaten the Seminary on Normal Field. Neither team used a substitute as every player played the full 50 minutes. A huge bonfire celebrated the victory, another tradition that went on for many years.

Not only was this a great win for Bloomsburg, it marked the beginning of the possibly greatest stretch of football in school history. From that victory through the first contest of the 1905 season the team played 21 games, during which time its record was 18-2-1 with 19 shutouts. The only team to score on and defeat Bloomsburg during this time was Lafayette College, which won 29-0 in 1903 and 33-0 in 1904. No one else could cross the Normal goal line. In 1903 Bloomsburg went 6-1-1, and ran up victories of 55-0 over the Dickinson Seminary of Williamsport, now Lycoming College, and 35-0 over Lebanon Valley College on Thanksgiving. The only other blemish on the record was a 0-0 tie with the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston.

Dr. Aldinger once again tried using secret practices to prepare for games, even posting guards to keep spies away. He also decided to practice indoors when the weather was bad, utilizing the gym for limited workouts and individualized instruction. A large pep rally was held in the school auditorium the night before the Wyoming game, and 125 students took the train up to Kingston to root on Normal.

The most exciting moment in that 0-0 tie was when the coach of Wyoming put himself into the game to replace an injured player, and Dr. Aldinger came in to play quarterback for Bloomsburg. It was the first time in five years he had played in a game, and would mark the last time he would ever play football for Normal. He did, however, continue to play baseball. The crowd cheered wildly when the coaches came in, and the police had trouble keeping back everyone who wanted a better view. It was an exciting moment in an intense but otherwise uneventful game. 

The 1904 team continued the success of the previous year. Bloomsburg won eight of the nine games played, and shut out every opponent with the exception of Lafayette. A school record was set in a 67-0 win over a team from Shickshinny, a score that would not be surpassed until a 92-0 thrashing of Northumberland High School in 1912. But the most impressive victory of all was a 28-0 triumph over the Wyoming Seminary, the most points and biggest margin of victory Bloomsburg would ever have over Wyoming, even though they continued to play them for 25 more years. The excitement leading up to that game was something that had never been seen before in Bloomsburg. New songs and cheers were devised, both schools brought along bands, and 200 fans came from Kingston on a special train.

The 28-0 win was truly a high point for Bloomsburg and one it would take them many years to equal. The football team would not reach eight victories again for 44 years, not until Robert Redman's second year and the first undefeated team in school history in 1948 when the Huskies went 9-0. The 1904 season was the crowning achievement of Albert Aldinger's tenure as head coach, and guaranteed his status as one of Bloomsburg's best and most successful coaches.

The 1905 season opened well with a 22-0 victory over Wilkes-Barre High School, but this was not the same Bloomsburg team. The extraordinary 21 game streak came to an end on October 7 in a 6-5 loss to Williamsport High School, and Normal split the remaining six games to finish at 4-4. The final game of the year was an 8-0 loss to Wyoming, and proved to be Dr. Aldinger's finale as head football coach at Bloomsburg. He resigned his position on January 15, 1906, to teach physical education in the New York City school system, and he ended his career as football coach with an overall record of 50-25-3. He held the record for most victories in school history for over 90 years until he was passed by Danny Hale in 1999.

There was no team in the fall of 1906, and when football did return in 1907 it was not quite the same. Bloomsburg's teams would not be able to match the consistent level of success of the early years until Robert Redman's post-World War II triumphs when he went 38-4 from 1947 to 1951. But the early days of football at Bloomsburg were ones of great excitement, and no one had more to do with it than Albert Aldinger. In 1952 Dr. Aldinger, who received a degree from Bloomsburg in 1904, was presented with the Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Association for all of his accomplishments. Even though he died over 40 years ago in 1957 he should always be remembered as the founder of modern athletics at Bloomsburg, and one of the greatest coaches in its long and memorable football history.

Loading ...

Subject Librarians

Information Literacy Instruction

Off-Campus Access

Interlibrary Loan

Chronicle of Higher Education

Reserves/Fair Use

Ask Us

Research Consultations

Renew Books Online

Request a Purchase

Group Study Rooms

Open Computers

About Us 

Library Fines

PA Resident Cards

Suggestion Box

Employment

Giving to the Library

Andruss Library | 570-389-4205 | reference@bloomu.edu
©Copyright Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania • 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg PA 17815-1301 • 570.389.4000