First Football Game in Central Oregon Played in 1911

Football was relatively unknown in rural Oregon in the early 1900’s but on a clear, cold and crisp day in the Fall of 1911 the sport was introduced to the frontier country of Central Oregon. The rising community of Bend and the long established frontier town of Prineville managed to form the nucleus of two teams.

Both communities managed to put together teams consisting of players with a surprising amount of ability in the game. Some of the young players had come from eastern colleges where the sport was played and they had arrived to start their business careers in the newly booming area.

A group of young men that recently graduated from college and still loving the game got together and arranged to play a matched game of football between the two towns. In December of 1911 the two teams met on a makeshift playing field in Bend. Fans included stockmen, farmers, merchants and their ladies from all over Central Oregon. The two teams played a hard fought battle that resulted in an unsatisfying tie 0-0. Prineville had crossed the goal line once but the play was negated by a penalty.

The players decided that they needed a rematch and a second game was arranged to be played in Prineville. Prineville players learned that there was a former player of merit named Gumm living in Redmond. He had been a star full back at Iowa. He was a practicing attorney in Redmond and was prevailed upon to play for the Prineville squad.

The Prineville squad was sparked to victory with the assistance of the added star player. The immortals of the Prineville team left the field at the end of four quarters with a 17-0 victory. There was a large crowd that attended the game and a festive community cheered both the victors and losers. Prineville had the distinction of winning the first decided football game in Central Oregon.

The first football games captured the interest of sports minded residents of the area and it rapidly gained in popularity. Football was introduced into local high schools after this “first” game that was received with so much enthusiasm. For many years the Crook County high school teams dominated the Central Oregon football fields. As Bend and Redmond grew in population the Prineville team began to lose their dominance until the early 1950’s. But that glorious day back in 1911 when football was introduced to Central Oregon was a milestone in local sports.

One Comment

  1. What a wonderful museum and staff we are blessed to have in Prineville.

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