The first Central High School Athletic Association dates from 1876 and football began in 1877, when the Central team defeated University of Pennsylvania in a practice game. Thereafter the High School Crescent Team, made up of Central students and alumni, played football with Penn annually until about 1885.
Real interest in the game started in 1886, when the team played with various private schools and with Central Manual Training School. Many out-of-town games were scheduled during that time--in 1894 Central played an All-Collegiate team at Trenton; Ursinus College at Collegeville and Harrisburg High School at Harrisburg.
Even in that period, chief interest centered on the games played with the teams chosen from the two Manual Training Schools, Central and Northeast. After Northeast Manual grew sufficiently large in enrollment, separate games were arranged with the two schools.
Interest was still keen in the out-of-town games and the team frequently carried a heavy schedule. In 1905, for example, CHS played Radnor High, Brown Preparatory, Drexel Institute, Chester High, Villanova Preporatory, Central Manual, Baltimore City College, Penn Charter, Northeast Manual, Central High of Washington and DeWitt Clinton of New York City. In that brilliant season of 11 games, only 11 points were scored by CHS opponents versus Central's 212.
A rivalry is born ....
After Central Manual Training School was discontinued, football interest centered on the game with Northeast. The opening of district high schools led to the gradual elimination of private and out-of-town schools from the schedule. One after another the district high schools were added, but the rivalry between Central and Northeast was unmatched.
*** The first Northeast-Central game, in 1892, was won by Central 20-0.
*** In 1907, a fine, wooden horse carved by Spurgeon Smith, a 1948 Northeast student, became the trophy held annually by the winner of this rivalry.
*** In the season of 1908 CHS outscored opponents 211-17, with only Central Manual crossing the CHS goal line that season.
*** 1938 Central football wins inter-high school championship
*** 1959 Central football wins public-league title
*** In 1970 Central Football wins, for the first time, city title
*** 1974 Central Football wins public-league title
*** 1985 Central Football wins public-league title
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