Relative to this author proof football at Hoptown was ‘alive and well’ before Thornton’s arrival
Henry Barker Lyon may have been the first of the Tigers’ great coaches. He was also Hoptown’s director of athletics and had a tremendous career on the sideline.Fletcher W. Long, Senior Scout and Archivist for KPGFootball
We take preserving the historical record seriously at KPGFootball. We do this because we fully understand how hard it is to find the history of a school’s on-field performance when said performance pre-dates the digital age. While digital record keeping has made the obtainment of new-aged information much more readily accessible, being able to go way back into the past to glean information can be tedious, time consuming, and altogether difficult, which is why we make every effort in creating this on-line, digital record for those who may come after us.
KPGFootball has already made great strides in this area. Just this past summer we were able to uncover, for Hopkinsville High School, a lost football state championship which it earned under Coach Ralph Mills, for his team’s work during the 1940 season. A link to that article has been provided herein and may be accessed by hitting the word “article” where it first appeared in this sentence.
I realize the KHSAA was formed in 1959, but for the more established and prestigious programs across Kentucky, football was played prior to 1959. Through diligent research, and a lucky consanguine association which I will below explain, we have uncovered yet another fine football coach who guided the Tigers to championship level play from even further back in its history than Coach Mills’ 1940 team.
Today, we feature (and thereby create a digital record of) Coach Henry Barker Lyon. We also feature one of his three outstanding units from the dustbin of HHS’s football history, the 1927 Tigers.
Henry Lyon coached, overall, for 12 years as a high school head coach and had an excellent record in so doing. Over his twelve years, Coach Lyon would win 86 games, losing only 16 times over that span.
Lyon had an excellent run as both the athletic director and head coach of the HHS football team over the years, 1926, 27, and 28. Coach Lyon took over in 1926 for the departing Guy Rice, who must have been offered another job as his 1925 team was quite good (7-1-1).
Coach Lyon would immediately lead his new charges on an 8-0-1 campaign with a 0-0 tie versus Henderson City being its only blemish, though certainly better than a loss.
The 1927 Tigers would come out rolling, coming off the 26 campaign, mowing down Franklin 26-0, Bowling Green 19-0, having a game with Princeton cancelled due to rain (lucky them), beating Morganfield 7-6, killing Owensboro 82-0, avenging the 1926 tie with Henderson City by a 19-0 final, losing Coach Lyon’s first game, in his 15 games, up to that time, as head coach, to Paducah 32-6, before rebounding to beat Murray 25-0, and then Madisonville 13-7. Prior to the Paducah game, the Kentucky New Era would publish that…Our Tiger leaders are just about the best that can be found anywhere. Coach Lyon has been with us two years and has yet to lose a game. His teams have always played hard, clean football and have the right spirit. Our Tigers have always come back strong when hard pressed, remember Morganfield!
One of the Tiger stalwarts on the team was its captain, Ross Morgan. He was heralded in the New Era by the following description…No better fullback or leader in any high school can boast of one better than Captain Ross Morgan. His passing, kicking and backing up the line is an asset that can’t be beat.
Perhaps the most curious and comical of the descriptions in the New Era’s story is the praise heaped upon assistant coach, Russ Uphoff. The following was noted about Coach Uphoff…Russ Uphoff has the old “Spizzerinktum” and keeps the Tigers hustling; he is an ideal assistant and believes in plenty of work.
According to the Lincoln Daily Star (Nebraska), in an article appearing July 9, 1914, and entitled “Be A Spizzerinktum: It’s a Brand New Word, But It Means a Lot-Here is Its Meaning” a spizzerinktum is a person who possesses initiative, vim, vigor, efficiency, intelligent persistency, and an overmastering will to succeed. I would suppose [having] the old Spizzeringktum would make the so described individual one who possesses all of the listed traits. That constituted very high praise indeed.
Now I promised to explain the relationship between the subject of this article and me, the author of the piece. As luck would have it, I am directly descended from Henry Barker Lyon, on my mother’s side, and his daughter is very much alive and someone with whom my family has begun regularly exchanging information.
My cousin, Jane Lyon Rozycki, has been kind enough to send me copies from Henry Barker Lyon’s scrapbook, the original of which she has kept over all these years. It seems Coach Lyon was quite proud of the teams he guided, not the least of which were the three squads he both coached and directed in Hopkinsville from 1926-28.
Lyon’s record, as head man of the Tiger football team, was an outstanding 22-3-1, with two of those teams winning Western Kentucky Conference championships, and the other being a runner-up, according to what documentation has been made available to KPGFootball. The Tigers would finish the Roaring 20’s with a 51-24-8 record with Coaches Marvin Eagle (13-2-1, 1920-21), Guy Rice (9-4-4, 1924-25), and Henry Barker Lyon (22-3-1, 1926-28), winning 44 of those 51 games.
The Tigers would have no finer coach than the late Henry Barker Lyon over the course of the infancy of its program, which began playing football by fielding its first team in 1905. By all accounts, neither would a more learned nor finer gentlemen head up the school’s football fortunes for many decades after his moving along toward his ultimate coaching destination.
We appreciate your indulging us and traveling back in time with us to both salute and celebrate a very fine football team in deed; Coach Henry Barker Lyon’s 1927 HHS Tigers.
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of you ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.
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Kentucky Prep Gridiron (KPGFootball) is indebted to the Kentucky New Era, Jane Lyon Rozycki, and the authors of the book, One Hundred Years of Tiger Football Tradition, Messrs. William Turner and Roy Keller, for thir considerable contributions to this article.