Classes ending in 0 and 5 will celebrate milestone reunions this summer.
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Last year we broke our all-time attendance record with over 900 Alumni Weekend participants. With your help, we can break that record again!
by Andrew Korba
The Hiram College football program has the distinction of being one of the oldest and most historical football programs in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). During the program’s lifetime, the team has racked up more than 250 wins and doesn’t intend to stop. The program also has recorded victories over more than 47 different colleges, a list that includes The University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Kent State University and YoungstownState University.
Hiram men began playing football in 1892. The Terriers won the school’s first ever game over Farmington, 18-6. Hiram finished its inaugural season with a 1-1 record and later clinched its first winning season in 1895, going 2-1 that year. After playing just one game in 1901, Hiram was forced to cancel the rest of its season, as the faculty at the College deemed football “too dangerous” and requested the sport to be stopped. But the program returned in 1902 and also saw its first head coach in Coach Young, who led the team to its best season, with a 4-3 record. The 1912 season saw Head Coach L.H. Johnson lead the Terriers to six wins, but that record was short lived, as the 1916 squad, under Head Coach Barton J. Haggard, went 7-2 and posted five shutouts in the process. In 1920, the program joined the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC). The Terriers would remain in the conference through the 1934 season, with the most successful season coming in 1923, finishing 5-2. Hiram continued to remain competitive throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The program did not field a team from 1943-1945, due to World War II. After the end of the war, Hiram was coached by Steve Belichick, father of current New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Belichick coached Hiram from 1946-1948, guiding the Terriers to an 8-12-1 record.
After finishing the 1951 season with a 2-4-2 record, Hiram rejoined the OAC and posted a 5-3 overall record and 3-3 conference record under head coach Al Pesek. In 1956, Hiram went 5-3 on the season, posting a 4-1 record in the OAC – a second place finish. Hiram again left the OAC in 1970 and played independently in 1971. The 1972 season saw the Terriers join the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC), where they went 3-6 overall and 2-5 in conference play during the first season. While Hiram saw success from the 1950s to 1970s, the Terriers had to share their facilities with another team – a professional team, at that. For 23 years, from 1952-1974, Hiram hosted the Cleveland Browns’ training camp. The 23-year run is the longest tenured site for training camp in Browns history.
The Terriers finished 6-2 in the PAC in 1981 under Head Coach Joe Malmisur. The following season, the team went 6-3 overall and 6-2 in the PAC, finishing second in the conference. The 1981 season was just a preview of the success the program would see in the 1980s. In 1982, Hiram won its first league title in conference history, going 6-1 in the PAC. The Terriers continued the winning in the 1980s, and in 1987 went 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the PAC. The 6-1 mark was second in the PAC, and the 8-2 overall record gave the program its first and only appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. During the 1988 season, the Terriers went 5-5 and posted a 4-5 mark in the North Coast Athletic Conference. It was the beginning of a long drought, marking the last year, until 2014, that Hiram won five games in a season. Hiram had high hopes entering the 2014 season. The Terriers returned a wealth of talent and experience from the 2013 team. The season appeared to get off to a rough start against Westminster College, with the Terriers trailing 24-3 at the half and 27-3 midway through the third quarter. However, they rallied and scored the final 27 points of the game for a thrilling 30-27 win.
The following week, the Hiram defense forced eight turnovers in a 37-26 victory over Denison University in their home opener at Charles A. Henry Field. This marked the Terriers first-ever win against Denison. The Terriers also posted a 31-8 home win over Kenyon College and a 35-28 back-and forth victory at Ohio Wesleyan University. Heading into the final game of the season with a 4-5 record, Hiram hoped to finish strong. Behind a dominant first half performance, the Terriers defeated Oberlin College 35-13 to secure the team’s first non-losing season in 26 years.
Throughout the program’s history, Hiram has had 14 All- Americans (honors given to the best American college football players in their respective positions). Gregg Gorcica ’87 is Hiram’s lone two-time All-American, earning the honor in 1985 and 1986.
Over 100 years of competition, the Hiram College football team has evolved from a program that wasn’t allowed to play due to the dangerous nature of the sport to a main staple of school pride on campus. Week in and week out in the fall, students and fans flock to Henry Field to cheer their Terriers on to victory.