1923 Bulldogs a team for the ages

By Pat Kearney

A couple of weeks ago Butte High quarterback Dallas Cook set three new school records in a game against Billings Skyview. The junior quarterback completed 41 of 61 passes both school records.

He threw for 523 yards another school record. What maybe even more impressive is the Bulldogs piled up 703 total yards on the night in their 55-48 loss to Skyview. The 703 yards set a new school record that dates back 89 years to 1923.

The purple-and-white club of 1923 produced 673 total yards in a 96-0 win over Whitehall. The club featured great players like Jim Bertoglio, Ralph Olsen, Frank Worden, Frank Grady and Albert Aho. The team was led by second-year head coach Harry “Swede” Dahlberg.  The lopsided win over Whitehall occurred in the first game of the season for the Bulldogs. It was a record-setting year with Butte High compiling impressive wins beating Deer Lodge 81-0, Dillon 67-0, Missoula  58-6, Bozeman 58-0, Helena  39-0, Butte Central 43-6 and Great Falls 14-9.

Besides racking up points, the 1923 Butte High Bulldogs compiled yardage at a record pace. They rolled up 638 yards against Bozeman and produced 644 yards in the win over Dillon. Butte High has only surpassed 600 total yards in a football game five times in over 110 years of football.

Three of those five 600 plus yard games took place in 1923. The other two 600-yard games were the 1997 club which accounted for 659 total yards in a win against Billings Senior and the recent exploits of the 2012 team against Billings Skyview. The 1923 Butte High team tallied 460 points for the season which is still a school record.

They averaged 51 points a game. The 612 rushing yards against Whitehall is still the most in school history. The 337 passing yards against Bozeman was the most in school history until 2008. They still hold the school record for rushing yards in a season with 2,737 yards which translates into a school record 304 yards a game. Yet, for all the points scored and all the yardage achieved the 1923 Butte High Bulldogs did not win the state championship.

They got beat by Anaconda 20-6 in the Smelter City. Butte High threw five interceptions in the game. It has to be considered one of the biggest upsets and disappointments in the history of Butte High football. The lone loss kept the Bulldogs out of the state championship game. Despite the loss, it was a record-setting season for Butte High.

Only a performance by the current Bulldogs’ team brings to light just how good the 1923 club was and how much they achieved. They have to be considered the best team at Butte High who never won the ultimate prize: the state championship. The 1923 Butte High Bulldogs’ football team was elected into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.

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