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Paul Myers
The Centralia Sports Hall of Fame
2012 Veterans Award Winner


 

"Who made that tackle?" boomed veteran Centralia football coach A.L. Trout.

"It was Myers, coach...Paul Myers" replied an assistant coach.

"Well, send him over here" said Trout.

And with those words, a Centralia senior lineman's athletic career was suddenly transformed.

Paul Myers left the reserve team behind and jogged over to work out with the first string.  Almost half way through his only season of high school football, Myers, who had played a reserve role at guard and tackle, was elevated to a starting position.

Coming off a stellar 11-0 1936 season, the Redbirds, or "Troutmen" were rebuilding but still in the thick of the North Egypt Conference race.  Individual post season season honors were far from Myers mind when he reported on September 1, 1937.  Like Red Grange, the famed "Wheaton Ice Man" of U of I and NFL fame, Myers had spent two years delivering ice for his father's company.  He hadn't had time to play football.  Although just 5'10" and 160 pounds, he repeatedly hoisted ice blocks weighing up to 100 pounds each, and frequently carried them upstairs.  This resulted in his development of an impressively solid physique.  Myers quickly became a textbook tackler who could shed offensive linemen and create havoc in opposing backfields.  Carrying just 24 players meant Centralia footballers were called upon to play on both sides of the ball.  On offense Myers was equally effective, particularly as a pulling guard on sweep plays.  The team was sporting a record of 2 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie before Myers assumed his starting role.  Centralia lost just once more the rest of the season to finish 6-3-2.  Against Urbana, a team which had not been defeated by an Illinois team in more than 2 years, Centralia fell 14-13 in a heartbreaker.  Urbana coach Lew Stevens termed Centralia's Myers and William Simmons "The finest pair of guards we've seen in a long time."  Oscar Adams, Urbana's center, admitted "That was one of the best teams we ever played."  In 3-column stories, which featured virtually every play of entire games, Sentinel coverage focused almost exclusively on ball carriers and passers, yet there were numerous accolades for Paul.  "The Troutmen have never tackled harder or blocked more precisely...Paul Myers, the right guard broke through Urbana's line consistently to smear the ball carrier." 

The disappointment after the near-upset of Urbana was tempered by a road win over Mt. Vernon in the annual Turkey Day classic.  Furious, hard-hitting action before a huge throng of spectators produced just one score all day.  Mt. Vernon's punter fumbled in the end zone and was buried by a host of Centralia tacklers.  The resulting safety, never officially attributed to any one tackler, produced one of only three 2-0 wins in Centralia football history.  A featured game photo shows Myers going airborne to bowl over a Mt. Vernon linebacker on an end run.  "The crashing tackles of guard Paul Myers was one of the chief reasons the Mt. Vernon attack netted only scant yards" the Sentinel said proudly.

Seventy-five years later Myers' eyes twinkled and he smiled broadly at the memory of that victory.  Following the season Myers was named to both the Illinois All-State and North Egypt Conference teams.

Asked to recount the unforgettable moments of his successful football career, Paul recalled the sights and sounds as if they were yesterday.  Simple things like tossing soft passes on the sidelines as spectators leaned over the barriers to watch, or the sound of the band, or the fireworks at the Armistice Day game.  Perhaps he most enjoyed the adulation of the other students, and simple going all-out for ever play on the field.  "I could get in that backfield...easy!" he grinned.  Myers especially remarked that he treasured the experience of having Arthur Trout as a teacher and coach.  "He was one of the finest men I ever met" he said.


 

 

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