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1975 Season Book - Week 12

Sports Daily

October 18, 1975

Can The WFL Survive?

Teams In Philadelphia, Portland, Shreveport and San Antonio in trouble

The World Football League moved into late October surrounded by doubt. The league's officers met in New York City amidst speculation that the WFL would soon cancel the season's remaining games. The league continued to draw poor crowds in Philadelphia (1,293) and Portland (8,713), and only 8,000 showed up in Shreveport for a game between the Steamer and San Antonio. The WFL owners, confronted with a sagging economy and lackluster attendance continued their vigil. Despite these problems, and losing a reported $500,000 a week, many speculated that the WFL would continue and eventually prosper, history would prove otherwise. The WFL felt that each public disclosure of money problems had seen attendance decline from the following week. The last gate count showed 52,000 paid customers versus the previous weeks' 72,000. The count came just after reports circulated that the San Antonio Wings were about to fold. The 1975 league average for attendance is 13,371, but the past five weeks has seen a 28% decline at the stadiums. This has caused a severe financial drain on each WFL franchise. The WFL is competing with College Football and the National Football League on weekends, but not on television. The WFL desperately needed a television pact to promote the league. Eddie Einhorn and the TVS Television Network did not pick up the 1975 contract option for the WFL after the 1974 debacle. This has hurt the World Football League even though the quality of play is good and the caliber of play has been entertaining.

Although speculation has hurt the WFL all season they decided to continue with all ten teams. Rumors had it that the Memphis Southmen and Southern California Sun may have kicked in cash to keep the less fortunate teams alive. "As you know our league is composed of ten teams. All ten teams are returning to their cities with new and innovative marketing plans, which in effect should increase our attendance and firm up the stability of the league, Chris Hemmeter said. The WFL President added, "We are not going to speculate about the viability of the WFL, because its viability to us has never been questioned. We've paid all of our players and the WFL is continuing to meet all its financial responsibilities. We will not entertain questions as to our financial status as those questions are internal matters."

The Hawaiians lost both of their quarterbacks after they refused to take a pay cut. Rick Cassata and Sonny Sixkiller both left the team on October, 17 and were subsequently fired by the organization. The Hawaiians signed Milt Holt and Jim Fassel. Both signal callers had previously played for the team. For the second time this season a WFL team has completed a trade with a CFL team. Earlier in the season the Birmingham Vulcans obtained running back Johnny Musso from the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League for future considerations. The Memphis Southmen acquired the rights to DT Dave Costa from the Portland Thunder. The Southmen then traded DE Bill Stevenson to the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, and the Thunder will receive two future players from Edmonton.

On the field, the players avoided the skepticism and faced-off for another week of games. The Memphis Southmen and the Birmingham Vulcans battled on the turf at Legion Field in Birmingham for bragging rights in the East. Memphis and Birmingham's dominance was threatened by the up-start Charlotte Hornets and the Jacksonville Express, both posting won-lost records of 6-5. Charlotte would travel to Philadelphia to play the Bell in a driving rain storm before only 1,293 fans. The Jacksonville Express hoped to continue their quest for first place with a win over the Portland Thunder in Oregon. In the Western Division, the Southern California Sun had overcome an early season slump to improve on a 6-5 record to maintain first place over the threatening San Antonio Wings. The Sun, boasting the WFL's leading rusher, Anthony Davis, traveled to Hawaii to play the Hawaiians and the Wings squared off against the Shreveport Steamer in Louisianna. The WFL is directly challenging the NFL this weekend as all games were played on Sunday with the exception of the Charlotte Hornets-Philadelphia Bell game. That game was played on Saturday, October 18 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia where WFL President Chris Hemmeter was a guest of Bell owner John Bosacco.

Steamer Turns Five Interceptions Into 41-31 Win

shreveport, la.; Jerry Tagge, formerly of the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, threw five interceptions (to tie a WFL record) that all led to scores as the Shreveport Steamer overwhelmed the San Antonio Wings 41-31. A Shreveport crowd of 8,581 cheered on the Shreveport defensive secondary of Leon Jenkins, Daryl Johnson, John Mallory and Richmond Flowers as they kept pressure on the Wings receivers and their leader Eddie Richardson. Shreveport opened up a 15-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Jimmy Edwards and a 2-yard plunge by Jim Nance, and took the lead into the locker room at halftime. In the third quarter, the Steamer erupted for 26 points as Edd Hargett threw two touchdowns and Jim Nance added a 3-yard run to make the score 41-8 at the end of the period. San Antonio managed two scores in the fourth quarter, and Joe Womack returned an interception 96 yards for a touchdown but it wasn't enough to stop Shreveport. Womack's interception return for a touchdown broke the 84 yard touchdown return set by Randy Rhino of the Charlotte Hornets in week 10 against Shreveport. Steamer quarterback Edd Hargett ended the game completing 15 of 31 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and the Steamer defense limited the Wings running game to only 59 yards on 21 carries. Running back Jimmy Edwards ran for 82 yards on 20 carries, and Jim Nance added 54 on 17 carries. (pictured above, Quarterback Edd Hargett leads the Steamer offense).

San Antonio Wings: Passing- J. Tagge 18-34-265-1t-5i.; Rushing- J. Tagge 5-25-2t, J. Strong 5-13, B. Sadler 7-11 L. Crowe 3-8, D. James 1-2.; Receiving- D. Yaege 3-62, D. James 3-51, J. Strong 3-27, L. Crowe 2-41, J. Tuttle 2-33-1t, B. Gatti 2-2, L. Palmer 1-26, Ed. Richardson 1-17, B. Sadler 1-10.

Shreveport Steamer: Passing- E. Hargett 11-23-125-2t-0i, B. Wyche 3-7-29-0t-1i, D. Nobles 1-1-13-0t-0i; Rushing- J. Edwards 20-82-1t, J. Nance 17-54-2t, D Nobles 4-18, G. Smith 4-12; H. Brandon 1-5, E. Hargett 1-3.; Receiving- D. Winslow 4-69, J Nance 3-28, M. Burnop 3-24-1t, J. Odom 2-26-1t, G. Smith 2-15, J. Edwards 1-5.

San Antonio Wings Shreveport Steamer
First Downs 18 24
Rushes-Yardage 21-59 47-168
Passes-Yardage 265 167
Return Yards 211 51
Passes 18-34-5 15-31-1
Punts 4-40.3 5-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-2
Penalties-Yardage 7-54 3-16

Anthony Davis Rushes for 109 Yards, Sun Defeat Hawaiians 26-7

honolulu, hi.; Anthony Davis raised his WFL leading rushing total to 1,200 yards and the Southern California Sun improved its fall season record to 2-0 (7-5 overall) with a 26-7 win over the Hawaiians before 15,905 fans at Aloha Stadium. The Hawaiians played without several veterans who had left the club following midweek disruptions caused by a management request for a team pay cut. Quarterback Milt Holt, who was released by the Hawaiians in training camp, went most of the way for the Hawaiians and completed 5 of 16 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown. Jim Fassel last played for the Hawaiians in 1974. He was signed after Rick Cassata and Sonny Sixkiller left the team earlier this week. Fassel played in the final quarter and completed 1 of 3 passes for 10 yards. Sun running back Anthony Davis gained 109 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns brining him within one of the WFL season record of 19 set by Memphis WR Ed Marshall last season. Davis gave the Sun a 15-0 first quarter lead with scoring runs of 15 and 2 yards. The first capped a 95-yard drive in which he contributed a 23-yard run. Davis also caught five passes for 46 yards. Anthony Davis is averaging 100 yards a game. He has 1200 yards in twelve games, and has eight games where he's rushed for 100 yards or more which is a WFL record. A.D. has also caught 40 passes this season for 381 yards and has scored 50 points more then any other player in the WFL this season. Sadly, this game would prove to be the last World Football League game ever played. (pictured above, Hawaiians quarterback Milt Holt calls play as Sun DT Pat Sweetland jumps off sides).

Southern California Sun; Passing - M. Ernst 18-27-182-1t-1i, W. Estabrook 0-1-0-0t-0i, A. Davis 0-1-0-0t-0i; Rushing - A. Davis 23-109-2t, G. Dixon 4-30, M. Ernst 2-23, K. Grandberry 4-18, B. Kramer 3-14, B. Ferrell 2-10; Receiving - C. Bradley 3-51, T. Lindsey 4-48, A. Davis 5-46, D. Williams 2-19-1t, K. Denson 2-15, B. Kramer 1-8, B. Ferrell 1-5.

Hawaiians; Passing - M. Holt 5-16-91-1t-1i, J. Fassel 1-3-10-0t-1i; Rushing - W. Wingard 16-50, V. Clements 6-10, T. Poe 2-15, J. Moseley 1-1, J. Fassel 1-8; Receiving - M. Donohoe 2-20, H. Bauer 1-20-1t, D. Williams 1-45, T. Poe 1-10, J. Moseley 1-6.

Southern California Sun Hawaiians
First Downs 21 11
Rushes-Yardage 38-204 26-66
Passes-Yardage 182 101
Return Yards 130 87
Passes 18-29-1 6-19-2
Punts 5-43.4 7-34.4
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yardage 12-102 4-22

Watts Sets Record Before 1,293 In Pouring Rain

Bell QB Bob Davis scores the games' first TD

philadelphia, pa.; Veteran running back Claude Watts set a club record, rushing for 136 yards on 25 carries to lead the Philadelphia Bell to a 18-10 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The game was played in the rain before an announced crowd of 1,293 at Franklin Field. Watts scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a one-yard sweep one minute into the final period. The Bell, which rolled to a club record 248 yards on the ground, shut down the Charlotte offense, giving up just 66 yards on the ground, including -3 in the first half. Charlotte didn't get a first down rushing until the final nine minutes left in the game when Molly McGee broke loose for a 43-yard gain to the Bell four yard line. On the following play, Don Highsmith ran over to make the score 18-10 with 8:53 left in the final period. Philadelphia held off the Hornets for their fourth win of 1975 and their first of the WFL's Fall Season. Despite the lack of fanfare in Philadelphia all their victories for 1975 have been won in front of the home crowd. This game was supposed to be televised back to Charlotte, but there was an engineer's strike. TV crews wouldn't cross picket lines to set up needed equipment, so WRET TV 36 in Charlotte and WGHP TV 8 in High Point, NC had to cancel their 7:30 telecast. Telephone lines were already setup for WBT-AM radio at the stadium for their broadcast back to the Queen City.

Charlotte Hornets; Passing - T. Sherman 9-30-99-0t-2i, B. Dowling 3-6-31-0t-0i; Rushing - M. McGee 4-52, L. Jolley 9-16, D. Highsmith 16-2-1t, T. Sherman 2-0; Receiving - J. Thompson 3-36, D. Whyte 3-31, D. Highsmith 2-24, L. Jolley 2-15, T. George 1-18, J. Sykes 1-6.

Philadelphia Bell; Passing - B. Davis 5-18-40-0t-3i; Rushing - C. Watts 25-136-1t, J. Land 14-93, A. Thompson 9-21, H. Strickland 4-7, B. Davis 1-1-1t, B. Hawkins 1-0; Receiving - C. Watts 2-10, B. Hawkins 1-16, H. Strickland 1-8, J. Land 1-6.

Charlotte Hornets Philadelphia Bell
First Downs 15 15
Rushes-Yardage 31-66 54-258
Passes-Yardage 130 40
Return Yards 143 58
Passes 12-36-2 5-18-3
Punts 8-39.5 8-40.3
Fumbles-Lost 5-3 3-1
Penalties-Yardage 6-35 8-80

Thunder Derail Express, 30-13

Thunder RB Rufus Ferguson rips through the Jacksonville defense

portland, ore.; The Portland Thunder played 60 minutes of well-rounded football to register their second win of the WFL's Fall Season, and their second straight victory, defeating the Jacksonville Express 30-13 before 8,713 fans at Portland's Civic Stadium. The Thunder pulled out all the stops scoring four touchdowns and dominating both sides of the ball. Thunder defender Kurt Matter recovered a fumble, and Rufus Ferguson bolted 16-yards to put Portland on the board, 8-0. After Charlie Durkee added a pair of field goals for the Express, Joe Wylie returned a punt 78 yards for another Portland touchdown. The third touchdown came on a trick play, as the Thunder showed a field goal but Ira Hammond circled around after the snap to field a pitch from holder Don Horn and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Bob Christiansen. After the game, the Portland Thunder players ran a lap around Civic Stadium waving to the fans, before a standing ovation. Thunder coach Joe Gardi now has a record of 2 wins and 1 loss since taking over as head coach in week 10.

Jacksonville Express; Passing - G. Mira 19-41-234-1t-1i, D. Fowler 4-11-45-0t-0i; Rushing - B. Duncan 14-31, S. Johns 7-23, J. Poulos 4-14, G. Mira 1-7; Receiving - D. Hughes 9-131, W. Beckman 6-95, B. Duncan 3-9, S. Barrios 2-22-1t, M. Creaney 1-11, J. Poulos 1-9, S. Johns 1-2.

Portland Thunder; Passing - D. Horn 5-11-51-1t-1i, I. Hammon 1-1-29-1t-0i; Rushing - R. Ferguson 24-141-1t, B. Wyatt 21-59, D. Horn 3-17; Receiving - B. Christiansen 2-49-1t, R. Ferguson 2-5, E. McCullouch 1-24-1t, F. Russell 1-12.

Jacksonville Express Portland Thunder
First Downs 24 15
Rushes-Yardage 26-75 48-217
Passes-Yardage 271 90
Return Yards 117 180
Passes 23-52-1 6-12-1
Punts 5-46.0 5-48.4
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 5-3
Penalties-Yardage 3-15 8-70

Vulcans Shut Out Memphis 21-0, Before 35,000

Vulcan RB Art Cantrelle rushes against the Southmen

birmingham, al.; The Vulcans scored two touchdowns within 1:02 of each other in the first quarter and then used a stifling defense to shut down Memphis and give Birmingham a 21-0 win over the Southmen before 35,000 at Legion Field. Vulcans quarterback Matthew Reed completed 11 of 22 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown, and led the team on touchdown drives of 64, 13 and 77 yards. The Vulcan running game continued to lead the WFL hammering out 238 yards. The Birmingham defense stung Memphis with six sacks totaling 62 yards, an interception and a goal line stand. The Vulcan defense also limited Southmen running back Larry Csonka to only 71 yards on 17 carries, while linebacker Warren Capone led the defense with 10 tackles and a crucial sack of Danny White on a third-and-goal play. The Southmen are the only team in the WFL getting sacked on more than ten percent of their passing attempts.

Memphis Southmen; Passing - D. White 7-17-115-0t-1i, J. Huarte 1-4-8-0t-0i; Rushing - L. Csonka 17-71, J. Kiick 7-31, W. Spencer 2-7, J. Harvey 3-0; Receiving - J. Kiick 3-46, R. Wallace 2-25, L. Csonka 1-25, C. Hobbs 1-23, E. Marshall 1-4.

Birmingham Vulcans; Passing - M. Reed 11-22-164-1t-1i; Rushing - A. Cantrelle 21-69-1t, J. Musso 16-58-1t, M. Reed 5-55, J. Profit 5-30, T. Powell 1-9, B. Rudder 1-3, D. Duron 1-3; Receiving - A. Cantrelle 3-17, J. Bishop 2-68, D. Homan 2-17, T. Powell 1-28, D. Duron 1-14-1t, R. Evans 1-10, J. Musso 1-10.

Memphis Southmen Birmingham Vulcans
First Downs 12 25
Rushes-Yardage 29-109 50-228
Passes-Yardage 123 164
Return Yards 52 42
Passes 8-21-1 11-22-1
Punts 6-47.7 3-43.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yardage 3-38 8-85

WFL Week Twelve MVPs:

Warren Capone, Birmingham Vulcans

WFL Week Twelve Top Performers:

Passing - Edd Hargett, Shreveport Steamer 11-23-125-2t-01

Rushing - Rufus Feguson, Portland Thunder 24 carries, 141 yards, 1 touchdown

Receiving - Dennis Hughes, Jacksonville Express 9 receptions, 131 yards, 0 touchdowns

WFL Standings (Overall)

Eastern Division
Birmingham 9 3 0 257 186
Memphis 7 4 0 254 206
Charlotte 6 5 0 225 199
Jacksonville 6 5 0 227 247
Philadelphia 4 7 0 195 237

Western Division
So. California 5 0 354 341
San Antonio 7 6 0 364 268
Shreveport 5 7 0 276 313
Hawaiians 4 7 0 210 281
Portland 4 7 0 213 239
*Chicago 1 4 0 67 125

*Suspended Operations

WFL Standings (Fall Season)

Eastern Division
Birmingham 2 0 0 39 14 
Philadelphia 1 1 0 31 24
Charlotte 1 1 0 32 33
Jacksonville 0 2 0 28 52
Memphis 0 2 0 14 39

Western Division
So. California 2 0 0 65 37
Portland 2 0 0 58 38
Shreveport 1 1 0 71 70
Hawaiians 1 1 0 21 39
San Antonio 0 2 0 56 69

WFL Transactions:

October 17 - Memphis Southmen (WFL) acquire the rights to DT Dave Costa from the Portland Thunder (WFL) and trade DE Bill Stevenson to the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL); the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) will in turn trade two future players to the Portland Thunder (WFL)
  17 - Hawaiians fire QB's Rick Cassata and Sonny Sixkiller for leaving the team; the Hawaiians also announce the signing of QB's Milt Holt and Jim Fassel

NOTE: This page was researched and written by Jim Cusano and Richie Franklin. This page appeared on the former World Football League Hall of Fame Web site and is used with permission. The WFL transactions were researched and compiled by Mark Speck and Tod Maher. The Steamer-Wings photo is used with permission and courtesy of the Noel Memorial Library.