No one masterminds trick plays like Pop Warner and the Carlisle Indians. If “There’s no rule against it.” (to quote Pop), they do it.
- In today’s game against Syracuse, Pop sprang the “many balls trick.” Each of his backs had a football-sized patch sewn on the belly of their jersey, making fake handoffs impossible to read. (“Who’s got the ball? They all do!)
- Pop’s most notorious stunt is the “hidden ball trick.” For the 1903 Harvard game, Pop had elastic sewn into the bottom of the jersey of one of his linemen, Charles Dillon. On a kickoff return, the Indians crowded around Dillon and stuck the ball up the back of his jersey. As the Harvard players rushed at them, the Indians scattered, all pretending to cradle the ball, except for Dillon, who ran down the field swinging his arms like a blocker. The baffled Harvard men had no idea who to tackle as Dillon ran the length of the field for a TD. (Harvard never looked so dumb.)
- But Harvard smartened up in 1908 when Pop tried the “many balls trick” on them. The Harvard coach painted the game balls crimson to match Harvard’s jerseys. Pop protested and the Harvard coach gave him a taste of his own: “There is nothing in the rules against it.” When Pop agreed to remove the ball patches, Harvard produced normal game balls.
Oct. 12: Carlisle beat Syracuse 14-6 to extend their perfect season to 5-0. And what’s Pop’s most subtle trick play? Blaming the fans for Carlisle’s craftiness. “The public expects the Indian to employ trickery and we try to oblige.”