Coverage of Oregon's sports teams and athletes



Jefferson School of Champions
2015-06-25 03:29:56 by Chief Editor
By Herman L. Brame

From out of nowhere in 1957 and 1958 small Portland, Oregon's Jefferson High School football team gained state and national praise. During this two season span the team never lost a game, and impressed the nation's sportswriters. The 1957 team went (11) wins, no losses and no ties, and in 1958 the team went (12) wins,no losses and no ties to win the Portland Interscholastic League and state championships. Some websites have listed Jefferson as the mythical co-national champion in 1957, and the sole mythical national champion in 1958. Their are some sources that don't list Jefferson as the 1958 mythical national champion, but everyone agrees that Jefferson is deserving of the national high school football spotlight for 1957 and 1958.

Some might argue that a team from the northwest would not do well head to head against teams from the high school football Mecca's of the midwest, south, east,and California, but a look at two of Jefferson's key players says otherwise. These two players proved they could play with anyone in the nation during their post high school careers. Quarterback Terry Baker went on to become an All-American at Oregon State University and the first player west of the Mississippi to win the coveted Heisman Trophy as college football's top player in 1962. After college he played in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League. Halfback Mel Renfro went on to become an All-American at the University of Oregon, a perennial All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Other outstanding players on the 1957 and 1958 teams went on to play college and minor professional football.

The racially mixed team was an unlikely high school powerhouse coming from the thinly populated northwest, but a great high school coach named Tom DeSylvia molded them into champions and was way ahead of the curve in the integration of Whites and African-Americans in Oregon which was a state with a sad history of racism highlighted by the Exclusion Law and Ku Klux Klan influence. Much in the same way that the movie "Remember the Titans", starring Denzel Washington, dramatized the story of how high school football played a significant role in promoting racial understanding so did the 1957 and 1958 Jefferson High School football teams.

The teams where a vital common denominator in not only assisting social progress, but they placed Oregon at the greatest heights of high school football. We are all respectful and greatful for their achievements.


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