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Thursday August 17, 2006Great Teams and Eras: The Golden Era

Gainesville, FL

As part of the celebration of the 100th season of Florida football, gatorzone.com will run a series of historical features throughout the preseason and the 2006 campaign. The series will give Gator fans an appreciation and understanding of the past teams and players that helped build the Gator football program.

 

During preseason practice, readers can learn about ground-breaking Florida teams of the past on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the “Great Teams and Eras” series. In addition to those stories, each Friday from the beginning of preseason practice until the season’s first game will feature a look at one of Florida’s legendary players as part of the “Gator Greats” series.

 

Once the season is underway, the look back in time will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays with “Rivalries and Series” and “Great Games” entries relevant to the week’s opponent. Occasionally, additional stories will be unveiled on Wednesday of game weeks when the opportunity arises.

 

As the 2006 football season approaches, take some time to sit back and reflect on the teams, players and moments that all lead up to this, the 100th season of Florida Gator football.

 

 

The Golden Era

By: Norm Carlson

 

The closest-knit group of former Gator athletes, the “Golden Era” gang, represented the University in football after World War II, their time period running roughly from late 1945 until the early 1950s.

 

They lost 13 consecutive games. Most of the Gator editions during those days were manned by veterans returning home from the worldwide conflict. They faced teams which contained recruited young athletes, many of whom were at schools which built solid World War II programs through military training schools placed on their respective campuses.

 

The theory that adversity brings people closer had received solid support from the “Golden Era” activities of the past several decades. Part of the tie is social, but this group was also heavily involved with supporting the University with scholarships and funds for facility improvements. They have also supported each other in times of need over the years.

 

Few groups of graduates have produced successful citizens at the rate of the “Golden Era.” Its members include leaders in politics, education, business and the legal profession.

 

“The main things holding us together over this long period of time have been our love for each other and the University of Florida,” said former All-SEC center and Attorney General of the State of Florida, Jimmy Kynes.

 

The final game of 1945 was a 12-0 loss in bitter cold weather in Norfolk, Va., to Little Creek Naval Training Base, a team loaded with collegiate stars.

 

This was to begin the infamous 13-game losing string.

 

Angus Williams, then a quarterback and later a very successful insurance executive in Tampa, remembers there was great hope going into the 1946 season.

 

“We were excited about some of the talent there, although we were aware most of us had not played football in a while,” he said.

 

The opening paragraph of the story describing the opening game as a loss to Ole Miss, turned out to be an understatement, to say the least.

 

“Season’s hopes for a prefect record were dashed by Ole Miss as Florida’s inexperience became obvious.”  

 

Although the Gators passed for 227 yards the following week they lost to Tulane, 27-13. Broughton Williams was a star for Florida as he broke the school record with nine receptions.

 

In a 20-0 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville, the bright spot for Florida was the “exciting punting of John Cox.”

 

Miami beat the Gators at Homecoming, 20-13, despite a 96-yard TD punt return by the late Hal (Buggo) Griffin. Then Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice wild in a 40-19 win by North Carolina.

 

Although leading Georgia, 7-6, at halftime the Bulldogs poured it on in a 33-14 triumph. Villanova then withstood a passing attack led by the late Doug Belden, and Griffin’s 86-yard punt return, to win 27-20.

 

Next, it was N.C. State’s turn in a 37-6 victory. Chuck Hunsinger, the Gators’ splendid All-SEC running back, broke his collarbone early in the fray.

 

Auburn and Travis Tidwell poured it on, 47-12, and the 1946 season came to merciful conclusion. It was on to 1947 with hope renewed.

 

Although keeping it fairly close, the first three games of 1947 were also defeats, running the Gators’ string to 13 consecutive losses.

 

Chances for victory appeared slim as the nation’s fourth-ranked team, N.C. State, appeared far superior. However, on the game’s ninth play, Bobby Forbes ran 70 yards for a touchdown. N.C. State scored right before halftime and missed the conversion. Florida’s defense held the Wolfpack off for a major national upset. From that adversity, the following members still unite as the “Golden Era” group:

Milton Adkins, Len Balas, Eldridge Beach, Percy Beard, Tommy Bishop, Hill Brannon, Tommy Bray, Loren Broadus, Hubert Brooks, Aaron Brown, Marvin Brice, Milton Brownlee, Herman Bunton, Buddy Carte, Rick Casares, Joe Chesser, Sam Cole, Bob Cummings, Frank Dempsey, Fred Diamond, Dwayne Douglas, Conrad Dutton, Bobby Ennis, Ben Ewing, Rex Farrior, Sr., John Favatta, Jim French, Coach Dave Fuller, Alex Gardner, Myron Gerber, Bob Gilbert, Bill Gilmartin, Russ Godwin, Fletcher Groves, Bob Gruetzmacher, J. “Poppa” Hall, Joe Hawkins, Harold Hazelwood, Denny Herndon, Bob Hewlett, Harry Hobbs, Jim Horsey, Robert Horvath, Gloria Huerta, Marcelino Huerta, III, Dan Hunter, Chuck Hunsinger, Fal Johnson, Jim Kehoe, Mike Kelly, Mike Karaphillis, Jimmy Kynes, Charlie LaPradd, Frank Lorenzo, Buford Long, Cotton Marchant, Carroll McDonald, Jim McCachren, Bubba McGowan, Brady Mitchell, Red (Lookout Block) Mitchum, Fred (Thunder Foot) Montsdeoca, Jack Nichols, Glenn Odham, Doug Oswald, Dick Pace, John Pandak, Jack Pappas, Billy Parker, John Patsy, Scottie Peek, Bob Poole, Leroy Poucher, Fred Rozelle, Earl Sacrborough, Paul Severin, E.B. Sapp, Kent Stevens, Dick Stratton, Haywood Sullivan, Ken Sumner, Cliff Sutton, Tiller Warren, Terry Wolar, Vic Vaccaro, Bam Webster, Raymond (Chief) West, Angus Williams and Jim (Monk) Yancey.    

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