LUSK – The Great Depression was in its early stages as over 1,000 banks across the nation had failed by the time fall was in the air. C.P. “Red” Owen was the new Lusk football coach and felt he had a real team entering the season. Games versus Laramie and Wheatland were expected to be tough matchups, and Hartwell Field was recognized as the home turf for the first time.
The season opened in mid-September as Manville played the Tigers for the first time. The Panthers were no match as LHS, winning 42-2 with no other details provided.
Week two had the talented Sunrise Miners visiting for the first conference game. Claude Updike was the star with all three touchdowns in the 18-0 Tiger victory.
Highly-touted Laramie came to Lusk the following week, and while both teams were amongst the best in Wyoming, the Plainsmen came out on top 14-0. The “immense” visitors had a 20-pound average size advantage to the LHS squad. The Tigers reputation grew due to the strong showing and were now among the top listed teams in the state.
Edgemont, S.D., had to forfeit the following week, but the Tigers visited Midwest (another top team in the state) to replace it. The game was a very early special “under the lights” as Midwest was one of the first to host night games in Wyoming. Whether it was the travel by multiple cars or excitement of playing at night, it was all too much for LHS. Their dazzling passing attack led to a 21-0 Midwest lead by halftime. An early fourth quarter fight between Lusk quarterback Jimmie Tenney and Oiler Hartnett changed the tone as the home team pulled away for the 35-0 win.
At Torrington, the Tigers managed a 7-7 tie after Eddie Climec scooped up a live ball on a punt and raced 55 yards to the endzone. Nearly 30 minutes eclipsed as the coaches and officials debated rules interpretations. Eventually, Updike scored the conversion to tie the game where it stood to the end.
Wheatland visited Lusk, and like the previous week, the Tigers battled to a tie game 6-6. Five days later, Guernsey came to town and left with a 48-0 loss as Owen Stewart had the first three scores, and Updike put together another strong game.
Updike kept it going the next week at Hot Springs, S.D., as the Tigers once again defeated a much larger squad. He was responsible for all of Lusk’s points – including a 21-yard drop-kick field goal to ensure the 16-14 win.
Tenney and Updike would both score in the Tigers sixth straight win over Lingle, a 13-0 final that clinched the East Central Wyoming Conference championship.
The Tigers ended the season with a Thanksgiving Day game against Crawford, Neb. The hard-fought battle ended with LHS winning 13-0 and finishing 7-2-2 for the season.
Owens returned for 1931 before the 1932 season was cancelled during the Great Depression. He came back in 1935 and went 12-15-4 in three seasons as head coach. The Tigers struggled for most of the next decade before Floyd Hart arrived in 1943.
Writer’s note: This article was written with the assistance of The Stat Rat, Wyoming-football.com and The Lusk Herald archives.