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A century ago...

It's been 100 years since Oil City's Jack Cleaves and his Princeton Tigers were the darlings of college football.

They weren't supposed to do anything in 1922, but finished 8-0 under coach Bill Roper and were delcared outright national champions by two "namers" or co-champs by three others.

Princeton entered the season with only three returning starters, end Whoops Snively, tackle Pink Baker and the team's best back, the speedy Cleaves. Average size of the starters was 5-11, 180 -- small for that era small. The quarterback was 5-7, 154. Scribes picked the Tigers to finish last in the Ivy League. 

Bug they kept winning and challenged Cornell and California for the national championship.

Princeton's big game was a 21-18 victory at the University of Chicago on Oct. 28, 1922. It was the first game ever to be broadcast coast-to-coast on radio.

Cleaves wasn't the big star of the team, but he was a star for sure and all of Oil City was proud of him -- along with Princeton grads from throughout northwestern Pa.

I tried to take a couple of action clips of Cleaves from the Princeton Class of 1923 film on YouTube. They're not perfect, but you can see him run around end in the Chicago game in the top video and punting for the photographers in the bottom one.

The Cleaves family lived near the library in Oil City. Jack Cleaves spent most of his adult life in the Bradford/Smethport area. 

But after he died in the 1960s, Cleaves was buried in Oil City -- at the Grove Hill Cemetery near Heath's Market.

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Jack Cleaves is pictured on the far right here.

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