Latrobe Athletic Association - Early Years - First All-Pro Team

First All-Pro Team

The Latrobe team was composed entirely of professionals in 1897. Manager Dave Berry signed a number of college players from east coast college, and as far west as Iowa, to the team. Meanwhile, Walter Okeson, a former All-American end from Lehigh University, was named as the team's coach. George Shelafo of the Carlisle Indian School, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, also joined Latrobe that season. Shelafo was set to play for the University of Chicago that fall before he was lured to Latrobe by Berry. After the team's game against Western University of Pennsylvania, Doggie Trenchard and Eddie Blair, the team's original quarterback who was replaced by Brallier in 1895, joined the team.

The team began the season 7–0–1 with wins over Jeannette, Pittsburgh Emeralds, Pittsburgh College, Pitt, and a team from Youngstown, Ohio. The team remained undefeated before facing the Duquesne Athletic Club for a 12–6 loss at Pittsburgh's Exposition Park. However the team did rebound to defeat the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, and Youngstown. The championship of western Pennsylvania was expected to be a battle between the Duquesne and Pittsburgh Athletic Club. However both Greensburg and Youngstown ended up defeating Duquesne. This led to talk of a championship game between Greensburg and Latrobe. However with the season still incomplete, a regular season game between the two clubs took place in Greensburg on November 20, 1897. The game resulted in a hard fought 12–6 victory for Latrobe in what locals called “one of the greatest games ever played in western Pennsylvania.” However after a 18–0 defeat at the hands of West Virginia, Latrobe lost the final game of the season to Greensburg, 6-0. However a Pittsburgh-based football expert picked an all-western Pennsylvania team from among the region's amateur, pro, and college teams, and three of the 11 players chosen were from the Latrobe club. These members were Walter Okeson (end), Harry Ryan (tackle), and Ed Abbaticchio (fullback).

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