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Football and Carlisle had become indivisible. Warner created an ambitious junior varsity nicknamed the Hotshots, and the field house and gymnasium were hives of constant training. Nevertheless the Carlisle varsity was perennially shorthanded. It had to cull an 11 from just a couple of hundred fit male students, most of whom had vastly less experience than their collegiate counterparts. Harvard, Princeton or Yale could choose from enrollments of 4,000 to 5,000 men. Mark Twain attended the Yale-Princeton game in the fall of 1900 and observed, "The Yale team could lick a Spanish Army."
To bolster Carlisle's roster, Pratt and Warner resorted to recruiting. Then, as now, enrolling students purely to play football was regarded as ethically questionable. It was also rampant. According to Caspar Whitney, a journalist who helped Camp choose the All-Americas, the Columbia team of 1899 was "nothing short of an offense against college sport," with four adult ringers, one of whom had played quarterback at Wesleyan and even coached.
Pratt delicately queried the reservations, looking for football candidates. "If you should by chance have a sturdy young man anxious for an education who is especially swift of foot or qualified for athletics," he said, "send him and help Carlisle compete with the great universities on those lines."
Still, Warner was realistic: Carlisle was not like other colleges or universities. It was an agricultural and industrial training school with an academic curriculum that extended only to the rough equivalent of 11th grade. As late as 1886 Pratt reported that more than half of Carlisle's students had no previous education when they arrived, and only six had finished third grade. The average age at enrollment was 14, and some students stayed as long as 12 years. Debates about the "eligibility" of Indian players were therefore senseless.
As the Indians continued to make do with what they had, physical toughness became their hallmark. "Gameness," Warner said in 1902, "was a marked characteristic of every Carlisle boy." A short but stout Alaskan named Nikifer Shouchuk fashioned himself into a center and held his own against the best in the country. During a game against Harvard, Crimson captain Carl Marshall berated his own center. "A big fellow like you," he said, "weighing twice as much as that little Indian, and letting him carry you around on his back all afternoon!"
By 1902 Carlisle was more deceptive than ever. One piece of razzle-dazzle installed by Warner was the double pass: Quarterback Jimmie Johnson would toss the ball to a halfback sweeping laterally--who then tossed it back to him. Under the quick-footed Johnson, a future All-America, the shifting Carlisle lines looked like a deck of cards being shuffled.
One afternoon Warner introduced the Indians to a play he had dreamed up when he coached at Cornell. It was called the Hunchback, and it required a sewing machine. Warner had Carlisle's tailor, Mose Blumenthal, sew elastic bands into the waists of a few players' jerseys. Among those was the shirt of Charles Dillon, a Sioux guard who could run 100 yards in 10 seconds. Warner instructed Dillon to wear the jersey untucked, so the opposition would get used to seeing it that way.
The play was designed for a kickoff. As the ball descended into the arms of Johnson, the other players would huddle around him. Hidden from view, Johnson would slip the ball up the back of Dillon's jersey and secure it with the waistband. The huddle would then split apart, leaving the opposing team with no idea where the ball had gone.
The play would punish any team that took Carlisle lightly. One school had a particular tendency to do so: Harvard. Though they'd never beaten the Crimson, the Indians had always given them a game. Carlisle both admired and resented Harvard. The Indians sarcastically mimicked the Harvard accent, but Harvard was also their idea of collegiate perfection, and they labeled any excellent performance, whether on the field or in the classroom, as " Harvard style."
By the time the Indians checked into the Copley Square Hotel in Cambridge on Oct. 30, 1902, they had a 5--1 record, but the Crimson dwarfed them. Carlisle's heaviest player was the center, Shouchuk, at 165 pounds, while two Harvard linemen weighed in at 215. But Johnson directed the Indians in lightning line charges, and the Crimson defense ripped like paper. Carlisle constantly shifted and realigned, tossing the ball back and forth. Johnson would fake a run to the outside--only to hand the ball to Albert Exendine coming around from the end. After the Indians moved all the way to the Harvard 18-yard line, Johnson kicked a field goal, which in those days was worth five points. The score was still 5--0 as the first half ended. Warner was emboldened. In the locker room he called the play his team had been waiting for all season. On the kickoff, he said, run the Hunchback.