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The Massillon football system is run on a very businesslike basis. A giant booster club, composed of alumni and influential businessmen in the town, foots the bills for game movies (in color), whirlpool baths, giant rallies and—so the story goes—special talent. It is common knowledge among other coaches in the state that Massillon boosters have moved entire families into town, placed Pop in a fine-paying job just so Sonny, a good-looking football prospect, would be eligible to attend Massillon. The team takes in more than $100,000 a season at the gate.
If money, talent and high-priced coaches make for top-notch football at Massillon, they do that and more at Abilene, Texas, where the city's high school team is the number one boast of the chamber of commerce. In beating Big Spring 32-0 in its last game the team chalked up its 44th consecutive victory to set a new national record.
The current protector of this athletic dynasty is 39-year-old Chuck Moser, a native of Missouri. When Moser took over in 1953 his employers showed him they wanted winning football by starting him out at college-scale salary. Moser quickly showed Abilene it had the right man by guiding the team to the Texas state championship in 1954, 1955 and 1956. Moser is a compact, wiry man who walks hunched forward as if ready to spring. His voice is deep and his eyes go over you in a friendly but appraising inspection. "We don't import players or move families," says Moser, "but we do have a football program that beats almost anything you might find outside of Texas.
"We have over 800 kids playing football in 18 elementary schools scattered around town. They all come on to Abilene High. It's strictly recreation, really, but we like to win, too. Every school our size in the state has the same type of program, so I guess we just run it better.
"Abilene didn't win much in the '40s, you know. I guess the people were getting kind of hungry around here. When we started winning, well, we just kept defeat down on the ground. You win 44 games and people get the idea that the kids on your team are supermen or over-age or ringers. It's just not true. Look, the kids on this team average 16.9 years. Is that old? The average weight is 180. Is that so big? The reason these kids are good is that they want to be good. They work at it, and they work hard.
"Sure, we've got exceptional facilities. We've got a stadium that seats 11,000, and the city just passed a $750,000 bond issue to build us a new one that'll seat about 20,000. We've got support, too. Fans fill the field week in and week out. One year when we played in Fort Worth for the state championship 7,000 people from Abilene traveled 150 miles just to see the game.
"The school system gives me the money to get good coaches. My salary is $10,000 flat. Last year at the football banquet members of our booster club gave me $9,000 cash. I kept $3,000 of it and split the rest with my seven assistants. That's $13,000. And I've got a weekly television show during football season that pays me pretty well.
"With all the advantages I have here in town, all the friends, how could I accept the head coach's job at Missouri last year? In the first place they offered me only $10,300.
"I guess in a way you could say we're a football factory. There's hardly a day goes by when some college coach isn't visiting, trying to find prospects. But the kids on this team are students. They have to be or they don't play.
"Right now I've got 29 Abilene boys playing college ball—all on scholarships. Bobby Jack Oliver, tackle at Baylor, he's one of them. Glynn Gregory, the kid everyone was chasing last year, he's at SMU. Got them all over the state. Football makes money here. We play 14 games a year if we get to the final playoffs for the championship—10 regular season and four playoffs. In the final playoff in 1955 we took in $42,000."