Brownsville High School was a football powerhouse back in the 1930's and 1940's. Coach Carl Aschman turned the Brownies into a force to be reckoned with. Brownsville’s 1938-39-40 football teams earned permanent possession of the Monongahela Valley Big Six Championship trophy by recording a 27-0-3 record, shutting out 21 of their 30 opponents, and yielding only 58 points in 30 games.
Aschman guided Brownsville to the 1940 Class AA WPIAL football title and left to become head football coach at Aliquippa. Brownsville's success continued in the 1940's under Earl Bruce and Andy Sepsi.
Bruce led the Brownies to an undefeated season in 1943 and captured the WPIAL Class AA football championship.
Frank Davis, 85, was a junior on that 1943 squad and says the groundwork for the championship run was laid at summer football camp.
“We had our camp at the old Kiwanis camp in the mountains,” Davis recalled. “We'd go there in August. It was a typical camp with cold showers and the facilities for bathrooms were wooden huts down a nice scenic path.
“As far as the training was concerned, we got there in the morning and settled in and the following morning we went head to head in a scrimmage. We went right at it in pads and it was a tough training camp. It was preparation for what the season was going to be.”
Coach Earl Bruce was the architect of the 1943 title run.
“Coach Bruce was a taskmaster,” Davis opined. “He was good, he knew what he was doing and he had a good staff with assistant coaches Andy Sepsi, Joe Dudzak and Charlie Slick. There was actually another coach who came in during the season to help and that was Joe McCune. He made sure you got in the mud and got your nose in the dirt.”
“Coach Bruce was the kind of coach every team should have,” Paul “Noodie” Johns, 87, explained. “I thought he was one of the best. He made you want to play.”
Brownsville was led by an outstanding backfield of Dan Stimmell at quarterback, Johns and Parker Davis at halfback, and the “last of the Suttons,” Bert Sutton, at fullback, with Bill (Beetle) Billips and Nate Barnette also seeing action.
“We had a great backfield,” Reserve tackle Vernon Flick then a junior,87, said. “Sutton was a very good fullback and Johns was just out of this world. Those two players were great.”
The 1943 squad made its debut against East Bethlehem. Sutton and Johns each scored twice as Brownsville swamped the Bulldogs, 31-0 in the opener, and the Brownies followed with shutouts of Masontown, 19-0, and German township, 39-0.
The fourth game of the season pitted Brownsville against their arch rivals, undefeated Redstone on “Parker Davis Night.” Brownie senior right halfback Parker Davis had been drafted, and was to report for duty with the U. S. Navy the following Monday.
“That was a big rivalry,” Davis explained. ““Parker did not start the game. Our coaches had two favorite plays involving the right halfback, one a run and the other a pass. Later in the game when Parker was in, they called that right halfback running play. It was a big night for Parker.”
The game started out with Noodie Johns racing 80 yards for a touchdown. Brownsville won the game, 48-22.
“I was called for holding on the play before that,” Johns remembered. “We went in the huddle and Sutton said 'don't worry about it, next play we'll go for a touchdown' and they called my number and I broke off tackle for a touchdown.”
Brownsville football had a few famous brother acts during this period. It was the hallmark of Brownie athletics.
“We had a quite a few brother acts at Brownsville,” Davis said. “Even before that we had a lot of brothers playing, actually the Sutton's had five boys who played football at Brownsville. It was a family affair at Brownsville.”
The Big Five Conference schedule got underway in week five against Charleroi. The Brownies easily dispatched the Cougars, 33-12, and that set up another match-up of undefeated teams, this time against unbeaten Monessen.
Brownsville had never beaten Monessen on the Greyhounds’ turf, but when the smoke cleared, Noodie Johns scored four touchdowns and led the Brownies to an easy 34-12 victory.
Brownsville knocked off the Monongahela Wildcats, 28-0. Sporting a record of 7-0 Brownsville went on the road to face the talented Donora Dragons. The game turned into the toughest test of the season for the Brownies, who trailed most of the game, but rallied to post a 20-15 victory. The win gave Brownsville the 1943 Big Five Championship and kept their WPIAL title hopes alive.
“Donora keyed on Noodie Johns,” Davis said. “We gave Sutton and Nate Barnette the bulk of the carries. We just pounded them relentlessly, it was a great comeback.”
“It was the toughest game I played in all my years of football against Donora,” Johns offered. “Remember they had Arnold Galiffa and we had a tough time with them.”
Brownsville closed out an undefeated campaign and captured the WPIAL Class AA football title with wins over Uniontown 49-20, and Connellsville 32-6.
“Hail the Brownsville Blue and White warriors!” proclaimed the Brownsville Telegraph the next day, “WPIAL Class AA, Big Five Conference and Fayette County champions for 1943!”
“It was a great season,” Davis stated.
“There were six or seven thousand people at a high school game in those days,” Johns said. “Everybody was waiting for Friday to see Brownsville play football.”