BY GARY HAWKINS Staff Writer
BY GARY HAWKINS
High school football was certainly a different game in the 1940s than it is today. Back then, players wore leather helmets without facemasks, undersized shoulder pads and little else in the way of protection.
There was no platooning, just one basic team that played offense and defense and players rarely came out of a game
"You'd go in and they'd have to lug you out," said Harold Jones, who played for Cony in the early '40s.
Some things haven't changed, though. Blocking and tackling remain the fundamentals of the game and a good running back was the foundation of most every good team. Jones played with a good one in Phil Coulombe, who is among eight former athletes who will be inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday.
"He was shifty," Jones said. "He could start and stop pretty quick. They had quite a job running him down." High school teams employed the single or double wing offense in those days which meant a direct snap back to the back, usually Coulombe, who would take off or hand the ball to a teammate.
"If he caught that ball there was nobody that was going to catch him," said Bob Russell, Cony's center when Coulombe played. "It was just uncanny to see him play."
Coulombe was named all-state halfback in 1944 and 1945 when he was a captain for the Rams. Weighing less than 150 pounds, he was one of the hardest runners in the state to bring down. He went on to play for Dave Nelson at the University of Maine where he averaged 4.3 yards a carry. A highlight of his career with the Black Bears was a 15 carry, 108-yard performance in Maine's 16-7 comeback win against Connecticut.
Coulombe dealt with a dislocated shoulder throughout his career and Cony coach Dana Dougherty had a harness made to keep it in place. It helped keep his shoulder in place but limited his mobility to the point where he could hardly raise his arms to shoulder level.
"He should have stopped (playing) for one year," Jones said.
Coulombe also punted and played safety for the Rams but it was when he ran with the ball that everyone took notice.
"He could hit a hole," Russell said. "I've seen him run right over people. He was the only guy I ever blocked for that thanked you for blocking."
Being of French descent and living on Augusta's Sand Hill as Coulombe did could be tough on high school kids in the 1940s.
"I heard when Phil was playing as a freshman one of the guys wasn't going to block for him because he was a Frenchman," Russell said. "I always thought the guys from the Hill didn't get a chance before Dana."
Coulombe sold insurance for many years for Macomber, Farr and Whitten, remaining much the same person he was in high school.
"He was good to everybody and everybody liked him," Russell said. "I don't know if I've ever heard anybody say a bad word about Phil."
Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638
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