(Excerpted from James F. Willis, Southern Arkansas University: The Mulerider School’s Centennial History, 1909-2009, pp. 69-71)
Returning veterans helped lead the 1919 Mulerider football team to TDAS’s first and only undefeated season. Ironically, it was accomplished without coaching. In fact, the school gave the team so little support that at the beginning of the year, players had to spend $25 of their own money to buy uniforms and shoes. The team was required to take a “chaperon” to its away games, and players persuaded George W. Bacot, a new agriculture teacher, to go along as their “coach.” The team’s actual coach was its captain and quarterback, Ves Godley, who led its thirteen members. In those days, the same eleven men played both offense and defense; with so few Muleriders, there was little room for substitutions or injuries. Several of these players were rugged veterans just back from military service. They made quick work of five area high school teams, and then they demolished the Monticello Boll Weevils 46–0 on October 17. The local newspaper reported, “Every boy on the Monticello Aggies team got hurt more or less.”
The two games played in 1919 against college teams proved harder to win. Playing Henderson-Brown in Arkadelphia on November 17, the Muleriders were down 19–7 with five minutes left to play after the Reddies star halfback, Sage McLean, had scored twice. Then, as the Magnolia News reported, “the farmers found the college lads no match for their pounding machine.” Godley called a line buck over center Dolph Camp and ran for a touchdown. A penalty nullified the score, but Godley repeated the exact same play with the same result. With a little over two minutes left, the Muleriders got the ball back and, with more line bucks, scored once more, winning the game 21–19. At the Thanksgiving game in Magnolia on November 27, the Muleriders faced Louisiana Industrial Institute of Ruston. Although outweighed man-for-man, the home team kept Louisiana from scoring a touchdown until the third quarter. After missing the point after kick, Louisiana remained ahead 6–0 until late in the
fourth quarter. Fonzie Moses then caught a long pass from Godley and ran thirty yards for a touchdown. The point after gave the Muleriders a win, 7–6, and a perfect undefeated season.
Although TDAS was a member of the Arkansas State Athletic Association, composed of both colleges and high schools, it could not claim a state championship. It had played at both levels and had competed against only one college in the state. The Arkansas Gazette awarded the honor to the Ouachita Tigers for the fifth consecutive year. The Muleriders accepted their honors at home. In a special ceremony, players were “presented with handsome athletic sweaters woven in navy blue and bearing a large and beautiful gold letter ‘A’.” Scores of local citizens and businesses had raised money for the sweaters. Members of this storied and long-lived team—three of whom ([Ves] Godley, [Dolph] Camp, and [Carl] McCollum) lived past the century mark—regularly attended alumni homecomings over the next six decades. These three men maintained especially strong and close ties to the school, Godley returning as a teacher, Camp as its president, and McCollum together with his ten siblings, all TDAS alumni, were counted among the school’s most loyal supporters. Over the years, Camp, Godley, and McCollum each would receive the school’s highest recognition, Distinguished Alumnus.