1879 Navy Midshipmen football team

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1879 Navy Midshipmen football
Naval Academy 1879 Football Team.png
Conference Independent
1879 record 0–0–1
Head coach None
Captain Bill Maxwell
Home stadium Unknown
1882 »
1879 college football records
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Princeton         4 0 1
Yale         3 0 2
Harvard         2 1 2
Pennsylvania         2 2 0
Stevens Tech         1 2 5
Rutgers         1 2 3
Columbia         0 3 2
Navy         0 0 1
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1879 Navy Midshipmen football team represented the United States Naval Academy in the 1879 college football season. The team was the first intercollegiate football squad to represent the United States Naval Academy. The team had no coach, as it was entirely student-operated; however, it was captained by squad member Bill Maxwell. The team played just a single game, which was a scoreless tie with the Baltimore Athletic Club. The team was entirely student operated, and was not supported by the Naval Academy's faculty. The school would not have another football squad until 1882.


The first intercollegiate football game was played on November 6, 1869, between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, then known as the Rutgers Queensmen, and the New Jersey Tigers, now the Princeton Tigers. The game was a mixture of rugby and soccer, with teams scoring by kicking the ball into the opponent's net.[1] The game slowly developed, with new rules being added. The number of schools participating in the sport also grew.[2] However, even with the expansion, Princeton dominated the game, being declared the champion eight times in ten years. Yale was the only team which came close to Princeton, being awarded four championship designations during the same period.[3]


Date Opponent Site Result
December 11, 1879 Baltimore Athletic Club* Unknown • Annapolis, MD T 0–0  
*Non-conference game.

Season summary[edit]

Navy 0, Baltimore Athletic Club 0[edit]

The Naval Academy squad played its first ever football game against a team from the Baltimore Athletic Club. The Navy team was entirely student-operated, with no official support from Naval Academy officials. The team was entirely funded by its members and their fellow students. The team consisted of twelve players, led by the squad captain, Bill Maxwell.[4] The game was most likely played at the Naval Academy, on an unused drill or parade field, due to a lack of funding, and was a combination of American football, rugby, and soccer.[4][5] The match was played on December 11, and ended in a scoreless 0–0 tie.[6]


The first postseason college football game would not be played until 1902, with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses' establishment of a football game, later known as the Rose Bowl.[7] As a result, there were no postseason games played after the 1879 season. According to statistics compiled by the National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis, and the Billingsley college football research center, Princeton was the 1879 season champion, giving them their ninth. However, Parke Davis also gave Yale the championship for the season.[3]


The Naval Academy would not produce another football team until the 1882 season. The 1882 team would be the first with a coach, being supported by Academy officials. The 1879 season was the last time that a Navy squad would play the Baltimore Athletic Club. Navy would finish the 1880s with four winning seasons, and an overall record of 14–12–2, with one of those ties being the game against the Baltimore Athletic Club. Navy would outscore their opponents 292–231, and would finish the 19th century with an overall record of 54–19–3. The lack of a coach for the 1879 season was one of the two times the Naval Academy squad lacked one, the other time being from 1883 through 1891.[6][8]


  1. ^ Schlabach, Mark (2013). "Rutgers Scarlet Knights–Nov. 6, 1869". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ PFRA Research. "No Christian End!". The Journey to Camp: The Origins of American Football to 1889. Professional Football Researchers Association. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b NCAA 2009, p 78
  4. ^ a b United States Naval Academy staff (1879), "Navy's First Football Squad", The Team of 1879 (United States Naval Academy), retrieved April 18, 2013 
  5. ^ Kiland et al., p 191
  6. ^ a b Navy 2005 p. 154
  7. ^ Staff (2005). "Tournament of Roses History". Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Archived from the original on January 2, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ Castle, K.J. (January 5, 2011). "History of Navy Football". Livestrong.com. Early Years. Retrieved April 18, 2013.