North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters football

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The North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters represented the U.S. Navy pre-flight school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the college football seasons of 1942, 1943 and 1944 during World War II. The North Carolina Pre-Flight School was established on February 1, 1942, by the Secretary of the Navy and opened that April.[1] The football team was later organized and competed against other military teams in addition to major college teams of the period. During their three years in existence, the Cloudbusters compiled an overall record of sixteen wins, eight losses and three ties (16–8–3).[2]

North Carolina Pre-Flight was coached by one of Notre Dame's former "Four Horsemen" and Fordham head coach Jim Crowley in 1942 and went 8–2–1. The Cloudbusters were coached by former Baylor head coach Frank Kimbrough in 1943 and went 2–4–1. In 1944, they were led by Glenn Killinger and went 6–2–1. The Cloudbusters were also known for having both future College Football Hall of Fame inductees Johnny Vaught and Bear Bryant serve as assistant coaches in 1942 and 1944 respectively. Vaught went on to coach at Ole Miss, and while there won the 1960 national championship and compiled an overall record of 190 wins, 61 losses and 12 ties (190–61–12).[3] Bryant went on to coach at Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama, and during his career won the 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978 and 1979 national championships and compiled an overall record of 323 wins, 85 losses and 17 ties (323–85–17).[4]

1942 season[edit]

1942 North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters football
Conference Independent
1942 record 8–2–1
Head coach Jim Crowley
Seasons
1943 →

The 1942 Cloudbusters squad was led by former Fordham head coach Jim Crowley.[5] Members of Crowley's staff included: Charles R. Soleau as backs coach, Ed Sosky as ends coach, and George McGaughey, N. J. Pierce and Johnny Vaught as line coaches.[5] The squad finished the season with an overall record of eight wins, two losses and one tie (8–2–1).

After the Cloudbusters opened the season with a 13–2 victory over Catawba, they traveled to Boston and shutout Harvard 13–0 before 7,000 fans.[6] After a tie against Georgia Pre-Flight and a victory against NC State, the Cloudbusters lost their first game of the season against Boston College 7–6.[7] Following their loss against the Eagles, they ran for 272 yards in a 34–0 victory over Temple before 20,000 fans at Philadelphia.[8] The Cloudbusters would then only allow seven points over the next four games leading to their season finale against Crowley's former school, Fordham. Before 24,500 fans at Yankee Stadium, the Cadets were upset 6–0 in a defensive struggle with the only points of the game coming on a Steve Filipowicz touchdown run in the first half.[9]

Date Opponent Site Result
September 12 vs. Catawba* Winston-Salem, North Carolina W 13–2  
September 26 at Harvard* Harvard StadiumBoston W 13–0  
October 3 at Georgia Pre-Flight* Sanford StadiumAthens, Georgia T 14–14  
October 10 at NC State* Riddick StadiumRaleigh, North Carolina W 19–7  
October 17 at Boston College* Alumni Field • Boston, Massachusetts L 7–6  
October 23 at Temple* Temple StadiumPhiladelphia W 34–0  
October 31 at Syracuse* Archbold StadiumSyracuse, New York W 9–0  
November 7 at Georgetown* Griffith Stadium • Washington, D.C. W 23–7  
November 14 at Manhattan* Polo Grounds • New York City W 17–0  
November 21 at No. 13 William & Mary* Cary FieldWilliamsburg, Virginia W 14–0  
November 28 at Fordham* Yankee Stadium • New York L 6–0  
*Non-conference game.

Games against both Colgate and Iowa Pre-Flight included in the original schedule were canceled by the end of the season.[5]

1943 season[edit]

1943 North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters football
Conference Independent
1943 record 2–4–1
Head coach Frank Kimbrough
Seasons
← 1942
1944 →

The 1943 Cloudbusters squad was led by former Baylor head coach Frank Kimbrough.[10] The squad finished the season with an overall record of two wins, four losses and one tie (2–4–1). The Cadets opened their 1943 season with a pair of shutout losses. The first was a 31–0 loss to Navy before 12,231 at Thompson Stadium in Annapolis, and the second was a 42–0 loss to Duke in Durham.[11][12] The Cloudbusters rebounded with a victory over Camp Davis only to lose their next two contests. The squad then finished the season with a tie against Camp Lejeune and a 21–7 victory over NC State.[13]

Date Opponent Site Result
September 25 at Navy* Thompson StadiumAnnapolis, Maryland L 31–0  
October 2 at Duke* Duke StadiumDurham, North Carolina L 42–0  
October 16 Camp Davis* Kenan Memorial StadiumChapel Hill, North Carolina W 23–18  
October 23 Georgia Pre-Flight* Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill, North Carolina L 20–7  
November 6 Wake Forest* Groves StadiumWake Forest, North Carolina L 20–12  
November 13 Camp Lejeune* Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill, North Carolina T 14–14  
November 25 at NC State* Riddick StadiumRaleigh, North Carolina W 21–7  
*Non-conference game.

The game against Virginia Tech at Victory Stadium in Roanoke, Virginia included in the original schedule was canceled by the end of the season.[10]

1944 season[edit]

1944 North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters football
Conference Independent
1944 record 6–2–1
Head coach Glenn Killinger
Seasons
← 1943

The 1944 Cloudbusters squad was led by head coach Glenn Killinger.[14] Members of Killinger's staff included: Glenn Presnell as backs coach, John Roning as ends coach, and Bear Bryant as line coach.[15] The squad finished the season with an overall record of six wins, two losses and one tie (6–2–1).

The cadets opened the season with a 27–14 victory over Cherry Point MCAS, and the next week upset national championship favorite Navy before 10,000 fans at Annapolis.[16][17] In the victory over the Midshipmen, Otto Graham threw a lateral pass to Frank Aschenbrenner who ran it 55-yards for the game-winning score.[17] The next week, the squad defeated Duke 13–6 for a second consecutive upset.[18] As a result of these upsets, the Cloudbusters earned the No. 2 ranking in the first AP Poll of the 1944 season.[19]

After being held to a tie against Virginia, the Cloudbusters rebounded with a 3–0 victory over Georgia Pre-Flight after Buell St. John connected on a short field goal with only seven seconds remaining in the game.[20][21] After a victory over Jacksonville NAS, the cadets suffered their first loss of the season in a 49–20 loss against Bainbridge NTS.[22] The Cloudbusters responded the following week with a 33–18 victory over Georgia Pre-Flight, with Graham throwing for three touchdowns and running for one in the contest.[23] The cadets then finished the season with a loss against Camp Peary.

Date Opponent# Rank# Site Result
September 24 Cherry Point MCAS* Kenan Memorial StadiumChapel Hill, North Carolina W 27–14  
September 30 at Navy* Thompson StadiumAnnapolis, Maryland W 21–14  
October 7 at Duke* Duke StadiumDurham, North Carolina W 13–6  
October 14 at Virginia* No. 2 Scott StadiumCharlottesville, Virginia T 13–13  
October 21 Georgia Pre-Flight* No. 10 Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill, North Carolina W 3–0  
October 28 Jacksonville NAS* No. 9 Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill, North Carolina W 14–13  
November 5 No. 12 Bainbridge NTS* No. 8 Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill, North Carolina L 49–20  
November 11 at Georgia Pre-Flight* No. 16 Sanford StadiumAthens, Georgia W 33–18  
November 18 Camp Peary* No. 18 Kenan Memorial Stadium • Chapel Hill, North Carolina L 19–7  
*Non-conference game. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game.

1945 season[edit]

The 1945 Cloudbusters squad was to have been led by head coach Bear Bryant.[24][25] However, Bryant never served as the head coach at Carolina after the Navy dropped the football program there in August 1945.[24] From the Cloudbusters, Bryant took the head coaching position with Maryland, and fourteen players he coached at the Pre-Flight School enrolled to play for him at Maryland after they were discharged from the service.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "This Month in Naval Aviation- February 1, 1942". Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ Jones, Wilbur D. (2009). "Football! Navy! War!": How Military "Lend-Lease" Players Saved the College Game and Helped Win World War II. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 124–126. ISBN 978-0-7864-4219-5. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Hall of Famers: Johnny Vaught". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Hall of Famers: Paul "Bear" Bryant". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "Ten grid games for Navy school". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. The United Press. July 12, 1942. p. 14. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Chapel Hill cadets whip Harvard, 13–0". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. The United Press. July 12, 1942. p. 14. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Boston moves in". The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, BC. October 21, 1942. p. 14. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Cadets maul Owls, 34–0". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. The United Press. October 24, 1942. p. 10. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ Rennie, Rud (November 29, 1942). "Rams upset naval eleven". The Miami News. p. 2D. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Navy football plans given". The Tuscaloosa News. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Associated Press. July 12, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  11. ^ Abramson, Jesse (September 26, 1943). "Bruce Smith's passes feature Navy romp". The Miami News. p. 3E. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Duke steam-roller flattens N.C. Navy Pre-flight, 42–0". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. INS. October 3, 1943. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ "N.C. Pre-flight whips N.C. State". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. Associated Press. November 26, 1943. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Killinger football head". The New York Times. February 27, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  15. ^ Tomberlin, Jason (October 21, 2009). "Bear Bryant in Chapel Hill". North Carolina Miscellany. UNC University Libraries. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Cloudbusters clip Cherry Point". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. Associated Press. September 25, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "N.C. Pre-flight upsets Navy". The Pittsburgh Press. The United Press. October 1, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  18. ^ "N.C. Pre-flight upsets Duke". The St. Petersburg Times. The United Press. October 8, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  19. ^ Claassen, Spike (October 10, 1944). "North Carolina Pre-flight is second". San Jose Evening News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  20. ^ "N.C. Pre-flight ties Virginians". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. United Press. October 15, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Cloudbusters trip Skycrackers 3–0 in last 7 seconds". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. The United Press. October 22, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Bainbridge whips Pre-flight to hop into limelight". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. United Press. November 6, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  23. ^ "N.C. Pre-flight winners 33–18". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. United Press. November 12, 1944. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "Bear Bryant is Terp coach". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. September 6, 1945. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Sports items rationed". The Los Angeles Times. February 2, 1945. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  26. ^ Perry, Lawrence (September 28, 1945). "New Maryland coach scoffs at fears of football purists". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Retrieved January 16, 2012.