This football practice jersey and leather helmet are both from a bygone era in University of Denver athletics history – before ice hockey, there was football. This leather helmet, a “Hutch H-18,” is undated, but likely dates from between the 1920s to the 1950s. As of the 1960s, plastic helmets with facemasks were in widespread use in collegiate football.
A Brief History of DU Football
The DU football team, led by captain William Iliff, played its first intercollegiate football game in 1885. The season, which was only one game long, began inauspiciously, with a loss against Colorado College, 12-0. Between 1906 and 1910, the team was coached by John Koehler, whose direction yielded the Pioneers their first conference championship in 1908. In 1927, the Pioneers closed the season with a 48-0 win over the University of Colorado Buffs on Thanksgiving Day.
The 1950s were especially exciting for Pioneer football fans. The 1954 team—probably DU’s best football team ever—began the season with a 72-0 win over Colorado College. Aided by quarterbacks Rusty Fairly and Jimmy Bowen, the team ended the year with a record of 9-1 and a Skyline Conference championship.
The Pioneer football team played its final game on Thanksgiving Day in 1960, beating Colorado State University 21-12.