Derby High vs. Shelton High School
All Time Football Results
The following is an unofficial listing of all the games ever played between Derby and Shelton High Schools compiled from a variety of sources. The list should not be considered definitive, but rather a work in progress as there are questions about some of the early games on the list that have not been fully verified as yet. Should you have information or want to share any memories, photos or video of any of the games, please contact us by clicking here.
The game has been scheduled for Thanksgiving Day since 1922, but as far back as 1914, the game was played on Thanksgiving.
There is a game played at Lake Housatonic Park in 1904 that some count as the first game played between the schools. However, the Evening Sentinel, the area’s daily newspaper at the time, identifies the game as being played between Shelton High School and a team known as the “Derby Juniors”. However, the Derby team actually had three freshmen from Yale University on the squad, so we are not counting it in the overall standings listed here. By the way, the Yale players couldn’t make a difference for the Derby team as Shelton won by a score of 11-5. Touchdowns counted as 5 points that year. Derby claimed a last minute touchdown that would have made it 11-10, but the referee disallowed it. Click here is an interesting story written in the aftermath of the game.
Another game – or not!
Take a close look at the schedule printed on this picture of the 1905 Derby High team, and you will see that our plot thickens as to the actual games played between the schools. Much as we saw a “Derby Juniors” team defeated by Shelton High School in 1904, we now see a Derby High team beating both a Shelton High team (27-0) and a “Shelton Juniors” team 10-5. Just as we do not have the 1904 game listed in the overall standings, we are not listing the 1905 “Shelton Juniors” game either.
And the other from 1905 – maybe!
I decided to take a closer look at the other 1905 game, and there was a surprise there as well. An earlier article in the Evening Sentinel on Shelton High School had mentioned that they were trying to start a football team. However, I could not find a record of any Shelton games except for the previously mentioned Shelton Juniors. Derby had played several and was set to play New Milford for a second time. However, New Milford pulled out of the game, and suddenly a team from Shelton High School which had never played a game traveled to Derby to play.
The Sentinel said, “Shelton is just forming an eleven and Friday evening their men got around for the first time to practice. The majority of them had never played Rugby, few had ever played in a regular game against a strong team. But they obligingly consented to play, expecting nothing less than defeat”. The result was a predictable 27-0 Derby win, the first one in the history of the game as most from Derby would say. But hold on a minute – was it a real game? The Evening Sentinel article begins by saying, “The Derby high school eleven defeated the Shelton high school team by the score of 27 to nothing Saturday afternoon in the meadows. It was not a regular game however, being played for practice”.
Wikipedia weighs in
To complicate matters, Wikipedia has the rivalry on its List of high school football rivalries (100 years+) with Shelton leading the series 52–42–7 which would make the 2010 game number 102 in the series. However, they have no listing of games to support the claim.
Are there other games out there with the same controversy? We don’t know but would appreciate any help in ironing this out and make a definitive ruling.