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Niles Football Players of Long Ago :Too Long Forgotten

By Ken Werden, 02/07/17, 8:15AM EST


Paul Jerome Lally

To evaluate the present and plan for the future we must first understand the past.  Many stories emerged from the history of Niles Football.  Some date far back to the early 1900's.  Ken Werden's passion for Niles Football led him to research the past.  He brings us another story about our Football roots and the people that helped lay the foundation for the future.
Paul Jerome Lally one of the greatest halfbacks to play football for Niles - Held every scoring record Niles had until the Tony Mason era and to this date still in the Top 5 in most categories or Top 10.
Born to James Patrick and Marcella Brown Lally, December 20, 1896 in Niles at their residence at the corner of Robbins Avenue and Beaver Street, the residence would be given the number 398 and the home still exists. Devout Catholics the family would attend St. Stephens Church. In 1906 across the street from their residence Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church would be built but stayed faithful to St. Stephens.
James Patrick and Marcella Brown Lally were both born in Youngstown and their parents were all born in Ireland. They would have eight children, six boys and two girls all born in their home on Robbins. Paul was their fifth born.
Paul Lally known as 'Kraut' in his high school days would score his first TD for Niles as a freshman in 1911 the first year for the first hired paid coach in Niles history Coach W. W. Giffen. Niles new Superintendant of Schools W. C. Campbell attended the Niles/ Warren game of 1910 and was appalled by what he saw. They coached themselves, uniforms whatever each individual put together, very little fan support and Campbell was determined to change all of it. His first act was to hire W. W. Giffen and in 1911 Campbell was Giffen's assistant and the building of a football team began.
In 1913 Paul Lally would be teamed in the backfield with fullback Russ Stein and by the end of the 1914 season both combined for 52 TDs with Lally accounting for 27 besides drop kicking the extra points and field goals. Niles would race to a 7-3 record in 1913 scoring 282 points to the opponents 57 with Lally picking up 114 of the 282.
Paul Lally with blinding speed the fastest on the team specialty was end runs where he would gobble up yardage at will with Stein so big and strong pounded the middle and despite being the fullback took care of the bulk of the passing.
1914 was Paul Lally and Russ Stein' senior season and it would be Niles' best since 1900. Niles defeated Warren in 1913 by the score of 14-0 with Stein and Lally scoring a TD and Lally both extra points and Warren was well aware of what was to come in 14. So much so the county seat school refused to schedule Niles. The county seat school otherwise known in Niles as the upriver boys.
Niles had the season that was expected except one blemish that came the third game of the season at Niles on a rain soaked muddy field losing to another very good football team of the day Lisbon 7-0. Niles defeated Youngstown Rayen 10-6 with Lally scoring all 10 points in Youngstown a program that was considered one of the best in Ohio. Niles started the season off defeating East Liverpool 31-0 then came Rayen and Lisbon. After the Lisbon defeat Niles traveled to Girard winning 34-0 then the next three were home wins. Beaver Falls 34-7, Ashtabula 43-0 and Barberton 57-0 the next two wins were on the road. A large number of Niles faithful  traveled to Sharon by train to watch Niles take on what was reported as the best team in Western Pennsylvania as Niles totally dismantled the Pennsylvanians  62-0. Next was Salem  20-6 finishing the season at home on Thanksgiving Day against Meadville, Pennsylvania a crushing 34-0 win. Niles finished the season 9-1 scoring 325 points to the opponents 26. Paul Lally scored 107 of those 325. Niles would not score 300 plus points again until 1960 forty-six years later when a halfback by the name of Dick Rindfuss ran wild. The 114 points in one season 1913 was not surpassed until Rick Sygar in 1961.
Paul would move onto Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania where he was known as 'Kraut', 'Red' or 'Red-Bird' because of his red hair would excel in football and track. He would make his way to the starting quarterback position and would captain the track team until a crushing accident intervened.
After graduating from college he came back to Niles for a couple years or so then made his way to Cleveland Heights where he would live out his life. He would marry Terese Louise Gardener in Cleveland 1927 and produce four children living at 3975 Bluestone Road and have his own business as a roofing contractor.
His oldest child would follow in his father's footsteps excelling in football and track. His son Bob Lally would attend Cathedral Latin High School in Cleveland and in his senior year was captain of both track and football team. In 1944 Cathedral Latin 10-0 was the Co State Champions with Canton McKinley 9-1  and Bob a guard, Second Team All Ohio. In 1945 Cathedral Latin 9-0-1 repeated as State Champions and Bob was awarded First Team All Ohio. In his three years at Cathedral Latin, Bob Lally never played in a losing game.
He went on to play college ball at the University of Notre Dame were he started as a Lineman. In his four years at Notre Dame, Notre Dame never lost a game. Between his high school and college career Bob Lally totaled 63 straight winning games that made Ripley's Believe It Or Not.
Paul Jerome Lally was uncle to Dr Bernard Eddy a long time physician in Niles.
Paul Lally's mother Marcella died at 398 Robbins in 1961 his father in 1924. Paul Lally passed in his home at Cleveland Heights in 1966.
Thanks Ken!  Looking forward to the next one!
For More information on the 1914 Niles Football Team please visit the Niles Historical Society website.