Football at Lawrenceville

1887 Football Team with D. Michie 88’ and A.S. Lilley ‘88

1887 Football Team with D. Michie 88’ and A.S. Lilley ‘88

Football was played on Lawrenceville’s campus as early as the 1860s, when the game was more closely related to soccer. This changed in 1877 with the hiring of Jotham Potter, the School’s new science and mathematics instructor. Potter, a recent graduate of Princeton, had been a participant at the organizational meeting of the Intercollegiate Football Association which, on November 23, 1876, adapted the rules of rugby to establish American football for the first time as a rushing rather than a kicking game.

1880 Football with Jotham Potter

1880 Football with Jotham Potter (Potter is third from the right, in the dark colored pants)

Potter brought these new rules with him to Lawrenceville, and the School embraced them with enthusiasm.  Several of Lawrenceville’s early players would go on to introduce football to other institutions, including Dennis Michie ‘88 at West Point and Alexander S. Lilley ‘88 at Ohio State.

Through the early 1890s, these competitions were played not only between houses, but also between the various forms, with the last such games taking place in 1892. Masters and alumni were also considered members of the teams until 1891.