1944 High School All-America Football Team
High School Football History retroactively chooses All-America Team.
High School All-American football teams have been around for 74 years, starting with the Wigwam Wiseman All-America team chosen by John “Mose” Simms in 1947.
Simms was considered a bit of a character. He had many career paths, working as a newspaper publisher, a restaurant owner, an oil promoter and a football coach early in his career. He eventually organized a group of businessmen, called the “Wigwam Wiseman” society, and he used funding from the society to hold all-star football games.
In order to attract players to his “All-America” all-star games, Simms selected an All-America team. The squad usually consisted of eight teams of about 12 players. It was published each year in the Sporting News from 1947 to the early 1960s when Simms died.
Unfortunately there are no All-America teams prior to 1947. After choosing the Top 50 Football Teams from 1944, we decided to also name an All-America team for that season. We chose 11 players on three teams. We based our selections on championship teams, all-state and all-city teams and the All-Southern team selected by John “Red” Davis of Orlando (Fla.).
We tried to base our picks more on how the player performed in 1944 rather than future performance. However we used future performance to help give context to the players’ ability. That being said, no players who became future college All-Americans or NFL players were chosen who did NOT make an all-state or all-area team in 1944.
Here’s our All-America team for 1944.
1944 High School All-America Football Team
E - Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Harlan (Ky.)
One of the top high school basketball scorers in the nation and eventually the state’s all-time scoring leader, Jones was also an all-state end in football. He was the highest vote getter on the all-state team by the Courier Journal and he went on to play football at the University of Kentucky along with basketball.
E - Jim Owens, Classen (Okla.)
The top vote-getter on the Oklahoma all-state team. He went on to play for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma where the Sooners were 21-1 in Owens’ final two seasons. He earned All-American honors in 1949. He went on to coach the University of Washington from 1957-74, winning Rose Bowls in 1959 and 1960.
T - Bill Fischer, Lane (Chicago, Ill.)
At 230 pounds, Fischer was a huge force during a time when linemen rarely exceeded 200 pounds. Lane’s success in 1944 was based on the play of its line, according to the Tribune, and Fischer earned all-state honors from the Champaigne News Gazette’s Pat Harmon. Fischer went on to earn All-America honors three years in a row at Notre Dame. He was also a three-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL with the Cardinals.
T - Dan Rogas, Port Arthur Thomas Jefferson (Texas)
Port Arthur won the Texas state championship due to its strong offensive and defensive lines, anchored by Rogas. Port Arthur limited Highland Park to negative 16 yards rushing in the finals. Rogas was all-state by AP and UP. Drafted out of Tulane by the Cleveland Browns, Rogas played two seasons in the NFL before embarking on a long coaching career in Louisiana.
G - Dominic Tomasi, Flint Northern (Mich.)
Tomasi was an all-state pick for Flint Northern as a senior and he went on to Michigan. He was a four-year starter for the Wolverines, earning All-America honors.
G - Hays McKinney, Gadsden (Ala.)
Gadsden won the mythical state title in Alabama and McKinney was the team’s top player. He was voted all-state two years in a row and received the most votes of any lineman two years running. While at Georgia Tech, the guard was part of a deal by an Atlanta automobile dealership that promised to give him a new car if he scored a touchdown. Against Citadel, in an attempt to get McKinney his car, coach Bobby Dodd lined up McKinney in the backfield on a play near the goal line. However McKinney was lost for the season after breaking his ankle on the play. The auto dealer still delivered on the car, however.
C - Bill Yeoman, Glendale (Ariz.)
Yeoman was considered an overwhelming choice for all-state in Arizona. He was a captain at Army in 1948 and earned second team All-America honors. He went on to win four SWC championships as a coach at the University of Houston.
QB - Joe Pujazon, McKinley (Canton, Ohio)
Pujazon was a two-time all-state player, leading McKinley to a claim on the state championship in 1944 with a 9-1 record. One sports writer said about Pujazon, “Greatest all-around back I have seen in high school.” He scored 95 points on the season.
RB - Doak Walker, Highland Park (Dallas, Texas)
A future Heisman Trophy winner, Walker earned all-state and All-Southern honors while leading Highland Park to the state championship game against Port Arthur. A running back as a junior, Walker replaced Bobby Layne as quarterback of the Scots in 1944. He attempted 43 passes, an unheard of total in the finals against Port Arthur since Highland Park was unable to run the ball. Walker made the Pro Bowl five times and is a member of the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame.
RB - Pete Williams, Miami (Fla.)
A two-time all-state player, Williams was also an All-Southern pick for two seasons. He led the Stingarees to a national championship in 1943, as recognized by the National Sports News Services, and a claim to the state championship in 1944.
FB - John Hoffman, Little Rock Central (Ark.)
Hoffman was a two-time all-state player and captain of the team as a senior. He was one of the leading scorers in the nation with 188 points while leading the Tigers to a 10-1 record. He played at Arkansas and spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, making two Pro Bowls.
E - Sam Butz Jr., Lee (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The leading vote-getter on the Florida all-state team in 1944. The all-state team was sponsored by the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville that year. The sports editor of the Times-Union was Sam Butz Sr. An All-Southern pick as well, Butz played at Clemson and Arkansas and got a degree in aeronautical engineering. He had a long career in aviation and eventually spent 14 years with the CIA.
E - James “Froggy” Williams, Waco (Texas)
A first team all-state player in Texas by AP and UP, Williams was considered one of the top ends in Waco’s storied history. He went on to an All-American career at Rice.
T - Bert Aton, Male (Louisville, Ky.)
The top player on the state champion Male team, Aton was the second-leading vote getter on the Courier Journal’s all-state team.
T - Horace Stansel, Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.)
Stansel made the all-state team in Florida and landed on the All-Southern team as well. He helped Hillsborough lay claim to the Florida mythical state championship. He served in the Navy during World War II and went on to become a New York Police Officer for over 20 years.
G - Jerry Reynolds, Baton Rouge (La.)
Reynolds was the top vote-getter on the Times Picayune all-state team and he helped Baton Rouge to a 9-0-1 record and a state championship.
G - George Hughes, San Angelo (Texas)
A second team selection as a junior during San Angelo’s state championship season, Hughes was a first team all-state pick as a senior in 1944.
C - Paul Barcroft, Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
An All-City selection and an All-Southern pick, Barcroft was the top player on Baylor’s undefeated team that has been selected as the best team in the nation in 1944 by High School Sports History.
QB - Harmon Carswell, Lufkin (Texas)
One of the most prolific passers of the day, Carswell earned all-state honors while completing 153 of 263 passes for 1,928 yards. He went on to play at Rice.
RB - Jackie Jensen, Oakland (Calif.)
One of the great all-around athletes in the Class of 1944-45, Jensen was All-City in Oakland and went on to an All-America career at Cal. However he earned greater fame as a member of the Boston Red Sox, where he was a three-time All-Star.
RB - Ernie Zalejski, South Bend Washington (Ind.)
One of the leading scorers in the nation with 23 touchdowns on the season. He earned all-state three times and had 59 career touchdowns. He played three seasons at Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish were undefeated each season. He played one season in the NFL.
RB - Harrell “Rip” Collins, Baton Rouge (La.)
In leading Baton Rouge to a state championship, Collins was regarded as the top player in the state and earned All-Southern honors. He threw for 688 yards and ran for 1,332 yards on the season while scoring 168 points.He played in the All-America Football Conference with the Colts and in the NFL with the Packers after graduating from LSU.
E - Leonard Corbin, Harding (Warren, Ohio)
The only junior on the Associated Press All-Ohio team in 1944, Corbin was one of the “easy” choices for the team according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. He returned in 1945 to earn first team honors for a second time.
E - George Broadnax, Boys (Atlanta, Ga.)
An All-City and All-Southern pick for Boys High, Broadnax had an All-SEC career at Georgia Tech and played one season in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. After the NFL, Broadnax was the president of Tech Steel for 20 years.
T - Bennett Flowers, Coon (Wilson, N.C.)
Flowers helped Coon to a state championship. He earned all-state honors, All-Carolinas honors and he made the All-Southern Team. He was also a standout baseball player, leading Coon to a state championship as a pitcher. He played 76 games in the Major Leagues and had a 13-year minor league career.
T - John Hurstak, Dorchester (Mass.)
The unanimous All-Scholastics choice as a junior by the Boston Globe, Hurstak also made the All-Scholastics team as a sophomore. He was named captain of the all-star team.
G - James Mahoney, Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.)
Mahoney was the first Cathedral Prep to ever earn all-state honors, which he did in 1944 when he was considered the top player in Northwest Pennsylvania. He played for Notre Dame from 1947 to 1949, winning a national championship in the final season. He had a long career in education.
G - Carl McClendon, Austin (Texas)
An all-state player for the Maroons, he played on the team’s state championship team of 1942. After high school he joined the Army and later attended the University of Texas. He then served in the Army again during the Korean War.
C - Robert Bossons, Allentown (Pa.)
A two-time all-state player in Pennsylvania, he played on Allentown’s unbeaten team of 1944. After serving in the Army, he played four seasons at Georgia Tech and was eventually inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame. He spent most of his career in college football where he coached future NFL greats like Bobbie Bell, Carl Eller and Charlie Sanders.
QB - Stan Heath, Shorewood (Wisc.)
Heath was a standout quarterback at Shorewood and he went on to an All-America career at Nevada Reno, where he became the first college quarterback to throw for over 2,000 yards in a season.
RB - Bobby Lund, Knoxville (Tenn.)
An all-state choice in Tennessee for the state champions, He went on to a four-year career at the University of Tennessee and was drafted by both the 49ers and the Eagles in 1949.
RB - Gordon Pettus, Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
Pettus was the top backfield player for Baylor, earning All-City captain honors and leading Baylor to an undefeated season. He went on to play two seasons at Alabama.
RB - Merrill Peacock, Poly
Peacock was the top passer and ground gainer in San Francisco, earning All-City player of the year honors while leading Poly to an undefeated season. He played receiver at the University of San Francisco and played on the undefeated team of 1951. He earned a spot in the school’s Hall of Fame. He signed with the Chicago Cardinals in 1952.