“Dutch Hill Signs with New York.” “Dutch Hill leads the Giants to the Pro Football Championship.” “Dutch Hill Inducted Into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” Oh, if only these headlines were true. But they might have been, save for an accidental gunshot that brought Hill’s life to an early end. For he was truly that good of a football player.
Edwin “Dutch” Hill was born in February 1904 and was a Pennsylvania resident for most of his high school career. Finding immediate success at Burgettstown HS, Hill made varsity for the Blue Devils in the 7th grade and played his first two years as a 140 lb. tackle. By the 9th grade he had moved to fullback, a position he would play for the rest of his career. In addition to being football team captain, he also excelled in basketball, where he was named to the Tri-Star All-Star Team, and baseball, in which he was a starting pitcher, batting .517. The Tri-State Sports Writers called him “one of the greatest scholastic players in the United States.” In fact, Hill was such a prolific athlete that the town honored him in 1945 by naming the football stadium after him.
Unfortunately, while still having a year of high school remaining, Hill had aged out in Pennsylvania. But he found that he could play one more year, albeit in Ohio, based on the higher age limit in their scholastic sports regulations at the time. So in 1922 he convinced his family to relocate and he enrolled in Massillon, where he played football, basketball and track.
Playing for the Tigers, his prowess on the gridiron had an immediate impact. In the course of ten games, Dutch Hill scored 33 rushing touchdowns and returned a fumble for another to total 204 points, a Massillon single-season scoring record that stands today. The 204 points was also perhaps the highest total in the country that year.
Hill scored at least one touchdown in every game, including four against both Alliance and Warren, and eight against Akron North in a 94-0 victory in which he set a single-game scoring record of 48 points. Regarding his performance against North, one sports reporter wrote, “The big fullback gained from five to 10 yards with six or eight Akron players hanging onto him, trying desperately to down him. Other times he bowled the entire Akron team over like a ball knocks over pins on a bowling alley and then would dash away for a touchdown leaving a trail of fallen Akron warriors in his wake.” Dutch also scored three of the four touchdowns in a 24-0 victory over Canton McKinley.
Against Cleveland Shaw, a 7-6 Tiger win, he left the game ill in the first half, jeopardizing a potential undefeated season. But he returned late in the second half to complete two passes and then run six straight times, scoring a touchdown with 27 seconds left on 4th and goal from the one. Bill Edwards’ drop-kick extra point secured the win.
“He was a big star,” said Bud Houghton, former Massillon player and head coach. “He was just a big burly guy. Kind of had a swaggering walk. He normally plowed over everybody.” “He was a powerhouse,” said classmate Tom McConnaughy. “He would take the ball and plow through the other team, knocking them right and left.”
The 6’-0”, 190 lb. fullback, passer and punter played under legendary coach Dave Stewart and helped fashion a 10-0 season and a state championship. Post-season he was named All-State, and later named as Massillon’s All-Time First Team Fullback. His high school football career over, Hill left behind the following Tiger records:
- Most touchdowns rushing in a game (8)
- Most points scored in a game (48)
- Most touchdowns scored in a game (8)
- Most touchdowns scored rushing in a season (33)
- Most points scored in a season (204)
- Most touchdowns scored in a season (34)
After taking a year off to travel west, Dutch Hill enrolled in Bellefonte Academy in 1924. There he led the nation in scoring with 456 points, including 113 against Susquehanna, and helped his team to its divisional national championship. He also played baseball.
Hill played next at Adrian College and subsequently arrived at New York University, from where he graduated. At NYU, his principle role was blocking back for All-American and future Pro Football HOF Ken Strong. When accepting the HOF award Strong credited team captain Hill for his success at NYU stating in his speech, “I would have been an ordinary back if it had not been for Hill.” But that didn’t mean Hill didn’t get to carry the ball. For in the game against Cushing Academy he scored 38 of the team’s 39 points.
His 1928 team won the Eastern Championship and he was named All-American. The New York Football Sport Writers called him the best defensive player and punter in the East. Later, in 1935, Hill was named NYU’s All-Time first-team fullback.
His collegiate time over, Hill was destined for the NFL, with the New York Giants showing interest. But in 1929, in a moment of horseplay with a campus security guard, the guard’s gun accidentally discharged, killing Dutch instantly. Such a tragic end to a fine individual and outstanding football player. Oh, what might have been? But Massillon was fortunate to have him for one memorable year and he won’t be forgotten.