Though today’s Middlebury College football team stands as a formidable member of the NESCAC, the lineup that went on to win the 1947 state championships may not have seemed quite so promising at the start. Having consisted mostly of Navy men who could only practice after supper and on Saturday at the conclusion of WWII, the 1946 team had played a hard-fought four-game season with only one win. Thankfully, Class of 1932 alumnus Walter “Duke” Nelson returned to Middlebury to coach the program the following year and had a record enrollment of over 600 men to pick from.
This recently-uncovered clip from a 16mm film reel in the College Archives shows the inexperienced yet rising stars of the team at play as Coach Duke led them in their historic comeback. With footage from several home games (including one attended by Gov. Ernest W. Gibson), the clip captures the momentous nature of the season, thanks in part to dramatic cutaways capturing sports headlines that chronicled the team’s journey.