Through the first 71 years of Salem Wildcats football, only one team has the distinction of going through the season undefeated. At the time of their induction into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame that one team is the 1943 squad.

The Wildcats of that season went through the campaign with a 6-0-1 mark. That lone blemish came in a 7-7 tie with Benton.

Under first-year coach Kenny Farrar, the Wildcats won the North Egypt Conference championship that season with a 5-0 mark. A key conference game against Olney was not played that season because of a polio outbreak at that school. Olney was also undefeated at the time.

The Wildcats racked up 338 points that season, an average of 48.3 points per contest. Among the victims included a 184-0 embarrassment of Fairfield. That total goes down as the third most points in Illinois history.

On the other side of the ball Salem was just as tough, as it surrendered just 20 points for the entire season. The Wildcats shut out their final four opponents (Fairfield, Flora, Bridgeport and Lawrenceville).

The Wildcats did all this despite being a small team. Right guard Stuart Patton was the only player on the team who weighed more than 200 pounds. The next closest was 180 pound Don Wile. Salem’s offensive line was especially small. Left end Bill Perry, left tackle Gilbert Brown, left guard Robert “Cotton” Davisson, center Dick Swope, Patton, right tackle Jim Black, and right end Keith Doane averaged only 159 pounds per man.

Salem had a talented backfield led by Wile. Wile scored 29 touchdowns that season and 191 total points. In the game against Fairfield he scored 86 points, which was a national record.

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Finks also roamed in the backfield as did Howard Wagoner. Salem rotated quarterbacks that season between Leon Davenport and Johnny Baker, who was regarded as one of the team’s best blockers.

Wagoner, who was second in touchdowns behind Wile with eight, was tabbed in the Salem Republican newspaper as one of the team’s best tacklers. Wagoner was credited with making a game-saving tackle in a win over Flora.