The 1953 Salem Wildcats football team under the direction of coach Howard Thurman will go down as a squad that excelled on both offense and defense.

That season the Salem offense terrorized opponents with a scoring average of 39 points a game. On four occasions the Wildcats scored more than 50 points a game (against Flora, Fairfield, Olney, Mt. Vernon) and twice they reached 60 points in a game (against Flora and Olney).

The Wildcats defense was equally tough, as it surrendered an average of just seven points a game. Salem posted shutouts against Fairfield 53-0, Mt. Carmel 28-0 and Olney 61-0.The Wildcats held three more opponents (Bridgeport, Centralia and Benton) to a single touchdown.

It was a season that provided just one disappointment. In the season opener Salem lost a controversial 19-18 decision at Lawrenceville. Even though the Wildcats won their final eight game, that lone setback denied Salem the North Egypt Conference championship.

The Wildcats potent backfield was led by halfback Dan Wile, who led the team with 890 yards rushing and a 7.7 yards per carry average. Wile rushed for more than 100 yards in a game five times that season including a season high 165 yards in the loss to Lawrenceville. Wile was second on the team in scoring with 13 touchdowns for 78 points.

The leading scorer was fullback Eddie Murray with 14 touchdowns for 84 points. Murray teamed up with Wile to form a potent one-two rushing punch. Murray had 629 yards rushing for an average of 6.7 yards per carry. His high was 101 yards against Flora.

Another key performer in the backfield was quarterback Bob Martin. Martin was an extremely accurate passer, as he completed 47 of 64 of his attempts for 871 yards. Martin had 12 touchdowns and just one Interception.

Martin’s favorite targets were Don Guymon and Murray. Guymon caught 20 passes for 399 yards and seven touchdowns. Murray caught 12 passes for 226 yards and four scores.

The Wildcats defense was led by tackle Fred Gain, who led the team in tackles with 69. Other leading tacklers that season were linebacker Murray, tackle Bob Page and guard Leroy Davis.

Twelve members of the squad received All-NEC honors. Wile and Murray were named First Team Offense, while Page and Guymon were named First Team Defense.

NEC Second Team honors went to quarterback Martin, center Bob Griggs, tackle Gain and guard Davis.

Honorable Mention choices included tackle Ed Wakefield, guard Phil Jones, end Bill Love and halfback Bob Reeves.