1963: Playoff Operations Snafu

Who saw the game and who didn’t commanded almost as much attention as Kearny’s semifinals playoff victory over Escondido.

President John F. Kennedy’s death and the resulting week’s postponement generated several more days of pregame coverage by area media outlets and contributed to a building buzz about the game.

And some unforeseen problems.

The estimated attendance of 17,000 was the largest for a high school game here since 20,000 saw the 1949 San Diego-Hoover contest.

The 20,000 figure could have been topped, but at least 2,000 persons didn’t get in and others turned away in frustration.

Only two Stadium gates were open and many fans couldn’t gain entry because sellers had run out of tickets, according to  CIF commissioner Don Clarkson.  A crowd of about 12,000 had been predicted.

Until 10 minutes before kickoff, uniformed guards kept the stadium’s upper deck closed, forcing fans to find end zone seats on the lower level, when excellent midfield seats were available up above.

A decision was made to open the upper deck and fans began streaming in.

No one thought to play the national anthem before the game.  Someone realized the oversight in the first quarter.  Play was stopped, the band played the anthem, and a color guard raised flags.

One competing school is designated the home team for the playoffs, said Clarkson, throwing Escondido under the bus and inferring the CIF had clean hands.

Escondido, 40 miles North,  was an infrequent Stadium visitor. The question wasn’t asked, but in retrospect should all the blame for logistical errors at a major CIF event have been dumped on one of the schools?

I stepped onto the roof of the Balboa Stadium press box in the second quarter and could follow a line of waiting spectators in the alley between San Diego High and the stadium that stretched all the way to Russ Boulevard, a distance of about 200 yards.

KEARNY TO PLAY HOST

Things wouldn’t be the same for the championship, promised Gustav Lundmark, vice principal at Kearny.

“We’ll have all the gates open and plenty of tickets,” said Lundmark.  “We’ll also get the gates open a half hour early, at six-thirty.  This was a mess.”

Commissioner Clarkson also announced that tickets for Kearny-El Capitan would be sold at eight area business outlets.

The finals went off without a logistical hitch.  Attendance was 13,520.

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1963: Death of a President

On Nov. 22, 1963, my address was an apartment at 2742 B Street in the Brooklyn-Golden Hill neighborhood.  It was about 9:30  on a Friday morning.  I had a free day until covering the Escondido-Kearny playoff that night in Balboa Stadium.

I don’t remember if I was watching television or listening to the radio, but within minutes there was a news bulletin: “Shots fired in Dallas.”  Shortly later:  “The President has been hit.”

Not knowing, but dreading the worst, I impulsively got into my car and raced to my parents’ house, all the while talking to myself, imploring, praying the President would be okay.

My parents lived a block from the 94 Freeway, near 47th Street and Federal Blvd.  I arrived to the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

HOURS LATER

Friday night was prep night at the Evening Tribune, where we attached far greater importance to high school sports than our rival, The San Diego Union. 

I covered the city’s Eastern and Western leagues.  Colleague Harlon Bartlett chronicled the Metropolitan and Grossmont leagues.  We split the small schools.

On a normal Friday evening we’d return to the office after a game and probably work until 2 a.m., writing stories, captioning photos for the weekly prep picture page, chasing down coaches for quotes or scoring information on missing line scores.

Not so on this surreal Friday.  Football games everywhere had been postponed or canceled.

Everywhere except the National Football League, which decided to go ahead and play on Sunday.  Commissioner Pete Rozelle later said it was the most regrettable decision he had made in his 29-year tenure.

CIF CALLS AUDIBLE

The San Diego Section also apparently was going to play, until Commissioner Don Clarkson announced that the CIF board of managers was  suspending the playoffs for one week.

In announcing the postponement, Clarkson surprisingly revealed that the CIF first had decided to “cancel any rallies or dances before and after the games and still hold the contests.”

Often tone deaf, Clarkson and the CIF bosses had wisely reversed course.

Tribune writer and makeup editor Bob Ortman summoned Bartlett and I to the office and we set about trying to fill a  section and two pages of prep news, with no games or stats to rely on.

It was  a long night, scrambling for copy,  trying to keep my mind on the task at hand, and with little zest for the job.

By Saturday morning we had begun a period of funeral music on all radio stations mixed with television coverage of the events in Dallas and the final good-bye to JFK at Arlington National Cemetery.

Art Preston coached El Capitan.

Art Preston coached El Capitan.

THE GAMES RETURN

Gloom still was in the air, but normalcy had begun to return when the postseason began.

The four semifinalists in the AA playoffs were Kearny, Escondido, Hoover, and El Capitan.

Favored Hoover, which slammed Kearny, 25-0, in the opening game, was knocked out for the second year in a row in  a  mild, midweek upset, 27-12, before about 8,500 at Aztec Bowl by coach Art Preston’s tough and resourceful El Cap Vaqueros.

The  tandem of Dave Duncan and Ray Homesley was too much for Hoover.  Duncan rushed for 224 yards in 32 carries and scored three touchdowns.  Homesley scored once and kicked three extra points.

Birt Slater helmed Kearny.

Birt Slater helmed Kearny.

“We made every stupid mistake in the books,” said Hoover coach Roy Engle. “Our ends must have dropped a hundred passes.”

Preston, who announced before the season that his club would be the worst in school history, declared, “I’m still shellshocked.  “We knew we could run on them but I didn’t figure it would go like this.”

The Vaqueros broke from a 7-6 lead at the half, scoring 20 points for a 27-6 lead.  “In the third quarter, the kids on the right side of the line were flat knocking people down,” said Preston.

THE MAIN EVENT

The Escondido-Kearny matchup was the most anticipated since  Escondido visited Balboa Stadium and defeated San Diego, 19-13, in 1960.

Embrey was Escondido mentor. See item below for explanation of these photos.

Embrey was Escondido mentor. See item below for explanation of  photos.

The 9-0 Escondido Cougars were the County’s top-ranked team and considered better than the 9-1 club of 1960.  Kearny (8-1) had recovered from an opening-game defeat and shut out 6 of the next 8 opponents, allowing a total of 15 points.

Escondido quarterback Jerry Montiel sustained a groin injury in the second quarter that restricted his play as a defensive back and was a blow to the Cougars, but Montiel had the Escondido  ahead, 7-0, late in the half  and connected with Mickey Ensley on a 43-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter that tied the game at 14.

Larry Shepard, Kearny’s no-nonsense  field leader, got the Komets on the scoreboard with a four-yard pass to spread end (wide receiver in modern nomenclature) Steve Reina with 12 seconds remaining in the half.

Shephard connected with Reina for two more touchdowns in a 20-point third quarter and directed a brusing running attack that took the steam out of the Cougars.  Steve Jones, Jimmy Smith, and Charlie Buchanan, who rushed for a combined 274 yards, chewed up yardage, and ran down the game clock.

THE FINALS

The Balboa Stadium attendance of 13,520 was less than expected after tickets were made available at several area outlets, but Kearny’s 20-6 win over El Capitan was no surprise.

“Give Shepard the credit,” said Komets coach Birt Slater.  “He called every play out there.”

Shepard attempted only three passes.  At one point, Kearny launched 29 consecutive running plays.

“As much as I love our offense taking credit for our success, I do believe our defense made us a championship team,” said Shepard, who singled out many of his teammates.

Steve Reiona (right photo) gets behind Escondido's Jerry Montiel to score touchdown near end of first half. Touchdown was redemption for Reina (24). Pass (left) pjoto bounced off Reina's shoulder and went high in the air, intecepted on Escondido's five-yard line by Gordon Calac, not pictured.

Steve Reina (right) gets behind Escondido’s Jerry Montiel to score touchdown near end of first half. Touchdown was redemption for Reina (24). Pass (left)  bounced off Reina’s shoulder and went high in the air, intecepted on Escondido’s five-yard line by Gordon Calac, not pictured.

“Bill Carroll (end-defensive back), Jim Smith (running back-DB), and John Erquiaga (center-defensive lineman) played both ways,” said Shepard. “The rest of the defense was made up of Dennis Santiago, Robert Odom. Elton Pollock, Dan Fulkerson, Jeff Henderson, Tom Gadd, and Frank Oberreuter.”

Slater’s team, reminiscent of the San Diego High teams he helped coach in the 1950s, arguably was one of the best ever in the San Diego Section.

PRICE GOUGING?

Students from the competing schools would be charged .50 admission for the championship game, but all others students would have pay $1.25, prompting a complaint by  Birt Slater.

“It’s a game for the whole league, rather than for the two finalists,” asserted Slater, speaking for Kearny’s Western League partners and El Capitan’s Grossmont League associates.

Commissioner Clarkson agreed with Slater.  “But I take my orders from the superintendent and that’s the rule as of now,” said the Don.

THEY WERE AZTECS

The portrait photos of the three men above were taken in 1950, when Art Preston, Birt Slkater, and Bob (Chick) Embrey were among six San Diego State players named to the all-California Collegiate Athletic Association first team.

The three also were on the 1951 team that posted a 9-0 record and defeated Hawaii, 34-13, in the 1952 Pineapple Bowl in Honolulu.

WESTGATE POOR VENUE

The San Diego Section was forced to form a partnership of pigskins and cowhide.

More venues for night football were needed, with only three lighted fields in the city, at Balboa Stadium, La Jolla, and Hoover.

Kearny rolled with ends Bob Odom (left) and Steve Reina and quarterback Larry Shepard.

Kearny rolled with ends Bob Odom (left) and Steve Reina and quarterback Larry Shepard.

New football varsities at Morse and Madison crowded the schedule.

To relieve some of the stress on the illuminated grids and forestall moving games to the afternoon, several city contests were scheduled at Westgate Park, erected in 1958 as the home of the baseball San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League.

Westgate was arguably the most beautiful facility in all of minor league baseball.  Repeat, “the most beautiful facility in all of minor league baseball.” Not the game that was being played in the fall.

I took some shots at Westgate as a football facility in one of my Tuesday With The Preps columns.

–There was no football scoreboard, so time was kept on the field.

–Teams could not use the baseball dressing rooms, which meant that halftime meetings were held in dank, dimly-lit tunnels underneath the stands.

–The dressing rooms were unavailable because the Chargers, who practiced at Westgate, occupied one and the Padres used the other for off-season storage.

PEEVISH OFFICIALS
–The third base line hadn’t been removed and often was mistaken for a sideline boundary.

–The football field was laid out from the leftfield corner to the rightfield corner and was a long distance from the fans.

On the day after the column appeared, I received a call from Eddie Leishman, the Padres’ general manager.  Leishman was a prominent figure in the city and had expanded the organization’s community outreach.

“We know this isn’t a football stadium,” Leishman said.  “The schools asked us.  We didn’t ask them.  I’m sorry for the shortcomings, but we’re  not making money ($500 rent per game plus parking and concessions) on the deal as it is.”

The timing was interesting.  No sooner had my call from Leishman ended that I received another from Don Clarkson.

“They aren’t making any money off us,” complained the CIF boss, sounding as if he and Leishman had rehearsed their lines.

“They got a lot maintenance down there,” Clarkson added, referring to the costs of opening and closing the ball yard.  “They have a lot of people working for them at (our) games.”

Mission Valley facility was perfect for minor league baseball.

Mission Valley facility was perfect for minor league baseball.

Sight lines from the grandstand were okay and parking was ample at Westgate.

The overhead view was perfect if you exited the press box and took a potentially unsafe walk along the left field roof.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Another lighted field would become available when Mesa College opened in 1964.

Westgate Park was phased out for football and the Mission Valley edifice was razed after the 1967 season.

The Padres played their final season in the PCL in 1968 at San Diego Stadium, which became home the next year for the Padres of the National League.

WITHER CARNIVAL

The annual City Schools carnival finally ran out of steam.  The 24th and final event was held in 1962, four years after being moved to daylight hours.

St. Augustine coach Tom Carter gets victory ride after upset of Lincoln, 21-7.

St. Augustine coach Tom Carter gets victory ride after upset of Lincoln, 21-7.

Attendance was falling and school bosses didn’t want to deal with recurring rowdyism and violence.

Coaches were generally pleased.  It meant that teams now had the option to schedule a ninth regular-season game.

The Grossmont League still played eight games plus the carnival, which drew 11,000 to Aztec Bowl. Most Metropolitan League teams already had a ninth-game option.

GLOBAL WARMING?

Hoover and Helix battled heat that set a San Diego record of 111 degrees on Thursday, Sept. 27,  and on Friday reached 104 , the fifth highest reading since records began in 1874.

Temperature for the 8 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 28 was at least 100 degrees and the Cardinals and Highlanders responded with a memorable game before about 6,000 persons at Hoover.

The Cards won, 14-13, when Hoover drove 81 yards in the final 4 minutes to score the winning touchdown.

DRESS DOWN

Sweetwater tried to beat the heat when it came out for pregame against visiting Crawford.  The Red Devils wore only shorts, T-shirts, helmets, and cleats.  Crawford still prevailed, 14-0, after the Red Devils donned the rest of their uniforms.

THEY SAID IT

“I don’t how good we’ll be, but that’s the worst we’ve been beaten here in five years.  We’ll get a little better each week, I hope”—Kearny coach Birt Slater after a season-opening, 25-0 loss to Hoover.

“It looks like a long year and a good time to go hunting,”—El Capitan’s Art Preston, assessing Vaqueros’ season prospects.

Art Preston delayed his hunting when Dave Duncan (12) taking pitch from Reed Flory against El Cajon Valley, ignited El Capitan's running game.

Art Preston delayed his hunting when Dave Duncan (12) taking pitch from Reed Flory against El Cajon Valley, ignited El Capitan’s running game.

“It should be as good a game as will be played in the County”–Escondido coach Chick Embrey before the Mar Vista game, which Escondido won, 43-21.

“This is El Foldo week for us.  We do it every year against Helix.  We’re olive masters”–Preston before Vaqueros lost their only regular-season game, 12-9 to Helix

“I couldn’t see in the first half and the staff took over.  Maybe that’s all the better”—Grossmont coach Sam Muscolino, his glasses broken after an errant pass hit Muscolino in the face during pregame of a 13-3 win over La Jolla.

SIGNS OF THE TIME

Police were looking for vandals who scattered hundreds of inch-long roofer’s nails at Glasgow Drive, Armitage, and Aragon streets in Clairemont.

Two tires were punctured on the first police car that responded. A City street sweeper and neighbors swept the area clean.

‘HAWKS DECLARE BORDER WAR     

Madison didn’t do a lot in its first season, with a 3-6 record, but coach George Hoagland’s Warhawks quickly established neighborhood ground rules.

Behind quarterback Al Fitzmorris, Madison defeated 1962 San Diego Section playoff runner-up Clairemont, 12-6, in the clubs’ first meeting in the season’s second week.

KINGDOM FOR A CASTLE

Castle Park, at a cost of $1.75 million on 47 acres, became the third public high school within the Chula Vista city limits.

Principal Ralph Skiles welcomed about 950 graduates of Chula Vista, Hilltop, and Southwest junior highs, plus transfers from Chula Vista and Hilltop highs.

Sweetwater was the first south of the San Diego City Limits, welcoming students in 1909 as National City High.  Chula Vista followed in 1947, Mar Vista in 1950, and Hilltop in 1959.

Crawford's Kenny Rupe, makes open field catch and prepares for open field hit from San Diego defenders Phil Carini, Rob Ortman, and Dennis Maley (from left).

Crawford’s Kenny Rupe, makes open field catch and prepares for open field hit from San Diego defenders Phil Carini, Rob Ortman, and Dennis Maley (from left).

RARITY

Point Loma edged La Jolla, 2-0, in the fifth safety-only game ever played by County teams.

A bad snap from center that sailed out of the end zone gave the Pointers two points in the fourth quarter and they made them stand.

La Jolla’s Greg King attempted field goals from 54, 51, and 41 yards.  The first two fell short by about five yards.  The third attempt, with 21 seconds remaining in the game, was partially blocked.

“If that last one hadn’t been blocked it would have been good,” said Vikings coach Gene Edwards, employing curious logic.

Other 2-0 games:

YEAR WINNER LOSER
1919 San Diego 32nd Infantry
1926 San Diego Glendale
1940 Vista Hoover Sophomores
1958 Vista Palm Springs

CHAIN REACTION

Coronado bid goodbye to the Avocado League and returned to the Metropolitan, of which it was a member from the Metro’s beginning in 1933 until 1954, when the Islanders became part of the new Avocado loop.

Fallbrook moved to the Avocado League from the Palomar and newcomer Orange Glen took Fallbrook’s place in the Palomar.

OCEANSIDE  KING OF CLASS A

Jim Harrison, a 150-pound halfback, ran for 175 yards in 27 carries led a ground attack that gained 374 yards as Oceanside won the Class A title with a 32-13 victory over Poway.

KINGDOM FOR A HOUSE?

Jerry Van Ooyen, a linebacker at Indiana from 1949-51, was named head coach at Ramona.  Van Ooyen had been a real estate salesman in the mountain community for five years.

QUICK KICKS

Doug Mayfield (left) prepares to take position at caisson with other pallbearers

San Diegan Doug Mayfield (left) prepares to take position at caisson with other pallbearers at services for President John F. Kennedy.

 

U.S. Army Specialist 4 Doug Mayfield, who was graduated from Lincoln in 1961 and grew up in the Encanto community, was among the eight military personnel assigned as pallbearers for President Kennedy…the eight, from different branches of the military, escorted Kennedy’s body to his autopsy, to the church cathedral, Capitol Rotunda, White House, and Arlington National Cemetery… just so he wouldn’t be mistaken for a player as he stood behind the defensive line, Escondido coach Chick Embrey wore No. 369 on the jersey of his practice sweats…Hilltop dedicated a new lighted stadium seating about 4,000 in a 6-0 loss to Clairemont…light poles had not been erected, delaying Poway’s  long awaited inaugural game under lights against Ramona in the season’s sixth week…after missing three point after attempts in a 25-0 loss, Hoover coach Roy Engle turned to 275-pound Richard Gauthier, who was 2 for 2 including the game deciding conversion in the win over Helix…Kearny halfback Jimmy Smith became a No. 1 draft choice by the Washington Senators out of Oregon and won a landmark antitrust suit against the NFL after a career-ending injury…Kearny end Robert Odom played two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys out of Idaho State… lineman John Erquiaga was a standout at UCLA and Reina was a starting receiver at Oregon….linebacker Tom Gadd later became head coach at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania…Reina died at age 44 of leukemia, and Gadd was struck down by brain cancer at age 55 in 2003, after he  had coached Bucknell to seven straight winning seasons that followed  a period in which the program  had one winning year in the previous 14….

Bob Odom (23), with help from billy Bolden (top) El Capitan's Ray Homesley to a halt in Kearny's title game victory.

Bob Odom (23), with help from Billy Bolden (top) El Capitan’s Ray Homesley to a halt in Kearny’s title game victory.

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2016: Legendary Coach Ed Sanclemente, 92

Lewis Edward Sanclemente, 92, passed away  recently, leaving behind a multitude of friends and admirers and memories of a lifetime spent in or around baseball.

Ed Sanclemente grew up near the University Heights playground, where he shagged baseballs for young slugger Ted Williams and honed a game that would take Sanclemente to national championships on two levels.

Sanclemente played for coach Mike Morrow at San  Diego High and was the starting third baseman on Morrow’s 1941 Post 6 American Legion squad that swept Berwyn, Illinois, in a three-game series at Lane Field in San Diego.

After playing third base and shortstop at the University of California in 1943-44, Sanclemente served in the U.S. Navy and then returned to Cal and was the Bears’ third baseman on the 1947 team that won the first College World Series.

Sanclemente was star infielder for University of California teams in 1940s.

Sanclemente was star infielder for University of California teams in 1940s.

Sanclemente batted .369 during the 1947 regular season and was 4 for 10 with 4 runs batted in as California swept Yale in a two-game series for the national championship.

Sanclemente played two seasons of professional baseball. He taught and served in administrative capacities at South San Francisco High and for the San Francisco Olympic Club before returning to San  Diego and coaching baseball at La Jolla High in 1956.

Mike Morrow appointed Sanclemente to the coaching staff at San Diego Junior College in 1957.  Sanclemente  succeeded Morrow as head coach  in  1958, when Morrow started the University of San Diego program.

Ed’s success on the two-year college level included conference championships at San Diego J.C., later known as San Diego City, and at Mesa College, where Sanclemente was the Olympians’ first coach when the school opened in  1964.

Dozens of Sanclemente’s players signed professional contracts, some reached the major leagues, and many became coaches and athletic administrators.

Groups of 10-15 former players honored Sanclemente every Thursday for years.  They were his hosts for breakfast at D.Z. Akins restaurant on Alvarado Road.

SWUNG A MEAN RACQUET

Ed Sanclemente made a name for himself on the tennis courts at University Heights and throughout the city before he turned  his attention to baseball.

Newspaper accounts from as far back as 1933 reported that “72-pound Edward San Clemente won the first of a series of tennis tournaments for children of grammar school age.”

According to tournament coordinator Wilbur Folsom,  Sanclemente’s 6-4, 10-12, 6-4 victory over Dick Brink in the finals of the  event at University Heights was after a “three-hour struggle that saw several rallies for crucial points last as long as five minutes.”

Sanclemente won numerous tournaments in the area and became one of the city’s top junior players.

 

 

 

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2015-16 Week 8: Another Tough Assignment for Leaf & Co.

Foothills Christian’s national cred will be tested this week when the Knights take on Santa Ana Mater Dei in a Nike event Saturday night.

Foothills (16-3)  is  fourth in the latest Cal-Hi Sports rankings,  16th in USA Today,  and No. 1 in San Diego.

Mater Dei (21-3) is fifth in Cal-Hi Sports and out of USA Today‘s Top 25, but the Monarchs are logical favorites in this last big game for Foothills before the upcoming run to the state playoffs.

The game will be played on  Mater Dei’s home court, where the Monarchs have lost three games in 10 years, according to Cal-Hi boss Mark Tennis.

Foothills must bring its game and the 6-11 Leaf will have win his individual battle with 6-9 M.J. Cage, the Oregon-bound Mater Dei power forward and son of former San Diego State Hall of Famer Michael Cage.

The San Diego Section’s Big 4, Foothills, Cathedral, St. Augustine, and Torrey Pines, all eased along last week.  Most significant achievement probably was Cathedral’s 75-59 win over visiting Wilmington Narbonne in the San Diego-Los Angeles Shootout.

Narbonne is ranked 20th in the Los Angeles Times Southern Section-L.A. City poll.

GIRLS HOOPS

Mission Hills (16-3) advanced from ninth to eighth in the Cal-Hi Sports poll, La Jolla Country Day (16-4) from 10th to ninth, and Bishop’s (19-4) remained 14th.  Torrey Pines (13-5) is on the bubble, joining boys bubbles Cathedral, St. Augustine, and Torrey Pines.

Records through Monday, Feb. 1.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
1 Foothills Christian (11) 16-3 110 1
2 Cathedral 14-4 96 2
3 St. Augustine 17-4 83 4
4 Torrey Pines 17-4* 81 3
5 El Camino 17-5 55 5
6 Army-Navy 16-7 53 6
7 Kearny 22-2 49 7
8 Poway 20-3 33 9
9 Grossmont 18-3 19 10
10 La Jolla Country Day 20-3 16 8

*Forfeited 57-37 victory Dec. 5 over Horizon.                                                                          Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Others receiving votes, including record: West Hills (15-6, 4)  Mission Bay (15-6, 3), San  Marcos (14-6, 3).

Eleven media representatives vote, including John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Jim Lindgren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Lisa Lane, San Diego Preps Insider; Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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1962: Someone Forgot To Tell The Officials

Try playing a game without officials.

Hilltop and Escondido tried, with disastrous results for the visiting Cougars, who were upset, 18-13, by the homecoming-enthused Lancers in the season’s final regular season game.

Twenty minutes before kickoff Hilltop coach Bob Tomlinson noticed that the game referee and his crew, usually already on site, had not checked in.

Tomlinson waited a few minutes and then notified Bob (Chick) Embrey, the coach of Escondido, which was the visiting team for the Metropolitan League contest at Chula Vista High.

The 8 p.m. kickoff time came and went.

VOLUNTEERS, ANYONE?

School officials from Hilltop began hurriedly searching the stands for anyone with flag-throwing experience.

Two “neutrals” in the pro-Hilltop crowd agreed to help.  An assistant coach from each team also was pressed into service.

Kickoff started about 30 minutes late.

And controversy quickly followed.

Hilltop scored when no one was looking.

There also was no one in capacity to fairly judge the play involved and make a decision.

By halftime word had reached Bob Kirchhoff, president of the San Diego County Football Officials’ Association.  Kirchhoff left a game at nearby Sweetwater and headed for Hilltop.

But the damage had been done.

Following a Cougars touchdown in the first quarter and the Lancers’ return of the ensuing kickoff, Hilltop had first down on its 27-yard line.

Sisk’s team did not huddle but quickly lined up.

Quarterback Joe Stetser passed to end Don Parish, who, according to The San Diego Union reporter Larry Littlefield, was “hiding on the sideline.”

Parish caught Stetser’s pass and raced untouched to the end zone to complete a 73-yard play.

SLEEPER MUST BE IN PLACE

As Kirchhoff explained after he arrived:  “On such a play the end, or sleeper, must be within 15 yards of the ball.”

Kirchhoff meant in bounds and 15 yards from where the ball would be snapped at the line of scrimmage.

Whether Parrish was within the required distance escaped everyone’s attention, including the “officials” and the stunned and furious Escondido coach.

Embrey (right) was much happier camper when he received congratulatory handshake from Sweetwater coach Nick Uglesich after title victory.

Embrey (right) was much happier camper when he received congratulatory handshake from Sweetwater coach Nick Uglesich after title victory.

“It was an illegal play,” Embrey stormed.

Nothing like the Oakland Raiders’ “Holy Roller” against the San Diego Chargers years later, but….

Embrey argued that because Hilltop no-huddled, the ersatz “head linesman” in charge of downs and markers hadn’t gotten into position before Stetser played hide and seek with Parish.

A veteran referee would have stood over the ball and whistled for play to begin  when he was satisfied that the teams were lined up and officials in place..

“I don’t know if we’ll protest or not,” said Embrey.  “But we probably should just for the sake of our players. They were robbed.”

Acknowledging that “we played a bad game, there’s no question of that”, Embrey still got in another zinger.

“We could play Hilltop a hundred times and beat them ninety-nine,” he said.

DREADED ADMINISTRATIVE GLITCH

The late Howard Cosell was heard to shout after a production snafu on Monday Night Football, “Who goofed?  I’ve got to know.”

Investigation revealed that no officials were assigned to the game by the association’s appointment secretary.

But was that the fault of Bob Stephenson, the San Diego Fire Department Captain and long-time official who routinely sent groups of three to four rules enforcers to more than 20 games every week?

It turned out that the schedule Hilltop sent to Stephenson at the start of the year listed only a junior varsity game for the date in question.

The schedule Escondido entered did not list a game at all.  Nor was there an Escondido-Hilltop game on the master schedule for November from San Diego Section commissioner Don Clarkson’s office.

Evening Tribune reporter Roger Conlee pointed out that Hilltop’s schedule, mailed to the newspaper, listed a varsity game between the schools that night. Escondido had not sent the newspaper its schedule.

Although not official, the Union and Tribune grid log published each Tuesday also showed an Escondido-Hilltop contest in the last week of the regular season on the undated schedule for both teams.

The 18-13 result and Lancers victory was not “officially” challenged by Escondido.

NO HARM, NO FOUL?

Despite the loss, the Cougars still won the Metropolitan League championship.  Their 3-1 record was matched by Sweetwater, but Escondido had won the head-to-head match with the Red Devils, 25-14, weeks earlier.

The Cougars upset Hoover, 28-26, in the first round of the playoffs and defeated Clairemont, 28-14, for the large-schools championship, their second in the three years since the San Diego Section was formed.

It was not a seasons of powerhouses in the CIF.

Clairemont and Escondido entered the game with 6 losses between them.  Escondido  also had been beaten, 35-6, by Point Loma and 26-7 by San Diego and tied by Oceanside, 13-13.

Hoover backup quarterback Rick Shaeezes between defenders John Brown (34) and Sylvester Williams for touchdown. Cardinals' Bob Bishop (67) pulled confuse San Diego defense.

Hoover backup quarterback Rick Shaeezes between defenders John Brown (34) and Sylvester Williams for touchdown. Cardinals’ Bob Bishop (67) pulled confuse San Diego defense.

Clairemont had won one league game in its history, which dated to 1959, and was 1-3 before getting untracked behind sharpshooting quarterback Bill Casey.

POINT LOMA AMBUSHED

The Chieftains startled Point Loma, 19-0, in a Western League showdown before 5,000 persons at Hoover.

The Pointers, who finished with a 7-1 record, were at least one touchdown favorites, but Casey, improving each week under the guidance of assistant coach and former Hoover and San Diego State signal caller Joe Duke, completed 11 of 20 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown and ran for two others.

End Bill Peterson, who played six years as a linebacker and tight end in the pros for Cincinnati and Kansas City, caught 5 of Casey’s throws for 63 yards.

Kenny Rizzo gained 93 yards in 15 carries and caught 4 passes for 40 yards and Dan Gurley added 41 yards in 11 carries as the Chiefs kept the Pointers backing up.

Casey’s 23-yard touchdown strike to Larry Rose with 35 seconds left in the game pushed Clairemont past Helix, 6-0, in another surprise in the first round of the playoffs.

COUGARS IN CONTROL

Clairemont’s run came to an end as Escondido led the Chiefs all the way in the finals before about 10,000 persons in Aztec Bowl.

It was what the Cougars did the week before that had the most currency.

Hoover was the favored team from the city’s seemingly omnipotent Eastern League, but Embrey’s team, overcame a 26-14 Hoover lead as Bob Blunt caught a 15-yard touchdown pass and raced 64 yards for another score

CAVERS NEVER RECOVER

The Cardinals were 7-1 going into the playoffs and had scored one of the school’s greatest victories when they upset San Diego, 6-0, in the season’s fourth week, after the Cavers had outscored their first three opponents, Santa Barbara, 32-12, Santa Monica, 46-19, and Escondido, 26-7.

The defeat so flattened San Diego that the Cavemen did not win another game and coach Charlie Popa was released at the end of the season.

Hoover lost starting quarterback Art Howard with a broken leg early in the San Diego game, played before a crowd estimated at 7,000 in the Cardinals stadium.

The Cardinals were  outgained, 303-118, and needed 10 plays to move 28 yards, with benefit of a 15-yard penalty, to score the game’s touchdown.

Hoover won with an epic defensive performance:

1—Hit San Diego runners so hard the Cavers lost two fumbles in the first quarter.

2—Blocked a punt in the second quarter that set in motion the winning score.

3—Defended on third down and two yards to go at the Cardinals’ eight, and stopped San Diego on two line thrusts, taking over on the seven late in the second quarter.

4—Held the Cavers to four yards on three plays in the third quarter, forcing the Cavemen to attempt an unsuccessful field goal from Hoover’s 15.

5—Stopped the Cavers on fourth down and inches from the goal line in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals had other good fortune.

On a fourth down from his 20-yard line, the snap from center went over the head of punter Gene Cowell, who recovered the ball and advanced it out of the end zone to the two-yard line.

But San Diego was out of time outs and could not regroup and run a play before time expired.

Game over.

Hoover defenders who stopped San Diego, top (from left): Bobby Smith, Bill Boone. Middle (from left): David Carr, Gary Weide, Jiom Foster, Ron Flisher. Bottom (from left) Dale Twombley, Roger Seeman, Richard Gauthier, Bill (Sledge) Homik, Bob Bishop.

Hoover defenders who stopped San Diego, top (from left): Bobby Smith, Bill Boone. Middle (from left): David Carr, Gary Weide, Jim Foster, Ron Flisher. Bottom (from left) Dale Twombley, Roger Seeman, Richard Gauthier, Bill (Sledge) Homik, Bob Bishop. Coach is Roy Engle.

The San Diego Union, on the following Tuesday, selected Hoover’s starting 11 on defense as the prep players of the week.

MISCHIEF

A student from University called The San Diego Union late one Friday night to report the score from the Dons’ game at Brawley.

The student told the sports desk reporter that the Dons had beaten the host Wildcats, 49-7.  That score was reported in Union editions the next day.

Hold the phone!

Actual score was Uni 14, Brawley 13.  The Wildcats missed a tie when a point-after attempt hit the crossbar and fell short.

The Union printed a retraction the following day after people began calling the newspaper and facts surfaced

“The student’s identity was made known to University officials, who promised action,” wrote Union prep honcho Chuck Sawyer.

Ken Henderson (36) and teammates are rapt observers as Clairemont nears upset win over Helix.

Ken Henderson (36) and teammates are rapt observers as Clairemont nears upset win over Helix.

CHIEFTAINS OF NOTE

Bill Peterson wasn‘t the only Clairemont standout with a professional career in his future.

End Ken Henderson was an outfielder and played for seven teams in a 16-season major league career, with career bests of 20 home runs and 95 runs batted in and hit .292 for the 1974 Chicago White Sox.

Henderson was on pennant-winning teams with the San Francisco Giants in 1970 and Cincinnati Reds in 1979 and hit .294 with 17 homers and 88 RBI in 1970.

Henderson’s career totals included 122 home runs and a .257 batting average.

LIKED BASKETBALL MORE

Casry led Clairemont with accurate passing, timely running.

Casry led Clairemont with accurate passing, timely running.

Quarterback Bill Casey, who nixed football as a junior to concentrate on basketball, was the Western League player of the year and the best passer in the area.

Casey had pedigree.  His uncle, Davey O’Brien was an all-America passing phenom at Texas Christian University in the late 1930s. Casey’s father, William Casey, was a lineman decades before for the Hobbs Adams-coached San Diego High team.

MEANWHILE

Madison, 2.9 miles east of Clairemont, defeated the San Diego High junior varsity, 33-0, in its inagural game as Brandt Crocker scored two touchdowns.

The Warhawks’ quarterback, Al Fitzmorris, also was a baseball player of note.  Fitzmorris had a won-loss record of 77-59 in 10 major league seasons, mostly with Kansas City.  He was 16-12 in 1975 and 15-11 the year before.

HONORS

Hoover tackle Bill (Sledge) Homik and Lincoln quarterback Nate Shaw were second team all-Southern California and Escondido halfback Bob Blunt third team in the last year San Diego Section athletes were honored by the Helms Athletic Foundation.

Shaw became an all-American safety at USC.  His nephew, David Shaw, would become head coach at Stanford.

 A TIE FOR THE AGES

Coronado and Sweetwater set an admittedly obscure record.

Their 26-26 tie game represented the most combined points by two tied teams from  all but San Diego Section smallest schools..

Oceanside and Vista, 20-20 in 1951, and San Diego and Anaheim, 20-20 in 1955, represented the record.  Poway and Marian bettered the 52-point total when they deadlocked, 39-39, in 1966.

On the smallest school level, San Miguel and North Hollywood Harvard Military tied, 33-33, in 1961.

COACHING CAROUSEL

There were nine head coaching appointments and three schools opened their doors for the first time.

Madison, Morse, and Orange Glen fielded teams against mostly junior varsity competition.

Chuck Coover moved from Mission Bay to Morse, Dick Disney from San Marcos to Orange Glen, and George Hoagland, San Diego High assistant, to Madison.

School New Coach Previous
Crawford Frank Smith Walt Harvey
Grossmont Sam Muscolino Ken Maynard
Madison George Hoagland
Marian Jan Chapman John Strub
Mar Vista Verne Dodds Art Filson
Mission Bay Gerry Spitler Chuck Coover
Morse Chuck Coover
Orange Glen Dick Disney
San Marcos Bob Woodhouse Dick Disney

 HE’S AN EINSTEIN!

Richard Einstein, a senior at Point Loma, was in a unique position.   Einstein was the Pointers’ official motion picture shooter, in a position usually occupied by older professional photographers.

Einstein shot 16 millimeter film of Pointers games for head coach Bennie Edens.

“He doesn’t say much about my films,” said Einstein, “but he gets mad once in awhile when I miss a play during a reel change.”

POINTER ON POINT

Point Loma coach Bennie Edens got a kick out of Steve Soares, who also played quarterback.

Point Loma coach Bennie Edens got a kick out of Steve Soares, who also played quarterback.

Point Loma quarterback Steve Soares made his first 21 point after kicks and had a streak of 26 dating to the 1961 season.

Soares was 9 for 9 as the Pointers rushed for 358 yards in a 63-0 rout of Mission Bay that was the highest point total in the area since Hoover’s 66-0 win over St. Augustine in 1954.

Soares’ streak came to an end when his first two attempts at La Jolla were blocked.

QUICK KICKS

Future Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett of Los Angeles Roosevelt led the L.A. City squad to a 20-6 victory over the San Diego County team before 12,500 persons at Aztec Bowl in the 14th annual Breitbard College Prep all-star game in August…the Eastern League crushed the Western League, 52-14, in the 24th City Schools carnival before 14,000 at Balboa Stadium…San Diego outscored Mission Bay, 21-0, in one quarter…Lincoln was 19-7 over Point Loma, and Crawford 12-7 over Kearny…Hoover and Clairemont and La Jolla and St. Augustine were scoreless…an overflow crowd of 13,000 at Aztec Bowl saw Monte Vista, El Cajon Valley, Granite Hills, and El Capitan defeat the Helix Green team, Helix White team, Mount Miguel, and Grossmont, 13-6…San Diego and Santa Monica met for the first time since Samohi came from behind to beat the Hilltoppers, 13-12, in the 1947 Southern California finals…Marty (the Mop) Jensen of Coronado led the Metropolitan League with 88 points including all of his team’s in a 26-7 win over San Dieguito…Carlsbad defeated Oceanside. 13-6 for the Class A title….

Carlsbad's Charlie Coad, the County's leading scorer with 114 points, earned his 19th touchdown of the season on this play as he ran through Bob Norgard (51) and Jim Valdvogel (80).

Carlsbad’s Charlie Coad, the County’s leading scorer with 115 points, earned his 19th touchdown of the season on this play as he ran through Oceanside’s Bob Norgard (51) and Jim Valdvogel (80).

Hoover's Bobby Smith (24) jars Escondido's Bob Blunt into rare fumble, but Cougars knocked out Hoover, 28-26 in playoffs.

Hoover’s Bobby Smith (24) jars Escondido’s Bob Blunt into rare fumble, but Cougars knocked out Hoover, 28-26, in playoffs. Bill Boone (23) and Jim Foster (68) converge.

St. Augustine's Jimmy Antl goes low to stop Lincoln's Marvin Lowery as Eastern League team battled to 6-6 standoff.

St. Augustine’s Jimmy Antl goes low to stop Lincoln’s Marvin Lowery as Eastern League teams battled to 6-6 standoff.

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2015-16 Week 7: No Change Among Poll Top 4.

Foothills Christian blew past a couple Coastal League opponents last week and retained its ranking as No. 1 in San Diego, No. 4 in California, and No. 17 in the United States.

The rankings are from the Union-Tribune, Cal-Hi Sports, and USA Today, respectively.

Foothills Christian, which defeated La Jolla Country Day, 68-42, and The Bishop’s, 69-37 days ago,  has a league game at Cuyamaca College tomorow night with Army-Navy, ranked sixth in San Diego.

Cathedral, Torrey Pines, and St. Augustine are 2, 3, and 4 in San Diego.

San Ysidro hosts a shootout this weekend and may be getting some poll props after writer Don Norcross campaigned for the 74-points-a-game, 17-3 Cougars in a Union-Tribune article this morning.

Coach Terry Tucker, who coached another high scoring Crawford squad that featured future San Diego State Aztecs Tyrone Shelley and Malcom Turner a decade ago, sends his club against Hoover (8-10) in the the Cougars’ City of Angels tournament Saturday night.

The night’s feature game has La Jolla Country Day (18-2) against West Hills (14-3).

Seems odd that San Ysidro is not in the main event against either of those visiting teams.

Records through Monday, Jan. 25.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
1 Foothills Christian (11) 13-3 110 1
2 Cathedral 11-4 92 2
3 Torrey Pines 15-4* 83 3
4 St. Augustine 15-4 79 4
5 El Camino 16-4 67 6
6 Army-Navy 15-5 60 7
7 Kearny 20-2 39 8
8 la Jolla Country Day 18-2 32 5
9 Poway 18-3 15 9
10 Grossmont 17-3 13 NR

*Forfeited 57-37 victory Dec. 5 over Horizon.                                                                          Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Others receiving votes, including record: Mission Bay (14-5, 9), Rancho Berrnardo (14-5, 5), San  Marcos (12-6, 3).

Eleven media representatives vote, including John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Jim Lindgren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Lisa Lane, San Diego Preps Insider; Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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2016: San Diego’s All-Time Super Bowl Roster

Thirty-three players with San Diego Section or Southern Section connections have played in the 49 Super Bowls.

Denver and Carolina meet in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara.

Carolina Defensive tackle Nate Chandler from Mira Mesa, who signed with the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2012, is the only San Diego-connected player on either team but spent the 2015 season on reserve/injured.

Dave Grayson, Sr., of Lincoln was the earliest Super Bowl representative, for Oakland in game II.

Grayson was a starting defensive back and  reserve halfback for the 1955 San Diego High Cavemen, who won the Southern Section championship and and were acclaimed national champions.

Grayson moved into the Lincoln district and played for the Hornets in 1956.  He was the first of five Lincoln graduates (see table below) to play in the Super Bowl.

Lincoln is tied with Long Beach Poly, Compton, Los Angeles Crenshaw, Los Angeles Dorsey, and L.A. High for the most representation among California schools.

Helix, with 4 Super Bowl players (see table), is tied for fifth  with Los Angeles Hamilton, Berkeley, and Anaheim Servite.

Two head coaches, Mike Martz of Madison, and John Fox of Castle Park, have guided their teams to the big game, Martz for the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, and Fox for the Panthers in S.B. XXXVIII.

Name Pos. High School Team Super Bowl
Marcus Allen RB Lincoln Oakland* XVIII
Terrell Davis RB Lincoln Denver* XXXII, XXXIII
Saladin Martin DB Lincoln San Francisco* XVI
Wally Henry KR-WR Lincoln Philadelphia XV
Dave Grayson, Sr. FS Lincoln Oakland II
Brett Swain WR Carlsbad Green Bay* XLV
Colin Branch S Carlsbad Carolina XXXVIII
Ted Johnson LB Carlsbad New England XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX
Steve Riley T Castle Park Minnesota IX, XI
Michael Booker CB El Camino Atlanta XXXIII
Dokie Williams WR El Camino Oakland XVIII
Glenn Cadrez LB El Centro Central Denver* XXXII, XXXIII
Joe Lavender CB El Centro Central Washington* XVII
Alex Smith QB Helix San Francisco XLVII
Reggie Bush RB Helix New Orleans* XLIV
Leon White RB Helix Cincinnati XXIII
Bruce Walton T Helix Dallas X
Tony Banks QB Hoover Baltimore* XXXV
Bryan Wagner P Hilltop San Diego XXIX
Clifford Hicks CB Kearny Buffalo XXV, XXVI, XXVII
John Richardson T Kearny Miami VI
John Michels T La Jolla Green Bay* XXXI
Lincoln Kennedy T Morse Oakland XXXVII
Michael Pittman RB Mira Mesa Tampa Bay* XXXVII
Joev Salave’a DT Oceanside Tennessee XXXIV
Junior Seau LB Oceanside San Diego, New England XXIX, XLII
Stephen Neal T San Diego New England* XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX
Darren Comeaux LB San Diego Denver XXI
Keith Kartz C-T San Dieguito Denver XXIV
Mike Kozlowski S San Dieguito Miami XIX
Monte Jackson CB St. Augustine Oakland XV
John Lynch S Torrey Pines Tampa Bay* XXXVII
Brad Daluiso K Valhalla N.Y. Giants XXXV

*Winning Team.

 

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2016: Eldridge Cooks, Fullback on ’55 National Champs

Eldridge Cooks, the starting fullback on the 1955 San Diego High team that won the Southern California championship and was acclaimed the national high school champion for that season, was at a UCLA basketball game when he passed recently.

The 165-pound blocker and runner was a two-year varsity letterman for the Hillers, whose combined record in 1954 and ’55 was 20-2-1.

Cooks (22) lined up as fullback on San Diego's championship team.

Cooks (22) lined up as fullback on San Diego’s championship team.

Cooks, 78, also played baseball at San Diego State and was a member of Don Coryell’s first San Diego State football teams in 1961-62.

Cooks resided in Santa Ana for many years and was an enthusiastic alumnus of San Diego High and regularly attended sporting events throughout Southern California.

BRAVES’ ORIGINAL QUARTERBACK

Bobby Contreras was El Cajon’s Valley’s first varsity football quarterback when the  school opened in 1955 and also starred for the Braves in basketball and baseball before graduation in 1957.

DRAFTED BY YANKEES

Kerry Dineen, 63, all-San Diego Section outfielder at Chula Vista in 1970, was a fourth-round draft choice of the baseball New York Yankees in 1973.

Dineen got into 16 games over parts of three seasons in the majors and had a .324 batting average. He was inducted into the University of San Diego Hall of Fame in 1997 and had a .409 collegiate career batting average.

 

 

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2015-16 Week 6: Knights Receive USA Today Props

Foothills Christian, a weekly, unanimous No. 1 in the San Diego Union-Tribune  poll, went “national” this week when it landed as No. 17 in the USA Today rankings.

The thrill-a-minute Knights achieved the honor with another roller-coaster performance against Connecticut’s Waterbury Sacred Heart, which was 17th in USA Today the previous week.

The Knights defeated the Hearts, 82-80, in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, but not before they gave up a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Foothills needed a couple free throws in the closing seconds to put the game away.  They led, 69-50, at the end of three quarters, according to the Max Preps line score.  T.J. Leaf had 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 7  assists for the Knights.

LEAF AND WALTON, CONT.

A friend chided me this week when he thought I was writing last week that Leaf was a better player  than Bill Walton at a similar stage in their careers.

The 6 foot, 10-inch Leaf is a power forward with an outside shooting touch.  The 6-11 Walton was an old school center who guarded the area around the basket the way a lioness watches over her cubs.

And Walton could score whenever he chose.

To show the regard Walton had with college scouts during his senior year at Helix was what they were saying after  the Covina Tournament, then the preeminent high schools hoops event in California.

UCLA assistant coach Denny Crum, who witnessed Walton’s scoring 50 points and taking down 34 rebounds in a 110-68 victory over Pasadena, reported to Bruins coach John Wooden.

NO ONE BETTER.

Crum:  “The greatest high school player I ever saw.”

Wooden:  “Better than Lewis (Alcindor)?”

Crum:  “Yes.”

Wooden, taken aback, looked around:  “Step into my office. Keep your voice down.”

The legendary coach wanted to make sure that he had heard Crum correctly.

Walton would go  on to UCLA, win two national championships and also lead the Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA title.

U-T BOYS’ POLL

Cathedral, augmented by 6-11  Morse transfer Brandon McCoy, jumped to second after a 56-53 win over St. Augustine before almost 2,500 persons at Point Loma Nazarene.

First-place votes in parenthesis. Won-loss records through Monday.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
1 Foothills Christian (11) 11-3 110 1
2 Cathedral 10-4 82 6
3 Torrey Pines 12-4* 72 3
4 St. Augustine 13-4 72 2
5 La Jolla Country Day 18-0 66 4
6 El Camino 12-4 61 5
7 Army-Navy 13-5 55 7
8 Kearny 17-2 34 8
9 Poway 17-2 23 9
10 San Marcos 11-5 10 10

*Forfeited 57-37 victory Dec. 5 over Horizon.                                                                          Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Others receiving votes, including record: Mission Bay (13-4, 7), Grossmont (16-3, 5).

Eleven media representatives vote, including John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Jim Lindgren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Lisa Lane, San Diego Preps Insider; Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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2015-16, Week 5: Foothills Goes to Massachusetts

Foothills Christian lost its rematch with Chino Hills but continued as a team of statewide import, but has not yet gone “national,” in the eyes of major U.S. ratings entities.

The Adidas-influenced Knights will travel again this week, to Springfield, Massachusetts, for the Hoop Hall Classic and take on Connecticut’s No. 1, 8-0 Waterbury Sacred Heart, averaging 89 points a game.

After losing to Chino Hills by 20 in December, the Knights did a better job against the Huskies’  press in the Sierra Canyon event in the San Fernando Valley last week and took the USA Today No. 1 squad to the wire before bowing, 85-83.

T.J. Leaf and Chino Hills' Lonzo Ball will play together at UCLA next season.

T.J. Leaf and Chino Hills’ Lonzo Ball will play together at UCLA next season.

T.J. Leaf  put Foothills ahead, 83-82 with a basket with 13.3 seconds remaining in the game, but coach Troy Leaf’s scrappers from El Cajon couldn’t hold on.

Foothills Christian’s regular-season, intersectional tour won’t be complete until Feb. 6, when it heads up the I-5 Freeway for a game against Santa Ana Mater Dei, ranked No. 4 in California this week by Cal-Hi Sports.

Foothills is No. 1 in the Union-Tribune weekly poll and No. 5 in Cal-Hi‘s Top 20.  St. Augustine and Army-Navy earned  on-the-bubble status.

The U-T No. 2 Saints have a rivalry game with Eastern League title implications against No. 7 Cathedral Saturday night at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Get there early.  Parking is brutal.

LEAF AND WALTON?

After converting 20 of 24 shots from the floor, scoring 43 points, and knocking down 21 rebounds against the team from Chino, Leaf was described as the best prospect out of San Diego since Bill Walton in 1970.

Writer Frank Burlison, who made that observation, has virtually seen them all from his base in the Long Beach area for the last 40 or so years.   I was able to place Walton in Sports Illustrated‘s  “Faces in the Crowd” when Walton hit the national landscape.

Walton scored 50 points and had 34 rebounds in a 110-68 victory over Pasadena in the Covina Tournament and led  Helix to a 33-0 record. The Highlanders’ greatness wouldn’t be tested, because there were no Southern California or state playoffs in the Walton era.

Walton, a 6-foot, 11-inch center, was an enthusiastic, game-changing defender and unselfish, facilitating offensive player who still averaged 29.1 points a game.

The 6-10 Leaf, averaging 30.6 points, is a power forward and may have a more wide-ranging offensive game but has not had Walton’s impact on defense.

ON THE GIRLS’ FRONT

The Bishop’s (15-1), Mission Hills (11-3), and La Jolla Country Day (11-3) rank 10, 11, and 12, respectively, in the latest Cal-Hi Sports poll.

Junior Destiny Littleton of The Bishop’s has scored 605 points and is averaging 37.8 points.

U-T BOYS’ POLL

First-place votes in parenthesis. Won-loss records through Monday.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
1 Foothills Christian (11) 9-3 110 1
2 St. Augustine 11-4 97 2
3 Torrey Pines 12-3 72 5
4 La Jolla Country Day 16-0 66 5
5 El Camino 12-4 63 4
6 Cathedral 8-4 62 7
7 Army-Navy 12-5 58 6
8 Kearny 14-2 34 8
9 Poway 15-2 24 10
10 San Marcos 9-5 11 9

Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.                                                                             NR—Not ranked.

Others receiving votes, including record:  Grossmont (14-3, 8), Mission Bay (11-4, 3), San Ysidro (14-2, 1), Vista (10-5, 1).

11 media representatives vote, including John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Jim Lindgren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Lisa Lane, San Diego Preps Insider; Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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