1958:  Cinderella Was a Red Devil

An apparently routine CIF playoff loss by another San Diego-area team loomed when Sweetwater took possession after an Anaheim punt late in the third quarter, trailing in a first-round game, 7-0.

What followed was legend.

What Red Devils quarterback Wayne Sevier remembered, before he passed away in 1999, was “twenty-four plays, eighty-three yards, seven first downs, six measurements and a flea flicker on fourth and twenty-four.”

What halfback Gilbert Warren remembered years later was the pregame warm-up: “We were on the field when they came out. The line of players never stopped coming.  They must have dressed eighty guys.”

Coach Tom Parker sized up1958 season with Albert Belmontez, Leslie Pearson, and Wayne Sevier (from left).

Coach Tom Parker sized up1958 season with Albert Belmontez, Leslie Pearson, and Wayne Sevier (from left).

What Sweetwater coach Tom Parker told Phil Collier of The San Diego Union after the game: “Anaheim tried to wear us down by platooning. We only have 5 capable substitutes. The amazing thing about the touchdown drive is that the kids didn’t panic.”

What was obvious was the Red Devils were outnumbered and severely lacking in pedigree. Anaheim annually was one of the outstanding teams in Southern California.

The Colonists’ innovative coach, Clare Van Hoorbeke (190-49-10 from 1950-72), may indeed have outfitted more than his varsity team.

Maybe Van Hoorbeke was hoping to invoke some intimidation before an expected victory by the Sunset League power which was 2-0-1 in the postseason against San Diego teams since 1953.

HISTORY NOT ON THEIR SIDE

Warren (second from left) was among essential players with Leslie Pearson, Jerry Hotham, and Art Graham (from left).

Warren (second from left) was among essential players with Leslie Pearson, Jerry Hotham, and Art Graham (from left).

Sweetwater had been to the playoffs in the medieval CIF period of 1923 and ‘26, and then waited 34 years before the 1957 club qualified again and made a quick exit in a 31-7, first-round loss to San Diego.

Anaheim was making its sixth appearance in the eight years since Van Hoorbeke became coach.

But the Red Devils, with pluck and grit, advanced to the next round after a 7-7 tie.

Sweetwater won on a CIF rules tie breaker, having a 14-8 advantage in first downs, similar to 1955, when San Diego moved on after a 20-20 tie with Anaheim.

By Parker’s count, Sweetwater ran 69 plays to Anaheim’s 32, but it played from behind after Rick Sheffler roused the 8,000 La Palma Stadium patrons with a 78-yard touchdown run near the end of the first half.

Some game notes from The San Diego Union, Anaheim Bulletin, and San Diego Evening Tribune:

  • The score remained 7-0 until Warren pierced Anaheim’s eight-man line for nine yards to Sweetwater’s 29 on the last play of the third quarter.
  • As Phil Collier described, Sweetwater stayed on the ground and advanced to Anaheim’s 45-yard line, where Sevier passed 15 yards to Mike Fogelsong.
  • The Red Devils went back to their running game, moving to Anaheim’s 15, but a holding penalty pushed the visitors back to the 30.
  • At this point, with about five minutes remaining, “The National City club unloaded their secret weapon,” reported the Anaheim Bulletin.
  • On fourth down and 23 Sevier handed off to Fogelsong and took off downfield.
  • The 180-pound Fogelsong was known as the “Frisco Freight”. An administrative mixup forced Fogelsong to sit out the 1957 season after he transferred from a school in San Francisco.
  • Fogelsong rolled to his right and then threw a pass across the field to Sevier, who made a leaping catch at the Colonists’ six-yard line.
  • Game officials signaled for the down marker and chains. The Red Devils made a first down, by inches.
  • Warren ran three yards to the three, but on the next play Sweetwater was penalized for off-side (false start) and sent back the 8.
  • Sevier threw incomplete and on third down passed again to Leslie Pearson in the end zone.
  • Another incompletion  but Anaheim’s Glen Herbel was cited for pass interference.
  • First down, Sweetwater.
  • Jerry Hotham wedged into the end zone from the one on the next play for a touchdown with about two minutes remaining in the game. Warren held for the point after and Sevier booted the conversion for a tie at 7-7.
  • Sweetwater held the ball for almost 10 minutes, negotiated 80 yards in an unheard of 24 plays, made at least six first downs, with officials’ measurements on almost every one.
  • Wayne Sevier’s recollection wasn’t exact, but as Gil Warren said of his old friend, “Wayne’s memory was great. He even remembered a pass I dropped.”
  • Sweetwater was not out of the woods.
  • Anaheim threatened by advancing from its 34 to Sweetwater’s 28 but quarterback Dennis Vollom’s fourth down pass to the end zone was incomplete.
  • Ball Game.

CENTRAL COAST POWER

Sweetwater won a coin flip and was awarded a home game for the quarterfinals against the San Luis Obispo League champion Santa Maria Saints, 10-1, with only a 26-14 loss to Bakersfield in their opening game.

Sweetwater principal Allen Campbell correctly called tails in a three-way telephonic hookup with the principal from Santa Maria and CIF commissioner Ken Fagans at Fagans’ office in Los Angeles.

Santa Maria, which had surprised Santa Barbara, 35-19, in the first round and which boasted 144-point scorer Manuel Jones, was a slight favorite and took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

The slow-starting Red Devils stormed back to win, 27-7, as Warren gained 71 yards in 11 carries, caught 4 passes for 51 yards, intercepted a pass, and punted three times for a 33-yard average.  Fogelsong gained 70 yards in 10 carries.

VIKINGS SAIL TO WIN

Sweetwater was given another home game for the semifinals against 10-0-1 Santa Monica, a tradition-laden powerhouse that had been the home team for its first two postseason victories.

The Red Devils now were hailed as the Cinderella team of the playoffs, a surprising survivor to the Round of 4, especially in light of San Diego’s early departure in a 26-18 loss to Long Beach Poly.

Principal Allen Campbell ordered temporary bleachers at Hudgins Field and almost 7,000 persons jammed the National City campus.

Santa Monica quickly moved to put an end to Sweetwater’s fairy tale hopes.

Santa Monica finally halted Fogelsong and Red Devils on foggy night.

Santa Monica finally halted Fogelsong and Red Devils on foggy night.

The Vikings raced to a 28-7 halftime lead and were ahead, 34-7, in the third quarter as writer Phil Collier described a “grass-level fog” that enveloped the field.

The beach city squad kept the Red Devils at a distance, winning, 34-20, amid the echoes of the Vikings’ cheering squad.

“Push ‘em back!  Push ‘em back!  Push ‘em back to TJ, to TJ!” exhorted the Santa Monica yell leaders.

Tijuana, in Baja California, Mexico, was about 14 miles south of the Sweetwater campus.

ANOTHER BIG GAME

Sweetwater’s drive to the Metropolitan League championship went through Escondido, where the host Cougars had won 22 straight regular-season games and shown no falloff after exiting the weaker Avocado League.

Ralph Inzunza’s fourth-quarter pass interception and five-yard return at 7:15 and with his team trailing, 14-9, positioned Sweetwater for a six-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that overcame the Cougars, 16-14, before an overflow crowd of 5,500 persons.

Gilbert Warren led the Red Devils with 70 yards in 13 carries, caught 4 passes for 81 yards, punted four times for a 31.5 average, and returned an intercepted pass 51 yards with 3:04 left in the game to preserve the victory.

FUTURE COACHES

Wayne Sevier and Gil Warren played on coach Don Coryell’s first San Diego State teams in 1961-62 and each was bent on a coaching career.

Warren concluded remarkable coaching career at Eastlake in 2012.

Warren concluded remarkable coaching career at Eastlake in 2012.

Sevier was head coach at Sweetwater in 1965-66 and a special teams coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chargers, Redskins, and Los Angeles Rams in a 25-year NFL career.

Warren coached 28 seasons at high schools in the South Bay, winning championships in 1968, ’94, and ’96 at Castle Park.  Warren’s 216 career victories rank fifth all-time in San Diego County.

QUICK KICKS

Sweetwater had 14 first downs to Santa Monica’s 13 and outgained Vikings, 290-218, although the visitors had 206 yards rushing to the hosts’ 96…Mike Fogelsong gained 71 yards in 15 carries against Anaheim…the stats were as close as the score…the  Red Devils rushed for 162 yards and passed for 50…Anaheim had 186 yards rushing and 25 passing, Sweetwater holding a 212-211 advantage…Tom Parker was 38-24-4 as head coach from 1954-60…”Tommie” Parker was a halfback at Hoover in 1942, played at San Diego State, and also served as trainer for the annual summer College Prep All-Star game in San Diego…Sweetwater’s 21-7 victory was Claremont’s first regular-season loss in four years…the Red Devils voted to work out Thanksgiving Day instead of taking a holiday before the Anaheim game…Parker was almost prescient before the Colonist contest:  “We have a chance against this club, a good chance, if we play to our maximum potential.  Anything less than that won’t be good enough”….Wayne Sevier, Mike Fogelsong, Gil Warren, Joe Meeker, Max Freetley, Leslie Pearson, Ron Grimes, David Hoffman, Larry LeGrand, Jim Arnout, and Albert Belmontez  were Sweetwater’s starters…the “capable” replacements  Art Graham, Richard Clifton, David Nenow, Ralph Inzunza, and Jim Feeler, rounded out the Red Devils’ essential 16-man playing roster…

Unsung Red Devils included Richard Clifton, Art Graham, Dave Hoffman, and Ralph Inzunza.

Unsung Red Devils included Richard Clifton, Art Graham, Dave Hoffman, and Ralph Inzunza (from left) when not  cracking the books.

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2016 Week 15: Cathedral Unanimous in Final Grid Poll

Cathedral, Madison, Mater Dei, and The Bishop’s comprise four of the final Top 10 selections in the weekly Union-Tribune poll and will begin quests for state championships this week.

Cathedral was a unanimous choice as No. 1, earning first-place votes from all 27 panelists.

La Jolla Country Day, which finished out of the Top 10 but received points in the poll, and Horizon also are in the state playoffs.

It’s great that San Diego Section teams can continue on after the local championships, but it’s a stretch that Horizon, which gave up  75, 63, and 66 points on three successive weeks in the regular season, is part of the possible elite.

That Horizon revived itself and won its last four games and won the San Diego Division V with a 7-6 record is testimony to the Panthers’ ability to regroup.

Horizon climbed to the top of its San Diego Section division despite the distraction caused by the school’s losing its lease at the old Hale Junior High site in Clairemont and will be relocating next school year.

First-place votes in parenthesis.

Points on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Continue reading

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1958: Jackrabbit Fever Strikes Mighty Cavemen


 

San Diego High fell with a resounding thud in quarterfinals of the Southern Section playoffs.

A 26-18 loss to old nemesis Long Beach Poly in Balboa Stadium was surprising in its decisiveness, devastating in its finality.

Especially for coach Duane Maley, who announced his intention to retire from coaching and go into administration at the end of the school year. This team was supposed to be the best since Maley was named head coach after the 1947 season.

How could the Cavemen lose, having outscored their first 10 opponents by an average score of 44-3?   With a half-dozen runners who punctuated the trademark, long-distance San Diego running game? And led by perhaps the outstanding prep quarterback in the country?

BENNIE WAS RIGHT

An observation by Point Loma coach Bennie Edens would ring true down the road:

“San Diego has a more dangerous backfield than last year, but a weaker line, both offensively and defensively,” said Edens.

Part of the San Diego High defense that allowed 6 points in eight regular-season games: Oliver McKinney, Roy Pharis, Robert Fowler, from left in front, anchored line, backed up by, among others from left, Thurman Pringle, Charlie Dykstra, Robert Felix, H.D. Murphy, and Sam Edwards.

Part of the San Diego High defense that allowed 6 points in eight regular-season games: Oliver McKinney, Roy Pharis, and Robert Fowler, from left, backed up by, among others from left, Thurman Pringle, Charlie Dykstra, Robert Felix, H.D. Murphy, and Sam Edwards.

Edens spoke after his team had dropped a 40-0 decision to the Cavers in Week 3.

Hillers loyalists scoffed.  Sour grapes, they said.

After all, Edens had been outscored a combined 143-13  by Maley’s squads since Bennie became the Pointers’ mentor in 1955.

NO INTERSECTIONALS

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2016: Week 14: Top Rated Teams Meet in Finals

The CIF power ratings are holding up fairly well as the final round of San Diego Section play takes place Friday and Saturday at Southwestern College.

The two highest power rated clubs will meet in the Open Division and in D-1 and D-3.

Winning teams will progress to a variety of divisions in a Southern California round of 4, with the ultimate winners meeting teams from Northern California in the state championship.

OPEN

No. 1 Cathedral (12-0) versus No. 2 Helix (10-2) Saturday at 7 p.m.

Cathedral overcame a 21-7, Helix halftime lead to defeat the Highlanders, 35-28, in Week 4.

Helix eliminated the Dons in the semifinals in 2014 and 2015.

Cathedral is making its eighth championship appearance since  2006 and Helix its 11th since 1999.

Are the Dons as good as the Tyler Gaffney-led squad that was 14-0 and the state D-III champion in 2009?

As we see it:  Cathedral 34, Helix 21.

DIVISION  I

No. 2 St. Augustine (10-2)  versus No. 1 and 10-2 Madison Friday at 7 p.m. Continue reading

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2016: Kennedy, Galindo, Cunningham Pass

First athletes and then coaches, each experience leaving a lifetime of memories.

BOBBY KENNEDY

The San Diego State graduate was  head baseball coach at Chula Vista from 1957-82, his teams winning six Metropolitan League titles, earning 19 playoff appearances, and compiling an overall record of 329-266.

Kennedy also was a championship softball player, almost to the end, participating all the way to age 89 and along the way teaming with several other locals of his generation to win 10  national association “World Series.”

Kennedy hit a three-run home run on his last time at bat.

You could look it up, as Casey Stengel would say.

Bobby, who passed days before his 94th birthday, grew up in the San Bernardino area and played two seasons in the Philadelphia Athletics’ system.

Kennedy’s San Diego State jersey No. 12 was retired.  He also was a basketball game official for 25 years and president of the local association.

Kennedy was one of a group of coaches and ex-players, mostly from baseball who met for coffee each week for years  at the Lake Murray Café.  Bobby remained active up the end, attending the annual Coaching Legends event at the Scottish Rite Temple in October.

Pitcher Ron (Flame) Tompkins, a member of the Kennedy’s 1962 squad, toiled for the Kansas City Royals in 1965 and California Angels in 1971.

JOE GALINDO

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2016 Week 13: Ratings Show Some Power

Power ratings honcho John LaBeta can look at the semifinals pairings in this week’s San Diego Section playoffs and feel pretty good, if not vindicated, about the controversial seedings process.

History has not recorded a season in which all teams and coaches involved were happy with the results, be they computer generated or by the human eye test.

But LaBeta and his I-pad have been right on 86 per cent of the selections this far into the postseason.

Of the 22 clubs still alive in Divisions Open and I-V, 19 represent seeds 1 through 4.

The top four will compete in the semifinals in D-I and D-3.  Horizon (4) and Tri-City Christian (3) will play for the D-V title this week.

Bonita Vista (11) crashed the party with a 5-7 record in D-II. Mission Hills (5) and La Jolla Country Day (5) are still in the mix in the Open and D-IV, respectively.

Upsets Friday night could paint a different picture going into next week’s finals, but the power ratings have gained some credibility, even if those 5 and 11 seeds should create some shock waves.

DOUBLE CENTURY

Ron Hamamoto of Monte Vista and Rob Gilster of Valley Center are among nine who have won at least 200 games as coaches of San Diego County teams.  Both will be on the sidelines this week.

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1918: Global Health Crisis Hits Home

A sneeze at a military facility near Junction City, Kansas, turned into a cold that led to a fever that led to a death that led to a global pandemic.

The so-called “Spanish Flu”, which is said to have first struck World War I soldiers processing in and out of Camp Funston on the Fort Riley army reservation in March, reached almost every corner of the earth.

Including the growing city on the California-Mexico border.

San Diego and the surrounding communities didn’t feel the virus’ effect for months. Not until September, after school opened and football practice started.

Student Army Training Corps cadets took precautions at San Diego High.

Student Army Training Corps cadets took precautions at San Diego High.

Four months later, when the bug finally was arrested, the flu had hit with force: A reported 5,040 cases and 366 deaths locally, according to an article by Peter Rowe of The San Diego Union in 2009.

The number of documented illnesses represented about 7 per cent of the city’s approximately 75,000 citizens.  Taken today, 7 per cent would be almost 100,000 of San Diego’s 1.3 million inhabitants.

Probably 100 million persons around the world were incapacitated or died.  The death toll has been variously estimated at from 50 to 70 million, the latter figure at least 3 per cent of the earth’s 1.8 billion population.

SUMMER DILEMMA

School began on August 26 at San Diego High and new coach Clint Evans, fresh from Pomona High, was in a quandary.

Evans was unsure about which veteran players from the 1917 squad would be returning to school, as some had “left for the colors,” with others expected to follow.

The 1918 schedule had not been formulated.  No team manager had been hired, as Gustave Harding, appointed last year, had left for the military.

Evans planned to book one or two northern squads and fill the rest of the schedule with service teams, of which there were many in the area.

The coach hoped to start practice on Aug. 28, but there would be no practice until an arrangement was made with the Balboa Park board to use the City Stadium field.

Seventy-five candidates turned out for the first practice, held on the girls’ indoor baseball field.

UNCLE SAM CALLS

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2016 Week 12: Not All Happy With Playoff Picture

The sportswriters and broadcasters and CIF power ratings maven John LaBeta have spoken and there is some agreement.

Cathedral, Rancho Bernardo, and Helix, 1-2-3 in The San Diego Union final regular-season poll, are the top three seeds in the Open Division playoffs, which begin Nov. 18 with quarterfinals play.

But there were some surprises and shock waves in other divisions, with teams having higher  finishes and better won-loss records being left out (see 2016 scores in the Football drop down menu).

LaBeta is unique.

He is  one of the 27 persons on the panel that vote each week to determine the Union top 10 and he’s also the guy who  coordinates the power ratings, which eventually determine who gets into the playoffs, in which division, and with which seeding.

How does LaBeta’s vote in the Union‘s poll compare with the power ratings, which essentially are determined by Labeta’s informational input in a computer generated system that compares what teams do over a season against what their scheduled opponents do?

No answer there.  LaBeta wasn’t able to participate in the vote this week.

He was  busy aligning the 68 teams in the five postseason divisions plus the eight-man tournament and probably fielding questions (and complaints) about the power ratings.

Many in the media and some of the coaches did not understand why St. Augustine and Madison, powerful Western League clubs with 8-2 records, did not make the Open Division.

Maybe the Saints and Warhawks will be better served as Division I participants.

Rancho Bernardo was a twice-beaten and not particularly well-regarded team in 2015. The Broncos were slotted in Division I and won out, going 13-2, and claiming a state championship.

An overall winner will be named in a  final Union poll that will be conducted at the end of the season.  Cathedral remains No. 7 in Cal-Hi Sports‘ state top 25.  Helix moved from 16th to 14th and Rancho Bernardo is 25th.  Madison is on the bubble.

First-place votes in parenthesis.

Points on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Continue reading

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2016: Don Donnelly, Longtime Track Coach

A celebration of Don Donnelly’s life will be held at the La Mesa Community Center on Nov. 14 from 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Donnelly, 87, passed recently after a lifetime of athletics and coaching, principally track and field and cross country.

A 1947 graduate of Hoover High, where he played football and competed in track, Donnelly got into coaching after service during the Korean war and graduation from San Diego State.

His first appointment was in 1956 at Hart High in Newhall, where Donnelly helped mentor Bob Avant, a future state champion in the high jump and who later was principal at Valhalla High.

Donnelly returned to San Diego the following year and was involved in cross country and track at Mission Bay, where he was an assistant to Chuck Coover and coached Jim Cerveny, the 1957 state champion in the 880-yard run and future world-class 800-meter competitor.

When the new Crawford High opened in 1957, Donnelly coached cross country and was assistat track coach to Walt Harvey, succeeding Harvey in 1963.

Donnelly opened the new Morse High in the fall of 1963 and coached track and cross country and guided future Olympic long jumper Arnie Robinson, among others.

Donnelly eventually moved to Santana, coached boys’ and girls’ track and cross country, and stayed active in retirement, competing in senior track events and as a member of various local sports organizations.

“He lived every moment right up to his final day, upbeat and positive all the way,” said the coach’s widow, Mary Donnelly.

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2016 Week 11: Cardinals Find the End Zone

Hoover did it.

The Cardinals scored, not once but twice, in a 49-14 loss to Patrick Henry.

Hoover had not even registered a blip in its first eight games and was closing in on a record set in 1976 by San Diego Southwest.

The Southwest Raiders were blanked on the field in a 0-9 season in 1976 but scored one point legislatively after Chula Vista forfeited a 76-0 victory.

Many Hoover players come from around the globe and never were introduced to American football until they arrived at the vintage East San Diego campus at El Cajon Boulevard and 44th Street.

Hats off to coach Jimmy Morgans and his team.

The Cardinals trailed 42-7 at halftime and, with help of a running clock, played the Patriots even in the second half.

Patrick Henry clinched a tie for the City League title and, with a win over Serra this week, would finish the regular season with a 6-4 record, its best since 2012.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE

Cathedral burst for 21 points in the first quarter, shut out St. Augustine, 35-0, before more than 8,000 persons at Mesa College, and can clinch its first undefeated regular season since the Tyler Gaffney-led Dons were 10-0 en route to 14-0 and a state Division III championship in 2008.

Standing in the way of coach Sean Doyle’s Dons are the fast, efficient Madison Warhawks, 8-1, with only a 20-9 loss to Vista Murrieta in the season opener.

Cathedral is home to Madison, with the Western League championship and probable top seed in the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs to the winner.

The Dons remained No. 1 in the Union-Tribune poll this week and Madison stayed at 2.

BACKYARD BEEF

No. 3 Rancho Bernardo visits neighboring Poway, No. 6, in a battle of 9-0 teams with the Palomar League championship on the line.

Mater Dei (8-1) can clinch the Metropolitan Conference Mesa League championship with a win over visiting Olympian (6-3).

Helix (Grossmont Hills), San Ysidro (Metropolitan Pacific), and Granite Hills (Grossmont Valley) gained ties for first and will go for outright league titles against Valhalla, El Cajon Valley, and San Diego Southwest, respectively.

Cathedral remained seventh in Cal-Hi Sports’ state rankings, with Helix moving up from 18th to 16th and Rancho Bernardo crashing the top 25 for the first time.

Madison is on the bubble and St. Augustine’s bubble burst.

Union-Tribune poll:

First-place votes in parenthesis.

Points on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Rank Team W-L Points Last Week
1. Cathedral (23) 9-0 266 1
2. Madison (2) 8-1 240 2
3. Rancho Bernardo (2) 8-1 232 3
4. Helix 7-2 175 5
5. Mater Dei 8-1 167 4
6. Poway 9-0 134 7
7. St. Augustine 7-2 71 6
8. Torrey Pines 7-2 62 NR
9. The Bishop’s 9-0 52 9
10 Grossmont 8-1 38 8

Others receiving votes:  Oceanside (7-2, 25 points), Christian (9-0, 20), Valhalla (8-1), Valley Center (8-1), 2 each; Olympian (6-3), Mission Hills (6-3), 1 each.

Twenty-seven sportswriters, sportscasters, and other representatives comprise the voting panel:

John Maffei, Union-Tribune. Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindgren,  Union-Tribune contributors. Paul Rudi, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis (KUSI Chl. 51). Michael Bower, Pomerado News. Lisa Lane, Fox 5 News. Montell Allen, MBA Sports-SDFNL Magazine. Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI, Channel 51. Adam Clark, Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090. Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Radio 107.9 FM. Bob Petinak, 1360 Radio. Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, Chris Davis, eastcountysports.com. Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com. Drew Smith, sdcoastalsports.com. Raymond Brown, sdfootball.net. Rick Smith, partletonsports.com. Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions. Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta, CIF San Diego Section. John (Coach) Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator.

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