2016: Preseason Poll Top 2 Same; More Coaches on Move

Helix and St. Augustine are 1-2 in the first Union-Tribune football poll and that’s how they finished in 2015.

The Highlanders  and most of the rest of the San Diego Section open the season this week,  marking one the earliest starts in County history, probably preceded only by the Hawaii preseason trips that were popular a couple decades ago.

Helix, 13-1 at season ago, will waste no time getting into the thick of the intersectional spirit, taking on visiting Provo Timpview,  a Utah power that was 11-2 in 2015, and 12-2 Concord Clayton Valley at Mission Viejo in Week 2.

St. Augustine, 10-3 last year, eases in with a home game at Mesa College against Ramona (4-7).

Other Top 10 teams also have early opportunity against out-of-area opponents.

No. 3 Cathedral takes on visiting Reno Damonte (4-7).  No. 4 Oceanside visits San Clemente (11-3).  No. 6 Madison is at Vista Murrieta (12-2), and No. 7 La Costa Canyon plays host to Whittier La Serna (11-3). Los Angeles Crenshaw (9-5) goes to No. 9 Mission Hills.

MORE COACHING CHANGES

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1915: Hilltoppers HaveTheir Field of Dreams

“City” Stadium, a horseshoe-shaped edifice with more than 23,000 concrete seats, opened the previous spring in the back yard of San Diego High.

Coincidentally, football fortunes improved on the Hilltop.

Coach Clarence (Nibs) Price, 2-3-1 in his inaugural 1914 season, guided the school to its best record in the 24 years since the game was introduced here.

Price, from Iowa and the University of California, was more familiar with rugby when he was appointed coach but was learning fast.

The Hilltoppers finished with a 6-1-1 record, the best since 1891, and boasted a roster of underclassmen who would make 1916 one of the greatest in school history.

The stadium, built at the same time as many of the iconic buildings in Balboa Park, was part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1914, and gave  San Diego High the advantage of playing at home.

The Hillers gathered for a team photo in their new stadium.

The Hillers gathered for a team photo in their new stadium.

NOT SO FAST

Just not for the first game.

A San Diego-Coronado contest was scheduled, but the teams were forced to play on the island community’s polo grounds, later to become Coronado Country Club.

A dispute had arisen between the high school and the Park board, which demanded a $25 deposit and one-third of the gate receipts.

Meetings between the park entity and the school board resulted in compromise.

An agreement was made before the Hilltoppers’ next game against a Park Exposition Marine Corps team.

As reported in The San Diego Union:

“In the future the high school students will have the use of the grounds for their games by giving the park board due notice of their schedule of games. They will not be charged for use of the stadium, as (an agreement of) $60 per month will cover rental for contests where an admission fee would be charged.”

The $60 would be paid to a grounds-supervising “caretaker”, or stadium manager.

KARL DID THE DEED(S)

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1917: Hilltoppers Learn it’s Difficult to Repeat

Uneasy rested the crown.

San Diego High, anointed the best high school team in the country by a New York publication after the 12-0 campaign of 1916, experienced a season of highs and lows, emphasis on the latter.

Coach Clarence (Nibs) Price, who started practice in September with news that his best player was “dangerously ill with fever”, missed a playoff game that was coached by one of his players, and ended the season with a 0-55 thud.

Karl Deeds, an integral part of the championship squad who was forced to drop out of school to work and then was reinstated, mentored a 28-0 victory over El Centro Central from the City Stadium sideline as Price was away in Los Angeles, attempting to join the aviation corps.

The Great War in Europe had a far-reaching effect.

MULLER BACK

The “dangerously ill” Brick Muller recovered from fever and was back in uniform about three weeks into practice, but his was an uneven season.

Muller sustained a broken collarbone against the Occidental University frosh, missed rivalry games versus Long Beach Poly and Santa Ana, and was in and out of action for the remainder of the year.

Muller was a star end on the 1916 squad, making all-Southern California, and was the centerpiece of what Price hoped would be another championship entry.

The player was held in such high regard on campus that Muller was elected to the school’s athletic “executive committee” for the second year in a row, while he was home sick in bed.

FAREWELL

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2016: Coaches’ Revolving Door: 19 Changes

At least 19 schools in the San Diego Section changed football coaches this season and probably that many reasons could be offered for this arguably massive turnover.

In no particular order, a few possible explanations::

— Pressure to win
— Long hours and low stipend pay
— Player eligibility
— Transfer headaches
— Meddling administrators
— Meddling parents
— Medical liability

There are other factors, not the least of which is the continued growth of soccer, which is contested at the same time on the school calendar and has grown in popularity while football has been battling an image problem.

Many parents think the game is too dangerous.

But 98 schools submitted schedules and practice got  underway this week in anticipation of the first weekend of games Aug. 26-27.

My preseason Top 10, based on no  knowledge, other than I’ve heard Cathedral “is loaded”, Helix is Helix (speed, depth), that Rancho Bernardo deserves cred after winning a state championship (III-A) in 2015, and so on.

Keep an eye also on Mater Dei, which won the state V-AA division last season, and returns C.J. Verdell, who scored 204 points  and recently announced he’s going to join former Imperial great Royce Freeman at Oregon.

Rank School 2015 Key Nonleague 2015
1. Cathedral 7-5 Modesto Central Catholic @Mission Viejo 16-0
2. Helix 11-2 Concord Clayton Valley @Mission Viejo 13-2
3. Rancho Bernardo 13-2 El Camino 7-6
4. St. Augustine 10-3 @L.A. Loyola 9-3
5. Mission Hills 11-1 Rancho Bernardo 13-2
6. Madison 8-3 @Murrieta Vista Murrieta 12-2
7. Bonita Vista 12-3 @Helix 13-2
8. Mater Dei 14-1 @L.A. Hawkins 8-1-1
9. Eastlake 5-6 Lake Forest El Toro 5-6
10. La Costa Canyon 7-4 Whittier La Serna 11-3

Of the 19 coaching switches, 3 resulted only in change of address.  Jerry Ralph moved from Hoover to El Camino, Tim White from Julian to Borrego Springs, and Kyle Williams from Fallbrook to Westview.

School New Previous 2015
Borrego Springs Tim White Andy Macuga 4-5
Calexico John Tyree Sean Johnson 0-10
C.C. San Diego Dr. David Riley Gene Rheam 9-2
Eastlake Dean Tropp Lee Price 5-6
El Camino Jerry Ralph John Roberts 7-6
Escondido Jud Bordman Steve Bridges 1-10
Fallbrook Bob Burt Kyle Williams 7-5
Foothills Christian Joe Mackey Ron Lyyjoki 5-4
Francis Parker Darius Pickett D.J. Walcott 2-8
Helix Robbie Owens Troy Starr 11-2
Hilltop Clay Westling Cody Roelof 5-6
Hoover Jimmy Morgans Jerry Ralph 2-8
Julian Scott Munson Tim White 2-8
La Jolla Matt Morrison Jason Carter 3-8
Montgomery Sanjevi Sabbiah Ted Jarumayan 2-8
Rancho Buena Vista Joe Meyer Paul Gomes 1-9
Serra Dru Smith Sergio Diaz 1-9
Vista Dave Bottom Dan Williams 4-7
Westview Kyle Williams Mike Woodward 8-4
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2016: The Grandkids

We’ve been idle since the state high school track meet and probably won’t be posting much for the next month, as our two grandsons, 13 and 12, from Connecticut have made their annual invasion.

For Susie and me, this represents  4-5 weeks of never-ending activity, a veritable jailbreak every day.  It seems like we are training with the SEALs.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

The boys met us in Las Vegas on June 21.  From there came a tour of Hoover Dam, a visit to the magnificent meteor crater near Winslow, Az., and a day at the Grand Canyon.

It’s not all swimming pools and movies.  Some culture is added.

Oh, I’d better not forget.  Happy 48th anniversary today to my beautiful bride.

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1919: Coronado Flexes, Hilltoppers Up, Down

San Diego High continued to transition to mediocrity from the championship squad of three seasons before and tiny Coronado mixed with the big boys.

Byron (Pesky) Sprott and five members of the Hilltoppers’ nationally-acclaimed 1916 team  now were leading the University of California’s powerful squad and coach Clarence (Nibs) Price was on the Bears’ football coaching staff.

San Diego High was on its third coach in three seasons.  Price moved to Berkeley after the 1917 campaign and Clint Evans, who coached during the flu-interrupted 1918 season, had announced his retirement and relocated to Idaho.

Ligda was coach for one season.

Ligda was coach for one season.

Vladimir Victor Ligda embarked on what would be a one-season stint as the Hilltoppers’ coach.

Ligda was  born in France of Russian descent, attended high school in Oakland, and had achieved some success in  track and field at Cal.

Ligda was introduced in an expansive article in The San Diego Union, which noted that he was a 1904 Cal graduate and had run :51.0 to win the 440-yard race in the annual big meet against Stanford.

That Ligda was incorrectly identified as “Vernon” Ligda seemed to presage a problematic tenure.

ACROSS THE BAY

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2016: Siegler, Alvarado, Altice Lead Way in 98th State Meet

San Diego Section track-and-field entries placed in eight of 32 events at the 98th state track championships in Clovis Saturday.

–About 26 per cent of the entries scored points amid the 102-degree heat of Buchanan High.

–Out of 96 total at the beginning of Friday’s trials.

–And with no individual champion for the first time in 14 years.

It wasn’t a total loss.

Fourteen boys and nine girls produced season bests.

UC BATTLER IS REWARDED

University City’s Allen Siegler represented to me what the state meet is all about, competition and the opportunity to improve.

Siegler took a 1600 season best of 4:14.09 into the trials and qualified fourth at 4:12.22. He was eighth in the finals, but Siegler came to compete.

The wiry senior hung tough against a demanding pace and whacked another three seconds off his best to close at 4:09.29, eighth all-time in the San Diego Section.

SIX RACES IN TWO DAYS

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2016: Locals Have Hopes in 98th State meet

Do well in the section finals.  Get to the state meet.  Qualify in the Friday trials.  Rest up for the finals.  Finish in the top 5 Saturday.  Get a “PR”*. Score a point or more and earn a medal.  Maybe finish first.

That’s the season goal.

Ninety-six San Diego Section entrants, less a few because of those in more than one event, will converge with qualifiers of like aspirations from 9 other state sections Friday at Buchanan High in Clovis, where temperatures of at least 100 degrees are expected.

It’s the 102nd anniversary of the state meet and the 98th year.  The event was  suspended from 1942-45 due to World War II travel restrictions.

From 1913 through 1962 athletes got their business done in one day, usually with trials in the morning and finals in the afternoon or in the evening.

The state meet went to two days in 1963,  the first  being  held at Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium.

History won’t be on the minds of locals  but they all will represent the area’s hope of continuing a tradition of at least one individual champion.

The last year in which the San Diego Section did not have a gold medalist in boys’ or girls’ competition was 2002.  The 13 consecutive years of at least one entry finishing first is in jeopardy this year.

It has been a thin season locally.

The table below reveals San Diego Section athletes who rank  in the state’s Top 10 in each event and who qualified, as recorded by athletic.net.  Most Top 10 athletes,  from here, or in other sections, will be in Clovis.

EVENT NAME SCHOOL MARK & RANK STATE NAME, SCHOOL
G Discus Tausaga-Collins Mount Miguel 167-3, 2nd 186-10 Bruckner, San Jose Village Christian
G Shot put Tausaga-Collins Mount Miguel 47-2 ¼, 3rd 54-7 Bruckner, San Jose Village Christian
B Long Jump Batthika St. Augustine 24-5, 3rd 25-11 ½ Holmes, Oakmont
DeRoos Tri-City Christian 23-11 ½, 9th
G 300 Hurdles Bell Steele Canyon :41.99, 4th :41.01 Woodward, Vacaville
B Pole Vault Brown La Costa Canyon 16-5, 4th 17-2 Gordon, Huntington Beach Marina
Hamson Poway 16-0, 6th
G 100 Patterson Rancho Bernardo :11.59w, 6th :11.17w Williams, Westklake Village Oaks Christian
B Shot Put Lenford Oceanside 63-3/4, 6th 71-7 Osborn, Anaheim Esperanza
B 400 Relay Mt. Carmel :41.65, 7th :40.63 Vista Murrieta
G Triple jump Nash Calvin Christian 39-9, 7th 43-2 Davis, Agoura
G 100 Hurdles Johnson Cathedral :14.02w, 8th :13.45 Robinson, El Cerrito
Nealis Valley Center :14.17, 10th
G High Jump Snow Carlsbad 5-6, T10th 5-8 ¼ Earle-Rouse, Arcata
Hickey Coronado

*–Personal record.

w–wind aided.

There undoubtedly other San Diego Section qualifiers not in the Top 10 who will improve and come home with medals.

There might be a winner in the group.

It’s what makes the state track championships one of the elite high school events in the country.

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1957: Cook and Cavers’ Great Day

Roscoe Cook, Bobby Staten, Willie Jordan, and Charles (Sugar Jet) Davis comprised a swift foursome of San Diego High athletes who surprised the field and brought home a Southern California track championship.

The biggest surprise was supplied by Cook.

Some background:

Cook entered the season as the 1956 Class B sprint titlist, having run away from the field the previous spring with best times of :09.7 in the 100-yard dash, and :21.0 in the 220.

It was expected that Cook and Staten would dominate the short races and low hurdles and that Davis, one of the city’s best quartermilers, and Jordan, a complementary sprinter, would round out a championship 880-yard relay team.

A downpour shortly after the first race canceled the Southern Counties’ Invitational at Huntington Beach High in the first week in March, delaying the usual official beginning of the season.

With no early reading on what to expect, the Cavemen then prepared for a intersectional dual meet in Balboa Stadium with powerful Compton Centennial.

UNBEATEN AT HOME

Cook had never lost a race in San Diego but he was beaten in a :09.9 100 by Centennial’s tall, long-striding Preston Griffin, a newcomer to the Southern California scene.

Griffin also took the national lead with a 24-foot, 6 ¾-inch broad jump. Cook was third despite breaking a 19-year-old school record with a leap of 23-10.  Griffin’s teammate, John Blaylock, was second at 23-11 in a remarkable competition.

Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Dkiego High hopes.

Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Diego High hopes.

The final and stunning indignity came in the 220 when Griffin, jogging casually the last 15 yards, eased to a :21.6  and Cook was a well-beaten third.  Griffin also withstood a charge by Staten as Centennial won the 880-yard relay in 1:28.8 and the meet, 60 1/2-43 1/2.

Seven weeks later, Griffin blazed a :09.5 100 in a semifinals, qualifying meet and appeared unbeatable.  On the same day Cook won a heat in a season-best: 09.8 in another divisional competition at Arroyo High in El Monte.

Cook quietly also served some notice as he took the measure of  Alhambra’s Rusty Weeks, who’d run :09.6 the week before.

SHORT AND QUICK

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1925:  Administrative Roadblocks Strike Hilltoppers

Competition and controversy were different words with different meanings, but they blurred in the far-flung Coast League, whose fratricidal members regularly accused their brethren of academic or residential mischief.

San Diego High was on the receiving end of a peculiar allegation that threatened to derail one of the best teams in school history.

Senior Captain Russ Saunders, the 5-foot, 9-inch, 190-pound blocking quarterback and linebacking defender, faced a charge of accepting money three years before in a boxing match that would have made Saunders a professional and ineligible for interscholastic sports.

If the curiously-timed indictment proved accurate, the Hilltoppers would be forced to forfeit nine victories and the opportunity to compete in the Southern California playoffs.

Russ Saunders was vital to San Diego's championship hopes.

Saunders was vital to San Diego’s championship hopes.

Saunders eventually was absolved of wrong doing, but not before a dizzying chain of events that took on the aura of an old-fashioned Saturday morning serial.

CIF CHASING RABBITS

The intramural dustup was typical of the Prohibition-era, anything-goes Roaring Twenties, a decade when the growing CIF and its commissioner, former Escondido baseball coach Seth Van Patten, struggled to keep order.

The CIF’s rule on age limitation was only that you couldn’t play if you were 21 years old, but that meant that post-graduates and assorted roughnecks still populated the prep scene.

Coast League rivals didn’t trust each other.

Trouble began in the final regular-season game, when Bert Ritchey ran 60 yards for a touchdown that would propel the Hilltoppers to a 9-0 victory over the Santa Ana Saints in a battle of teams with 6-0 league records.

The victory, before a record City Stadium high school crowd of 15,000, clinched a second straight loop championship for coach John Perry’s squad.

With a long ride home Saturday night and all day Sunday to chew on the loss,  officials from the Northern school prepared to make a call on Monday morning and notify Coast League president and CIF playoff coordinator Harry J. Moore that they were protesting.

IT WAS OUR FANS, SAY SAINTS

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