2015: San Diegans in State Track Top 10


800 Erik Armes (8) Coronado 1:55.22 1:52.66 Isaac Cortes Temecula Great Oak
1600 Trevor Siniscalchi (10) Westview 4:19.10 4:13.27 Connor Morello Clovis
Shot Put Charles Lenford (6) Oceanside 58-1 61-1 3/4 Michael Titherington Carmichael Jesuit
High Jump Tom Bennett (T9) La Costa Canyon 6-6 6-11 Darius Corbin Piedmont Hills Mt. Pleasant
Jacob Cesare La Costa Canyon 6-6
Discus Lenford (3) 174-2 181-4 Michael Pertusaki Rancho Cucamonga Las Osos

100 Suzie Acolatse (1) Mission Hills :11.65 :11.84 Rae;vyn Lawler Elk Grove Pleasant Grove
200 Suzie Acolatse (2) Mission Hills :24.47 :24.16 Courtne Davis Corona Roosevelt
400 Hannah Labrie-Smith (6) Cathedral :56.26 :55.41 Schantell Williams Berkeley St. Mary's Melissa Mongiovi (10) West Hills :57.18
800 Sarah Abrahamson (7) La Costa Canyon 2:15.60 2:12.84 Kendall Derry Fair Oaks Bella Vista
300H Hannah Labrie-Smith (4) Cathedral :43.54 :42.84 Morganne Hill Bakersfield Liberty
Shot Put Lausauga Tausaga (4) Mount Miguel 44-3 49-10 Elena Bruckner San Jose Valley Christian

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1924: Hilltoppers’ Star Saved in Swimming Pool Accident

San Diego High avoided a disastrous, tragic event when star sophomore fullback Bert Ritchey almost drowned before the Hilltoppers’ “bowl game” at Phoenix Union.

After a 12-hour ride on a San Diego & Arizona railroad car, the Cavemen worked out at Phoenix’s Riverside Park Friday afternoon.  That evening many in the squad took advantage of a nearby swimming pool.

Ritchey apparently got into trouble.  His teammates did not notice until Werner Peterson saw his Ritchey lying at the bottom of the pool.

Peterson quickly dived, embraced Ritchey, and got his teammate to the surface, according to the report in The San  Diego Union.   

Ritchey was shaken but okay after a few minutes.

Perry declared the youngster out of the game, but Ritchey played 15 or 5 minutes the next day, according to various reports, and scored a touchdown in the 14-13 victory.

Perry had scheduled the game late in the season as a reward for the team after the Hilltoppers had clinched the Coast League championship.

Following the Saturday afternoon game, the Hilltoppers boarded a railroad car for another 12-hour trip back to San Diego, arriving Sunday night.


Big Ritchey, a 180-pounder, was born in Kansas and came to San Diego at an early age in 1910.  His was one of the earliest African-American families to settle here.

Sophomore Bert Ritchey  was star for Hilltoppers.

Sophomore Bert Ritchey was star for Hilltoppers.

Bert’s younger brother, Johnny, was the first black player in baseball’s Pacific Coast League when he joined the San Diego Padres in 1948.

Ted Ritchey, the star of San Diego High’s 1947 Southern California finalist, was a nephew of Bert, who also had athletic brothers Alfred and Earl.


According to The San Diego Union’s Allen McGrew, the Cavemen wasted five scoring opportunities in their 0-0 tie at Orange.

“The game might be a moral victory for Orange,” wrote McGrew.  “Their ability to hold San Diego at times appeared uncanny.”

McGrew then took a veiled shot at head coach John Perry.  “San Diego either lacked good plays or good judgment in their many attempts to score.”

Orange scored more than a moral victory in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.  The Panthers took a 17-0 lead and returned intercepted passes 35 and 60 yards for touchdowns in a 29-20 victory.

According to historian Don King’s “Caver Conquest,” San Diego stunningly outgained Orange, 559 yards to 98, and held a 33-1 advantage in first downs.


Which was reason enough for coach John Perry to seek a third game.  He challenged Orange to a Christmas Day showdown in San Diego.

“I am confident that our team is better than Orange,” said Perry.  “They did not score on their own plays but on our fumbles.”

The challenge was in play only if Orange did not win the Southern California championship.  Orange wasn’t interested after playing five postseason contests and being eliminated in the semifinals.


One had to follow closely to understand the postseason.

Orange  defeated Redlands, 39-0, in the first round.

Orange defeated San Diego in the second round.

San Diego had a first-round bye and Sweetwater had first-round and a second-round byes (not an unusual procedure for that era since travel and who was available came into play).

Orange defeated Sweetwater, 14-0, the following week in the quarterfinals.

Glendale and Compton deadlocked, 0-0, in the semifinals and, by rule,  played again the following week, Glendale winning, 7-0.

The Dynamiters then defeated Compton, 24-0, for the championship as star lineman Marion Morrison played his final game before moving on to USC.

Morrison later was successful  in the motion picture industry under the name of John Wayne.


Having first played Santa Ana in 1905, the Saints were the Cavemen’s oldest intersectional rival and this year’s game, a physical, 13-0 San Diego victory, showed how much coach John Perry team liked to run the ball.

Individual game statistics for high school games were rarely published, but someone kept a record in this game.

Bert Ritchey gained 76 yards in 25 carries and scored 1 touchdown.  Phil Winnek had 50 yards in 12 attempts and scored once.  In all, the Hilltoppers rushed 58 times for 171 yards.


San Diego B coach Gerald (Tex) Oliver greeted 60 candidates, all reportedly fewer than 140 pounds and averaging 132 (Sweetwater had 62 B prospects, with about 30 that weighed no more than 110) and Oliver was hard pressed to outfit all.

The San Diego board of education denied an appropriation for the Hilltoppers’ B’s, so Oliver planned benefits.

The “Infants,” as Oliver’s club was known, charged 15 cents for a game with La Jolla.


Usually fast and experienced, most B players had participated in junior high or interclass competition.

Pasadena appeared to have a 12th defender, the game umpire, as it attempted to stop San Diego fullback Bert Ritchey.

Pasadena appeared to have a 12th defender, the game umpire, as it attempted to stop San Diego fullback Bert Ritchey.

With eligibility based on “exponents”–height, weight, and age–B teams, similar to junior varsity squads, were an integral part of Southern California football programs for many years.

Many players would start with the B team but advance to the varsity and return to the B’s in the same season.

The San Diego varsity generally practiced at 2 p.m. in City Stadium, followed by the B’s at 4.


Sweetwater’s student executive committee voted for the Red Devils to give up a possible home-field advantage and play San Diego in the City Stadium.

The committee rubber-stamped the request of athletic manager Cheeney Moe and head coach Herb Hoskins, who wanted the gate receipts from a larger turnout in the stadium to go to improving the school’s football facilities.


Hoskins, whose teams were in the Southern California playoffs four out of five seasons in the 1920s, didn’t flinch when asked his team’s chances against San Diego in the season opener.

Writer Alan McGrew of The San Diego Union asserted that the Sweeties had lately “taken some of San Diego’s thunder”.

“We’ll win,” said Hoskins.  “We never figure on losing when we enter a game.  I am confident we’ll win.”

The Cavemen defeated the Red Devils, 33-0, as  Ritchey made his debut with four touchdowns.


Stanford and California announced they were suspending relations with the University of Southern California at the end of the season.

Things had soured between the Pacific Coast powerhouses, with the Northern schools, original conference members since 1915, accusing the Trojans, who joined in 1922, of paying players and not enforcing admittedly vague conference academic standards.

USC promptly announced it was a canceling a home game that week with Stanford, saying that the Northern schools had challenged USC’s “honor”, had a “anti-Southern California feeling” and that the Trojans had always played by the rules.

The USC action affected that week’s San Diego-Long Beach Poly battle for the Coast League title.

Originally scheduled Saturday, Poly boss Harry Moore announced a switch to Friday, not wanting to go against USC-Stanford.

Kemp long punts were vital.

Kemp’s long punts were vital.

When USC bailed on Stanford, Moore switched again, back to Saturday, saying that his school would “lose too much money” and a probable big San Diego crowd by playing on Friday.

San Diego clinched a tie for the Coast League championship with a 6-3 victory over Poly in a taut defensive struggle.  The Hilltoppers’ Rocky Kemp kept the Jackrabbits backing up with booming punts, one traveling 80 yards.


Northern schools in the Coast League also were angry with one of their brethren.

San Diego High vice principal Edgar Johnson was called to Los Angeles for a meeting in which the Hilltoppers were forced to defend themselves against possible expulsion.

Fullerton’s principal charged the Hilltoppers with “rough tactics” in San Diego’s 33-7 victory weeks before.

One Indians player “even had a black eye”, said the school administrator.

Fullerton coach Shorty Smith complained to officials at the end of the game that the Cavemen were “holding” and “coached to play dirty.”


Pasadena also pointed out that San Diego was penalized twice for roughing.

The Union’s McGrew dismissed the charge by noting that the locals only “kept on playing after the whistle”, which apparently was okay with the writer.

The meaningless vote, which needed the CIF’s approval, was 3-2, with Pasadena backing Fullerton.

Whittier, Santa Ana and Long Beach Poly sided with their Border City rivals.


Fullerton also claimed that Hilltopper Alden Johnson, son of the San Diego City Schools superintendent, was not on the eligibility list when the teams met.

Anderson stated that Johnson indeed was eligible but was on the “Seconds” Squad and didn’t play.

The San Diego official then stuck it to Fullerton by producing an eligibility document sent by Fullerton during the previous track season.

The Orange County club list had only a scarce number of athletes cited, not nearly enough for a track meet.  Instead of being on the Coast League’s official form the information “was on a piece of scratch paper,” said Anderson.


The Cavemen did not have clean hands.

“San Diego High was in hot water during this time period, because of not following CIF rules. There were delays in making reports (forwarding game receipts, etc) ,” said CIF Southern Section historian John Dahlem.

Similar complaints of travel were voiced many times over the years.


Army-Navy also drew the wrath of the Southern Section.

The Cadets’ starting backfield and three linemen were declared ineligible thirty minutes before kickoff against El Centro Central.

In all 30 players were banished from football, according to coach Ed Tarr.

Alan McGrew wrote that “most of the ineligibility was caused by students transferring from other schools after being out a semester.”

McGrew was emotional.

The scribe declared that “the murder of Caesar was nothing compared to the ‘crime’ the Southern California Interscholastic federation, boss of prep sports in this section, has committed.”

Minutes from a Southern Section executive committee meeting 10 days before did not shed much light, only that games played by Army-Navy “are not to count towards a championship in any way.”

The CIF was uneasy about the Pacific Beach military boarding school, whose perceived unfair housing advantage raised questions of residence and eligibility.


The Army-Navy coach announced that he would have to dismantle the “Seconds” team and that he was debating whether to field an “Ineligible” squad.

Tarr thought his ineligibles could meet the San Diego Lightning squad.

The Lightning also was comprised of  ineligible players and was coached by Rupert Costo, a 200-pound Native American lineman who was expected to be a starter on the Hilltoppers’ varsity.

Costo had gotten the rubber key from school officials after it was discovered that he had exhausted all of his eligibility when Costo had attended several other high schools.


Artist concept of the new San Diego sports emporium.

Artist’s concept of the new San Diego sports emporium.

The new Coliseum Athletic Club was being constructed at 15th and E Streets.  “Every possible modern convenience” was to be included in the 4,500-seat stucco and tile structure.

Carlsbad celebrated its second annual “Avocado Days”.  Some 2,000 guests enjoyed Avocado soup, Avocado sandwiches, and Avocado ice cream.

A dance concluded the event, at which a local Avocado honcho said the fruit had made the North Coast of San Diego County famous.

Low bid of $247,000 was submitted by contractor William C. Reed for construction of Woodrow Wilson Memorial Junior High at 37th Street and El Cajon Blvd., in East San Diego.

Wilson would open in 1926 and be the primary feeder for a high school that was to be built later in the decade.  That school was to be named after President Herbert Hoover.


The last quarter of Coronado’s 38-12 victory at Army-Navy was played with the aid of automobile lights.

Many scoring plays and penalties meant a longer game and late October’s dwindling sunlight contributed to the need for artificial illumination.


Pay dues at Memorial or Roosevelt, the city’s two junior highs, which opened in in 1922 and ’24, respectively, and be promoted to the high school.

Future San Diego coaches Dewey (Mike) Morrow and George Hobbs were on the Memorial staff.

Francis Parker in Mission Hills announced Sept. 4 it would field a high school football team this year, under the guidance of Lloyd Prante, former Nebraska player.

The school, which opened in Mission Hills in 1911, would move to Linda Vista in the late 1960s and begin playing football again in 1969.


The County League, inclusive of all schools other than San Diego, entered its eighth season of operation with a double, round-robin schedule and welcomed newcomer La Jolla Junior-Senior High.

Other football-playing members were Grossmont, Sweetwater, Escondido, and Coronado.


Twenty-one Grossmont players and coach Ladimir (Jack) Mashin engaged in a one-week camp at Pine Hills YMCA (later known as Camp Marston) in Julian.

“Most of the boys have been on ranches all summer with little time for recreation,” explained principal Carl Quicksall.

The group was accompanied by a chef.  Goal posts were added to the athletic field, and a swimming pool was available.


Blocking back Saunders was on first-team all-Southern California.

Blocking back Saunders was first-team all-Southern California.

San Diego had one player on the all-Southern California team, blocking back Russ Saunders…Glenn Rozelle, the uncle of future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, also was a first-team choice, from Compton…San Diego players didn’t practice on the first day of school, instead watching a slow-motion film on fundamentals, instructed by USC coach Gus Henderson and Notre Dame boss Knute Rockne…Grossmont defeated Brawley, 6-0, in the first ever game between San Diego and Imperial County clubs…the Pasadena Star newspaper ordered a phone line for the City Stadium press box so its correspondent could provide a running, play-by-play of the Bullpups’ game against San Diego…San Diego and the Pomona College freshmen almost evenly split 25 punts and Pomona missed four field goals…”Blackboard” practice was a precursor to modern-day game film…coaches diagrammed plays on a chalkboard and tested the players…

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2014-15: Torrey Pines Leads 6 San Diego Teams

Can coach John Olive’s tough-minded, resourceful Torrey Pines Falcons pull off another victory in Tuesday’s Southern California playoff Division I semifinals?

The No. 6-seed Falcons, trailing, 43-40, after three quarters, walked down host No. 3 Long Beach Poly, 54-49, in the quarterfinals Saturday night.  The Falcons now visit 2 seed Chino Hills, averaging a turbo-charged  85.4 points and holding a 78-54 victory over Poly and an 82-63 win last week over Torrey Pines neighbor San Marcos.

The Huskies’  16-14 record is the result of seven forfeit defeats early in the season, including a forfeit loss to Foothills Christian, which came up short in an Open Division game at Etiwanda, the state’s third-ranked team.

Coach Brad Leaf’s Foothills Knights held a one-point lead with a little more than one minute remaining, surrendered a basket, and then, in possession, could not get the shot it needed with 10 seconds left.

St. Augustine was ushered out in the Open Division, 75-61, by Torrance Bishop Montgomery.

Of the original 18 teams from the San Diego Section, three boys’ teams and three girls’ squads still are in the hunt.

La Costa Canyon, No. 1 in Boys’ Division II, faces the 22-11 Lawndale Cardinals, who defeated Redlands East Valley, 75-50.

Lawndale recently surrendered a 28-point lead in the third third quarter and 22-point advantage in the fourth and bowed to Anaheim Canyon, 105-98, in two overtimes in the Southern Section finals.

Mt. Carmel must travel to Alhambra and take on No. 1-ranked Mark Keppel in Girls’ D-II. La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop’s, seeded 1 and 2 in D-V, could be headed to a championship showdown. Pairings:


Div. Seed Team Record Seed Team Record
I 6 Torrey Pines 31-3 @2 Chino Hills 16-14*
II 1 La Costa Canyon 24-7 4 Lawndale 22-11
V 6 Army-Navy 26-6 @2 L.A. Price 22-7

*Includes 7 forfeits.


Div. Seed Team Record Seed Team Record
II 4 Mt. Carmel 30-3 @1 Alhambra Mark Keppel 24-7
V 1 La Jolla Country Day 15-12 4 L.A. Ribet 24-10
V 2 The Bishop’s 23-9 3 Garden Grove Orangewood 29-4
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2014-15: Horizon Girls Get Stink Eye From CIF

Winning a league and section title no longer matters, according to the convoluted “power” ratings and Open divisions established by the state CIF and endorsed by the San Diego Section.

The Horizon girls’ basketball team was essentially told to drop dead by the CIF after the Panthers had won their league title and the San Diego Section Division I championship.

State regional playoffs begin tomorrow night. Horizon is out and La Jolla Country Day and The Bishop’s, teams beaten by Horizon for the Horizon League title, are the 1 and 2 seeds in D-V.

Teams can move down in the regional only if they were in Open Division in their section playoffs.  St. Augustine stays in the Open by virtue of another seeding criteria.

No less an expert and booster of high school sports than Mark Tennis of Cal-Hi Sports weighed in.

“We’ve been doing this for 35 years, longer than the CIF has even had a state tournament, and the Horizon Christian girls basketball team having its season end through a series of CIF San Diego Section policies, CIF State regional criteria, and ridiculous power ratings is one of the worst cases of how not to run high school sports that we’ve ever seen.”

“It’s a tragedy,” added Steve Brand of UT-San Diego.

Boys D-I titlist Escondido also is out.  Morse, which lost to the Cougars, 63-49, in the D-I championship, is in.

Go figure.

The ratings are the result of much statistical analysis.  A labyrinth of information goes into a computer to help determine which teams compete in Roman numeral divisions and which teams are selected for Open divisions.

Sounds good, but it hasn’t worked.

St. Augustine, which won a state D-III title in 2012-13, was denied an opportunity to defend its title and was consigned to the Open Division in 2013-14.

The Saints were forced to go on the road and  took a 67-39, first-round shellacking from Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Coach Mike Haupt’s squad again is in the Open Division and faces another tall hurdle.  As the No. 8 seed, the Saints visit No. 1 Torrance Bishop Montgomery, the state’s second-ranked squad.

Foothills Christian, which won the San Diego Section D-II title, all of a sudden is in the Open Division, apparently because the Knights have an overall high state ranking (No. 20 by Cal-Hi Sports).

The No. 6 seed Knights also have a daunting challenge, visiting No. 3 seed Etiwanda, the state’s third-ranked team.

Torrey Pines, the Open Division loser to St. Augustine, also is in the tournament, but now has a home game  in D-I tomorrow night against North Tustin Foothill.

Go figure II.

More and more teams are being invited to the state playoffs.  The once-pristine regional is beginning to look like the  bloated early rounds of the Section tournament.

Teams with losing records are creeping in.

Regional first-round pairings involving San Diego section teams:


Div. Seed Team Record Seed Team   Record
Open 8 St. Augustine 25-6 @1 Torrance  Bishop Montgomery   29-1
6 Foothills Christian 23-7 @3 Etiwanda 23-8
I 11 Tustin Foothill 28-3 @6 Torrey Pines 29-3
10 San Marcos 25-3 @7 Riverside  J. W. North 24-3
II 16 Ladera Ranch Tesoro 19-11 @1 La Costa Canyon 22-7
12 Mira Mesa 25-7 @5 Redlands East Valley 25-7
15 Kearny 23-8 @2 Anaheim Canyon 23-9
III 12 Valhalla 22-9 @5 La Habra Sonora 28-4
10 Corona del Mar 24-7 @7 El Cajon Valley 25-6
IV 11 Cerritos Valley Christian 22-9 @6 Mission Bay 21-4
15 Pacific Ridge 22-6 @2 Pasadena Maranatha 20-8
V 11 Hesperia Christian 23-9 @6 Army-Navy 24-6


Div. Seed Team Record Seed Team Record
Open 6 Mission Hills 26-5 @1 Long Beach Poly 25-3
I 12 Torrey Pines 22-9 @5 San Bernardino Cajon 26-3
15 Eastlake 20-8 @2 Vista Murrieta 22-7
II 12 La Costa Canyon 23-6 @5 Norco 22-9
13 Eagle Rock 19-10 @4 Mt. Carmel 28-3
14 Westview 21-7 @3 Mira Costa+ 24-7
III 12 Kearny 22-6 @5 Corona 22-8
11 Rancho Bernardo 14-12 @6 Rancho Santa Margarita 18-14
IV 9 El Capitan 19-8 @8 Capistrano J. Serra 23-7
V 1 La Jolla Country Day 14-12 Bye
2 L.A. Price 14-16 @2 The Bishop’s 21-9


Foothills Christian came on strong in the San Diego Section playoffs and  finished atop the UT-SanUT-San Diego poll.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Foothills Christian (9) 23-7** 107 2
2 St. Augustine (2) 25-6 101 7
3 Torrey Pines 29-4 89 1
4 Escondido 23-7 64 8
5 La Costa Canyon 22-7 59 3
6 Army-Navy 24-6 47 5
7 San Marcos 25-3 44 4
8 Morse 25-7 28 9
9 El Camino 21-6 22 6
10 Mission Bay 20-4 17 10

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.  **Includes two forfeits.

Others receiving votes: El Cajon Valley (25-6), 5; Mira Mesa (25-7), 4; Francis Parker (19-8), 2.

Eleven San Diego County sportswriters and broadcasters and a CIF San Diego Section representative vote each week. The panel includes John Maffei and Kirk Kenney (UT-San Diego), Terry Monahan (UT-San Diego correspondent), Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com), Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com), Aaron Burgin (fulltimeshoops.com), Rick Willis (KUSI Chl. 51), Rick Smith (partletonsports.com), Drew Willis (sdcoastalsports.com).


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2014-15: Playoffs Now Get Serious

Ugly blowouts apparently in the rear view mirror, the San Diego Section basketball playoffs reach the semifinals round this week in the Open and Divisions I-V.

The so-called CIF power ratings, with  their comprehensive reviews of statistics, scores, strength of schedule, etc., raised questions when Vista was accorded an Open Division berth, resulting in Francis Parker and Morse being assigned to Division I.

San Marcos’ strength of schedule  was questioned when he it was granted a No. 3 seed in the Open.

St. Augustine, No. 6, defeated San Marcos,  60-45, and Torrey Pines, No. 1, walloped Vista, No. 8, 68-38.


Torrey Pines was 4-1 in intersectional games and hosted the nationally acclaimed Under-Armour Tournament, which brings teams from throughout the United States.

Vista was 1-5 in out-of-the area competition and participated in a lower level tournament in Westminster.

San Marcos was 5-0 intersectionally and won undistinguished tournaments in Maui, Hawaii, and at Mt. Carmel.

St. Augustine was 4-3 out of the area and was in the lower level West Hills event but also competed in the Under Armour and Santa Margarita tournaments.

The Open semifinals have St. Augustine (23-6) at No. 2 La Costa Canyon (22-6) and No. 4 Army-Navy (24-5) at Torrey Pines (27-2).

Hopefully early-round games involving undeserving, losing teams and  scores of 68-21, 92-29, 77-28, and 71-27 won’t be repeated and, in the future, more weight will be given to the quality of tournaments and intersectional competition.


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1956: “Smiley” is San Diego High Legend

San Diego coach Duane Maley said it best:  “He can run sideways faster than most backs can forward.”

Maley spoke of a favored player,  5-foot, 4-inch, 145-pound halfback Cleveland (Smiley) Jones, who literally carried the 1956 Cavemen.

Jones was the City Prep League player of the year despite missing almost all of two games and parts of others.

San Diego was 6-0 when Jones was healthy, 1-2 when he was sidelined.


In what was supposed to be a major rebuilding season after Jones and teammates won the 1955 Southern California championship and were declared national prep champions, the Cavers won their first three games in impression fashion.

Jones was hurt in the first quarter of the fourth, an upset, 20-12 loss to Hoover.  He played sparingly the following week, a 54-13 win over Mission Bay, and missed much of the 35-21 loss to Downey in the first round of the playoffs.


Jones, scoring second touchdown against Lincoln, went on to star at University of Oregon..

Jones, scoring second touchdown against Lincoln, went on to star at University of Oregon..

In between, Jones scored 96 points, with 12 touchdowns and kicked 24 points after.  He also played defense, but was  player of the year because of a 10.8-yard rushing average, 17-yard pass-receiving average, and a stunning 45-yard average on punt returns.

“Jones is a great broken field runner, the greatest I’ve ever coached,” said Maley, who was not given to hyperbole.

Of Jones’s many long runs, the most memorable came in the showdown with Lincoln, playoff berth and tie for the CPL title on the line.

Lincoln scored first to take a 7-0 lead.   Jones juggled the ensuing kickoff and the ball  bounced back to the one-yard line.  The diminutive Caver almost lost his balance, but recovered, and ran 99 yards for a tying touchdown.

Jones scored one other touchdown as San Diego won a thrill-packed game, 26-19, earning a first-round playoff date with Downey at Long Beach Veterans’ Stadium, site of San Diego’s  epic 1955 semifinal  victory over  Anaheim.


Jones was hurt in the loss to Downey, the eventual, 13-13 tie co-champion with Anaheim.

The Cavers’ 14-point loss, with Jones out much of the game,  compared well to the Vikings  41-point victory over Beverly Hills and 33-point win over Lancaster Antelope Valley in other playoff games.

Comparatively, Downey defeated Long Beach Wilson, 13-7.  San Diego defeated the Bruins, 21-7, and had three touchdowns called back.

This wasn’t a championship Cavers team, but it might have been had Jones not been sidelined with some untimely injuries.


Jones was on a conference championship team at San Diego Junior College in 1957, was a two-year star at Oregon,  a late roster cut of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, and then starred for the powerful San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot team.

Jones still was playing semipro football at age 38.  Compared to 21st century NFL players, he most closely resembled Darren Sproles, who thrilled San Diego Chargers fans a couple generations later.

Jones went on to a long career as an officer in the Orange County Probation Department.

He was known as “Smiley” because his facial bones were such that his countenance is a perpetual pleasant expression or smile.

Cleveland brought a lot of smiles to those who watched him and played with him.

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1956: Then and Now for Hoover’s Engle

A stunning, 2012 victory over archrival San Diego High brought back a flood of memories to Hoover coach Roy Engle.

–That hazy afternoon in Balboa Stadium in 1935 when Engle drove the Cardinals to a fourth-quarter, 7-6 victory over San Diego.

–Engle, the senior ball carrier, gaining the final 25 yards in three carries in the 80-yard drive to the game-tying touchdown.

–The first victory and first points ever scored by Hoover against the big, downtown powerhouse.

Hoover coach Roy Engle plotted season with quarterbacks Dick Verdon, Gary Bailey, and Dave Kusan (from left).

Hoover coach Roy Engle plotted season with quarterbacks Dick Verdon, Gary Bailey, and Dave Kusan (from left).

Engle and his teammates shared a glorious moment in the young school’s history, but Hoover victories in the city rivalry became few and far between.


San Diego held an 18-5 advantage in the series, had not lost to Hoover since 1949, and was a decided favorite in this renewal, played on the Hoover gridiron for the first time.

But the  Cardinals were confident and determined.

The squad met at the home of fullback Denny Berg the night before the game and vowed to reverse years of disappointment.


Engle was late getting to the Cardinals gym. He had gotten caught in  El Cajon Blvd., traffic after leaving his college area residence.

The coach couldn’t help but look twice when he entered the football locker room.

“Every player was dressed and taped,” Engle recalled to Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union.

No stragglers. And kickoff still was more than an hour away.

“It’s dangerous to see a team so high, so early,” Engle said.  “I tried to think of a joke.”

The game began with the joke on the Cardinals.


San Diego scored twice in the first 9:03 of the game on plays that began with Hoover in possession.

Bobby Staten picked up an errant Hoover pitchout and raced 20 yards for a touchdown two minutes after kickoff.

Hoover offensive hero Bob Williams went both ways and stopped San Diego's Ezell Singleton.

Hoover offensive hero Bob Williams went both ways and stopped San Diego’s Ezell Singleton.

Ollie Osborne recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.  San Diego suddenly was ahead, 12-0, and seemingly off to the races.

But the Cavemen’s No. 1 threat, halfback Cleveland Jones, sustained a hamstring pull in the first period, returned briefly, but left for good with 19 yards in 4 carries.

Hoover, running its Split-T offense and quarterback options to perfection, began to peck away.

The Cardinals pulled in front, 13-12, near the end of the half on Bailey’s 9-yard run and 17-yard pass to Bob Williams.

Without Jones, the Cavers had only 59 yards total offense.  Berg’s 3-yard run in the fourth quarter clinched the victory, the first by a local team over the Cavers since 1952.

“We had about 2,800, including players and fans, who were all pulling together,” said Engle. “I’ve never seen a group of players put out like our guys did.”

Engle was moved to say the game offered a reason as to why “men go into coaching.”


The 2,800 represented the size of the Hoover student body, one of the largest in Southern California.

Virtually all, along with a crowd that reached more than 7,000 persons, jammed the Hoover Stadium, spectators filling both sides of the field and temporary bleachers in each end zone.

Hoover and San Diego each entered the game with a 3-0 record, but San Diego had beaten Long Beach Wilson, 21-7, Point Loma, 40-0, and Arizona power Phoenix Union, 33-6.

The Cardinals had one impressive win, 14-6, at Redlands and victories of 9-6 over Grossmont and 27-12 over Mission Bay.

“Hoover played much better than it had before,” said San Diego coach Duane Maley.   “When a team can have 12 points scored against them as quickly as we scored and can come back, they deserve a lot of credit.”


“We figure to be real green, but we’ll come along.  We’ve got speed.”—San Diego coach Duane Maley.

(The Cavers, after having 28 players graduate and starters Luther Hayes and David Grayson transferring to Lincoln, leaving only one offensive starter, center Ron Collins, finished 7-2).

Art Buchanan, scoring against Long Beach Wilson, and Cleveland Jones (right) represented San Diego High swiftness.

Art Buchanan, scoring against Long Beach Wilson, and Cleveland Jones (right) represented the swift side of Cavers.

“If George gets hurt, we unpack our tent, put it on the camel and head for the hills”–La Jolla coach Shan Deniston on the prospect of losing halfback George Graham.

(Graham was the second leading scorer in the city with 12 touchdowns, including 6 in the final game).

 “Things have looked bleaker.  We just don’t remember when.  I hope we can beat someone”–St. Augustine coach Tom Carter.

(The Saints won some, lost some, and tied some, for a 2-4-2 record).

“This could be the closest race we’ve ever had.  Anyone of five teams could finish from first to fifth”—Point Loma coach Bennie Edens.

(Point Loma was a well-beaten, tied-for-fourth with Mission Bay with a 1-3 league record and 2-6 overall).

“We’re the youngest, most inexperienced, and the losingest, but we think we’ll have a chance in every game we play.  We’re in the league and we’re not afraid of anybody.”—Mission Bay coach Harry Anderson.

The writer's first daily newspaper byline.  One of many prep correspondents, I was paid $5 to call in results of games.  Actual writing was done by Union staffers.

The writer’s first daily newspaper byline. One of many prep correspondents, I was paid $5 to call in results of games. Actual writing was done by Union staffers.

(The Buccaneers beat Point Loma to finish fourth in the City League and were 2-6 overall).

The whole league will be better balanced, because most teams will be improved, and I don’t think San Diego High will be so strong”—Hoover coach Roy Engle.

(The haves, Hoover and San Diego, still held sway over the have nots).


Seven Mission Bay area gasoline stations formed an alliance with the school booster club.

Two cents of every gallon of gas poured on a weekend during football season went to the school fund, benefitting the Reserve Officers Training Corps, school choir, and athletic department.


After La Jolla played Mar Vista at Scripps Field in the afternoon, Mission Bay took on El Centro Central later in the evening at the same site.

El Centro defeated the Buccaneers, 20-13, and made another trip to La Jolla later in the season, winning, 25-14.


Susannah Lee, a 16-year-old Ramona High senior, was the only female high school correspondent for The San Diego Union.

Susannah explained  the secret of understanding football to writer Jerry Magee: Study the plays, watch the ball, and take a boy friend along who can explain the game.

“Get a boyfriend who knows football and can sit with you and tell you what they’re doing,” she said.  “I’ve used that system a few games.”

Susannah also is the Ramona High school newspaper social reporter: “In society you have to go and see what people are doing, who is going with whom, etc.  The students don’t turn in the news.”

Ramona coach Glenn Forsythe holds forth with reporter Susannah Lee.

Ramona coach Glenn Forsythe holds forth with reporter Susannah Lee.

Covering football, Susannah contended, is “easy.”

Miss Lee, who lived on a chicken ranch near Ramona, did not aspire to a career in sports writing and planned to attend Woodbury College in Los Angeles and take a secretarial course.


Gary Dunn, passing, and Ron Palermo, catching, teamed on a 46-yard scoring play for the only touchdown in Helix’ 6-0 victory over Chula Vista.


Three plays earlier the Spartans were shocked when the head linesman, in charge of downs and markers, signaled a change of possession, ball to Helix.

The switch occurred after Chula Vista’s Jerry Glad was thrown for a 12-yard loss on third down.

Chula Vista was robbed of a fourth down play, although it needed 14 yards for a first down.

Further frustration for Bob Geyer’s South Bay squad: it recovered five Helix fumbles and blocked a punt.

Helix' Bill Earnest ran 100 yards in :09.7 and was one of fastest in Southern California.

Helix’ Bill Earnest ran 100 yards in :09.7 and was one of fastest in Southern California.


Helix didn’t fool around in the Metropolitan League rematch (teams played each other twice in a round-robin schedule).The Highlanders won, 52-6, with their third 50-point outburst of the regular season.

The Scots  also defeated Blythe Palo Verde, 54-0, and rushed for an astounding 407 yards in another 52-6 victory over Grossmont, with scoring plays of 24,8, 85 (Palermo), 32 , 28 (Dunn), 48 (Danny Spinazzola), and 78 (Bill Earnest).


Helix had 21 touchdown plays of at least 20 yards, 11 of at least 40, averaged 34 points a game in an 8-0 regular season, and was a rare County favorite over Hoover in a first-round playoff that drew about 11,000 to Aztec Bowl.

But as San Diego and Lincoln learned, you can’t score if you don’t have the ball.

With Gary Bailey marshaling the Cardinals’ grinding, split-T attack and showing more flair as an option quarterback, the Cardinals ran 60 plays to the Highlanders’ 31 and built a fourth-quarter lead of 21-7.

Helix was playing catch up with Hoover all night, as Cardinals' Bobby Ball gained 15 yards before tackle by Highlanders' Wayne Voight.  Hoover's 64 is Doug Dunnam.

Helix played catch up with Hoover all night, as Cardinals’ Bobby Ball gained 15 yards before tackle by Highlanders’ Wayne Voight. Hoover’s 64 is Doug Dunnam.

Hoover’s 21-13 victory sent the Cardinals to La Palma Stadium in Anaheim and the Redbirds’ ball control worked again, for awhile.

The Cardinals scored first, ran more plays, and led Anaheim at the half, 7-6, but the Colonists with Mickey Flynn leading the way, ran away to a 34-7, quarterfinals playoff victory.

Hoover did not compare offensively to Anaheim.

The Cardinals’ Bobby Ball had rushed for 437 yards in 93 carries for a 4.6-yard average and Denny Berg averaged 4.1 and gained 393 on 84 carries.

Anaheim’s Joe Avitia had 874 yards and a 5.7 average and Mickey Flynn, used sparingly, had scored 17 touchdowns and was averaging 10 yards a carry.

Hoover had scored 170 points in nine games, Anaheim 347 in 10.


With 5:50 to play in the first quarter of a 21-0 win over Sweetwater, Helix’ Ron Palermo ran 6 yards to a touchdown.

With 5:50 remaining in the second quarter, Helix quarterback Bob Schultz passed 45 yards to Bill Earnest for a touchdown.


St. Augustine’s long battle to find a home in one of San Diego County’s prep leagues was coming to an end.

Saints coach Tom Carter had reason to see through his gloomy season forecast and point to the Saints' future in City Prep League with  center Dick Hammes (left) and quarterback Tom Valverde.

Saints coach Tom Carter had reason to see through his gloomy season forecast and point to the Saints’ future in City Prep League with center Dick Hammes (left) and quarterback Tom Valverde.

They would have a league in the 1957-58 school year but not before clearing a few more hurdles.

  • Southern Section bosses in September approved the Saints for membership in the Metropolitan League beginning in the next school year.
  • City Prep League honchos, who annually blocked St. Augustine’s bid for membership, made a U Turn and extended an invitation.

Principals of the 21 San Diego County schools attended a meeting in November at the Civic Center, where the Saints’ invitation was the only decision resolved during a four-hour session on releaguing.

  • City Prep League coaches disagreed with their releaguing bosses and voted against the Saints, pointing out that La Jolla and Kearny, whose games did not count this year, would be joining the circuit with Crawford, making for nine members, an unwieldy number.
  • The Southern Section releaguing committee, virtually rubber stamped the vote by the San Diego principals, voting unanimously to place St. Augustine in the City Prep League and removing the Saints from Metro League consideration.
  • The Saints still would need the approval of the Southern Section’s executive council, but commissioner J. Kenneth Fagans said the releaguing group’s vote was “tantamount to approval.”
  • Fagans noted that Crawford would not be playing a varsity schedule in football in 1957 and that “releaguing is on a year-to-year basis. If further changes are needed later on, we’ll make them.”
  • The Saints officially were placed in the City League by the Southern Section executive committee at its final meeting in December.


San Diego vice principal Bill Bailey, who coached the Cavemen to a 34-7 record from 1943-47, had a dilemma.

Bailey’s son, Gary, was Hoover’s quarterback.

Six-year-old Gary Bailey observes as his father, San Diego coach Bill Bailey, reads a 1945 telegram which stated that the Cavers were the No. 1-ranked team in the country.  Eleven years later the Baileys were on different sides.

Six-year-old Gary Bailey observes as his father, San Diego coach Bill Bailey, reads a  telegram in 1945 which stated that the Cavers were the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Eleven years later the Baileys were on different sides.

Bailey and his wife deferred questions about who they were supporting, but it’s suspected they wanted Gary to have a terrific game and that maybe the teams could tie.

Mrs. Bailey would not commit to which side from which she would watch and Bill said only that he wished for a spot on the 50-yard line, “right in the middle of the field.”


Mount Miguel in Spring Valley was scheduled to open in 1957, as was Crawford in East San Diego.  El Capitan would open in Lakeside and Hilltop in Chula Vista in 1959.

The City Schools also announced plans for a second new high school when a 44-acre plot was purchased for $92,000 in Clairemont.

By 1959, Clairemont would greet students at its campus one block west of Clairemont Blvd., on Ute Street.  The school mascot appropriately would be named Chieftains.


Shan Deniston, who took over as La Jolla coach after seven seasons as an assistant coach at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, had been a catcher for the Portland Beavers in the Pacific Coast League.

An arm injury ended the St. Louis Browns farmhand’s career, but Deniston managed Browns farm teams at Mayfield, Kentucky; Belleville, Illinois; Pittsburg, Kansas, and Olean, New York.


The annual Breitbard Athletic Foundation College Prep All-Star game changed format.

From 1949-55, the game matched the Los Angeles City Section all-stars against an all-Southern California team.

The opponents this year were Los Angeles and a San Diego County squad.

The Los Angeles team scored a 19-0 victory before a crowd of about 10,000 at Aztec Bowl.


Escondido dressed 41 players compared to 21 for Vista when the undefeated teams met in an important Avocado League game.

“We respect them in spite of their numbers,” said Cougars coach Chuck Embrey.

Embrey wasn’t blowing smoke.

Escondido finally put the Panthers away, 16-13, on Chuck Wood’s field goal from the 20-yard line with 2:22 remaining.

Baranski (55) kicks point after against Point Loma and made rare field goal in game against Grossmont.

Baranski (55) kicks point after against Point Loma and made rare field goal in game against Grossmont.


Wood’s placement was the second of the season by an area kicker.  Hoover’s Walt Baranski toed a field goal from the nine-yard line to beat Grossmont, 9-6, earlier in the year.

Baranski’s field goal was the first in the County since 1952.

Field goals were so infrequent that newspaper correspondents often confused the distance, reporting the attempt from the line of scrimmage and not from point of the kick.


56graham0224150001La Jolla’s George Graham scored six touchdowns, ran for an extra point, and passed for another point after in his final game, a 37-0 victory over Fallbrook.

Graham’s 37 points were the most since San Dieguito’s Ralph Swaim scored 6 touchdowns and 36 points in a 1944 game.


Helix tackle Roy Bottini was a first team, all-Southern California selection and San Diego center Ron Collins made the second team…Anaheim and Downey played to a 13-13 tie in the Southern Section finals before a record crowd of 41,383…San Diego had 3 touchdowns called back in a 21-7 victory over L.B. Wilson, which scored with 10 seconds left in the game, when the Cavers had only 10 men on the field…La Jolla, 16 players strong , defeated Mar Vista, 13-7, to end a 15-game losing streak… the Vikings’ last victory was 7-0 over Rosemead in the 1954 season opener…Coronado coach Roger Rigdon declared that of the 200 boys enrolled in school, 100 reported for football…a City Schools carnival crowd of 16,000 saw the West team of Lincoln, San Diego, and Kearny defeat an East contingent of Hoover, Point Loma, Mission Bay, and La Jolla, 32-6…Lincoln beat Mission Bay, 14-6, and tied Hoover, 0-0, in two quarters of play…San Diego slapped Point Loma, 12-0…the Metro Carnival was an 8-6 win for Helix, El Cajon, and Sweetwater over Chula Vista, Mar Vista, and Grossmont….

Center Ron Collins, with quarterback Dave Conger, was only returning offensive starter for San Diego Cavemen.

Center Ron Collins, with quarterback Dave Conger, was only returning offensive starter for San Diego Cavemen.

Bennie Edens coached the handoff better than he demonstrated for quarterbacks Doug Minton, Roger Soares, and Ray Hermans (kneeling, from left) and Jerry Booth.

Bennie Edens demonstrated the handoff for quarterbacks Doug Minton, Roger Soares, and Ray Hermans (from left), and Jerry Booth (standing).

Sweetwater center Joe Wolf could snap ball to George McElvain, Larry Martin, and Jimmy King (from left).

Sweetwater center Joe Wolf could snap ball to George McElvain, Larry Martin, and Jimmy King (from left).

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2015: Ron Dargo, Ace of Crawford Staff

Ron Dargo, 69, who pitched Crawford High to the 1962 San Diego Section baseball championship, passed away recently at his home in Spring Valley.

Dargo, a lefthander, and  John Allison, who pitched from the right side, led a late-season Colts playoff push after they finished second to San Diego in the Eastern League race.

The Colts, who finished with a 19-6 record, defeated lefty Dave Varvel and El Capitan, 9-0, as Dargo completed a seven-inning shutout in the championship game at Westgate Park, home of the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres.

Dargo hurled one of Crawford’s two other postseason victories.  He  surrendered three runs in the first inning in the first playoff against Helix but pitched shutout, two-hit ball the rest of the way and beat the Highlanders and their ace, George Sherrod, 4-3.

Dargo went on to pitch for coach Ed Sanclemente at San Diego City College and Mesa College and for Lyle Olsen at San Diego State. He led the Aztecs with 95 innings pitched, 12 starts, and 8 victories in 1967.

“Ron had a good fastball and curve, was a very good hitter, and  a great teammate, remembered Tom Whelan, who was Dargo’s  catcher at Crawford and at San Diego State.

Following college, Dargo embarked on a long military career.  He retired as a U.S. Navy Commander and became active in the local sports fishing industry.


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2014-15: Poll Virtually Unchanged

The sluggish UT-San Diego poll showed no change in the first six positions from last week with  minor juggling after that, most notable being St. Augustine’s rising from 10th to seventh.

Meanwhile, there continues to be an absence of San Diego Section teams in the Cal-Hi Sports state top 20.

Torrey Pines, Foothills Christian, La Costa Canyon, and San Marcos have “On the Bubble” status.

UT-San Diego poll #8:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Torrey Pines (8) 23-2 107 1
2 Foothills Christian (3) 17-7** 100 2
3 La Costa Canyon 17-6 85 3
4 San Marcos 22-1 79 4
5 Army-Navy 20-4 60 5
6 El Camino 19-4 55 6
7 St. Augustine 19-6 30 10
8 Mission Bay 17-2 28 7
9 Morse 19-5 25 9
10 Francis Parker 14-6 36 8

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.  **Includes two forfeits.

Others receiving votes: Cathedral (13-7), 11; Escondido (15-7), 5; Kearny (18-7), 2.

Eleven San Diego County sportswriters and broadcasters, and a CIF San Diego Section representative vote each week. The panel includes John Maffei and Kirk Kenney (UT-San Diego), Terry Monahan (UT-San Diego correspondent), Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com), Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com), Aaron Burgin (fulltimeshoops.com), Rick Willis (KUSI Chl. 51), Rick Smith (partletonsports.com), Drew Willis (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2015: Billy Casper’s Mark as Chula Vista Student

Billy Casper, who passed away recently at age 83, was not only a Hall of Fame golfer as a professional but  also made his mark as a student  at Chula Vista High.

Casper was runner-up as a sophomore, champion as a junior, and runner-up as a senior in the CIF Southern Section golf championships from 1948-50.

Casper won the individual title in 1949  by shooting a 73 and winning in a sudden death playoff at Montebello Country Club.

Casper was named as one of the CIF Southern Section’s 100 greatest athletes when the organization celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013.

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