Week 16: Disaster!

Oh, my!

This had to be the worst weekend of football in San Diego County prep history.

Two state championship games, one a devastating blowout, the other an almost certain victory flushed in the final two minutes.

If John Carroll was thinking of retiring, and we have no idea what he’s thinking, would the great Oceanside coach  want to go out with such a stain on his legacy?

That stain was an astonishing, 68-7 loss to Folsom in the D-I championship, a loss made more incongruous in that the Pirates actually were the first team to score.

Oceanside went in front, 7-0,  on the game’s opening drive, the first time all season that its 16-0 opponent had been behind.


El Capitan seemed comfortable in the favorite’s role as it stunned Moraga Campolindo for three, third-quarter touchdowns and  a 28-7 lead.

Campolindo battled back to tie the game but El Cap appeared ready to go in for the  winning touchdown or field goal when a fumble on  the 10-yard line  was recovered by the Cougars.

The result of the fumble recovery was a surreal, 90-yard run to the house that ended El Capitan’s hopes for a 15-0 season.

Final score, Campolindo 35, El Cap 28.

“You never know which way the ball’s going to bounce,” said Vaqueros quarterback Brad Cagle, who finished the game with a broken bone in his foot.  “That’s why they make it the shape that it is.”

Cagle was visiting with Kirk Kenney of UT-San Diego.

Kinney’s colleagues, the newspaper’s two North County reporters, left the Carson StubHub Center post-haste the night before after the Oceanside destruction.

John Maffei covered the North County basketball tournament yesterday and Terry Monahan was at Serra High, watching the Girls’ Kiwanis Tournament.

The football season had ended with a resounding thud.




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2014 Week 15-16: San Diego Teams Face High Scorers

Oceanside and El Capitan forged a Division I & III parlay into the state championships with convincing victories in the Southern California regional playoffs but now will take on two, explosive 15-0 teams  this week in Carson.

Oceanside (14-0) ran Central Section champion Fresno Edison off the field, 30-6  at halftime, and cruised, 37-22, last week, while El Capitan (14-0) overcame a slow start with 28 second-quarter points in a 41-0 victory over Paso Robles of the Southern Section.

Both San Diego teams can put up  points, El Cap averaging 38 and Oceanside 33, but they’ll be facing almost unprecedented firepower.

Moraga Campolindo of the North Coast Section, which averaged 46.7 points and scored 701 total, will meet El Capitan in D-III Saturday at Noon at the StubHub Center.

Oceanside faces the most daunting task as it seeks a third state championship against Folsom Friday night at 8.Folsom logo

The Bulldogs  scored 847 points, averaged 56.5 (San Diego observers saw a preview in a 55-10, opening-game Honor Bowl victory over Cathedral), and rolls with quarterback Jake Browning, who has thrown for 85 touchdowns.

That’s 85 for the year, not his career.

Browning’s three-season total is 223 and he’ll be aiming for at least a tie for the national record of 91 in one season, set by Corey Robinson of Lone Oak High in Paducah, Kentucky,  in 2010.

With apologies to  Johnny Cash and his 1956 hit, “Folsom Prison Blues,” Oceanside is going to “hear the train a comin'”, but coach John Carroll’s seasoned and tough Pirates make this game the attractive as any of the weekend.


Folsom ranks third and Oceanside fifth in Cal-Hi Sports‘ latest ratings.  The computer service calpreps.com gives Folsom a 71 rating and Oceanside 65.9.

Campolindo logoEl Capitan would seem to be the favorite against Campolindo, with a 59.5 rating to the Cougars’ 49.7.

Cal-Hi‘s No. 1 (13-0 Concord De La Salle) and 2 (12-2 Corona Centennial) teams will meet in the Open Division championship.

North Coast champion  De La Salle has a 71.3 calprep.com rating.  Centennial is at 76.8 but has a 43-42 loss to national No. 1 Las Vegas Gorman and 28-18 defeat by Santa Ana Mater Dei, which the Huskies topped in a Southern Section playoff rematch, 27-24.

Division II pairs the Southern Section’s Redlands East Valley, 14-1 with a 51.2 calpreps.com grade,  against the North Coast’s Concord Clayton Valley, 15-0 and 54.9, respectively.

San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret, which eliminated Christian, 48-21, in the regional last week, takes a 15-0 record and 31.8 computer rating against Modesto Central Catholic, 11-3 and 41.4 in D-IV.

Central Catholic won a division mismatch in 2012, routing Santa Fe Christian, 66-7.






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2013-14 Week 1: Mavericks Lead in Hoops Again

La Costa Canyon, which began and ended the 2013-14 campaign as the No. 1 team in the San Diego Section weekly poll (it fell to fifth during the season)  is again at the top of the UT-San Diego inaugural basketball voting.

The Mavericks returned four starters (another reportedly tranferred to a prep school in New Hampshire) from last season’s 27-5 squad.

La Costa has a game against Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro on Saturday after posting a 3-1 record in the Mission Viejo Diablo Inferno tournament.

La Costa dropped a 62-47 decision to La Mirada and topped La Habra Sonora, 70-68, Anaheim Canyon, 69-54, and Anaheim Esperanza, 73-56.

Second-ranked Football Hills Christian, already 4-0 with a game against San Ysidro tonight, features 6-foot, 9-inch T.J. Leaf, who averaged 25.6 points and 12.6 rebounds as a sophomore.

A state Division IV favorite, Foothill will find out a lot about itself against Chino Hills Dec. 17 in the Tarkanian Vegas Classic and when the Knights meet Los Angeles Westchester in the first round of the post-Christmas Torrey Pines tournament.

St. Augustine, which lost to La Costa, 62-60, in the Open Division finals after topping the Mavericks, 77-74, in the regular season last year, is without Trey Kell for the first time in four seasons, but is 3-0, with wins over Box Hill of Australia, 65-46, 61-55 over Cathedral, and 84-52 over Rancho Bernardo.

Week 1 poll with last year’s records  and final ranking:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 La Costa Canyon (10) 27-5 109 1
2 Foothills Christian (1) 20-9 92 NR
3 Torrey Pines 26-5 64 6
4 El Camino 27-4 57 4
5 Morse 18-12 56 9
6 San Marcos 21-9 42 10
7 Kearny 25-2 36 5
8 St. Augustine 28-3 34 2
9 Francis Parker 26-5 18 8
10 Escondido 21-9 16 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes:  Grossmont, 15; Mater Dei, 11; Cathedral, Poway, 10 each; Army-Navy, Steele Canyon, 7 each; Mission Baay, 54; Sweetwater, 3; Eastlake, 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 Week 15: Oceanside No. 1 Here, 5th in State

Oceanside was the unanimous choice of 19 voters as the No. 1 San Diego Section team in the final UT-San Diego poll.

The Pirates are fifth in Cal-Hi Sports‘ state rankings with a state playoff game against Fresno Edison this week and potentially a State Division I championship game in two weeks.

The Pirates were helped in the Cal-Hi poll when some teams ahead of Oceanside throughout the season were toppled in their respective section playoffs.

Conversely, Oceanside played a tough intersectional schedule, waded through 13 opponents without a loss,  and could move higher in the season’s final two weeks.

Other San Diego Section teams in the top 25 were El Capitan, now 17th after moving up from 20th, and Helix, now 24th, down from 21st.  Mission Hills, Cathedral, and St. Augustine enjoyed, if that’s the right word, “On the Bubble” status.

El Capitan, second to Oceanside locally, plays Paso Robles, and Christian, eighth locally, plays Capistrano St. Margaret in other state playoffs.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (19) 13-0 190 1
2 El Capitan 13-0 160 3
3 Helix 10-3 150 5
4 Mission Hills 9-3 118 4
5 Cathedral 10-2 107 2
6 St. Augustine 8-5 84 NR
7 Rancho Bernardo 10-3 64 7
8 Christian 13-0 64 8
9 Madison 9-4 43 NR
10 Eastlake 7-4 27 6

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes:    The Bishop’s 17; San Marcos, 6; Hoover, Torrey Pines, Ramona, 2 each; El Camino, 1.

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2014 Week 15: 3 Good to Go in State Playoffs


That’s the way pairings shook out for San Diego Section teams today when CIF state commissioner Roger Blake announced that three area squads will host games in the first round of the state playoffs.

Officially titled the 2014 CIF Regional Championship Bowl games, the schedule calls for two games here Friday night, Dec. 12, and one on Saturday, Dec. 13.

The Southern Section’s San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret (14-0) will be at Granite Hills High for a Division IV game to take on Christian (13-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Oceanside (13-0) will play host to Fresno Edison (12-1) of the Central Section in a D-I contest at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

El Capitan (13-0) is home on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Paso Robles (13-1) of the Southern Section.

San Diego teams have never numbered three in the state playoff series. The area was represented by two teams each in 2009 and 2012.

Most games were played at the Home Depot/Stub Hub Center in Carson or at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

School Opponent Year Division Score
Oceanside Novato 2007 II 28-14
Cathedral Stockton St. Mary’s 2008 III 37-34
Francis Parker Modesto Central Catholic 2009 Small Schools 40-44
Oceanside San Jose Bellarmine  2009 I 24-19
Helix Loomis Del Oro 2011 I 35-24
Madison @Monrovia 2012 South III 21-17
Madison Kentfield Marin Catholic  2012 III 37-34
Santa Fe Christian Arcadia Rio Hondo @Del Norte  2012 South IV 30-28
Santa Fe Christian Modesto Central Catholic  2012 IV 7-66
Mission Hills Bakersfield 2013 South I 28-35


Edison, second oldest school in Fresno, having opened in 1906, has sent a number of players to the NFL, but never has visited this area.

(Fresno High pulled out of a scheduled game with San Diego in 1946 and Fresno Sunnyside defeated Torrey Pines, 22-21, in 2009).

The Edison Tigers won the County Metro League championship this season, with only a 15-14 loss to Sanger.

Edison defeated Bakersfield Liberty, 21-14, to get here and also holds a 15-14 win over Bakersfield, last year’s state D-I champion.

Oceanside won state championships in 2007  and in 2009  before advent of the Southern California regional bracket.


El Capitan had not been to a San Diego Section championship game in 51 years, much less win and host a state playoff.

The Paso Robles Bearcats, who’ve been around since 1901, will make a 331-mile journey South and hope for some clear skies.

The far North Southern Section team advanced by defeating Newbury Park, 13-10, on a muddy field at the Paso’s Flamson Middle School park, the gridiron of which is natural grass.

Cathedral topped 11-3 Newbury Park, 42-28, on the road in Week 5.

The Bearcats’ only loss was on the road in Week 10, 28-18, to 10-3 Atascadero.


St. Margaret, which opened in 1979, has faced many small school teams in the San Diego Section, but this is its first meeting with Christian.

The Tartans will face a Patriots team that has won 20 games in a row and still smarting, somewhat, from the administrative politics which prevented them from competing in the state event in 2013.

Coach Matt Oliver’s team was an enrollment fit for Division IV but was considered only for a D-III bid which it did not receive.

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2014 Week 14: Champions Await State Invites

John Carroll hasn’t won 247 games for nothing.

Thrown off by Helix’ speed and quick start, Carroll, coaching from the Southwestern College press box, went to a no-huddle offense late in the third quarter and Oceanside scored the game’s last 17 points to put away Helix, 20-13, in the San Diego Section Open Division final.

“We had the up-tempo in the game plan the whole time,” Pirates quarterback Matt Romero told John Maffei of the Union-Tribune.  “I’m not sure why we didn’t use  it in the first half, but we came out second half and did it and it was successful.”

Warhorse Josh Bernard gouged out 84 yards in 18 carries and made 13 tackles on  defense for the Pirates.

Nate Stinson had Helix looking good after a 76-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the Highlanders a 10-0 lead.

Carroll now is 6-2 against Helix in the finals.

This was Oceanside’s 15th section championship, dating to the first won by Herb Meyer’s 1963 squad.


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2014: Elena Casanova Cota, Matriarch of Athletic Family

The St.Charles Borromeo Church was filled to its football-field-sized capacity Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, as family members and friends said goodbye to Elena Casanova Cota, who accomplished much in her 94 years.

Mrs. Cota raised five sons and a daughter and three of those sons created an athletic legacy at St. Augustine High.

Eldest son Paul was a standout half-mile runner at St. Augustine and San Diego State. Paul and younger brothers Ron and Richard helped their designer father, a civil engineer, assemble the track and field facilities at the school.

Richard was the Eastern League mile champion at 4:26.8 in 1964 and was a member of outstanding teams at Mesa College and San Diego State, where he lowered his best time to 4:12.

Ron was a first-team all-San Diego Section linebacker on the 1961 Saints team that posted a 6-1-1 record.  Ron also played at Cal Poly (Pomona).  His son, Stephen, was a second-team all-section choice as a linebacker and played on the 13-0 Point Loma team of 1987.

Stephen ‘s nephew and Ron’s grandson lettered in football on Point Loma’s 2013 squad.

“Above all, our mother was always there, for all of us,” said Ron.

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2014 Weeks 13-14: It’s Oceanside and Helix, Again

The San Diego Section could get as many as three teams and as few as none in the upcoming state football playoffs.


Oceanside, now ranked fifth in Cal-Hi Sports’ top 25  (the highest a San Diego Section team has been since the ‘Side finished third in 2009), is a probable lock for a Division I berth if it can get past Helix in the San Diego Open final.

The Pirates (12-0) struggled in the semifinals, falling behind Mission Hills, 28-14, before overcoming the Grizzlies, 38-31.

Helix (10-2) defeated Cathedral (10-2), 27-5, reversing an early-season loss to the Dons.

Oceanside Logo 160x160Oceanside has been gaining in the Cal-Hi Sports’ poll, moving up three spots in recent weeks as teams in front of the Pirates have been eliminated in the Southern Section playoffs.

Oceanside would take a 13-0 record into the state playoffs if it knocks off Helix, No. 21, according to Cal-Hi Sports, but the Pirates aren’t a candidate for the State Open Division.

The South opponent for the North’s Concord De La Salle will be the winner of the Southern Section Open final between Bellflower St. John Bosco and Corona Centennial. Those teams rank 1-2 in Southern California.  Oceanside is third.

With two losses, 9-7 to Cathedral in September and 27-17 to El Capitan in the Grossmont Hills title game, Helix could beat Oceanside but not advance.

Oceanside is making its 23rd trip to the finals, Helix its 16th.  The teams have met in the championship seven times in the last 14 seasons, coach John Carroll’s Pirates leading, 5 games to 2.

Kickoff is Saturday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. at Southwestern College, site for all five championships.


Helix 24, Oceanside 17.


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2014 Week 12: Heady Atmosphere for Some Qualifiers

No less than seven teams still alive in the San Diego Section playoffs haven’t been this far in at least 10 years.

Sixteen teams are preparing for eight semifinal games this week, with the computer-oriented seeding process playing out well, but not much differently than when  it was with coaches hollering and screaming on Selection Saturday.

El Capitan, the 24th-ranked team in the state, has not been to the semifinals since 1991. Morse is making its first foray since 1996, followed by El Camino and Hoover (2000), Mater Dei (2003), and Castle Park and Rancho Bernardo (2004).

El Camino made plays such as this interrception by C.J. Simmons to upset Steele Canyon as UT-San Diego cameraman  Misael Virgen focused his lens on one-handed snatch.

El Camino made plays such as this interrception by C.J. Simmons to upset Steele Canyon. UT-San Diego photographer Misael Virgen focused his lens on one-handed snatch.

Pairings-wise, the Open Division is perfectly aligned with No. 1 Oceanside (11-0) acting as  host to No. 4 Mission Hills (9-2) and No. 2 Cathedral (10-1) welcoming No. 3 Helix (9-2).

The stars also are positioned in D-II with 1 El Capitan (11-0) at home to 4 Brawley (9-2) and 3 Rancho Bernardo (9-2) at 2 San Marcos (10-1).  Same for D-IV, with 4 Castle Park (8-3) at 1 The Bishop’s (11-0) and 3 El Centro Central (6-5) at 2 Mater Dei (6-5).

There were some quarterfinals surprises.

Actually, a big surprise  when 11 Morse (6-6) shut down 3 Sweetwater’s run-crazy Wing T offense and ushered the Red Devils out, 12-0,  ending their winning streak at 19 consecutive games.

D-I No. 7 El Camino (7-5), a loser of 4 in a row at the end of the regular season and outscored 106-28 during that span, won its second straight playoff, edging 2 Steele Canyon, 34-33, on a field goal by Antonio Garcia with six seconds left.

The Wildcats face 5 St. Augustine (6-5) while 4 Madison (8-3) visits 1 La Costa Canyon (7-5).

Morse now tries again against No.2 Christian (11-0) in D-III, while 5 Granite Hills (9-2) goes to 1 Hoover.


In surviving a game which saw six lead changes in  the second half and 31 fourth-quarter points, El Camino coach John Roberts forged an interesting matchup.

Roberts was on the staff of Richard Sanchez’s at St. Augustine before taking over the Oceanside school’s program this season.

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2014 Week 12: Playoffs Essentially Begin This Evening

The real racing in the San Diego Section playoffs, including competition in the Open Division, begins tonight with quarterfinals games on fields drying out from recent rain.

Teams with championship hopes also have their sights set beyond, to the state playoffs which begin in  three weeks,  following section championships.

Oceanside is seventh in Cal-Hi Sports‘ Top 25 for the third consecutive week, with Cathedral  17th, and El Capitan 24th.

Oceanside is fifth in Division I South, El Capitan first in D-III South, and Christian first in D-IV South.

Cathedral is 13th in D-I South, while Helix, Eastlake, and Mission Hills tread cautiously on the bubble.

San Diego’s Open Division champion, be it Oceanside or Cathedral, likely will get strong consideration for a berth in the State D-I playoffs.

Oceanside would be a longshot for a state Open invitation, logically because Southern Section contenders for the Open would have gone through a competitively much tougher playoff run.

Cathedral  would not be considered  even if it won San Diego’s Open.  The Dons would not be able to live down the 55-10, season-opening loss to Folsom.

El Capitan would be favored for a D-III state playoff berth should it win out in D-II in San Diego.   Christian, because it has less than 500 students, would drop from D-III to D-IV if it gets that far.

Rancho Bernardo, Sweetwater and San Marcos rank 8, 9, and 10 respectively in D-III South.

State playoff divisions are determined in part by enrollment, “competitive equity” (good wins vis-a-vis bad losses, strength of schedule), and politics.

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2014 Weeks 11-12: First Round Like Regular Season

Sixty-four playoff teams became 32, but the action was more like an 11th regular-season game, everyone awaiting the real postseason.

It all should change this week, with Open Division competition beginning in the quarterfinals and with some decent offerings.

Eastlake (7-3), seeded fifth in the Open, visits No. 4 Mission Hills (8-2).

Division I sends 6 Vista (6-5) to 5 St. Augustine (5-5).

D-IV  has 4 University City (7-4)  at 5 Castle Park (7-3), and 3 Classical (9-1) goes to 2 Calexico Vincent Memorial (9-1) in D-V.


saints logo deuce–Has St. Augustine recovered enough from mid-season injuries and a loaded schedule to stop rising Vista, which has outscored its last two opponents, 76-21.

–What’s with Oceanside, averaging a touchdown less a game in its last three, after averaging 37 points in its first seven?  The ‘Side labored  in a 28-14 win over Carlsbad in Week 8 and take on the Lancers again.

–Can 9 seed  Francis Parker pull off the longest of long shots against 1 seed Hoover in D-III? Always low in  numbers, the Lancers, struck by a veritable tsunami of injuries,  morally  forfeited a mid-season game to Morse. They bounced back and were impressive in a 41-21 win over 8 Monte Vista.

ScrippsRanch–Will Scripps Ranch have another kookie comeback up its sleeve when the No. 11 Falcons take on almost-neighbor Rancho Bernardo, the 3 in D-III?  Coach Joe Meyer’s birds of prey were out of it, 20-0, at 6 Valley Center, then scored 27 points in the final 8:47 to win, 27-20.

–Can Madison  run the table after 3 losses to start the season?  The Warhawks have won their last seven and take on Point Loma, which they rousted, 36-14, for the Western League championship two weeks ago.

–Is 9-1 San Marcos to be discounted or is Mission Hills that good?  The Knights took a 55-13 shellacking from the Grizzlies two weeks ago and now meet 6-5 Lincoln, whose Hornets are up and down but pack a sting.


Favorites won 70 per cent of first-round games, 14 of 20.  Seeds 1 through 5 escaped disaster.  Most significant reversals were by Scripps Ranch and Morse,  which topped 6 Bonita Vista, 14-7, in overtime in another 6-11 game.Fallbrook

Buying or selling?  No. 5 Granite Hills (8-3) at No. 4 Fallbrook (7-3) in D-III.  The East County Eagles have scored 159 points in their last three game and are averaging 38.8.

Buying or selling? No. 10 La Jolla (6-5)  at 1 Christian (10-0) in D-III.  The Vikings look overmatched against the powerful Patriots, but La Jolla has scored 121 points in its last two games and is averaging 39.

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2014 Week 11: Top Teams, Enjoy Your Week Off

The computer and the writers, broadcasters, and administrative honchos are in agreement. The elite, top 10 teams in the UT-San Diego poll won’t be asked to mingle with the proletariat in the first round of the Division I-V postseason.

The CIF’s computer-based seedings  byed each team, from Oceanside to San Marcos.  The top 10 clubs have a combined, 89-11 record.

The poll vote after Week 11:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (18) 10-0 189 1
2 Cathedral (1) 9-1 167 2
3 El Capitan 10-0 152 4
4 Mission Hills 8-2 121 5
5 Helix 8-2 122 3
6 Eastlake 7-3 66 7
7 Rancho Bernardo 8-2 48 10
8 Christian 10-0 47 8
9 Sweetwater 10-0 39 9
10 San Marcos 9-1 31 6

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

Others receiving votes:  Madison, 18; Ramona, 15; The Bishop’s 10; Hoover, 5; Torrey Pines, 4; Steele Canyon, 3; West Hills, 2; Bonita Vista, 1.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll: John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego; Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents); Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com); Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions); John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090); Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section); Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV); Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools); Rick Smith (partletonsports.com); Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM); Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com); Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).


Why not Mar Vista?

The Mariners were 6-4 but were unable to crash the D-III lineup, which included five teams with 5-5 records and another with a 4-6.

Tyler Arciaga’s team won two intersectional games and played undefeated Sweetwater to a 24-13 loss.

The computer wasn’t impressed.


Ron Burner’s Vaqueros became the unexpected kings of the East County after beating Helix, 24-17, for Grossmont Hills championship.

Why wouldn’t El Capitan go into the Open Division, what with its victory over Helix and that  Helix is a No. 3 seed in that alignment?

Because teams were slotted by a formula which weighed their overall success during the previous five years (see Mar Vista, but that doesn’t make sense; the Mariners were 35-22 from 2009-13).

The five-year rule was established in 2013, not to overwhelming approval.


It couldn’t be that the computer also was affected by the perceived bias of the  North County media?  Could it?

La Costa Canyon finished with a 5-5 record and won the top seed, over Madison (7-3), Steele Canyon (7-3), and St. Augustine (5-5).

The Mavericks biggest win I suppose was 21-13 over Rancho Bernardo, the No. 3 seed in D-II.

La Costa Canyon defeated  lower-level Orange County squad Trabuco Hills, 34-7, and came up soft against Newport Beach Corona Del Mar, 38-0, and Oceanside, 35-6.

St. Augustine and Madison played much tougher schedules.

Off the five-year comparisons!


Don Carlos Stafford was an all-San Diego Section fullback at St. Augustine in 1962, but Stafford took a backseat to his nephew last week.

Torrey Pines wide receiver, Jack Bailey, headed to San Diego State,  one-upped his uncle and caught 4 passes for 217 yards in the Falcons’ 13-0 victory over La Costa Canyon.  Included was a 70-yard touchdown and gains of 74, 12, and 61 yards.

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1996: Essence of the Game

Virtues and moments that identify high school football:

–Overflow crowd of more than 4,000 at San Pasqual High, under Friday night lights, for neighborhood bragging rights.

–Tom Kirovski carried the ball on 24 of San Pasqual’s 28 second-half possessions and gained 173 yards as the Eagles defeated Orange Glen, 28-17, in the “Battle of Bear Valley Parkway.”

–To the winner goes the polished, wooden “Bear” trophy.

–“This is a big game, the game of our lives!” Kirovski exclaimed to Tom Shanahan of the Union-Tribune.

Kirovsky ran often and hard as Golden Eagles won "Bear."

Kirovsky ran often and hard as Golden Eagles won “Bear.”

–“It’s for the Bear,” reverently intoned the senior, who scored on runs of 4, 13, and 2 yards.

–About his workload in the third and fourth quarters, the 6-foot, 1, 190-pound Kirovski said, “That’s my job as the fullback, run hard and knock people around.”

–Kirovski gained 18 yards in 5 carries in the first half.

–Said Orange Glen coach Rob Gilster:  “Officials killed us in the first half (when Glen led, 17-7) and San Pasqual kicked the stuffing out of us in the second half.”

The schools’ addresses are about three miles apart, on Bear Valley Parkway.


The honor of being a team captain at Orange Glen required  a little more than calling the coin toss or being the BMOC.

Nate Nyberg gets a cooling lift during a hot preseason practice, after hiking in chilly mountain air.

Nate Nyberg gets a cooling lift during a hot preseason practice, after hiking in chilly mountain air.

Nate Nyberg and 3 other captains led a summer exercise with the team that would make the Navy SEALs proud.

The Patriots hiked six miles up in the High Sierras, strapped to 40-pound backpacks, and camped in the elements for three nights, with snow on the ground.

Part of this bonding experience required the captains to sing the school fight song while standing in a near frozen lake.

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever sang (sic) that song,” Nate recounted to  Mascari-Bott.


Raging flames from a Santa Ana-driven fire created havoc around the La Costa Canyon campus, but a youngster named Victor Yoshida brought some joy to the community and etched his name forever in Mavericks history.

Yoshida’s 36-yard field goal with 6 seconds left gave the Carlsbad school its first-ever victory,  16-15 victory over Escondido.

“Winning makes food taste sweeter and smiles bigger,” said coach Tim Smith after the victory, which put the Mavericks at 1-6.  “I was so happy to see the looks on the kids’ faces after the game. It was utter elation.”

The victory was especially significant, considering  damage from the fires, which caused a short week of practice for the team, and countless hours of anxiety.

“It’s quite a victory to give back to the community,” the coach told Paula Mascari-Bott of the Union-Tribune. “It’s a symbol of rebirth, a regeneration in the community.”

MEYER TAKES STOCK IN 38TH SEASON                        

El Camino coach Herb Meyer, at 288 victories, visiting with the Union-Tribune’s Nick Canepa:  “I’ve been doing this for so long it’s like butting your head against the wall.

“Do it enough times and it starts to feel good?  It’s still fun.  When it’s not, I’ll know it.  I’ll quit.”

Meyer would win 51 more games, retiring with a state-leading 339.


After a 20-7 loss to San Pasqual, Meyer channeled his inner “Fumin’ Human”:

“It would appear that this is the best we are capable of playing, because we don’t want to play any better than that.

“We have players who don’t want to listen to the coaches, who are hung up in the wrong place.  Football intelligence? We proved to be a very stupid team.”

Meyer was specifically hacked off about three second-quarter turnovers that San Pasqual turned into 20 points.

Meyer's fuming was directed at officials this time.

Meyer’s fuming spared the Wildcats after this play, but officials heard him loud and clear.


Heading into the Division I semifinals, Morse was ranked third in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, 20th nationally by Associated Press, and 22nd in USA Today.

After a 21-16 loss to Vista in the D-I finals, Morse dropped to 12th in the state, sixth in D-I, and eighth in Southern California.

Castle Park, the San Diego Section D-II champion, was No. 1 in the state in its division, tenth overall, and sixth in Southern California.

Vista’s win over Morse elevated the Panthers to 19th in California.  Mission Bay was eighth in D-II, and The Bishop’s third in D-V.

It was a strong football season in San Diego.


Hoover, 0-10 in 1995 and without a winning season since 1986, defeated Marian, 21-6.

Most impressive is that the Crusaders stood No. 1 in Division IV in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports’ rankings.

The victory was too much for the Cardinals, who lost their last 4 to finish 5-6, while Marian regrouped to 10-3 and was runner-up to The Bishop’s in the section D-IV finals.


Francis Parker was in position to kick a field goal late in the fourth quarter that would have beaten La Jolla Country Day, 3-0.

The Lancers’ offensive coordinator cautiously instructed his quarterback to spike the ball on third down and allow time to set up the placement.

Parker’s quarterback took the snap and downed the ball.


It was fourth down.

La Jolla Country Day took possession.  The season opener ended in a 0-0 deadlock.


Helix coach Jim Arnaiz was walking to his car in the Helix parking lot about 10 p.m. after Arnaiz had counseled at Helix Adult School.

As he neared his automobile Arnaiz, sensing that someone was behind him, turned around and was confronted by a youth who was holding a baseball bat.

The attacker took two violent swings, but Arnaiz ducked and jumped away. The assailant fled.

Arnaiz told authorities he thought the attack was random and not one of a student or someone seeking revenge for an imagined slight.


Mission Bay rode to championship behind Darryl Conyer's dynamic running.

Mission Bay rode to championship behind Darryl Conyer’s dynamic running.

Mission Bay not only won its first league championship since the school opened in 1954 but went on to claim the D-III championship, 12-10 over St. Augustine.

The Buccaneers gave notice in 1995, when they caught fire toward the end of the season and went to the  finals before bowing to Oceanside, 31-20.

“Sometimes I pinch myself,” said coach Jerry Surdy after the Pacific Beach squad forged  a 6-0 record and 12 wins in its last 13 games.

The Bucs went to 7-0 and finished 12-1. They avenged their only loss  in the regular season, 34-31, St. Augustine.

Mission Bay rolled behind all-state running back Darryl Conyer, who was the top scorer in the San Diego Section with 31 touchdowns and 186 points in 13 games. Conyer scored 11 touchdowns in  3 postseason games.


Nate Wright played in 156 games in the NFL, intercepted 34 passes from his cornerback position, and was all-pro twice, but his son Nate says, “I consider myself a running back.”

Even after playing defense at Point Loma for two years.

When the Pointers’ offense stalled, Pointers coach Bennie Edens called Nate’s number on offense.

Wright gained 260 yards in 24 carries and scored two touchdowns in a 31-22 victory over University.

Young Nate turned poet when he paraphrased a line from the movie “Field of Dreams”, before racing 68 yards with 5:27 remaining  for the clinching touchdown.

“I told the line, ‘If you do it, I’ll run,’” said Wright, who got the blocks he needed and sent a Homecoming Game crowd happily on its way.


Mt. Carmel drove 80 yards in less than a minute and scored the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left on the clock, giving Gary Jolk his first victory as a head coach, 31-27 over Mira Mesa.

J.R. Tolver had run 17 yards for a touchdown seconds earlier to put the Marauders in front, 27-24.


Midway Baptist and Horizon opened their seasons with a game in Ensenada, Baja California North.  Horizon won, 32-6, but coach Dan Stolebarger said the game was only part of the reason for the trip.

Stolebarger hoped his squad would learn from the differences in the countries’ approach to football.

Among others, “I wanted our kids to see how they played (in) sweatpants with knee pads and shared helmets (because there weren’t enough to go around),” said the coach.


Torrey Pines’s Ed Burke completed his 11th season as head coach with a record of 86-37-3 (.694)  Four other coaches, in the Falcons’ first 12 seasons, had a combined record of 48-64-4 (.431).


NFL's Allen, Brock, Lynch, and Saleamua were among  San Diego's prep alumni.

NFL’s Allen, Brock, Lynch, and Saleamua (from left) were among the area’s  high school alumni.

Twenty-nine area high school football graduates made it on to NFL rosters at the start of the season.

Name Position Year Team College High School
Eric Allen CB 9 New Orleans Arizona State Point Loma
Marcus Allen RB 15 Kansas City USC Lincoln
Tony Banks QB R St. Louis Michigan State Hoover
Tommy Bennett Safety R Arizona UCLA Morse
Matt Brock Defensive Tackle 8 N.Y. Jets Oregon University City
Brad Daluiso Kicker 6 N.Y. Giants UCLA Valhalla
Terrell Davis RB 2 Denver Georgia Lincoln
Charles Dimry Corner Back 9 Tampa Bay UNLV Oceanside
David Dunn Wide Receiver 2 Cincinnati Fresno State `Morse
Donnie Edwards Linebacker R Kansas City UCLA Chula Vista
Ray Ethridge Wide Receiver 1 Baltimore Pasadena City Crawford
La’Roi Glover Defensive Tackle R Oaklan d San Diego State Point Loma
Robert Griffith Safety 3 Minnesota San Diego State Mount Miguel
Sale Isaia Guard 2 Baltimore UCLA Oceanside
Lincoln Kennedy Tackle 4 Oakland Washington Morse
Chris Johnson Safety 1 Minnesota San Diego State Crawford
Ted Johnson Linebacker 2 New England Colorado Carlsbad
Jeff Kysar Tackle 2 Oakland Arizona State Serra
John Lynch Safety 4 Tampa Bay Stanford Torrey Pines
John Michels Tackle R Green Bay USC La Jolla
Lenny McGill Corner Back 3 Atlanta Arizona State Orange Glen
Rashaan Salaam Running Back 2 Chicago Colorado La Jolla Country Day
Dan Saleaumua Defensive Tackle 10 Kansas City Arizona State Sweetwater
Darnay Scott Wide Receiver 3 Cincinnati San Diego State Kearny
Sean Salisbury Quarterback 8 San Diego USC Orange Glen
Junior Seau Linebacker 7 San Diego USC Oceanside
J.J. Stokes Wide Receiver 2 San Francisco UCLA Point Loma
Rich Tylski Tackle 1 Jacksonville Utah State Madison
Tommy Vardell Running Back 5 San Francisco Stanford Granite Hills


Wideout Nate Nelson’s step-mother was a longtime employee of the San Diego Chargers, who could have used a performance such as Nate’s in Scripps Ranch’s 28-0 win over Kearny.  Nelson  caught three touchdown passes and made seven tackles on defense.

Zeke Moreno led Castle Park's championship defense.,

Zeke Moreno led Castle Park’s championship defense.,


Gil Warren was head coach at Castle Park from 1967-77 and won a section title in 1978, then moved on to be an assistant coach for the next 14 years at Southwestern College.

Warren finally returned to Castle Park and won another championship in 1994, the first for a South Bay school since Sweetwater in 1984, and rolled through 13 opponents without defeat for another championship in Division II this season.

Castle Park topped Carlsbad, 37-10, in the D-II championship. Quarterback Gabe Lujan was San Diego Section offensive player of the year and linebacker Zeke Moreno was co-defensive player of the year with Vista’s Robbie Robinson.


Coach Gil Warren could not be accused of running up the score in Castle Park’s 61-13 win over Montgomery.

Seven different Trojans scored and Warren was able to get 14 different running backs into the game.


After a 41-6 loss to Bonita Vista, Ramona coach Rick Foley was upset.  “This is the worst experience in my 17 years of coaching,” he said.

The Bulldogs were penalized 8 times for 78 yards and the host Barons celebrated the school’s first victory over a North County team.

Bonita was 0-7 dating to 1968, although Ramona, considered North, actually is East County.

There would other similar setbacks for Foley’s team, which finished with a 1-9 record and a three-year score of 6-24 for Foley, who left after the season.


Torrey Pines’ Hayden Epstein kicked a 56-yard field goal, second longest in Section history, as the Falcons beat Oceanside, 29-23…Epstein also added placements of 48 and 34 yards…La Costa Canyon in Carlsbad, the public school replacement for San Dieguito when the Encinitas school became San Dieguito Academy and dropped football, was beaten in its inaugural game by another newcomer…Scripps Ranch, in its second season, defeated the Mavericks, 36-13…Marian rushed for 290 yards and a 42-7, first-half lead and totaled 509 yards on the ground in a 55-7 win over St. Augustine…some 6,000 were on hand at Vista, when De La Salle of the North Coast section, defeated Ranch Buena Vista, 36-19, for its 52nd consecutive victory…Dwight Morris, 20-9-1 as Mount Miguel’s head coach from 1971-73, returned to the sideline 23 years later for another three-year stint (14-19) with the Matadors…New England guard Ted Johnson, on the NFL all-rookie team in 1995, donated $10,000 to his Carlsbad alma mater so the school could upgrade its weight room…El Cajon Valley made its first trip to the postseason since 1974 and was escorted out, 47-7, by El Capitan, which beat the Braves , 45-14, during the regular season…the Braves were 8-0-1 when they met a first-round defeat 23 seasons earlier, 26-8 by Mission Bay…unhappy with what he had been seeing up close, Vista coach Steve Silverman moved to the press box and directed the Panthers’ 17-14 victory from high atop the field…Mount Miguel, wiped out, 68-0, in 1995 by Monte Vista, recovered to beat the Monarchs, 18-13….


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2014 Week 11: Revenge of the Cardinals

What a difference 70 years makes.

Jerry Ralph’s speedy, competitive Hoover Cardinals took a 63-0 halftime lead and then called off the jam, activated the running clock, and ran out the game against former arch rival San Diego.

The 63-point victory gave Hoover the City League championship and its first outright league title since Roy Engle’s 1963 club won the Eastern League championship by defeating San Diego, 20-7, on the final Friday night of the regular season.

Hoover’s 8-2 record tied the Cardinals for the fourth most victories in school history, matched by the 1956 (8-2) and 1986 (8-4) teams, and bettered only by the 10-2 of Willie Matson’s 1999 squad, Mike Wright’s 9-3 team of 2006, and Ralph’s 9-3 in 2013.

San Diego  fell on hard times years ago, but this latest, mercy killing is payback for the dwindling few Cardinals faithful who were around when the Cavemen destroyed the Redbirds, 72-0, in 1944.

Over the decades Hoover was on the receiving end of other San Diego blowouts, such as 48-7 (1946), 53-13 (1959), 56-7 (1969), 50-13 (1980), and 66-6 (2002).

League championships have been few and far between in the 85 seasons of Hoover football.  For years the school was known for outstanding basketball and baseball programs.

Hoover opened in 1930 and won titles in an early incarnation of the City League in 1931 and ’32.

The 1935 team, with Engle as its star runner, was 7-1-1 and won the Bay League championship.  That team’s .833 winning percentage has been equaled once, by the 10-2 of Matson’s Harbor League runner-up 15 years ago.

Ralph is ascending among the career leaders.

With a 23-10 record since 20-12 at Hoover, Ralph’s overall mark in 16 seasons at Santana, St. Augustine, Del Norte, and Hoover  is 119-67-2 for a .638 percentage, eighth highest among active San Diego Section mentors.

Winning at Hoover:

1931 City 3-0 1 5-3
1932 City 3-0 1 6-3
1935 Bay 5-0-1 1 7-1-1
1943 Victory 5-0-1 1 5-0-1
1956 City Prep 3-0-1 1 8-2
1962 Eastern 4-0-1 1 7-2
1963 Eastern 4-0-1 1 7-2-1
1986 Central 4-1 1T 8-4
2006 Western 4-1 1T 9-3
2014 City 4-0 1 Still competing.
The 1943 Cardinals, Hoover's lone, undefeated squad. Head coach Raleigh Holt (left) was assisted by Bob Breitbard (dark top, second row).  Stars included Eddie Crain (31), Jim Morgan (25), Frank mith (40).

The 1943 Cardinals, Hoover’s lone, undefeated squad. Head coach Raleigh Holt (left) was assisted by Bob Breitbard (dark top, second row). Stars included Eddie Crain (31), Freddie Espy (25), Frank Smith (40).


The computer spoke.

There was no outrage, just a few raised eyebrows when San Diego Section commissioner Jerry Schniepp announced pairings for the five divisions of postseason playoffs.

Winning a league championship does not have the cachet of the past.

El Capitan won a head-to-head battle with Helix, 24-17, for the Grossmont League Hills title this week, but was consigned to the top seed in Division II, while the Highlanders were the third seed in the Open.

With top clubs getting Open Division berths, the D-I bracket is beyond weak.  Point Loma (8-2), Madison and Steele Canyon, each 7-3, are the only winning teams of 12.

Open Division teams get first-round byes this week, then the bracket of eight clubs will battle for the Section championship and a possible invitation to the state playoffs.


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2014 Week 11: It’s Helix’ Turn to Scratch Head

A panelist who voted for Helix as the No. 1 team in the UT-San Diego top 10 in the last two polls apparently was dissatisfied and cast his vote for Oceanside this week.

Helix’ 56-10 victory over Grossmont last week seemingly was not impressive enough when compared to Oceanside’s 35-6 win over La Costa Canyon.

Oceanside is 9-0 but had seen first-place votes dwindle from 19 to 16.

Oceanside received 17 of 19 first-place votes in today’s poll, the other two going to Cathedral and Helix.

The Pirates can earn their fourth undefeated regular season since 2004 with a win over crosstown rival El Camino this week.

Cathedral (9-1) is idle, but Helix (8-1) visits El Capitan (9-0) with the Grossmont Hills title on the line, not to mention seedings and division alignments in the playoffs.

The regular seasons ends Friday for most teams.  Saturday will be the biggest day , with announcement of postseason pairings and sites and selection of the top eight teams for the Open division.

The poll vote after Week 10:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (17) 9-0 188 1
2 Cathedral (1) 9-1 164 2
3 Helix (1) 8-1 154 3
4 El Capitan 9-0 130 4
5 Mission Hills 7-2 122 5
6 San Marcos 9-0 83 6
7 Eastlake 6-3 65 7
8 Christian 9-0 41 8
9 Sweetwater 9-0 31 10
10 Rancho Bernardo 7-2 23 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes:  Point Loma, 15; Ramona, 12; Steele Canyon, 3;  La Costa Canyon, The Bishop’s, Hoover, West Hills, Torrey Pines,  2 each; Madison, Fallbrook, Brawley, 1 each.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll: John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego; Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents); Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com); Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions); John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090); Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section); Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV); Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools); Rick Smith (partletonsports.com); Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM); Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com); Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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1995: Bennie Burns as Monte Vista Begins Title Run

Bennie Edens was pissed.

“I don’t appreciate being embarrassed,” Edens heatedly responded to a question from Paula Mascari-Bott of the Union-Tribune.

“Playing your starters in the fourth quarter, it’s poor sportsmanship,” steamed Edens.  “I’ve been coaching forty-one years and I’ve never embarrassed anyone when they’re that far behind.  That’s wrong.”

The Pointers had just finished on the wrong end of a 52-0 score in their season opener, a drubbing administered by the ambitious Monte Vista Monarchs.

The response of visiting coach Ed Carberry was tepid.

“We don’t have a lot of guys to sub in,” Carberry said.  “We only have thirty-one varsity players.  We played our second string defense the entire second half.  Everybody played in the game.”


The loss was the worst in Edens’ career and represented the most points allowed since Rancho Buena Vista outscored the Pointers, 56-36, in the San Diego Section playoffs in 1989.

The Pointers had suffered only one shutout more decisive. Coronado iced them, 55-0, in 1929.

That the season opener was a home game made this one more galling for Edens.  Point Loma had been the visiting team or the game was at a neutral site in those other losses.

Edens rallied his team from a 0-4 start and was 6-5 before dropping a 36-0 decision to Escondido in the playoff quarterfinals.

But Bennie was in the sunset of his career.

The decade of the ‘eighties and 94 Point Loma victories was gone. He would retire after a 0-10 season in 1997.


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2014 Week 10: Fallbrook Fells Foes

Give it up for Fallbrook!

The Warriors claimed their first league title since 2003 this week with a 31-6 victory over Orange Glen.

The Valley League championship  might also get the Warriors more than a cursory look from area observers.

Quietly, almost surreptiously, Fallbrook has crept to  a 7-2 record but hasn’t received one vote of a possible 190 (19 voters each week) in the first 10 weeks of the UT-San Diego Top 10 poll.

One of Fallbrook’s losses was a 47-7 zinger to El Camino, after which the Wildcats’ season  went South.  The other was 13-8 to San Marcos, which will take a 9-0 record into its  “Discovery Bowl” city rivalry game with Mission Hills in the regular-season finale.


Fallbrook tied for first with Oceanside and La Costa Canyon in 2003 but advanced to the Divsion I final, losing to Torrey Pines, 7-3.

The Warriors were comatose from 2004-13, posting an overall record of 21-82-2 under 4 different coaches. First-year coach Kyle Williams was 2-8 in 2013, but laid the groundwork for this season’s recovery.


Zack Podraza works Friday nights.  His father works Sundays.

Quarterbacking Scripps Ranch, the younger Podraza threw for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 62-37 loss to St. Augustine. Dad Tim Podraza has been a game official in the NFL since 2008, working as a line judge.


Valhalla won the “Jamacha Helmet for its 25-24 victory over Steele Canyon…Jamacha Road runs through San Diego and El Cajon and is near the schools…Grossmont coach Tom Karlo was on the short end of a 56-10 score against Helix, but he was the Foothillers’ starting quarterback in their last victory over Helix,  28-14  in 1991…Grossmont is 0-17 against Helix since…rampaging Christian was so far ahead of University City that the Patriots were involved in a running clock in the second half for the eighth time this season…Christian’s Adrian Petty led the way in the 42-6 victory, rushing for 174 yards and 4 touchdowns, then sitting out the last two quarters….


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2014 Week 10: Oceanside Slips in Cal-Hi Top 25

Oceanside dropped from sixth to seventh in Cal-Hi Sports‘ weekly State Top 25.

The 8-0 Pirates, driving toward their first undefeated regular season since 2009, are joined among the state’s elite by Cathedral, which moved up to 22nd from 23rd, and Helix, which gained to 24th from 25th.

It’s been noted that Oceanside has not been as dominating in its last two games, which were Avocado West League victories over Torrey Pines, 42-21, and over Carlsbad, 28-14.

Not perfect, but still formidable.

El Capitan remained No. 1 in Division III South and Christian is No. 1 in Division  IV South.  Oceanside is fifth in D-I South.



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2014 Week 10: Oceanside Still at Top

There’s no room at the top in the UT-San Diego weekly poll.  Some points adjustments were noted, but the same eight teams remained in place from the previous week.

While there were no changes, Cathedral took one of Oceanside’s first-place votes.  Helix had swiped two first-place votes two weeks ago.

The Dons gained as result of eight straight wins and a 57-22 rout of St. Augustine, while Oceanside, still undefeated, had to grind out a 28-14 victory over Carlsbad.

Christian inched up from 10th to ninth and Sweetwater was admitted to the group at 10th.

The Red Devils of coach Brian Hay, who have won 16 games in a row since 2013, actually had one less point, 18,  than last week, when they were among the “others receiving votes”.

The regular seaason ends in two weeks followed by four weeks of playoffs and possible Southern California playoff berths.

According to the San Diego Section’s intricate ratings system it appears that Cathedral and Oceanside could be on a collision course to meet in the Open Division semifinals.

Poll results after Week 9:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (16) 8-0 187 1
2 Cathedral (1) 8-1 163 2
3 Helix (2) 7-1 155 3
4 El Capitan 8-0 131 4
5 Mission Hills 6-2 114 5
6 San Marcos 8-0 81 6
7 Ramona 7-1 78 7
8 Eastlake 5-3 58 8
9 Christian 8-0 27 10
10 Sweetwater 8-0 18 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes:  Point Loma, 16; Steele Canyon, 10; Rancho Bernardo, La Costa Canyon, 2 each; The Bishop’s, Hoover, Madison, 1 each.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll: John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego; Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents); Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com); Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions); John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090); Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section); Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV); Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools); Rick Smith (partletonsports.com); Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM); Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com); Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014 Week 9: A Vote for Cathedral

Cathedral has been on a rampage and Oceanside may be losing some steam.

So Cathedral was No. 1 when I emailed my weekly Top 10 selections to John Maffei of UT-San Diego today.

The Dons ran away from St. Augustine, 57-22, in the battle of Catholic school titans last week and Oceanside gradually put away Carlsbad, 28-14.

The Pirates are still unbeaten, but have been a little off their game the last two weeks.

Oceanside is 8-0 through Week 8 and Cathedral is 8-1.  The Pirates were sixth in Cal-Hi Sports‘ most recent Top 25 and the Dons 23rd.  Helix (7-1) was 25th.

How bad were the Dons in their 55-10 loss to Folsom on the opening weekend?  Maybe not as bad as the score indicated, as preposterous as that would appear.

Folson is 8-0, the scourge of  the Sac-Joaquin Section, and has topped 55 points in five games since, including a 56-21 blowout of 24th-ranked Rocklin last week.

Maffei publishes the Top 10 poll each Tuesday.  The rest of my vote:  3, Helix. 4, El Capitan. 5, Mission Hills. 6, Eastlake. 7, Ramona. 8, Christian. 9, Point Loma. 10, tie, San Marcos and Sweetwater.


Serra topped San Diego, 35-8, but the Cavers scored their first points under coach Knengi Martin, who took over after the third game.  Martin was encouraged.  “This was the kind of energy that will lead to winning,” said the coach.

UT-San-Diego correspondent Alex Riggins asked Martin what the Cavers could achieve in 2015. “The playoffs,” she said.


Homecomings, rivalry games, and perfect weather had football fans in the mood.  Almost 7,000 packed Mesa College’s Merrill Douglas Stadium to watch Cathedral and St. Augustine.

Another 5,000 were on hand at Eastlake, where the host Titans kept possession of the bronze boot with a 45-20 victory over Bonita Vista.  Eastlake holds a 13-8-1 advantage in the series and hasn’t given up the boot since 2005.


“We’re the best 3-4 team in the county,” Torrey Pines coach Ron Gladnick said to Rick Hoff of UT-San Diego before the Falcons’ 14-0 win over El Camino.

A quick check showed nine other 11-man clubs with 3-4 records before Friday’s games: Mater Dei, Olympian, Santana, Valley Center, Del Norte, Bonita Vista, Francis Parker, Grossmont, and Carlsbad.

Let the discussion begin.







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2014: Mickelsen, Paulk, Verlasky Made Marks

Noel Mickelsen, Charlie Paulk, and Richard Verlasky recently passed.

Mickelsen, 80, had a lengthy coaching career in San Diego’s East County after posting a 71-62 record in nine seasons of professional baseball, including three years in  the AAA Pacific Coast League.

The 6-foot, 6-inch Mickelsen was a star player on the 1955-56 San Diego State basketball team that posted a 23-6 record and gained the second round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament in Kansas City.

The Aztecs were beaten, 69-60, by Gustavus Adolphus of Minnesota.  Mickelsen still ranks No. 10 among the Aztecs’ all-time leading rebounders.


Paulk, 68, became coach at Lincoln before the 1994-95 season and led the Hornets to a 25-7 record and the state IV championship, the first for San Diego Section team.

Led by future NBA player Mark Sanford, the Hornets closed fast and won four state tournament games,  105-51 over Easton Washington, 83-51 over Oxnard Santa Clara, 94-93 over Los Angeles Verbum Dei, and 63-50 over San Anselmo Sir Francis Drake.

A 6-8 forward from Northeastern State in Louisiana, Paulk played three seasons in the NBA. He was the Milwaukee Bucks’ first selection and the seventh pick in the first round of the 1968-69 draft.


Verlasky, 70, was a San Diego attorney who starred at St. Augustine and played for legendary coach Phil Woolpert at the University of San Diego and with future NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

Verlasky averaged 12 points  and was one of the Eastern League’s leading scorers in the Saints’ 13-7 season in 1961-62.


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2014 Week 9: What Did Oceanside Do Wrong?

You win your last four games by combined points of 168-21  and lose votes?

That’s what happened to Oceanside (7-0) in this week’s  UT-San Diego poll.  The Pirates, who defeated Torrey Pines, 42-21,  remained on top,  but it wasn’t unanimous.

No. 3 Helix (6-1) claimed two first-place votes.

Cathedral, ranked second with a 7-1 record and a victory over Helix, must be scratching its head. The Dons won their sixth in a row, routing Lincoln, 48-0.

Helix has scored 167 points in the last month.  Oceanside has had four consecutive outings of 42 points each, while Helix has scored 42 in each of three games and 41 in the other.

Poll result after Week 8:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (17) 7-0 188 1
2 Cathedral 7-1 163 2
3 Helix (2) 6-1 154 3
4 El Capitan 7-0 125 4
5 Mission Hills 5-2 110 5
6 San Marcos 7-0 84 6
7 Ramona 6-1 75 7
8 Eastlake 4-3 49 8
9 Steele Canyon 6-1 29 NR
10 Christian 7-0 26 10

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes:   Sweetwater, 19; Point Loma, 11; The Bishop’s, 2; West Hills, Rancho Bernardo, Vista, El Camino, 1 each.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll: John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego; Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents); Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com); Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions); John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090); Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section); Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV); Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools); Rick Smith (partletonsports.com); Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM); Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com); Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014 Week 8: Hast(ings) Makes No Waste

U.S. citizens have elected 11 Presidents since 1946, but Point Loma hasn’t gotten with the program.

The Pointers have had three head coaches in the 69 seasons since World War II.

Count ‘em.

Don Giddings replaced Bill Maxwell in 1946 and guided fortunes on Chatsworth Blvd., through 1954, succeeded by Bennie Edens, who didn’t hang up his whistle  until after the 1997 campaign.

Hastings Has Pointers in right direction.

Mike Hastings, who grew up on Point Loma and whose father taught and coached there and whose older brothers played for Edens, is a University alum  and played on teams coached by Ron Hamamoto.

After playing defensive tackle at Cal Poly of San Luis Obispo, where his roommate was Pointers grad Steven Cota, who starred on Edens’ 13-0 team of 1987, Hastings began working his way  home.

After coaching at Morro Bay, Hastings joined his father, Bill Hastings, as an assistant under Edens in 1993.

Now in his 17th season as head coach, Mike Hastings had made his mark.

The Pointers defeated La Jolla, 35-31, in the battle for The Shoe this week and are 7-1, their best record at this juncture since 2006 and headed for the postseason.

Hastings’ clubs have made 13 consecutive playoff appearances, and the victory was his 120th.  That tied Hastings for 28th all-time in San Diego County with Gene Alim and John McFadden, who also earned 120 victories.  Christian’s Mike Oliver won his 121st this week.


Jaylen Griffin gained 260 yards on eight carries and blew out touchdown runs of 78, 80, and 31 yards as Point Loma rushed for 332 in a 35-10 first half.

La Jolla’s second half surge had the Pointers perspiring.

“We persevered,” Hastings told Jim Lindgren of UT-San Diego.  “We really had to suck it up at the end.”


Hastings’s high school coach, Ron Hamamoto, now in his third season at Monte Vista after winning at University, Rancho Bernardo, and Lincoln, has guided the Monarchs to a 4-3 record and the 45-10 win over Santana this week  was the 199th victory of Hamamoto’s career.

Hamamoto’s 200th will place the Long Beach Poly graduate with seven others who have crossed that threshold: Herb Meyer (339), John Carroll (241), Bennie Edens (239), John Shacklett (229), Gill Warren (217), Ed Burke (215), and Jim Arnaiz (213).


Point Loma’s victory was for the Shoe Trophy that has been in play most years since 1948.

Mt. Carmel and Poway reinstated the Kiwanis Cup challenge, which started in 1975 but was on hiatus since 2012. The Sundevils won, 24-14, and for the first time since 2006.

Carlsbad took an 11-10 series lead over La Costa Canyon with a 27-26, overtime vistory and possession of the Rotary Cup.

San Pasqual knocked off undefeated Orange Glen, 21-6, in the battle of Bear Valley Parkway and for the hand-carved wooden “Bear” trophy.

Both schools are located on Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido, four miles apart.


It was Homecoming Week throughout the San Diego Section and Hoover had one of the nicest presentations.

The Cardinals began with NFL-style player introductions, followed with the national anthem sung by the school choir, and a blazing opening quarter.

Serra’s ponderous Conquistadors could not keep up with the Jerry Ralph’s small, cat-quick Redbirds, who bolted to a 27-0, first-quarter lead and a romped, 50-0.

The tone was set when Hoover’s George Jones bolted 44 yards for a touchdown on the Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage.

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2014 Week 8: Oceanside Faces Tough Final 4

Can anyone topple No. 1 Oceanside?

We’ll just stick with the regular season for now.

The Pirates’ last 4 opponents have a combined 16-8 won-loss record.

On paper, no  other team in the UT-San Diego weekly top 10 (see below) has a  more difficult month ahead except No. 9 El Camino and No. 4 El Capitan, whose final 4 opponents also are 16-8.

No. 2 Cathedral would appear to have the best opportunity to move up, with a final three that has posted a combined 8-6 mark.

Not so quick.  Two of Cathedral’s last three are Lincoln (4-2) and Catholic rival St. Augustine, which seems better than its 2-4 record.

Of course, it’s all on paper.  Anything can happen now that league play is on in earnest.

Oceanside begins its stretch run this week with an Avocado West opener against 4-2 Torrey Pines.

These are not the Falcons of the Ed Burke era, but  Torrey won its last 3 games by an average score of 33-12, and they played it close in losses to Mission Hills (17-21) and Cathedral (7-8).

The table lists the remaining opponents for this week’s Top 10:

=League. @Away.

Team Opponents Combined
1 Oceanside (6-0) =Torrey Pines, =Carlsbad, =@La Costa Canyon, =@El Camino 16-8
2 Cathedral (6-1) =Lincoln, =@St. Augustine, =@Mira Mesa 8-6
3 Helix (5-1) =@Mount Miguel, =Valhalla, =Grossmont, =@El Capitan 16-9
4 El Capitan (6-0) =Valhalla, =Steele Canyon, =@Mount Miguel, =Helix 16-8
5 Mission Hills (4-2) =Rancho Buena Vista, =Del Norte, =@Vista, =@San Marcos 13-11
6 San Marcos (6-0) =Del Norte, =@Vista, =San Pasqual, =Mission Hills 10-14
7 Ramona (5-1) =Westview, =@Poway, =@Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad 9-15
8 Eastlake (3-3) =@Chula Vista, =Bonita Vista, =@Olympian, =Otay Ranch 11-15
9 El Camino (5-1) Vista, =Torrey Pines, =@Carlsbad, =Oceanside 16-8
10 Christian Hilltop, =@Clairemont, =@University City, Santa Fe Christian

Poll result after Week 7:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (19) 6-0 190 1
2 Cathedral 6-1 159 2
3 Helix 5-1 148 4
4 El Capitan 6-0 127 5
5 Mission Hills 4-2 120 2
6 San Marcos 6-0 83 6
7 Ramona 5-1 69 9T
8 Eastlake 3-3 42 9T
9 El Camino 5-1 31 NR
10 Christian 6-0 20 NR

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

Others receiving votes:   Sweetwater, 18;  Steele Canyon, 12; La Costa Canyon, 8; Point Loma, 5; Granite Hills, St. Augustine,  The Bishop’s, 2, each. Rancho Bernardo, 1.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll: John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego; Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents); Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com); Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions); John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090); Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section); Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV); Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools); Rick Smith (partletonsports.com); Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM); Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com); Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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1952: 3 Too Much For Chula Vista

“We couldn’t convince ourselves that this team was as good as the Sweetwater and Oceanside teams we defeated.”

Such was the lament of Chula Vista coach Chet DeVore, whose Spartans’ season ended with a 19-0 loss to Laguna Beach in a CIF Southern Group semifinal playoff.

The small crowd of about 2,500 at Coronado’s Cutler Field was deflating enough, but the weary Spartans also lost 6 fumbles and their edge.

Chula Vista’s first blush with success since the school opened five years before had resulted in a Metropolitan League championship.

But Laguna Beach was the third consecutive opponent in a pressure-packed trilogy.

The Spartans didn’t have much left after a dramatic victory against Sweetwater and game-of-the-year win over Oceanside.


Oceanside assistant coach Swede Krcmar helps C.R. Roberts with clean jersey after Chula Vista defenders had torn the shirt with which Roberts began the game.

Oceanside assistant coach Swede Krcmar helps C.R. Roberts with clean jersey after Chula Vista defenders had torn the shirt with which Roberts began the game.

C.R. Roberts, a 180-pound Oceanside running back, had scored 181 points, led the Pirates to an 8-0 record, and created a loud buzz around Southern California prep circles.

Years later Chet DeVore would clear the dinner table and gather his sons John and James.  DeVore would place a bottle of catsup here, a salt shaker there, until he had 11 “players” in a defensive alignment.

DeVore would use the items to show his sons how Chula Vista defensed Roberts on a rainy night in the North County community before an estimated 6,500 fans.

Roberts scored once on a 17-yard run, but was met by a flock of defenders wherever he went.  Chula Vista won, 28-7.

DeVore figured the best way to stop Roberts’ strongside sweeps would be to overload the weakside on defense, short-circuit Roberts’ blockers, and stack Oceanside’s run game.

Defensive end Bruce Cornwall was a hero in this defense, as Cornwall was left to almost singlehandedly patrol the strongside should the Pirates come in his direction.

Junior Bob Neely was the offensive and defensive star for the Spartans, scoring on runs of 18 and 2 yards, and intercepting 4 passes.

“Make no mistake that boy is great,” DeVore said of Roberts.  “Neither myself nor my boys were disappointed.  He was all he was said to be.”

Chula Vista’s season would end with its own disappointment, but many Spartans would be back for another run in 1953.

Winning Spartans hoisted hero Neeley.

Winning Spartans hoisted hero Neeley.

So would Roberts, joined this year by Spartans defender Don Cameron on the all-Southern California small schools first team.

Roberts also was player of the year.


Coach Barney Newlee’s Red Devils, scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 13-7 lead into the last play of the game at Chula Vista.

Spartans Quarterback Lavon Baker was tackled for a loss at the Red Devils’ 39-yard line and Sweetwater players and fans began celebrating as the final gun sounded.

Penalty flag.

The game could not end on a defensive foul.


Quarterback Don Magee of Sweetwater enjoys impromptu water drop from Art Coltee and Don Lindsay (20)) in lighter moment before Chula Vista game,

Quarterback Don Magee of Sweetwater enjoys impromptu water drop from Art Coltee and Don Lindsay (20)) in lighter moment before Chula Vista game,

Sweetwater was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer.  Chula Vista was given another play and DeVore dug into his mental playbook.

Ray Speitel took a handoff from Baker on an end around play, then lofted a lefthanded 24-yard pass, to Baker no less.

Baker caught the wobbly spiral in the end zone for a game-tying touchdown.  Bob Wilson toed an extra point and Chula Vista escaped, 14-13.

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2014 Week 7: Oceanside, Carroll On Move

Carroll has Pirates rolling again.

Carroll has Pirates rolling again.

The opponents and the milestones continue to pass for John Carroll and his Oceanside Pirates.

The 42-16 victory over Mission Hills left the Pirates with a 6-0 record and within shouting distance of an unbeaten, 10-0 regular season.

Herb Meyer doesn’t hear shouts or footsteps, but Carroll’s 240th career victory moved the Oceanside coach past Point Loma’s Bennie Edens for No. 2 all-time in San Diego County.

Meyer, who coached 45 seasons at Oceanside and El Camino (1959-2003), will continue to hold sway for at least more several years with 339 wins.

Carroll, in his 26th season, became head coach at Oceanside in 1989, thirteen years after Meyer left to begin the El Camino program.

Meanwhile, Cathedral’s Sean Doyle solidified his No. 14 position with the 151st victory of his career and Christian’s Matt Oliver went by Eastlake’s John McFadden into 28th with Oliver’s 121st win.

11 OR 8?

I saw the Mountain Empire-Army-Navy  score and did a double take, so I emailed Redhawks coach  Bill Dobson.

I asked Dobson if the Redhawks and Army-Navy had a personnel shortage and  were forced to drop  from 11-man to an 8-man game last week.

There were 11 on each side, Dobson emailed me back this morning.

“The points were being scored about as fast as the wind blows during a Santa Ana out here,” said Dobson.  “Both teams were banging their heads on the scoreboard.”

Mountain EmireMountain Empire’s 66-58 victory represents the second highest combined point total for any 11-man game involving San Diego County teams.

The highest combined score is 137.  San Diego had 130 of those points against Army-Navy in 1920.

Mountain Empire went with its running game, rushing 62 times for 619 yards and a 10-yard average.  The Redhawks were 0-2 passing.

Senior Josh Lee earned a day off, rushing 32 times for 381 yards, 6 touchdowns, and three, two-point conversions. Lee’s running mate, senior Jacob Wilson had 217 yards rushing, two touchdowns and  two, two-point conversions.

Even in eight-man games, the point total has been bettered only 12 times:

Year Winner Loser Score
2008 St. Joseph Lutheran @Grossmont College 96-74 (170)
2011 Classical Capistrano Valley Christian 82-67 (149)
2004 Borrego Springs San Diego Jewish 92-52 (144)
1984 Lutheran Midway Baptist 90-46 (136)
2008 Christian Life Lutheran 84-52 (136)
2000 Santa Fe Christian Army-Navy 77-55 (132)
2008 Christian Life St. Joseph 83-48 (131)
2009 Christian Life St. Joseph 74-56 (130)
1994 Midway Baptist Salton City West Shores 76-50 (126)
1994 Midway Baptist Borrego Springs 86-40 (126)
2013 San Pasqual Academy Wildomar California Lutheran 64-62 (126)
2007 Maranatha Rancho Mirage Maywood-Palm Valley 66-58 (124)


A field goal and length of the field interception for a touchdown gave El Camino a 9-5 victory over La Costa Canyon, which scored on a safety and field goal.

There had been one other 9-5 game involving a San Diego County team.  San Diego defeated Pasadena by that score in 1906.

The 9-5 score of 1906 was representative of the era.  From 1897-1912 touchdowns counted as five points.  From 1904-09, field goals counted as four points.

It seems safe to say the Hilltoppers scored a touchdown and field goal and Pasadena scored a touchdown.


Steele Canyon crashed in a 42-0 loss to Helix, leaving nine teams with spotless records: 

Team Record Best Start Year
Borrego Springs 7-0 7-0 2014
El Capitan 6-0 11-0 2006
Calexico Vincent Memorial 6-0 9-0 2002
Christian 6-0 9-0 2008
Oceanside 6-0 14-0 2009
Orange Glen 6-0 12-0 1988
San Marcos 6-0 9-0 1966
Sweetwater 6-0 13-0 1983
The Bishop’s 6-0 14-0 2010


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1952: No, No, Not Again!

The dreaded coin toss was back.

The flip of a silver dollar had elevated La Jolla into the Southern California playoffs after a first-place tie with San Diego in 1951.

The ubiquitous toss was facilatated by a similar coin,

Ubiquitous coin controlled playoff destinies.

Now, with a week remaining in the regular season and La Jolla and San Diego again headed for a tie for the City Prep League title, school honchos faced a storm of criticism.

“Flip For Playoff Berth Under Fire”, screamed a headline at the top of the first sports page in the Evening Tribune on Nov. 18, 1952, as teams prepared for the final week of play.

Only one team from the City Prep League would be invited to the 10-team Upper Division, Central Group playoffs.

The idea of a legislative tie-breaker again, was roundly booed.  A simple solution would have been to choose the winner of the teams’ regular-season game.


Trouble loomed after San Diego defeated La Jolla, 23-6, but lost to Point Loma, 14-12, while La Jolla defeated Point Loma, 26-6.

Point Loma became a non-factor, upset by Helix, 26-7, and out of contention.

It was not all football at La Jolla for Dick Greenfield (left) and Art Luppino, hanging out with coeds Margaret Foster and Peggy Boyd, from left.

It was not al;l football at La Jolla for Dick Greenfield (left) and Art Luppino, hanging out with coeds Margaret Foster and Peggy Boyd, from left.

San Diego and La Jolla each finished with a 5-1 record, after the Vikings had beaten Kearny, 28-0, and San Diego whipped Hoover, 26-6.

The postgame drama took place in La Jolla coach Walt Harvey’s office in the Vikings’ gymnasium.

To the particular disgust of San Diego coach Duane Maley, La Jolla won the coin flip again.  The Cavemen had a two-season league record of 10-2 and were 14-3 overall but with nothing to show.


The seven City Prep League principals voted in June to invoke the coin flip option, going against themselves, as it turned out.

Writer Gene Earl of The San  Diego Union revealed that in a spring meeting the reps unanimously voted, 7-0, in favor of tossing the toss.

“The official vote, however, was ignored in the group’s next meeting,” Earl wrote. “Faced with such an issue once, 99 out of 100 leagues would have worked to eliminate such future decisions, but the ball was fumbled.”


San Diego was a sad winner after its usual victory over Hoover.

The coin toss news created  a bitter climax for the Cavers, who were in their best form of the season.

Finley ran long distance for Cavers.

Finley ran long distance for Cavers.

Ardell Finley gained 179 yards in 9 carries and broke a 96-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as the Hillers hammered the Cardinals with 300 yards rushing in 36 attempts.

Jerry Brucker of the Evening Tribune added a bummer when he wrote that “maybe San Diegans have outgrown their interest in scholastic sports.”

Brucker estimated an attendance of 7,500 for the game, which would have been the lowest in the history of the rivalry that began in 1933.

There had been only 8,000 on hand in the World War II season of 1942.


La Jolla did not disappoint.  The Vikings nudged El Monte and its 220-pound-average offensive line, 7-6, in its first playoff, then battled South Pasadena on the road before bowing, 13-6, in the semifinals.

The Vikings would not be competitive for a playoff berth for another decade.

The opening of Mission Bay in 1953 re-zoned  enrollment boundaries and cut off La Jolla’s talent stream from Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

Walt Harvey left La Jolla the following school year and moved across town to begin shaping the program at the new Lincoln High.


Southern Prep League champion Fallbrook was dethroned after self-reporting a CIF Southern Section violation.

The Warriors forfeited two league games and three nonleague contests after coach Carlin Coffman learned that fullback Eddie Mojado had been playing Sunday baseball for the Pala Indian Reservation team.

Fallbrook's end-of-season saga told in headlines...

Fallbrook’s end-of-season saga told in headlines…

CIF rules state that athletes cannot participate in more than one organized sport at the same time.  Even if the second sport is not part of an interscholastic program.

(There was precedent, as in 1933, when San Diego forfeited every game in  a 19-3 baseball season after it was discovered that Cavers Chet and Swede Smith had played under assumed names in a meaningless  game the previous summer in Imperial Valley).


Fallbrook victories over Mountain Empire and Army-Navy were vacated, leaving the Warriors with a 2-2 record and second place behind Army-Navy.

League representatives then dissed Army-Navy’s Cadets and notified the Southern Section that Fallbrook would be the league’s playoff representative.


CIF SS commissioner Bill Russell was “quite surprised” when Evening Tribune sportswriter Mel Zikes called Russell to inform him that he had received word from Fallbrook principal John Brinegar that the Coffman-coached eleven was bailing from the playoffs.

...in the playoffs, then out.

…in the playoffs, then out.

Russell thought it odd that the school official would go to the media before alerting Russell’s office and before the commissioner could pass the news along to Chula Vista and Laguna Beach.

Fallbrook was scheduled for a first-round bye in the Southern Group (small schools) tournament and would have met the winner of Chula Vista-Laguna Beach.


Principal Brinegar gave Zikes a lengthy explanation, citing injuries, scholastic deficiencies, and that some players had dropped out of school.

Fallbrook also was left with only “four players in the backfield this morning and only two of them were starters.”

If one thought bossman Brinegar  went out of his way to explain why the Warriors were bolting the postseason or that the school had an anti-playoff agenda, consider that after the regular season a year later, the Warriors declined a playoff berth again.

Coach Garrett Arbelbide said that decision was made by the school before the season began.


Not a new Mercury, but Helix liked its Merk.

Merk raised Helix' hopes.

Headed  for USC, Merk led Helix.

With Ernie Merk at the wheel, Helix’ emerged as the most improved team in  City Prep League. The Highlanders, 1-7 in their inaugural 1951 season, improved to 4-4-1, tripled their scoring total, and knocked favored Point Loma out of the City Prep League race.

Merk scored 74 points, second to the 187 of Oceanside’s C.R. Roberts, and was the CPL player of the year.  The USC-bound senior was joined on the all-Southern California second team by Arizona-bound Art Luppino and Oregon State-bound Dick Corrick of La Jolla.

Helix tackle Carlos Fackrell earned first team all-CIF honors, Grossmont end Karl Grassl second team, and San Diego center Eddie Boyle third team. Player of Year was Santa Monica quarterback Ronnie Knox.

Another first-team selection was end Ron Wheatcroft of South Pasadena, who starred at California and was prominent in San Diego business circles for many years.


A total of 368 candidates turned out for the first day of practice at  seven city high schools, but that figure shrunk in comparison to  the estimated 1,300 band members, cheerleaders, and flag corps that entertained before the 14th annual carnival.

This season’s event was dedicated to Edward Taylor, the San Diego High vice principal who conceived the extravaganza in 1939.

A last minute emergency resulted in Frank Rustich’s replacing Biff Gardner as game referee. Gardner rushed to his wife‘s side after she was in an auto accident near San Clemente.

Point Loma's Krupens, on 73-yard touchdown run against Kearny, also ran for long TD in City League  carnival.

Point Loma’s Krupens, on 73-yard touchdown run against Kearny, also ran for long TD in City League carnival.

A crowd estimated at 24,000 saw the three West teams of Point Loma, Grossmont, and San Diego defeat the East’s Hoover, Kearny, and La Jolla, 14-7.

Point Loma outscored Hoover, 14-0, in the second period as Hal Krupens scored on runs of 72 and 2 yards and Manuel Ventura added two, point-after placements.

Kirby Woods’ six-yard pass to Robert Meals provided the East with its touchdown.

For the first time, city teams had a played a complete game before the carnival, thanks to the way the calendar fell.


Listed in the Evening Tribune as one of 11 returning lettermen for Oceanside was single-wing quarterback “Herb Meyers”.

Herb Meyer, same guy, minus the “s”, became Oceanside’s head coach seven years later, embarking on a Hall of Fame career which ended 44 years and 338 victories later.


–St. Augustine’s Hank Zumstein scored on 77-yard run in the Saints’ 19-7 loss to  Coronado.  Nothing to get overly excited about,  but the feat was reported in The San Diego Union the next day as being accomplished by Hank “Sunstin”.

There are several possiblreasons as to why Zumstein’s named was botched:

–The game was at Coronado and probably was called in by a student from the host school not familiar with the visiting team’s names.

–Newspaper sports departments are filled with activity and noise on Friday nights during the school year.  The reporter taking the call may have been hard of hearing and misspelled.

–Third and most often the reason, the man answering  one of the sports desk telephones probably spent his lunch hour across the street from the newspaper’s office at the “Press Room”, a notorious watering hole of the era.

Chances are the guy was not of a clear mind when he returned.


Mrs. Mary Nettles, a decade later, knew the frustration of the Zumstein family and other proud parents, whose offspring names were routinely butchered in newspaper accounts.

Mrs. Nettles’ son Graig alternately was identified as Craig, Greg, Gregg, and even Gary during his days as a San Diego High basketball and baseball star.


San Diego coach Duane Maley’s six running backs were aligned, not just by their ability to dodge tacklers and go the distance.

Ermon Johnson wore jersey number 18, Garnett Adams 19, Floyd Robinson 20, Horace Tucker 21, Ardell Finley 22, and Carl Osborne 23.


Seven San Diego Cavers were late  reporting for football.

Tucker was batting star in national baseball tournament.

Tucker was batting star in national baseball tournament.

The group was with the Fighting Bob Post 364 of San Diego that was in Denver for the American Legion national tournament, where they were runners-up to a team from Cincinnati.

Floyd Robinson, who played nine seasons in the major leagues,  and Horace Tucker were among the late-arriving baseballers.

Tucker won the American Legion Louisville Slugger award with a tournament average of .452.


Mel Zikes of the Evening Tribune predicted Oceanside would beat Chula Vista by 3 touchdowns and outscore Laguna Beach by 20 points. Chula Vista won by 21 and Laguna Beach by 20.


DiTomaso played for and was head coach of St. Augustine.

DiTomaso played for and was head coach of St. Augustine.

Joe DiTomaso was a starting lineman for coach John Finan at St. Augustine and later coached the Saints  to a 12-0 record and the San Diego Section championship in 1970…Vista, 4-5-1 in ’51, took a step up from Southern Prep to the Metropolitan and was 5-4…plans to open the new Helix Stadium during the season did not materialize, as the facility was not enclosed…the Highlanders played home games at Aztec Bowl…Grossmont’s Ed Reed and Bob Baker were diagnosed with polio but recovered…after a 19-0 loss to Inglewood, San Diego had stunningly not scored a point in 63 minutes of play, including the carnival in which the Cavemen were tied by La Jolla, 0-0…they broke the drought 2:40 into the first quarter when Ardell Finley ran 65 yards for a score in a 13-6 win over L.A Roosevelt…the Metropolitan League was 10-3-2 in intersectionals… Karl Grassl caught 7 passes for 4 touchdowns in Grossmont’s 34-25 loss at Phoenix St. Mary’s in the Foothillers’ final game….



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2014: Oceanside Gains With Cal-Hi Sports

Rest not only can cure what ails you but can help in the rankings.

Oceanside and Mission Hills, idle last week as they ramped up for this week’s battle of the Highway 78 corridor, each was elevated in Cal-Hi Sports’ weekly State Top 25.

Oceanside moved from eighth to seventh and was positioned at fifth in the South Division I ratings.

Mission Hills went from 13th to 11th.  Cathedral and Helix more or less enjoyed “On the Bubble” status.

El Capitan ranks first in DIII South and Christian is first in DIV South.

Cal-Hi’s First 20:

Team Record Section Last
1. Bellflower St. John Bosco 4-1 Southern 1
2. Concord De La Salle 6-0 North Coast 2
 3. Santa Ana Mater Dei 5-0 Southern 3
 4. Folsom 6-0 Sac-Joaquin 4
 5. Mission Hills Alemany 5-0 Southern 5
6. Corona Centennial 3-2 Southern 7
 7. Oceanside 5-0 San Diego 8
 8. Anaheim Servite 3-2 Southern 10
 9. San Juan Capistrano JSerra 5-0 Southern 11
 10. Long Beach Poly 5-1 Southern 12
 11. Mission Hills 4-1 San Diego 13
 12. Orange Lutheran 4-1 Southern 14
 13. Sacramento Grant 5-0 Sac-Joaquin 15
 14. West Hills Chaminade 5-1 Southern 6
 15. Fresno Edison 5-0 Central 18
 16. Bakersfield 4-1 Central 20
 17. Santa Margarita 4-1 Southern 17
 18. Westlake 3-2 Southern 16
 19. Pleasanton Foothill 5-0 North Coast 21
 20. Encino Crespi 5-0 Southern 23

Although this week’s matchup is nonleague, the game has season-long implications.

The Avocado West Pirates are hoping for high seeds in San Diego Section and Southern California postseason events.

A loss will severely damage Oceanside’s chances and a loss will essentially end any postseason hope beyond the San Diego Section for Mission Hills.

Clear the Decks.

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2014 Week 6: And Now There Are 10

With a nod to the beginning of league play next week, seven of the top 10 teams in the weekly UT-San Diego poll this week took the night off.

Through Week 6, ten teams still are undefeated, compared with seven a year ago.

The 2014 unbeatens:

Team Record Best* Year
Borrego Springs 6-0 5-0 2006
El Capitan 6-0 11-0 2006
Calexico Vincent Memorial 5-0 9-0 2002
Christian 5-0 9-0 2008
Oceanside 5-0 14-0 2009
Orange Glen 6-0 12-0 1988
San Marcos 5-0 9-0 1966
Steele Canyon 5-0 3-0 2010
Sweetwater 5-0 13-0 1983
The Bishop’s 5-0 14-0 2010

*Wins in a row from start of season.

Borrego Springs’ forfeit victory over Warner this week assured the Rams of their 11th winning season in the 48 since they teed it up for the first time in 1967.

A 6-0 record represents very rarefied air. Borrego’s overall record is 125-249-8, a .338 “winning” percentage.


Cathedral got past tough Eastlake, 17-14, on Tim Semenza’s 37-yard field goal as the game ended…Mission Bay scored than half of its 62 points with a 34-point first quarter against San Diego…Madison was ahead of Mira Mesa, 42-0, after 17 seconds had elapsed in the second quarter…El Camino’s fourth straight victory, 38-6 over San Pasqual, is the Wildcats’ most in a row since a Herb Meyer club won five straight in 2001…Orange Glen clinched its first winning season since 1988 with its 41-20 victory over El Cajon Valley…

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2016 Week 6: El Capitan Off The Back Burner

Coach Ron Burner has El Capitan on a fast track, but will its wheels hold up?

El Cap has thrived under Burner.

El Cap has thrived under Burner.

The Vaqueros have started 5-0 twice, in 1967 under  Joe Till, and in 1973, with Joe Rockhold as boss.

They can become 5-0 this week, but a 5-0 visitor, Granite Hills, stands in the way, as do Steele Canyon (5-0), Helix (4-1), Grossmont and Mount Miguel (each 3-2)  and Valhalla (2-2), upcoming opponents with a combined record of 22-7.

El Capitan has  gotten an endorsement from Cal-Hi Sports, which elevated the Burners  to No. 1 in Southern California Division III, a lofty position helped in part last week by Cathedral’s 42-28 win over then-undefeated Newbury Park.

Christian (5-0) is No. 1 in Southern California D-IV, but hasn’t cracked the San Diego Top 10. The Vaqueros are fifth in the local voting,

Burner, who for many years operated a sheet-metal business in nearby Santee, has guided the Lakeside entry to a 61-43-2 record since 2005.

Oceanside and Mission Hills, which will meet Oct. 10 at Oceanside, each has a bye this week.

Oceanside  moved  to No. 8 in Cal-Hi Sports‘ Top 25 and Mission Hills is 13th. Comebacking Cathedral (4-1) now has “On the Bubble” status, an upgrade from the abyss of its 55-10, opening-game loss to Folsom.

Helix and St. Augustine (2-3) also are on the bubble.

The UT-San Diego poll after games of Week 5:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (19) 5-0 190 1
2 Mission Hills 4-1 159 2
3 Cathedral 4-1 154 3
4 Helix 4-1 137 4
5 El Capitan 4-0 128 5
6 San Marcos 5-0 61 8
7 La Costa Canyon 4-1 60 9
7 Eastlake 3-2 60 10
9 Steele Canyon 5-0 35 NR
10 Ramona 4-1 33 6

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: not ranked.
Others receiving votes:  Granite Hills, 14; Sweetwater, 12;  Christian, 9; St. Augustine, 4; Point Loma, 3; Carlsbad, 1.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego;
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM);
Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com);
Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014 Week 7: State Postseason Could be Reward

Mission Hills at Oceanside this week brings together the top  teams in the UT-San Diego poll and coaches with a combined 358 victories in their careers.

Oceanside’s John Carroll (239), generally acclaimed major domo of San Diego Section mentors, holds a 7-2-1 record against Chris Hauser (119), but the Mission Hills coach is 2-1-1 against Carroll since 2011, including decisive, 30-6 and 36-14 victories in 2013, the latter earning the Grizzlies their first San Diego Section championship.

Each team harbors hopes of winning berths in the state playoffs.  They won’t be considered for the oft-confusing slate of the Open Division but the winner should merit strong consideration for Division I, as long as it continues to post blowout victories.

Mission Hills earned a D-I opportunity in 2013 but bowed to eventual champion Bakersfield, 35-28. The 4-1 Grizzlies have lost only to Utah’s Provo Timpview, which is 6-0 and had a full game under its belt when San Marcos school opened the season against the Thunderbirds.

Oceanside (5-0) did its due diligence with a schedule more difficult than the Grizzlies’, defeating St. Augustine and intersectional opponents Mission Viejo and Temecula Chaparral, but those three teams have a combined record of only 7-10.

With strong media backing from John Maffei of UT-San Diego, it’s easy to give an edge to Oceanside.  We’ll do that, but the edge is very thin.

Both teams should be ready, each chilling with byes last week.  Meanwhile, focus is shifting to Cathedral as it continues to rehabilitate.

The third-ranked Dons ventured 165 miles north to top undefeated Newbury Park, 42-28, two weeks ago and knocked off Eastlake, 17-14, for its fifth straight win last week.

Results of  voting after Week 6:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (19) 5-0 190 1
2 Mission Hills 4-1 160 2
3 Cathedral 5-1 150 3
4 Helix 4-1 139 4
5 El Capitan 5-0 113 5
6 San Marcos 5-0 72 6
7 La Costa Canyon 4-1 61 7T
8 Steele Canyon 5-0 54 9
9 Ramona 4-1 43 10
10 Eastlake 3-3 27 7T

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

Others receiving votes:   Sweetwater, 16;  Christian, 11; El Camino, 3; Granite Hills, 2; St. Augustine,  Point Loma, The Bishop’s,  Carlsbad, 1 each.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll: John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego; Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents); Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com); Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions); John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090); Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section); Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV); Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools); Rick Smith (partletonsports.com); Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM); Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com); Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014 Week 5: Introducing Knengi!

As the first woman coach in San Diego County history and believed to be the second in California, Knengi Martin’s advice was simple.

“Whatever stereotypes might be out there, break through them and follow your passion,” she said.

The jovial Martin, who replaced Doug Packwood at San Diego High, spoke with Don Norcross of UT-San Diego:

“My real hope is it allows other people to pursue theiur dreams,” said Knengi,” pronounced with a silent K.

Martin, 30,  has played women’s semifinal football for a decade and was serving as San Diego’s junior varsity coach.

Although the result of her first game was a 44-0 loss to University City, Martin said, “They played their hardest.  They gave it their best shot.  I’d go to war with these guys any day.”

According to Mark Tennis of Cal-Hi Sports, one other lady has been a head coach in the state.

Pauline Foster coached Corning High, located in Tehama County, about 170 miles Northeast of San Francisco, for two games in 1942.

Pauline Rugh coached Salinas, Pennsylvania, in 1943.  Natalie Randolph was 16-26 in four seasons at McKinley High in Washington, D.C., from 2010-13, and Amy Arnold has headed the 8-Man program at Arete Prep in Gilbert, Arizona, since 2008.

Britney Garner was appointed head coach at Pickett County in Byrdsville, Tennessee, in the middle of this season, although published reports question whether she actually coaches or serves in an administrative capacity.


Oceanside’s 42-10 victory over Rancho Buena Vista was the 239th in John Carroll’s 26-season career.  He’ll tie Bennie Edens of Point Loma for second all time with his next win, which doesn’t figure to come easily.

The Pirates meet Mission Hills next and the Grizzlies’ Chris Hauser will be seeking his 120th victory, a total Christian’s Matt Oliver attained this week in a 49-10 victory over Mission Bay.

Oliver is the 30th in  County history to reach 120, tying the retired John McFadden of Eastlake.

Monte Vista’s Ron Hamamoto is at 198 victories.  He could become the eighth to reach 200.


Steele Canyon is 5-0 for the first time in the school’s 12-year history, after a 3-8 in 2013…David Savage rushed for 159 yards in Imperial’s 21-14 victory over Chula Vista…Savage had one carry for minus 3 yards combined in the season’s first four games….

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2014: Cut Christian Some Slack?

Christian can’t get no respect.

Pardon the double negative, but maybe the UT-San Diego poll voters should train an eye on the Patriots of El Cajon.  Me included.

The Patriots are 4-0 and the No. 1-ranked Division IV team in Southern California, according to Cal-Hi Sports.

Should coach Matt Oliver’s club be ranked in the Top 10? It was 12-1 and won the D-IV championship in 2013 .  Its only loss was 24-21 to Mission Bay, the Patriots’ opponent this week.


Tradition and family run deep at Christian.

Quarterback David Jeremiah, the leader of this year’s team, is the nephew of  Dan Jeremiah, who quarterbacked Christian to D-IV titles in 1993, ’94, and ’95.

Dan’s older brother and David’s father (also named David) played at Christian in the late ‘eighties.

Another David, last name Beezer, is the athletic director at Christian and was the 23-year-old coach of the Patriots when they won in ’93.

Beezer was 30-9 in three seasons, with three titles.

Results of the voting after Week 4:

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Oceanside (19) 4-0 190 2
2 Mission Hills 3-0 156 3
3 Cathedral 3-1 144 5
4 Helix 3-1 131 1
5 El Capitan 4-0 112 4
6 Ramona 4-0 98 6
7 St. Augustine 2-2 84 7
8 San Marcos 4-0 42 10
9 La Costa Canyon 3-1 33 NR
10 Eastlake 2-2 17 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: not ranked.
Others receiving votes: Steele Canyon, 15; Granite Hills, 11; Sweetwater, 9;  Christian, 3; Rancho Bernardo, 2.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego;
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM);
Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com);
Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014 Week 4: Down Goes Helix

Tomrorow’s UT-San Diego football poll undoubtedly will list Oceanside No. 1.

How far will Helix fall from first after its 9-7 loss to Cathedral?

I listed them fourth in my vote, behind Oceanside, Mission Hills, and Cathedral.

“I told you we weren’t that good,” Helix coach Troy Starr reminded writer Don Norcross.

Starr knew whereof he spoke.

Slick and fast, Helix barged down the field for an early touchdown and then…nothing.

Cathedral, recovering from a 55-10 loss to Folsom in the season opener, kept the Highlanders at bay, pounding the ball inside, using the clock, and gathering momentum defensively.

How bad was Cathedral in the opener?

Bad enough, but no worse than Folsom’s next three opponents.

The Bulldogs followed their rout of the Dons by defeating usually strong Clovis North, 49-13; Elk Grove Pleasant Grove, 56-6, and Sacramento Luther Burbank, 61-13.


Coach Brian Hay’s Sweetwater Red Devils won their 12th game in a row and broke an 11-game losing streak to Chula Vista, 17-7, in the preeminent San Diego Section rivalry.

No other schools can boast a series that played out for the 68th consecutive season.

“This game is almost too important because everyone puts so much emphasis on one game,” said Hay, who has turned around the Sweetwater program with a ground-eating wing-T offense.

Sweetwater’s win gave the Red Devils a 38-28-2 edge in the all-time series.


Is San Marcos stronger than the 9-5 team that lost to Christian, 19-7, in the IV finals in 2013?

The Knights are 4-0 for the first time since 1984 after a 13-8 victory over Fallbrook.

“Right now I don’t feel very 4-0,” said coach Jason Texler to writer Terry Monahan.  “Throwing is what we do best and we struggled.”

Quarterback James Harwell was more pragmatic:  “I’ll feel better about being 4-0 in the morning.”


Grossmont’s 75 points against Hilltop (25) have been bettered only 20 times in County history and tied the Foothillers for the 31st highest one-game total by an 11-man team.

Under coach Tom Karlo, who moved from Mount Miguel to his alma-mater in 2013, the Foothillers have made the scoreboard blink.

Grossmont scored 61, 63, and 69, in three games last season.  It had scored at least 60 points only twice before in the school’s 95-season history.

The Foothillers defeated Monte Vista, 61-7, in 2010 and West Hills, 65-8, in 1989.  They also had a 59-0 victory over Escondido in 1929.

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1994: Morse…Hawaii…it Must be August!

The gentle breezes of Waikiki were calling San Diego Section football teams.

Morse coach John Shacklett, who first brought his club to the Hawaiian Islands in 1985, led a vanguard of four local squads, there to play in the annual Shawn Akina Classic.

Shawn was a University of Utah football player who passed away suddenly at age 19.  His old brother, Skip, honored Shawn by conceiving the football series.

Hawaiian teams began play two weeks before school started in San Diego.

Getting to Hawaii meant relentless fund-raising during the year and mid-August practices for locals.

Eventually the CIF would rule against the early games and a tradition started by Shacklett and Morse came to an end.

But the experience created a lifetime of memories for all involved, and the game results, while important, were not the most important part of the trip.

Kamehameha defeated Mount Miguel, 17-0.  Farrington blanked Bonita Vista, 12-0.  Punahou whipped Morse, 36-22, and University topped Damien, 10-0.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?                                                   

Patrick Henry’s Errick Williams was known as Rickey when he scored 25 touchdowns and 150 points as a junior.  This season started with Williams answering to his given name, for awhile.

Williams went on to University of Texas and played 12 seasons in NFL, always wearing trademark No. 34.

Williams went on to University of Texas and played 12 seasons in NFL, always wearing trademark No. 34.

Press reports soon were again identifying him as Rickey.

However he wished to be called made no difference in Williams’s performance on the field.

Runner-up to the 154 points scored by Marlin Carey of Mt. Carmel a year ago, Williams let no one get close this season, leading the Section with 156 points.


Williams gained 244 yards in 19 carries and scored twice on 60-yard runs, but Helix scored 21 points in the final 3:33 to win, 28-13.

Despite his heroics, it was a frustrating evening for Williams.

Williams’ second score put Henry ahead, 13-7.  The next time the Patriots got the ball they went three downs and out and Williams did not get a carry.

The tide of momentum swung to Helix.


Williams maneuvered with a calf bruise throughout the playoffs, but managed 110 yards in 28 carries in a 21-17, semifinal win over Rancho Buena Vista.

The Patriots were handcuffed, 13-0, by Morse in the A final and Williams was held to 48 yards in 12 carries.

“It was sore more than in past games,” said Williams.  “It hurt when anybody fell on it, especially big David (Gates, the 285-pound Morse lineman).”


Christian coach Dave Beezer told Chris Ello of the Union-Tribune that he had approved the printing of “Christian High School Back to Back CIF champions” T shirts.

Jorge Araujo raises football after two-point con version in championship game.

Jorge Araujo raises football after two-point conversion in championship game.

The shirts were produced days before Christian went out and won the IV championship, 28-7 over La Jolla Country Day.

“Hey, we live by faith,” said the 24-year-old Beezer, explaining his decision.


Twenty-one area football players made NFL opening day rosters or hooked on with teams after being released or were inactive:

Name Position NFL Team College High School
Eric Allen Cornerback Philadelphia Arizona State Point Loma
Marcus Allen Running Back Kansas City USC Lincoln
Matt Brock Defensive End Green Bay Oregon University City
Brad Daluiso Kicker N.Y. Giants UCLA Valhalla
Charles Dimry Cornerback Tampa Bay UNLV Oceanside
Robert Griffith Safety Minnesota San Diego State Mount Miguel
Ron Hall Tight End Detroit Hawaii San Pasqual
Clifford Hicks Cornerback N.Y. Giants Oregon Kearny
Keith Kartz Center Denver California San Dieguito
Lincoln Kennedy Tackle Atlanta Washington Morse
John Lynch Safety Tampa Bay Stanford Torrey Pines
Lenny McGill Cornerback Green Bay Arizona State Orange Glen
Dan Saleamua Nose Guard Kansas City Arizona State Sweetwater
Sean Salisbury Quarterback Minnesota USC Orange Glen
Darnay Scott Wide Receiver Cincinnati San Diego State Kearny
Junior Seau Linebacker San Diego USC Oceanside
Will Tate Wide Receiver Arizona San Diego State Southwest
Jay Taylor Cornerback Kansas City San Jose State St. Augustine
Rich Tylski Center New England Utah State Madison
Tommy Vardell Fullback Cleveland Stanford Granite Hills
Bryan Wagner Punter San Diego Cal State-Northridge Hilltop


It was San Diego Chargers kicker Toni Fritsch, in his fractured English, who once spoke of how he was not affected by the pressure of critical field goal attempts.

Fritsch’s deathless words also resonated with St. Augustine’s Craig Meathe.

The Saints’ senior kicked three field goals, including the overtime winner, in a 23-20 playoff victory over Lincoln.

Meathe silenced grumbling Saints parents, who were unhappy when coach Joe Medina sent Meathe out to attempt a 44-yard field goal on a windy day at Lincoln and with the Saints trailing, 20-6.

Meathe converted that attempt, then cranked a 47-yarder with a tailwind that tied the score at 20 with 1:21 left in the game.

Meathe’s 26-yard placement during the California Tiebreaker came after St. Augustine had shut down Lincoln in four attempts from the 10-yard line.

“The field goal, however many yards it was, to tie the game was the most pressure,” said Meathe.  “I knew if I didn’t make that one we wouldn’t get another chance.”

La Jolla eliminated St. Augustine, 30-18, the following week as Meathe, who also punted and lined up at wide receiver and defensive  back, was taken to a hospital at halftime after hyperventilating.


A 34-0 loss to University in the III finals was bad enough for La Jolla, but the departure from Jack Murphy Stadium was worse.

A bus driver, one player, two team  managers, and a ball boy were hospitalized with minor injuries after the bus in which in which they were riding was rear-ended by the team’s second bus.

The buses were preparing to exit Friar’s Road and turn onto the I-15 Southbound on-ramp.

“The driver of the (second) bus was trying to avoid a Uni cheer bus that had some girls hanging out the windows,” said La Jolla coach Dick Huddleston. “I think he got distracted and hit our bus.”

Huddleston was riding in the first vehicle.  He said the driver was hospitalized with whiplash and the others had shoulder and back bruises, and whiplash.

“It was the end of a brutal day,” summed up Huddleston.  “We were just glad to get back home.”

La Jolla was 4-0 against Uni dating to 1989, but the Dons of coach Ron Hamamoto forced three, first-quarter fumbles that quarterback Mike Cavanaugh converted into touchdown runs of 4, 4, and 11 yards.

Uni scored all its points in the first half and Hamamoto fulfilled a promise made to the team after their opening-game victory over Damien.

Hamamoto promised his team that if they reached Jack Murphy Stadium he would wear the same Hawaiian shirt that he donned at Aloha Stadium.

HOW DO YOU REALLY FEEL?                              

Escondido’s 20-7 loss to Orange Glen was the Cougars’ 10th in a row to its city rival, prompting this post mortem:

“I did a crummy job coaching my team,” Escondido coach Tom Everest  told writer Ed Graney. “It’s my fault.  Period.  The kids played how I coached them.”

Introspection was the theme of the day.

Said Orange Glen coach Rob Gilster, who won for the first time after nine consecutive losses and a 1-9 campaign in 1993:

“We needed to win, but this just makes it more special,” Gilster told Graney.  “Last year was miserable.  I lost control of my team.

“We had too many guys wanting to be the superstar, too many ‘me’ guys,” said Gilster.

Fast forward.  Orange Glen improved to 5-5-1 and made the playoffs.  Escondido went from 5-6 to 7-4-1 and got to the postseason quarterfinals.


It had been so long since Castle Park played in a CIF championship game that the Trojans may have asked for directions to Jack Murphy Stadium.

After eliminating El Camino, 14-7, in the semifinals, Castle coach Gil Warren said, “The last time we played, the stadium wasn’t there.”

“It was in 1968 and we played in Balboa Stadium,” said Warren.

The coach was a year off.  The then-named San Diego Stadium opened in 1967, but the high schools still used the smaller, more compact venue next to San Diego High.


Castle Park’s 24-21 win over Torrey Pines in the AA final reminded of a meeting during the summer.

Trojans coach Gil Warren was going to install the wing T offense and sought the counsel of Ed Burke, a guru of that alignment.

Burke also was the coach at Torrey Pines.

Cesar Perez' 27-yard field in fourth quarter beat Torrey Pines and  sent Castle Park to finals in Jack Murphy Stadium.

Cesar Perez’ 27-yard field in fourth quarter beat Torrey Pines and sent Castle Park to finals in Jack Murphy Stadium.

Burke was asked after the championship game loss if he regretted tutoring Warren.  “I love Gil,” said the veteran mentor.  “I’d do it tomorrow.”

Warren was especially proud of his team, which took a difficult path to the title and 12-2 finish.

The Trojans’ three final playoff games took them through a gauntlet of Carlsbad, El Camino, and Torrey Pines, all from the powerful Avocado League.

“We kept winning and kept having to play another tough team from the same league,” said Warren.  “I’d hate to have  to do that every year.”


Gil warren coached at Castle Park from 1967-77 and won a section title in 1968.  He was an assistant coach at Southwestern College from 1978-91 and returned to guide the Trojans in 1992.

Castle Park’s championship was the first by a South Bay school since 1984.



Ninth graders were eligible to play football again in the Grossmont League, after a 15-year hiatus.

Proposition 13, a property tax measure in 1978, created budget cuts in many California school districts, resulting in some extracurricular activities, such as freshmen  sports programs, were cut.

The Grossmont School District superintendent approved the reintroduction of freshmen football for the 1994 season.

Supt. Jo Ann Smith pointed out that high school drop-out rates were on the rise and she was open to any suggestions that might help keep kids in school.


San Diego was 5-0 for the first time since 1958 and its 7-5 record represented the most wins in a season since the 1969 club went 8-3-1 and tied for the San Diego Section championship.

In a strange dynamic, San Diego and Morse, though members of the Eastern League, did not play.  They weren’t even scheduled.

The Cavers refused to play Morse, according to a coach with knowledge of the situation.

Rowdiness and violence had plagued the series in recent years.

The Eastern League’s six-game schedule would be completed only by Patrick Henry, Mira Mesa, Serra, Kearny, and Point Loma.

Patrick Henry defeated Morse, 20-17, and finished with a 5-1 record.  Morse was 4-1, followed by Point Loma (4-2), Mira Mesa (3-3), San Diego (2-3), Serra (2-4), and Kearny (0-6).

The skewed schedule did not have a material effect on the standings.  Of the seven Eastern League squads, only Kearny and Serra did not go to the postseason.

Morse evened the score with Patrick Henry, scoring a 13-0 victory in the D-I finals.


Eastlake won its opener at Hoover, 28-7, giving coach Alan Duke a 2-0 record against the school from which he graduated in 1961.

Eastlake’s first-ever game and Duke’s first as a head coach was a 21-0 victory over the Cardinals in the 1993 opener.


“We play the ‘run and shoot’ and if our guys are reading the right coverages, running their patterns to set things up, then all they have to do is play catch.”

West Hills coach Steve Sutton to Jim Geschke of the Union-Tribune after the Wolfpack’s Brian Halsey passed for 316 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-36 win over Crawford.

West Hills scored 358 points in a 7-5 season and bowed out of the playoff quarterfinals, all guns blazing.  They came up short against University, 60-42.


“They not only hit me hard, they hit me often.”

Sore, bruised Marty Graham, after grinding for 148 yards in 27 carries in  Helix’ 20-17, Grossmont League victory over Granite Hills.

Other than a 70-yard touchdown on a draw play, real estate was not easy to come by.  Graham had 78 yards in his other 26 attempts.

The win over the Eagles paved the way to a 4-0 league record in a season in which the Scots were 11-1, losing to Torrey Pines, 21-14, in the AA semifinals.


“Carlsbad didn’t get to be 7-0 with mirrors.  Our defensive front played a great game.”

El Camino coach Herb Meyer, after the Wildcats defeated the Lancers, 21-6.

Bleachers were filled an hour before kickoff and more than 4,000 were on hand, including USC coach John  Robinson, who stood behind the stadium fence, which was lined 3 and 4 rows deep with spectators.


"Hip hip, hooray!" is cheer of Oceanside's Division II champions.

“Hip hip, hooray!” is cheer of Oceanside’s Division II champions.

La Jolla’s winning streak was at 21 before a 21-16 loss to Lincoln, which had recovered from a 60-0 loss to Morse four weeks earlier…Future San Diego State and San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell was head coach at Honolulu Farrington in 1952 and an assistant at Punahou in 1951…Sweetwater listed Malia Fanua, a 6-foot-1, 300-pound,  freshman as a starting defensive lineman…Scripps Ranch linebacker Gary Johnson is son of the former Charger known as “Big Hands”…Tom Barnett, 50-46-2, as Kearny head coach from 1977-86…returned this season, succeeding Willie Matson…Las Vegas Cimarron Memorial’s Chester Lanczewski hammered a 45-yard field with 10 seconds remaining to send visiting Sweetwater home with a 16-13 loss…the Red Devils beat Las Vegas Chaparral, 7-6, the week before…Corona Christian and Salton City West Shores, members of the Southern Section, competed in the Citrus League, an 8-man circuit that also included Borrego Springs and Midway Baptist…the Corona team had trouble finding games in 1993, its first season…Carlsbad improved from 2-8 to 8-2-1 under first-year headman Bob McAllister, a former assistant at Vista…

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2014: Staggs Services Set

Services for Jeff Staggs will be held at the Immaculate on the University of San Diego campus on Friday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m.

A celebration of life follows at the San Diego State Hall of Fame center on campus.

A legion of friends remember and mourn Staggs, who passed away at age 70 at his home on Mt. Helix Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.

He was one of the all-time players to come out of Point Loma High and went on to be a third-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers and to play eight seasons in the NFL, mostly for the Chargers, from 1967-74.

Staggs became a starting tackle and defensive lineman as a junior at Point Loma and made all-Western League at fullback as a senior in 1961.

Early in that season Pointers coach Bennie Edens had an idea.

He re-positioned Staggs but didn’t want Pointers opponents to know, especially when they were scouting the Pointers and watching their game film.

So Edens instructed that Staggs be given a different jersey and number each week during the season.

What Edens may not have considered was that it was impossible to hide a 235-pounder who could run with the fastest players in the Western League.

Staggs was an all-Pacific Southwest Conference tight end and Junior College All-America on San Diego City College’s 9-1 championship team of 1964.

The Knights, coached by Harry West, overcame a three-touchdown deficit in the second half to defeat Orange Coast College, 28-24, in the Elks Bowl in San Bernardino.

Staggs caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Dan Berry that gave San Diego City a 21-18 lead.

Staggs (second from left) and former San Diego State teammates Houston Ridge, Bobby Howard, and Gary Garrison (from left) were reunited with San Diego Chargers.

Staggs (second from left) and former San Diego State teammates Houston Ridge, Bobby Howard, and Gary Garrison (from left)  were San Diego Chargers teammates when they posed for training camp photo in 1969.

Staggs moved on to Don Coryell’s team at San Diego State and, after his junior season in 1965, was selected as a “future” in the third round of the American Football League draft by the Chargers.

He was one of five Aztec players from the 11-0, 1966 national College Division championship squad that were drafted into the NFL.

Staggs became a starting linebacker as a rookie with the Chargers in 1967.

He was runner-up to Houston’s George Webster in voting for the AFL defensive rookie of the year.

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis once personally complimented Staggs for his play against the Buffalo Bills’ O.J. Simpson, who at the time was the leading AFL receiver coming out of the back field.

The rangy Staggs covered Simpson on at least eight plays and the Bills’ star caught one pass for eight yards.

Jeff also played for the Los Angeles Rams and St. Louis Cardinals before concluding his career with the Chargers in 1974.

Those who saw Staggs play on four levels of football for more than a decade in San Diego remember him as athletic, tough and pugnacious.

He was not afraid to mix it up.



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2014 Week 4: How Hot? Plus, 3 Locals Gain in State

Fifty-one years ago almost to the week, San Diego football players sweltered.

It was hotter in 1963 than in 2014.

Let’s try that again.

It was hotter in 1963 than in 2014.

Incongruous as its sounds given the recent scorchers, the weather this week was not as warm it was in that long-ago September.

Back then Hoover and Helix, the presumed best teams in the San Diego Section, geared up for an early-season, Friday night battle that figured to set the tone for the playoffs weeks later.

The temperature in San Diego on Thursday, Sept. 27, 1963, was a record-setting 111 degrees, with 6 per cent humidity.

On game day the high was 104.  I worked the sideline at Hoover that night and remember it must have been at least 95 at kickoff.

Hoover’s Rick Shaw drove the Cardinals 77 yards to the winning touchdown with 3:02 to play in a 14-13 game.

Shaw completed only 9 of 23 passes but they went for 228 yards and a touchdown as Shaw outdueled Helix’ Joe Lavage, who hit on 16 of 20 for 187 yards and two touchdowns.


Helix is No. 1 again in this week’s UT-San Diego poll, although Oceanside gained a little ground on the Highlanders, idle last week.

Helix’ first place votes dropped from 16 to 14 and Oceanside’s went from 3 to 5.

Hoover, years removed from Roy Engle’s fine teams of the early ‘sixties, has prospered lately under the solid command of coach  Jerry Ralph.

Looking back, Hoover (7-2-1) was upset by El Capitan, 27-12, in the 1963 playoffs.

Helix, losing, 20-0, to Mount  Miguel in the regular-season finale, finished 6-2 and lost the league title to El Cap.

Kearny, shutout by Hoover, 25-0, in the season opener, defeated El Capitan, 20-6, for the championship.


Helix (10), Oceanside (11) and Mission Hills (20) each moved up one spot in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports State Top 25.

The Scots should get tested this week by recovering Cathedral.  The Dons, after a 55-10 blowout loss to Cal-Hi No. 5 Folsom in their opener, have won two in a row.

Oceanside, building a resume for the San Diego Section and beyond postseason, topped a solid Temecula Chaparral squad, 33-0, and visits San Pasqual.

Mission Hills is home to Poway.


The musiical piece of the same name was written in 1994, popularized by Neil Diamond, and essentially was one of hope.

Elijah Preston gives St. Augustine plenty of the latter, but his 295 yards rushing and five touchdowns weren’t quite enough as the Saints dropped a historic intersectional game to Los Angeles Loyola, 42-35.

The Cubs’ first home game since 1949 was a trial run for the school’s anniversary of 150 years in 2015.

St. Augustine was one of the teams to play at Loyola 65 years ago, but school officials, seeking to determine if the Saints were the last team to play a game on  the Los Angeles school’s field, could only determine that all home games were played on campus that year.

Still, it made for a gala night as a packed house of more than 4,000 in temporary bleachers gave Loyola priests an opportunity to guage the feasibility of constructing permanent seats for next season.


Writer Kirk Kenney was alert to stadium sounds.

When Mission Hills kicked short after taking a 30-0 lead over host Bonita Vista with one minute left in the half, the home public address announcer peevishly took note:

“There’s that “Pursuing Victory With Honor” onside kick.”

The Grizzlies actually lightened up in the second half and cruised, 37-0. 


San Marcos, 3-0 for the first time since 1984 and a resident of the top 10, takes on Fallbrook, 3-0 for the first time since 1999.

If the Knights top the Warriors, San Marcos will be in position to make a run at its 7-0 start in ’84.  Coach Ken Broach’s team finished with an 8-3 record.


San Diego Section teams were 10-14 in major intersectional games after losses by St. Augustine, Valley Center (40-30 to Redwood City Sequoia) and Eastlake (17-16 to Los Alamitos) and Mar Vista’s 42-6 win at Santa Cruz Harbor…senior George Caragiannides never had played a down until two weeks ago, but was pressed into service and completed 18 of 31 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns in Grossmont’s 45-27 loss to Ramona…Cathedral scored on two field goals and a safety to defeat Torrey Pines, 8-7….

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Helix (14) 2-0 185 1
2 Oceanside (5) 2-0 176 2
3 Mission Hills 2-1 139 3
4 El Capitan 3-0 105 6
5 Cathedral 2-1 101 5
6 Ramona 3-0 100 7
7 St. Augustine 1-2 73 4
8 Rancho Bernardo 3-0 56 8
9 Carlsbad 1-2 22 NR
10 San Marcos 3-0 21 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: not ranked.
Others receiving votes: Otay Ranch, 14; Sweetwater, 9; Granite Hills, Eastlake, 8 each; Steele Canyon, 7; La Costa Canyon, 6; Christian, 2; Mount Miguel, Fallbrook, 1 each.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego;
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM);
Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com);
Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014: Calipatria’s Dubious Mark; Helix, ‘Side Move Up

Calipatria logoBlown out 63-6 and 84-6 in its first two games, Calipatria appears to have given up more points in successive games than any 11-man team in the history of San Diego County and San Diego Section football.

History in this case goes back to 1893, when the first reported game was San Diego High’s 8-0 win over the YMCA and noted in Don King’s outstanding publication “Caver Conquest,” the history of San Diego High sports.

There have been almost 47,000 reported football scores since.

Several 6-man and 8-man football games have topped the 147 points the Hornets surrendered in losses to Silver Valley of Yermo (6-63), near Barstow, and CETY’s of Mexicali, Mexico (6-84).

But research indicates the closest any 11-man team has come is the 129 given up by Crawford to Lincoln (0-69) and Ramona (0-60) in 2008.  Montgomery  allowed 128 in 1970 in losses to Chula Vista (0-65) and San Marcos (0-63).


Impressive performances in the Honor Bowl series last week elevated Helix from 15th to 11th in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports poll and Oceanside from 16th to 12th.  Christian is No. 1 in Division II in the South and El Capitan is third in D-III.

Mission Hills remained 21st in the State top 25.




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2014 Week 3: Helix, Oceanside Gain Separation

Helix had 16 first-place votes and Oceanside the other three as the two big shots from opposite points of the County are beginning to separate from the rest of  the Top 10 in the UT-San Diego poll.

Helix gained only one point to 187 but Oceanside gained 41 to 174, while No. 3 Mission Hills dropped 35 points to 123.  St. Augustine was static with 120 points at No. 4.

A revived Cathedral picked up 28 points for a total of 97 and is No. 5.

Big game this week has St. Augustine at Los Angeles Loyola, which is installing lights, running bus shuttles from Pershing Square, setting up temporary bleachers for 4,000 persons, charging $15 for available parking, and celebrating its first home game since 1949.

Don’t make the trip unless you have a ticket. None will be sold at the gate.

Coincidentally, St. Augustine was the visiting team for a Southland Catholic League  game with Loyola on Oct. 22, 1949.

Whether that game was played at Loyola or at one of the Cubs’ other “home” playing sites is not known,  but it remains as  one of the final games  in the last 65 years on the near-downtown-L.A. campus located at Venice Blvd. and Normandie Avenue.

Other intersectionals send Mar Vista to Santa  Cruz Harbor, Eastlake to Long Beach Veterans’ Stadium to play Los Alamitos, and Oceanside to Temecula Chaparral.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Helix (16) 2-0 187 1
2 Oceanside (3) 2-0 174 2
3 Mission Hills 1-1 123 3
4 St. Augustine 1-1 120 4
5 Cathedral 1-1 98 7
6 El Capitan 2-0 93 6
7 Ramona 2-0 83 5
8 Rancho Bernardo 2-0 57 9
9 Eastlake 1-1 35 8
10 Mount Miguel 2-0 17 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: not ranked.
Others receiving votes: San Marcos, 14; Carlsbad, 13; La Costa Canyon, Sweetwater, 7 each; Otay Ranch, 6; Westview, 5; Poway, 2; Steele Canyon, 1.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego;
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM);
Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com);
Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014 Week 2: Madison’s Questionable Choice

Rick Jackson’s program at Madison took off in 2008.  The Warhawks are 66-9-1 since and success is noted everywhere.

The school, hard by I-805 and Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, has a modern, aluminium stadium that hosted about 4,000 persons Friday night when the opponent was St. Augustine.

Multiple signage points out the Warhawks’ state division championships in 2010 and ’12.

The Madison logo is of NFL quality and stunningly displayed from both sides of the 50-yard line.

14madison0907140001Electric scoreboards at each end of the stadium provide essential game information. At $5, the game program was worth the purchase.

Most important, the Warhawks are led by the seasoned Kareem Coles, a slick, lefthanded quarterback.

And despite a second straight loss, 36-29 to the Saints, Jackson’s team should contend again for a Western League championship.


Madison trailed throughout, at 14-0, and 28-14, but scored with more than four minutes remaining and then successfully converted a two-point conversion to go ahead, 29-28.

Richard Sanchez’s Saints retook the lead with a little more than a minute left in the game.

And that’s when it got interesting.


The Saints opted to “pooch” the kickoff in an attempt to keep the ball away from Shaheed Madyun, who had taken a kickoff 92 yards to the house in the first half.

Andrew Seelert’s kickoff went out of bounds, however, and Madison had a choice:  Take the ball at its 35-yard line or move the Saints back from their 40 and have them re-kick from the 35, hopefully improving the Warhawks’ field position.


Madison chose to have St. Augustine kick again.  Seelert, who had been kicking short of the end zone all night, boomed one that went through the end zone for an automatic touchback.

There was no possible return for Madyun and Madison now took over on its 20 with 1:09 left.

Kareem Coles’ pass was intercepted on second down.

Ball game.


St. Augustine students and boosters overwhelmed the approximate 1,000-seat visiting section at Madison and were forced to standing room on the ramps.

The Saints “travel” as well as anyone in the San Diego Section.


San Diego County teams made a dramatic comeback on the intersectional circuit after some first-week disasters.

Local squads were 3-0 in Honor Bowl games at Oceanside and 4-0 in the major divisions.

Cathedral, trailing, 14-7, at halftime beat regarded Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 28-21. Helix topped Loomis Del Oro, 34-10, and Oceanside handled Mission Viejo, 24-6.

La Costa Canyon rebounded and dispatched Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills, 34-7.

Through two weeks, County schools are 9-13 against  California, Arizona, Utah,  and Hawaii.

The record also includes two lower division losses this week, Army-Navy losing to Temecula Rancho Christian, 36-6, and Santa Fe Christian falling to Santa Barbara Bishop Diego, 20-16.


That a team outscored an opponent, 84-6, as did CETY’s of Mexicali, Mexico, against Calipatria?

San Diego in 1916 crushed Orange, 84-6.

Calipatria has surrendered 152 points in its first two games.


The day after had to be miserable for Tracy McNair.

The Morse coach watched his team seemingly clinch a 12-9 victory with 15.4 seconds left in the game.

But on the next play Scripps Ranch backup quarterback  Kyle Mullen combined with receiver Jay Numanlia-zone on a 65-yard touchdown  pass play with 2.1 remaining and the Falcons escaped with a 16-12 victory.


Jackson, who became head coach in 2005, was 24-18 in his first three seasons at Madison and that included an 0-10 disaster in 2006…Jackson’s  overall record is 90-29-1…Madison’s enrollment is about 1,200 for four grades…at one point in the ‘seventies Madison was second only to Patrick Henry…the Warhawks counted more than 3,800 students for three grades in 1972-73…they’re 41 miles apart and don’t see each other very often…when San Marcos defeated host Chula Vista, 41-34, it marked the teams’ first meeting since 1995… Rancho Bernardo, 2-19 in 2012 and ’13, and 7-25 since ’11,  is 2-0 for the first time since ’10 and has scored 73 points in two games….

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2014: 1954 San Diego-Santa Monica Film

Dr. Tebb Kusserow, an all Southern California lineman at Santa Monica High in 1960, is involved with the Samohi Archival Project and provided this rare footage of a Southern Section playoff in 1954 between San Diego High (dark uniforms) and Santa Monica at Corsair field on the Santa Monica College campus.

Led by future NFL quarterback Lee Grosscup, Santa Monica defeated San Diego, 14-13, and moved on to the semifinals of the postseason in search of their third consecutive championship. The Vikings were eliminated the next week  by Glendale Hoover.

Many of the losing Cavers came back the following season to win the championship, but they were a year away in 1954.

This video has many plays in the game, on a field heavy and wet from recent  rain.

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2014: Helix 15th in State Top 25

A come-from-behind-win against a ranked team from the Southern Section resulted in coach Troy Starr’s Helix Highlanders landing 15th in Cal-Hi Sports‘  State Top 25 this week.

Oceanside is 16th, Mission Hills 21st, and St. Augustine is “On the Bubble”.  El Capitan is third in Southern California in Division III, and Christian third in D-IV.

The Highlanders, trailing, 20-17, scored on Curtis Holmes’ two-yard run with less than two minutes remaining  to defeat No. 18 Ventura St. Bonaventure, 24-20, in an Honor Bowl game at Oceanside.honor-bowl

Helix, which was 22nd in Cal-Hi Sports’ preseason rankings, stayed grounded, rushing 50 times for 316 yards.

Oceanside, 21st in the preseason rankings, defeated St. Augustine, 34-28.

Mission Hills, 12th in the preseason, fell nine places after falling to Timpview of Provo, Utah, which outscored the Grizzlies, 14-0, in the fourth quarter of a 42-28 victory.

More Honor Bowl games are scheduled this week at Oceanside. Helix takes on Loomis Del Oro and Oceanside meets Mission Viejo.

Other games find Mission Hills playing host to Torrey Pines, St. Augustine visiting Madison, Mater Dei going to El Capitan, and West Hills at Christian.

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2014: 1956 Game Film, Visit With Hoover’s Baranski

Thanks to Hoover  alumnus and  school historian Chuck Hansen, we were able to  acquire footage of Hoover’s celebrated football victory over San Diego in 1956, plus a 1992 televised interview with the late Walt Baranski, a star on that Cardinals team.

Baranski, who was slowed by  a progressive, crippling disease and  passed away at age 69 in 2008, was a three-sport standout at Hoover and played end and placekicked for the team that upset San Diego and went on to win the City Prep League championship.

Baranski was a starting guard on two Hoover basketball teams that were a combined 47-9, a young member of the 1954 American Legion Post 6 championship squad, a starting third baseman on the Hoover club that reached the 1957 Southern California finals, and played baseball and basketball at the University of Oregon.

The game film reflects the technology of the day, but has been preserved by Mr. Hansen and is a memorable moment in school history.

No turnout in the 80-plus seasons of Hoover football  ever approached the estimated 7,000 which overflowed the Cardinals’ stadium on the night they came from a 12-0 deficit to defeat arch-rival San Diego, 20-12.

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2014 Week 2: Highlanders Command Poll

Three more big intersectional battles loom for San Diego Section teams at Oceanside this week, testing Helix’s and Oceanside’s standing in the weekly UT-San Diego poll.

The second week of Honor Bowl games at Oceanside will match No. 1 Helix and Loomis Del Oro and No. 2 Oceanside and Mission Viejo on Friday.  Cathedral will meet Westlake Village Oaks Christian on Saturday at Oceanside.

Other Honor Bowl games at Oceanside on Saturday bring together Orange Lutheran and Corona Centennial and Gardena Serra and Bellevue, Washington.

Difficult intersectionals also await La Costa Canyon, against visiting Trabuco Hills, and Santa Fe Christian, which will play host to Santa Barbara Bishop Diego.

Helix’ 24-20 victory over Ventura St. Bonaventure resulted in the Highlanders earning 15 of the 19 first-place votes in the weekly voting.  Oceanside received the other 4.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Helix (15) 1-0 186 1
2 Oceanside (4) 1-0 133 4
3 Mission Hills 0-1 158 3
4 St. Augustine 0-1 128 5
5 Ramona 1-0 84 8
6 El Capitan 1-0 83 10
7 Cathedral 0-1 69 3
8 Eastlake 0-1 41 6
9 Rancho Bernardo 1-0 39 NR
10 Poway 1-0 20 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: not ranked.
Others receiving votes: San Marcos, 14; Carlsbad, 13; La Costa Canyon, 12; Grossmont, 10; Madison, 6; Granite Hills, Olympian, 4 each; La Jolla, Rancho Buena Vista, Mount Miguel, Sweetwater, Steele Canyon, 3 each; Otay Ranch, Mira Mesa, 2 each.

Nineteen sportswriters, sportscasters, and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego;
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (UT-San Diego correspondents);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan and Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM);
Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com);
Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).

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2014: Charlie Powell, 82, San Diego Legend

Charlie Powell, the oldest and most renowned member of an iconic  San Diego family, passed away  Labor Day morning at age 82.

Powell was arguably the greatest all-around athlete from this area.

Powell, in 1950 photo, was arguably the greatest all-around athlete from this area.

A resident of  Altadena, Powell was in San Diego for a family function when he became ill on Friday.  He died at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

“He was my big brother and I respected him so much,” said younger brother Jerry. “He was always there for me with an encouraging word, always positive. That’s the kind of man he was.”

The brothers Charlie, Ellsworth, and Art were outstanding athletes at San Diego in the early ‘fifties, and Jerry was a star at Lincoln a decade later.

Charlie was the Southern California player of the year in football in 1950, starred in basketball, held the school track-and-field shot put record for 31 years, and signed as a professional baseball player upon high school graduation in 1951.

His greatest thrill, Powell once said, was when “Duane Maley told me that I would be the only man ever to earn twelve varsity letters at San Diego High.”

Powell did that, lettering all three years in four sports, football, basketball, track, and baseball. Maley was his football coach.

Powell went from one season in the St. Louis Browns’ farm system and signed an NFL contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 1952. He had 10 tackles for loss including quarterback sacks of Bobby Layne against the Detroit Lions in one game his rookie season.

Powell turned to boxing in the mid-fifties and rose to become No. 4 in heavyweight rankings.  He returned to pro football with the Oakland Raiders in 1960.

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2014 Week 1, Con’t: Helix Salvages Some Respect

Helix beat a good Ventura St. Bonaventure team, 24-20, Saturday night, but Mission Hills was beaten by Timpview of Provo, the No. 3 team in Utah, 42-28.

San Diego Section teams thus finished the first weekend far  in arrears against intersectional teams.

In games involving teams from the city and county, the area was 2-8 in California and 5-11 including Utah, Hawaii, and Arizona.

Included was the carnage of dishearteningly blowout losses of 55-10 for Cathedral against Folsom of the Sac-Joaquin Section and 38-0 for La Costa Canyon by Newport Beach Corona del Mar of the Southern.

Cathedral gets another shot this week, taking on strong Westlake Village Oaks Christian, which lost to Bakersfield, the defending state Division I champion, 34-21.

Helix is back at it against Loomis Del Oro, another Sac-Joaquin Section entry with big biceps, while Oceanside takes on Mission Viejo.

Del Oro, 9-3 in 2013, was beaten by Helix, 35-24, in the state D-II championship in ’11. The Golden Eagles lost a home game to Honolulu Kamehameha, 25-17, in their 2014 opener.

Mission Viejo, 11-1 a year ago, was surprised by Bakersfield Liberty, 18-7.

The UT-San Deigo top 10 will be out in a couple days.  My ballot, cast this morning, was:

1—Helix (1-0).
2—Oceanside (1-0).
3—Mission Hills (0-1).
4—St. Augustine (0-1).
5—Eastlake (0-1).
6—Poway (1-0).
7—Ramona (1-0).
8—El Capitan (1-0).
9—Rancho Bernardo (1-0).
10—Rancho Buena Vista (0-1).


Helix’s victory marked the first time the Highlanders have played a Ventura County team since 1957, when they bused North to Oxnard and went home with a 52-6 loss that became part of a footnote in area football history.

The 1957 season was marked by the Asian Flu epidemic which killed 70,000 Americans and about two million world wide.

Most area teams were forced to cancel games.  Twenty-two of Helix’ 45 players were home with the flu, including seven starters, but coaches and school officials decided to go through with the game.

Read about the effects of the flu in San Diego  in “1957:  Different Kind of Enemy“.

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2014 Week 1: Poway Steps Up, Others Step Down

I feared for Cathedral and didn’t want to battle I-5 traffic on a Friday night to get to Oceanside, so the veteran blogger took in Rancho Buena Vista at Poway and was impressed.

With the winner and the loser.

Poway, 4-7 in 2013 and stung by the recent loss of two potential sophomore stars, quarterback Tate Martell and receiver Tyjon Lindsay, who moved together to Las Vegas and hooked up with nationally ranked Bishop Gorman, rolled to a 24-0 halftime lead over the Longhorns, then hung on with a late touchdown to win, 30-28.

(Martell and Lindsay meanwhile were 100 miles up the road, leading Gorman to a 48-27 win over Southern Section and Trinity League toughie Anaheim Servite at Cerritos College.

Martel threw for three touchdowns and ran for 130 yards.  Lindsay returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown and caught touchdown passes of 10 and 29 yards).


Rancho coach Paul Gomes, who has led a resurgence at the South Vista campus, was playing with less than a full complement.

“We’ve got fourteen players ineligible for six weeks because of grades, including twelve starters,” said a parent whose son starts for the Longhorns.

But quarterback Malik Taylor, a sturdy, 6-foot, 2-inch, 200-pounder with a live arm, passed for four touchdowns in the second half and had his team in front 28-24 with less than three minutes remaining.


Folsom 55, Cathedral 10.

Newport Beach Corona del Mar 38, La Costa Canyon 0.

Temecula Great Oak 38, Carlsbad 21.

Capistrano Valley Christian 52, Maranatha 0.


Avondale Westview, Arizona, 48, Westview 13.

Francis Parker 22, Honolulu Arthur Radford 20.

Mesa Desert Ridge, Arizona, 23, Eastlake 11.

Torrey Pines 34, Pleasant Grove, Utah, 21.


Best  local matchup saw No. 2 Oceanside defeat No. 5 St. Augustine, 34-28…No. 1 Helix and 4 Mission Hills have intersectional battles tonight, Helix vs. Ventura St. Bonaventure, and Mission Hills vs. Timpview of Provo, Utah…Paul Gomes is in his third season at Rancho Buena Vista, improving from 6-6 in 2011 to 9-4 in 2013…the Broncos were 5-24-1 in their three previous seasons…

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2014: Dunnam, Saska Among Those Passing

Farewell, old friend.

Those words were heard over the summer for at least four former San Diego-area football players.

Dunnam was starting guard on 8-2 Cardinals team in 1956.

Dunnam was first-string lineman on 8-2 Cardinals team in 1956.

Doug Dunnam,  75,  was a starting guard on the 1956 City Prep League-champion Hoover team that upset San Diego High, 20-12, before a roaring, record, overflow crowd of  9,000 persons at Hoover.

Dunnam  also was a member of the San Diego team that played the Los Angeles City Section all-star squad in the annual Breitbard College Prep game after his graduation  in 1957.

Hal Krupens, 78, was a standout on Don Giddings’ 1953 Point Loma squad and scored 7 touchdowns and 42 points, plus touchdown runs of 72 and 2 yards as Point Loma routed Hoover in one quarter of play, 14-0, in the annual City Schools’ carnival before 24,000 fans in Balboa Stadium in 1952.

Krupens was head coach at Clairemont from 1986-90 and also coached track at Crawford.

Bill Harvey, 76, quarterbacked Bennie Edens’ first Loma squad in 1955 and was named to the Breitbard Athletic foundation all-City Prep League backfield.

Dave Saska, 68, whose family has owned a popular Mission Beach restaurant since the early 1950s, was a 210-pound all-San Diego Section lineman at El Capitan in 1963.

The Vaqueros upset Hoover, 27-12, in the playoffs and were beaten, 20-6, by Kearny in the finals.

Ron Loneski who coached Lincoln to six section basketball championships and state runners-up in 1988  and ’91, passed away at age 77 in Lawrence, Kansas.

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2014: Highlanders No. 1 in Preseason Poll

Helix and Oceanside are 1-2 in the 2014 UT-San Diego preseason poll.

No surprise there.

The two schools have resided at or near the top in area football since the millennium (and for decades before).  Helix is 139-33-2 for an .801 winning percentage  since 2000 and Oceanside is 150-28-3 for .837.

Cathedral, Mission Hills, St. Augustine, and Eastlake round out the top 6 and all face loaded opponents.

A first-week showdown sends St. Augustine (11-2)  to Oceanside  (10-3), which defeated the Saints, 47-28, in 2013.

Helix, 9-3 in ’13,  opens with Ventura St. Bonaventure (8-4) at Cathedral.  Cathedral (11-2) takes on Folsom (14-0).  Eastlake (10-2) meets Desert Ridge (11-2) of Mesa, Arizona, and Mission Hills (12-2) plays Timpview (13-0) of Provo, Utah.

The intersectional games are part of the Under-Armour Comrades in Arms series.

“Previous” in the table below represents teams’ rankings at the end of the 2013 season.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Helix (4) 0-0 173 7
2 Oceanside (6) 0-0 171 1T
3 Cathedral (3) 0-0 158 3
4 Mission Hills (8) 0-0 157 1T
5 St. Augustine 0-0 128 4
6 Eastlake 0-0 70 6
7 Madison 0-0 52 10
8 Ramona 0-0 45 8
9 La Costa Canyon 0-0 38 NR
10 El Capitan 0-0 35 NR

*Awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: previously unranked.
Others receiving votes: Rancho Buena Vista, 34; Carlsbad, 25; San Marcos, 21; Rancho Bernardo, 16; Grossmont, 13; Mt. Carmel, Mount Miguel, 4 each; San Pasqual, Granite Hills, 3 each; Sweetwater, Poway, 1 each.

Twenty-one sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Kirk Kenney, UT-San Diego;
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego correspondents);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan and Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM);
Bodie DeSilva (Sandiegopreps.com);
Drew Smith (sdcoastalsports.com).


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1993:  Play Ball! Er, Huddle Up!

Dick Huddleston scored a unique trifecta.

1—He was a  tight end and linebacker on the 1960 Escondido team that won the first San Diego Section football championship.

2–He coached Point Loma to the 1973 San Diego Section baseball title.

3—and he led La Jolla to the 1993 San Diego Section III championship and the best record, 13-0, in school history. The unbeaten season was the second for the Vikings and the first in 58 years.

Lawrence Carr led the Vikings to a 9-0 season in 1935. Carr also happened to be the principal at San Diego High when the Cavemen were surprised but not upset, 19-13, by Huddleston, a 180-pound lineman, and other similar-sized Cougars.

Huddleston had vrsatile background as football playe and football and baseball coach.

Huddleston had vrsatile background as football player and football and baseball coach.


His coaching record ranks among the elite. Although serving as the Vikings mentor for a relatively short eight seasons, 1990-97, Huddleston’s teams compiled a 70-24 record for a .745 winning percentage.

Among coaches with at least 100 victories before the 2014 season, only Oceanside’s John Carroll (.755) and still active; Kearny’s Birt Slater (.747), and Chula Vista’s George Ohnessorgen (.745) have equaled or bettered Huddleston’s record.

Among coaches with less than 100 victories before 2014, 40 games minimum, Huddleston also ranks high in won-loss percentage.

Name School Years
Gordon Wood Helix 2000-03 46-6 .884
Chet DeVore Chula Vista 1951-55 44-7-1 .856
Duane Maley San Diego 1948-59 97-19-3 .828
Troy Starr Helix 2009-13* 62-13-1 .822
Bill Bailey Point Loma-San Diego 1942-47 40-8-2 .810
Richard Sanchez St. Augustine 2008-13* 48-13 .787
Hobbs Adams San Diego 1929-34 41-11-3 .772
Rick Jackson Madison 2004-13* 91-27-1 .772
Dick Huddleston La Jolla 1989-97 70-24 .745
Dwight Morris Mount Miguel-Granite Hills 1971-78 54-19-1 .736


DID HE OR DIDN’T HE?                                                                 

NeighboringMission Bay, the school that took much of La Jolla’s strong Pacific Beach enrollment connection when that school opened in 1953, almost blew up the Vikings’ undefeated season.

“I still haven’t heard from anyone close to the play who said the kid ever got into the end zone.” said Mission Bay coach Jerry Surdy.   “I would say, without a doubt, it’s the toughest loss I’ve had here at Mission Bay….”

Surdy was visiting with Union-Tribune writer Frank Brady after the Buccaneers’ 8-7 defeat.

This one went down hard, not only because of Jaime Blake’s having transferred from Mission Bay the previous year after leaving Hoover following a beef with his coaches.


The Buccaneers had committed a dead ball foul as La Jolla kicker Jason Green was lining up to kick a point after following a La Jolla touchdown with 6:33 left in the game that made the score 7-6.

Huddleston, whose team had trailed all afternoon, took a time out but quickly took advantage of the penalty.

The foul moved the ball half the distance to the goal line, to 1 ½ yards.  Now Huddleston opted for a two-point try and Blake squirmed toward the goal.

Did he score?  Yes, according to the official furthest from the play.

“Hey, we dodged a bullet,” said Huddleston.


With 13 offensive and defensive starters returning and Blake looming as a potentially outstanding successor to E.J. Watson, the Vikings felt optimistic when they began the season.

Blake gave Vikings solid running game,.

Blake gave Vikings solid running game,.

But how far could they come back from a 2-7-1 mark in 1992?

Their opening game said much. La Jolla defeated Santana, 20-17, on a 43-yard touchdown pass play with 3 seconds remaining in the game, after the Sultans had driven 88 yards to take the lead.

The Vikings offered a preview of what to expect in the playoffs when they beat St. Augustine, 35-12, in Week 3.  They repeated with a 14-6 win over the Saints as
Blake rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown in the championship.


While Surdy ruminated about a victory lost, San Marcos’ Ken Broach declared a 20-16 win over El Camino to be one of the biggest victories of his career.

Quarterback Luke Underwood threw two touchdown passes in the final 3:31 as the Knights rallied from down 16-7.

El Camino’s first loss to San Marcos since 1987 slowed the Wildcats temporarily, but they went on to finish 10-4 with a 24-14 II championship victory over San Pasqual.


This time the officials’ flags favored Mission Bay in a 21-17 win over Lincoln.  The Buccaneers drove 99 yards in the fourth quarter, with the help of three, 15-yard penalties, to knock off the Hive, 21-17.


Seventeen Morse players were at least 205 pounds, including five who needed an industrial-sized Toledo when they weighed in at preseason training camp.

The Big 5 pushed the needle from 275 to 330.

Tigers coach John Shacklett weighed 205 and was the second heaviest man on the squad when he turned out for his senior season at Grossmont in 1956.

Reasoned 282-pound David Gates: “Athletes today spend a lot of time in the weight room. Everyone knows muscle is heavier than fat.” The Tigers’ offensive line averaged a close-to-NFL standard of 286 pounds.


Not exactly, but when Morse was vacating the field at Brigham Young-Hawaii, the Torrey Pines squad was entering for its practice. ‘Pines coach Ed Burke had an idea.

Kiddingly (maybe) Burke attempted to persuade some Morse linemen to make a U Turn. “Okay, fellows, over here,” implored Burke.  “I’ve got some Torrey Pines shirts for you.”

Pointing to David Gates and others, Burke said, “I’ll take this one, this one…this one”.

Union-Tribune writer Tom Shanahan was on the premises, covering the one-week trip by Morse, which dropped a 29-8 decision to Oahu Kahuku, and Torrey Pines, which defeated Honolulu Punahou, 32-21.

Meanwhile, Marian Catholic topped the Yakota Air Force Base squad, 26-8, in Tokyo.  The base team, which plays other U.S. military schools, had won nine consecutive Far East championships.


Early-season ratings can be disastrous.

No. 1 Mt. Carmel fell to No.  9 San Pasqual, 47-7, in Week 2 as the Eagles, paced by Ethan Barkett’s three touchdowns and 117 yards, rushed for 494 yards.

Two weeks later Mt. Carmel defeated Rancho Bernardo, 17-9. Coach Bill Christopher’s surprising Broncos overcame the setback and finished with a 12-1 record, claiming the Division I championship with a 7-3 victory over Poway.

Mt. Carmel up and downed its way to 7-6, but not before shocking No. 1 –ranked Rancho Buena Vista, 45-7, four weeks after its loss to San Pasqual.

San Pasqual, supposedly rebuilding, went 10-3 and all the way to the II finals before losing to El Camino, 24-14.


Shanahan  had an interesting read on Rancho Bernardo’s Christopher:

“Bill Christopher, the football coach with the pierced ear and coach of NFL star Ronnie Lott (at Rialto Eisenhower), now has a new identity, coach of Rancho Bernardo, CIF San Diego Division I champion.”

Christopher, who played for Bennie Edens at Point Loma in the late 1960s, promised his team he’d wear an earring if the Broncos won the Palomar League.

Christopher wore the earring during the playoffs and, after the title game win over Poway, agreed to continue with  the jewelry through the team banquet. He was not excited about the prospect.

The issue arose during preseason practice when several players turned out with earrings, to Christopher’s disdain.


Ethan Barkett was an all-San Diego Section running back for coach Mike Dolan’s San Pasqual Eagles.

Thirty years before, Ethan’s father was a starting forward on the San Diego City College basketball team that was runner-up to Fresno City in the State Junior College tournament. Nick Barkett also was the first San Diego Section basketball player of the year.  He led 24-3 Hoover to the 1960-61 championship.


Three South Bay coaches each won his 100th game, bringing to 16 the number of 100-game winners in County history.

Joining the prestigious group were George Ohnessorgen of Chula Vista, Gil Warren of Castle Park, and Gene Alim of Sweetwater.

Steve Brand of the Union-Tribune visited with some of the  group’s active members:

“The one-hundredth is a milestone,” said Point Loma’s Bennie Edens (229).  “After that you kind of go from victory to victory.”

“I was at about one-twenty when someone brought it to my attention,” said Dick Haines of Vista (127 at Dover, Ohio, and 180 at Vista). “The two-hundredth was no big deal.  The three-hundredth, I thought it would never come.”

“To win one-hundred games you need an understanding wife,” said Helix’ Jim Arnaiz  (156).  “You need good assistant coaches.  You need to have good parents and good players, and you need lots of luck.”

“All one-hundred means is you’re getting old,” said Ohnessorgen.  “These players weren’t here when I started (in 1982), so our first goal is winning the Metro League and, in the long term, the CIF playoffs.”


Mark Zeigler of the Union-Tribune covered Chula Vista-Sweetwater, the premier, continuous rivalry in the County.

Chula Vista won, 14-12, when Sweetwater missed a two-point conversion attempt with 15 seconds remaining.

“It was,” Zeigler wrote, “the kind of game that embodies high school football, where you can’t find a parking place, where even those who can find a seat stand, where players hold hands in the huddle…”

…and only where the coach promises his players they could shave his head if they won.Ohnessorgen’s hair, soaked from the contents of a water cooler dumped on his head, would be gone by Monday.


Shields scored all eight points, for both teams.

Shields scored all eight points, for both teams..

Bonita Vista’s 6-2 victory over Sweetwater, giving the Barons a best-in-school-history 7-0 start, was manufactured by one man.

Bonita’s Scott Shields kicked field goals of 37 and 47 yards before a full house at Sweetwater’s Gail Devers Stadium, then rushed out of the end zone from punt formation with five seconds remaining, giving the host Red Devils a safety and making for a final score of 6-2.

How often have games ended 6-2?

In the almost 100 years of football in San Diego County there had been 11 other games by that score.

The first teams listed in the table below were the 6-2 winners, except for Monte Vista, which was the 6-2 loser.

Year Team Opponent
1927 San Diego =Santa Ana
1928 San Diego St. Augustine
1934 Escondido =Grossmont
1946 Fallbrook =Ramona
1949 Grossmont Sweetwater
1952 San Dieguito Hemet
1959 Coronado =Oceanside
1967 Grossmont =Mount Miguel
1979 Clairemont Mira Mesa
1985 San Marcos =@Oceanside
1992 Monte Vista @Oahu Kaneohe James Castle

=League game.


“I just made the cuts, put my shoulders down, and executed.”  Vista’s 6-foot, 240-pound sophomore Eddie Lologo, to Ed Graney of the Union-Tribune.

Lologo rushed for 165 yards in 28 carries as Vista defeated Rancho Buena Vista, 14-7, in the teams’ annual battle for city bragging rights. Lologo added, “We played our hearts out.”

It gets no better than that.


Morse’s 1990 state record of 649 points in 14 games was topped by Concord De La Salle, which had 665 in 13.

Chad Davis’ career national passing record of 9,337 yards, achieved at Palm Springs, Torrey Pines, and Mira Mesa, was broken by Newbury Park’s Keith Smith (9,967).

Crawford’s Altie Parker caught 95 passes in 12 games, but was the state runner-up to Newbury Park’s Leodes Van Buren, who caught 101 in 14 games.


For awhile it appeared the preps would be out of luck.

Saturday night, Dec. 11, at Jack Murphy Stadium, was out because the Chargers would have a game on Sunday, Dec. 12.

The stadium manager had been fired in 1983 after Long Beach State and San Diego State had chewed up a rainy field the night before the Chargers were to play the Dallas Cowboys on national television.

Stadium manager Big Bill Wilson worked with CIF honchos to arrive at a Monday, Dec. 13 date.

Combined attendance of 14,395 watched a triple header that began at 1 p.m. and ended about nine hours later.


Castle Park freshman linebacker Zeke Moreno did not pass age-eligibility to play football until near the end of the season…Moreno finally got his chance and had 13 tackles in a playoff loss to El Capitan…Dick Huddleston also was captain of the 1961 Escondido team and played collegiately at Cal Western University…Mission Bay’s 21-17 victory was its first over Lincoln since 1973 and ended a string of six losses in a row to the Hornets…his life would end prematurely in an auto accident after playing for the Los Angeles Raiders, but, for now,  there was unlimited promise for St. Augustine’s Darrell Russell, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 280-pound defensive tackle who also was a standout on the Saints’ basketball squad…Rancho Bernardo’s 21-6 win over Monte Vista marked dedication of the Broncos’ stadium…CIF officials ratified in February a long-discussed and ping ponged decision by the Coordinating Committee and Board of Managers to drop the AAA, AA, A designation for football playoffs in favor of I, II, III, and IV…


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1930: Off (As in Remove) The ‘Vine!

Now wait just a grape-pickin’ minute!

Students at Escondido High were up in arms.

They did not like the term Grape Pickers or its use to describe the school’s athletic teams, although the wine-making fruit held agricultural sway in the area and the city had hosted a Grape Day Festival since 1908.

The students believed a more masculine mascot was appropriate.

They voted to adopt the cougar, which had been known  for centuries to prowl the mountain ranges  near the valley community.


The school also made a request of sports writers and other members of the media to refrain from referring to Grape Pickers in print or over the radio.

Perhaps coincidentally, football at the second oldest school in the County was finally earning some respect.

The Cougars, paced by future major league baseballer Pete Coscarart; Tom Lusardi, and Ed Goddard, posted a 9-2 record although beaten, 20-6,  by El Centro Central in  the Southern California lower division championship game.

Along the way coach Harry Wexler’s North County squad tied with Coronado and Grossmont for the Southern Prep League championship.

Escondido defeated Grossmont, 31-0, and Grossmont topped Coronado, 12-7, but Coronado upset the Cougars, 20-6.

The teams were 3-1 in final standings and followed an interesting path from there.

A three-hour meeting of representatives from the three schools was held Monday, Nov. 12, at the Stanley Andrews store in San Diego.

Harry Wexler (inset) is flanked by Escondido stars Ed Goddard, left and Pete Coscarart, sixth from left, in second row).

Harry Wexler (inset) is flanked by Escondido stars Ed Goddard, left and Pete Coscarart, sixth from left, in second row).

Hosting the session was area football official and sporting goods purveyor O.W. (Junior) Todd.  Wexler, Coronado’s Amos Schaefer, and Grossmont’s Jack Mashin were in attendance.

A league rule stipulated that a playoff would have to be played Tuesday, No. 13, or Friday, Nov. 15.

In the scrambling, seemingly haphazard manner in which the CIF Southern Section selected playoff teams, it appeared that two clubs from the Southern League were eligible for the postseason.

According to The San Diego Union, Schaefer said he’d play, only if Grossmont agreed to enter the playoffs.

Mashin bailed, citing a number of injuries that depleted his squad and would preclude a game the next day.

Mashin and Schaefer finally conceded the championship to Escondido and cited curious logic:

Ed Goddard attempts tackle on Coronado's Jimmy Blaisdell, who helped Islanders upset Escondido.

Ed Goddard attempts tackle on Coronado’s Jimmy Blaisdell, who helped Islanders upset Escondido.

Grossmont had beaten Coronado the previous Friday and even if Coronado would defeat Escondido again, the Islanders’ loss to Grossmont would overshadow a win over Escondido.

That’s the way it was reported in The San Diego Sun.


The Cougars routed Orange County champion Orange, 52-0, that Friday in a game that was not reported as a playoff.

The first playoff apparently was against Point Loma, which represented the new City League.

Escondido moved on with a 13-6 victory over the Pointers. Next up was Banning, the Riverside County champion, and the Cougars sent the Broncos home, 46-0.

The win over Banning set up a second match with El Centro Central, beaten, 6-0, by the Cougars early in the season.

Maybe it was the long postseason, but even a partisan home crowd couldn’t help the Cougars, who dropped a 20-6 decision to the team from Imperial Valley.

THE WEXLER WAY                                                                    

Coach Harry Wexler brought the Escondido program out of the depths in which it resided for most of the previous 30 years. His teams posted a 57-32-11 record over 11 seasons from 1928-37.

Escondido’s record under five coaches from 1920 until Wexler was hired was 10-41-5. Local merchants, so taken with the Cougars’ success, closed their stores in order to see the game with rival Oceanside.

Wexler’s .624 winning percentage  is bettered at Escondido only by the standard of the legendary Bob (Chick) Embrey, who was 144-66-4 (.682).  Paul Gomes was 59-37-7 (.607) from 2001-09.


Did Wexler, a Washington State Cougar in his undergraduate days, have something to say about the change in nicknames?

School officials said Wexler did not suggest or have anything to do with the switch.

Wexler undoubtedly had something to say about Goddard’s future.

The sophomore fullback went on to an all-America career at Washington State and was the second player taken in the 1937 NFL draft.

A Los Angeles Times reporter was so taken with Goddard’s running in a victory over USC that he coined Goddard the “Escondido Express.”


There had been a handful of San Diego-area preps who had played professionally, notably Russ Saunders of San Diego High with the 1931 Green Bay Packers, but Goddard was the first to be drafted in the NFL.

Goddard played two seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Rams and went into teaching and coaching.  He was an assistant coach on the 1950 Fullerton High staff. The Indians upset San Diego, 20-19, in the playoffs.


Eddie Dowling and Cinema signs of the time  featured Eddie Dowling and Betty Compson fanning the flames in new release at Spreckels Theater.

Cinema signs of the time, Eddie Dowling and Betty Compson fanning the flames at Spreckels Theater.

La Mesa was approved for daily mail delivery after the community’s Chamber of Commerce voted to increase the number of sidewalks and paving as required by the U.S. Postal Service.

The government agency also had required La Mesa to improve street lighting and provide a modern numbering system for residential and business addresses.


Before they passed, many retired San Diego High coaches and staff shook their heads when they spoke, often, of the game  coach Hobbs Adams’ Hilltoppers lost at Long Beach Poly in 1930.

Estimated attendance at Poly’s Burcham Field was 15,000 persons for the game that decided the Coast League championship and the league’s playoff representative.

Another 4,000 was said to have been turned away.

Hundreds of Hilltop boosters were there, having traveled by auto and train.  Some also came by boat. A vessel operated by the Los Angeles Steam Ship Company traveled at almost 25 knots and would be used on other occasions by the Cavers.

San Diegans were able to pick up a Long Beach radio station broadcast on San Diego station KGER 1350.

The Fox Theater commissioned a special cameraman to take film of the game and begin a one-week showing the day after the Thanksgiving tussle.

Radio station KSUN in San Diego also offered a play-by-play of the contest.


The Jackrabbits won, 14-8, and breezed to the Southern California upper division championship.

–San Diego had 15 first downs, Poly 1.

–Long Beach’s longest gain on a running play was 4 yards.


The game story lede, in part, as sent by The San Diego Union reporter Charles Byrne:

“Although outclassed—and outclassed badly—Long Beach Poly capitalized on the ‘breaks’ of the game to capture the Coast League championship in one of the weirdest prep school battles ever witnessed in Southern California.”

Poly’s one first down was on a pass play that turned into a 50-yard touchdown.

A Cotton Warburton punt from the end zone was blocked and Warburton recovered for a Poly safety.  Long Beach led, 8-0.

The Jackrabbits went up 14-0 after a lateral from Warburton to Ted Wilson was knocked in the air and strayed into the hands of another Poly defender, who ran 85 yards.

San Diego got on the board in the fourth quarter.  Cecil McElvain intercepted a Poly fumble and raced 20 yards to make the score 14-6.

King Hall blocked a Poly punt out of the end zone for another safety.

Poly went on to defeat Redondo Beach Redondo, 20-3, for the championship.


Ted Wilson's two touchdowns were not enough in loss at Phoenix.

Ted Wilson’s two touchdowns were not enough in loss at Phoenix.

San Diego boarded a 5:15 p.m. train on Thursday for an all night ride to Phoenix.  After “resting up” the Cavers dropped a 22-20 decision to Phoenix Union and hustled to the  depot to catch the last train at 10:30 Friday night.

The team arrived back in San Diego Saturday morning.

The sluggish Cavers trailed, 15-0, at halftime but rallied as Ted Wilson scored two touchdowns and Cotton Warburton added another.


The fledgling City League, numbering Point Loma, La Jolla, San Diego High’s Reserves, and the new Hoover High, meant that the Southern Prep, originally known as the County League, would become just that, a league of County squads.

The Southern Prep now listed Coronado, Sweetwater, Oceanside, Escondido, Mountain Empire, and Julian.  The last two did not field football teams but competed in other sports.


At one point in the preseason, San Diego coach Hobbs Adams had five, 11-man squads practicing daily.

Adams decided that assistant coach Mike Morrow would handle a group called the “Reserves”, sometimes referred to as the “Seconds”,  and Glen Broderick would continue as coach of the B’s.

Broderick’s B team was the defending Southern California champion, but the Coast League dropped its B league this season

The Little Hilltoppers forged a free-lance schedule and again prevailed in Southern California.

The B team defeated Santa Monica, 25-6, in the preliminary game to Long Beach Poly’s 20-3 victory over Redondo  at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

As was the practice in track and field and other sports, with A, B, and C squads based on “exponents,” B footballers’ eligibility was determined by their height, weight, grade, and age.

The Reserves served as sort of a varsity minor league.   Players shuttled back and forth between the teams.


The date was Sept. 28, 1930, when St. Augustine and Grossmont took the field in the first high school night football game under lights in San Diego County.

One day after San Diego State had played the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on the tanbark Navy Field, St. Augustine defeated the Foothillers, 25-0.

San Diego coach Hobbs Adams took his team to Navy Field for a workout later in the season before the Hilltoppers boarded a train for a game in the North.

The Navy Field site at the foot of Broadway and adjacent  to Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive would be renamed Lane Field as home of the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres later in the decade.

San Diego High’s Class B team represented the school in its first night-time venture when the Little Hilltoppers traveled to Brawley.


September was a historic month.

On Sept. 3, Herbert Hoover High, 4474 El Cajon Blvd., in East San Diego, opened its doors to almost 1,000 sophomore and junior students.  There was no senior class.

Known as the Engineers or Presidents, students opted for school colors of Red and White.

Their teams eventually became the Cardinals.

Coach John Perry, who had posted a 52-14-5 record at San Diego from 1920-26 but had left coaching to pursue additional educational credentials, came out of retirement to lead the Eastsiders.

Perry’s first call resulted in 88 candidates, remarkable, said The San Diego Union, in that there were less than 500 boys in the school’s three grades.

A total of 130 were out at  San Diego High, 50 at Grossmont, 75 at Army-Navy, and 35 at St. Augustine.


San Diego had a new practice field north of the City Stadium but the rough, dirt layout prohibited intrasquad scrimmages until the team moved into the stadium and its turf playing surface.

The football team and student gym classes soon would access the stadium on a daily basis throughout the school year after an agreement was reached during a meeting of the Balboa Park Board and City Schools big shots.

For the next 30-odd years, it was easy to identify the practice field site.  Whenever news media photos were taken of the San Diego High players, the Balboa Naval Hospital would loom in the background.

The new, Crosstown Freeway of Interstate 5 opened in 1963 and changed the practice landscape, as the baseball field was reconfigured.  Cavers teams continued to practice football there.


Interscholastic athletics at Fresno Edison Technical was suspended until the end of the school year June 1, 1931.

Two Technical students were charged with assaulting game referee H.L. Rowe, a resident of Madera who ruled a touchdown in favor of Kingsburg with two minutes left in the game that gave Kingsburg a 6-0 victory and setting off a riot.

About 30 Technical students were involved in the beef at the game and for creating another disturbance that night.


Thirty-one former San Diego-area gridders were listed on the rosters of 12 universities.

Twelve players each were from San Diego High and St. Augustine.  Coronado had four.

The schools included USC, Stanford, California, and Oregon of the Pacific Coast Conference, plus Idaho, Tulane, Kansas, Tulsa, St. Mary’s, Santa Clara, Regis of Denver, and Columbia of Seattle.


San Diego coach  took no chances before Wilson game.

San Diego coach took no chances against former locals.

Hobbs Adams closed practices and locked gates at City Stadium as his team prepared for visiting Long Beach Wilson and Santa Ana…the Bruins were coached by former San Diego High star Rockwell  (Rocky) Kemp, Santa Ana by former Memorial Junior High and San Diego High coach G.A. (Tex) Oliver…heavy rain forced the Hilltoppers indoors to their new gymnasium the Thursday before the Alhambra game…Grossmont had turf for the first time…”We’ve been working for a turf field for about six years, and now that we have one, it’s probably the best in the County,” said Foothillers coach Jack Mashin…Ramona, which opened in 1893, considered the fielding a  football team… coach Harold Roberts was in place, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t be on the field until 1938…Gene Miller got San Diego on the scoreboard against San Bernardino by drop-kicking a 38-yard field goal…Oceanside was constructing an  athletic facility that could hold three full-size football fields, four tennis courts, and a quarter-mile oval for track and field meets…one local writer described Grossmont as “the back country school.”…flags flew in St. Augustine’s 64-0 win over Brawley…the Saints were penalized 165 yards and the Wildcats 105…the same Brawley squad dropped a 26-0 decision to the San Diego B team the next week…

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2014: St. Augustine Goes Intersectional

With Frank Buncom IV leading the defense and explosive running back Elijah Preston propelling the offense, St. Augustine might have more good players than last season’s 11-2 team but could be hard pressed proving it.

The Saints have stayed close to home for most of  the San Diego Section’s first 54 years, but they’re stepping out this season, with road games at  legendary Los Angeles Loyola and Riverside County power Vista Murrieta.

Not to mention their annual roll in the dirt with Eastern League rival Cathedral.

The Saints have played 12 intersectional games since they attained membership in the San Diego City Prep League in 1957 and  nine since the San Diego Section was formed in 1960.

The Saints had played eight such out-of-the-area games  from 1951-56 and from 1945-50 they were members of the far-flung Southland Catholic League, competing against Los Angeles-area schools.

Their last foray against a team from outside San Diego County was a home-and-home series with Anaheim Servite, losing, 37-14, on the road  in 2005 and 23-0 at Southwestern College in 2006.

Loyola officials announced that they are bringing in extra bleachers and lights for the game with the Saints Sept. 12, marking the first after-dark home contest in school history and the first home game since 1949.

The Cubs’ home field for years has been at Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys.

St. Augustine played an afternoon league game at Loyola in 1949, losing, 28-6.

A video profile of the 2014 Loyola squad by Los Angeles Times writer Eric Sondheimer can be accessed by connecting to the link below.

Football: Loyola Coach Marvin Sanders is feeling comfortable

The Saints’ intersectional history and record of 7-12-1 since leaving the Southland Catholic League after the 1950 season (games against Imperial Valley teams since 2000 not listed, as they now are in San Diego section):

1951 at El Centro Central 0-13
1952 Culver City 14-6
L.A. Mt.  Carmel 12-25
1953 San Gabriel Mission 33-0
Lawndale Leuzinger 13-0
1954 at Long Beach St. Anthony 0-6
1956 at Yuma, Arizona 7-20
at Pomona Catholic 6-6
1957 at Torrance 26-6
1958 L.A. Mt. Carmel 6-40
1959 Brawley 31-7
at Gardena Serra 12-7
1960 at Redlands 6-34
1965 at Santa Barbara 7-34
1974 at Santa Barbara 18-31
1987 L.A. Salesian 7-6
1995 at Rancho Santa Margarita 6-28
1996 Rancho Santa Margarita 7-27
2005 at Anaheim Servite 0-23
2006 Anaheim Servite 14-37
Record: 7-12-1.
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2014: Intersectional Games & New Coaches

Preseason games don’t have the import of regular-season contests, which carry the prestige of potential league championships and playoff seedings, but the early intersectionals have their own realities.

Do well in these games and gain ratings.

Have high ratings and increase the possibility of state playoff invitations.

Many intersectionals will be played the week of Aug. 29, with Oceanside, Cathedral, and Eastlake serving as sites for the annual Brothers in Arms carnival.

One of those first week attractions sends St. Augustine to Oceanside in a battle of San Diego Section powers who were a combined 21-5 last season. Oceanside won the 2013 matchup, 47-28.

Carlsbad 9-3 Temecula Great Oak 6-5 There
Cathedral 11-2 Folsom 14-1 Home
Cathedral 11-2 Westlake Village Oaks Christian 8-3 Oceanside
Cathedral 11-2 Newbury Park 5-5 Away
Christian 12-1 San Luis Obispo Mission Prep 11-3 Away
Eastlake 10-2 Mesa Desert Ridge, Arizona 11-2 Home
Eastlake 10-2 Los Alamitos 9-3 Away
Francis Parker 10-1 Honolulu Arthur Radford 7-3 Home
Helix 9-3 Ventura St. Bonaventure 8-4 Cathedral
Helix 9-3 Loomis Del Oro 13-3 Oceanside
La Costa Canyon 7-4 Corona del Mar 16-0 Cathedral
La Costa Canyon 7-4 Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills 6-4 Home
Mar Vista 4-6 Santa Cruz Harbor 2-8 Away
Mar Vista 4-6 San Gabriel Gabrieleno 7-4 Away
Mission Hills 12-2 Provo Timpview, Utah 13-1 Cathedral
Oceanside 10-3 Mission Viejo 11-1 Home
Oceanside 10-3 Temecula Chaparral 8-4 Away
St. Augustine 11-2 L.A. Loyola 4-6 Away
St. Augustine 11-2 Murrieta Vista Murrieta 12-2 Away
Santa Fe Christian 6-5 Santa Barbara Bishop Diego 10-3 Away
Torrey Pines 6-5 Pleasant Grove, Utah 9-3 Eastlake
Valley Center 3-7 Redwood City Sequoia 5-5 Home
Westview 2-9 Avondale Westview, Arizona 10-1 Away

Not all returns are in, but at least nine coaches will be debuting with their teams when presesason games begin Aug. 29.

There has been one head coaching switch.  Ron Gladnick  left Clairemont to head up the Torrey Pines program.

Drew Westling Chula Vista Judd Rachow
Joe Kim Clairemont Ron Gladnick
Jon Goodman Classical Jon Burnes
John  Roberts El Camino Pulu Poumele
Tyler Hales La Jolla Country Day Jeff Hutzler
Lance Christensen Otay Ranch Anthony Lacsina
Jason Patterson Orange Glen Kris Plash
Ron Gladnick Torrey Pines Scott Ashby
Scott Catlin San Ysidro Tyler Arciaga




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1992: Leave it to The Bennie

They could have asked Bennie Edens.

Writers and prep experts comprising the selection panel for The San Diego Union weekly Top 10 may well have consulted the Point Loma coach.

No one could have offered more expert testimony.

The peninsula pigskin sage coached his 38th team at the Chatsworth Boulevard school and lost to the No’s. 1, 2, 3, and 7 teams this season.

Add another defeat to University City, which was 9-1 and didn’t make the Top 10, and the Pointers were beaten by five clubs with a combined record of 47 wins and three losses.

There’s more.

Poway, which eliminated the Pointers, 14-10, in the first round of the playoffs, finished with a 10-4 record.

Six teams at a combined 57-7!

The final Union regular-season poll:

1. Morse 10-0 39
2. Helix 10-0 36
3. El Camino 9-1 32
4. El Capitan 9-1 28
5. Mt. Carmel 8-1-1 21
6. San Pasqual 9-1 20
7. Kearny 9-1 13
8. Orange Glen 7-3 11
9. Torrey Pines 8-2 7
10. Castle Park 8-2 5

  St. Augustine was another 9-1 team looking up at the Top 10, as was Poway, 7-3 in the regular season.


John Shacklett’s tiger had different spots this season but still claimed its second AAA title in three seasons in its fifth trip to the finals in the last six.

The Tigers of Morse were ranked fourth in the country by USA Today in 1990 when they outscored 14 opponents by an average of 46-13.

Conan Smith was three-year leader of Morse Tigers.

Conan Smith was three-year leader of Morse Tigers.

Shacklett’s 1992 squad wasn’t as explosive, averaging 29 points in another 14-0 season but allowing only an average of 6.

Crushing defense and tough, slashing running by Archie Amerson (675 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in one three-game stretch and AAA offensive player of year) and three-year veteran Conan Smith (defensive player of the year)  were staples of Shacklett’s  squad, which won a fourth  championship in six tries.


El Camino was looking for its fourth straight AA title but its 15-game playoff winning streak was broken, and convincingly, 38-13, by Torrey Pines.

The Falcons survived a season in which their quarterback, Ryan Lynch, was involved in a one-game suspension controversy and was lost with an injury in the middle of the 27-21, semifinal victory over San Pasqual.


Falcon Brian Batson spoke of coach Ed Burke:

“I can’t say enough about him and what he’s done for this football program.  It used to be all we’d think about on Friday nights was where the party was after the game.”

Burke, who coached the Falcons from 1980-84, returned this season and inherited a 4-6-1 team.

“I’m still in a state of shock,” said Burke, who led a program that until four weeks before  never had won a playoff game.

“This is El Camino,” Burke said to writer Ed Graney.  “This is no run-of-the-mill program.  These are people we’ve admired for a long time. To win is great.  To win this convincingly is overwhelming.”


One victory in 15 seasons against a neighborhood rival that is your essential progeny can lead to indigestion.

Two  fourth-quarter touchdowns that led to a 14-11 loss to Helix stirred acid reflux in Grossmont coach Judd Hulburt, whose postmortem included a sour observation:

“I like to refer to them as the East County All-Stars,” said Hulburt.

“They have players from (Canyon Country) Canyon, Mount Miguel, and other areas.  It’s hard to recruit speed and they certainly have it.”

Teneil Ethridge, a transfer from Mount Miguel, rushed for 74 yards in 16 carries and scored the Highlanders’ first touchdown on an eight-yard run. Quarterback Jeremy Gottlieb and Marc Baskin teamed on a 25-yard scoring pass for the winner.


“Well,” Hulburt said to writer Jim Trotter two days later, “if I’m going to be on the record, I’m going to be very careful about what I say.

“I’m just saying it looks really strange that Helix gets good athletes in its program year after year.”

Hulburt denied accusing the Helix coaching staff of recruiting but said something about Helix parents and boosters proselytizing off-the-books.


Highlanders reaped dividends by transfer of Chuck Cecil.

Highlanders reaped dividends by transfer of Chuck Cecil.

Highlanders coach Jim Arnaiz was nonplussed.

“I just don’t know where he’s coming from,” said the 20-season mentor of the Highlanders.  “I know what I’ve done, what our staff has done, and I know how we handle our program.  We have nothing to be embarrassed about.

“We have been known statewide as a good athletic school as well as a good academic school,” Arnaiz added.  “Yes, we’ve had some good fortune of having great players show up on our doorstep, wanting to be part of a winning tradition.”

As an example, Arnaiz noted that when Chuck Cecil’s dad was job transferred from Hanford in the San Joaquin Valley to San Diego “he researched East County.  That’s how Chuck ended up at Helix in 1982.”

Cecil’s fierce play as a linebacker and safety led the Highlanders to the AAA championship in 1982.  He went on to play and coach in the NFL.

Arnaiz had amassed 147 victories and was 12-6-2 against the Foothillers from the time of his appointment as the Scots’ coach in 1973 and 12-2-2 since 1977.


The San Diego Section coordinating council unanimously voted, in the middle of the season, to return to a 16-team playoff bracket after the Section board of managers voted to reduce the number of playoff teams to 12 for this year.

The board’s decision met with criticism, partly because several concerned groups, including the coordinating council, had no opportunity to discuss the proposed reduction.


The board of managers wanted to unify playoff brackets and eliminate the first-round blowouts associated with 16-team playoffs, i.e., the top seed playing the lowest seed.


An obscure but telling statistic to come out of the AA playoffs involved El Camino and its 24-14 victory over Kearny in  the quarterfinals.

The win was the Wildcats 12th in a row over a Western League squad in the playoffs, dating their 39-28 win over Kearny for the AA title in 1976, the year El Camino opened after splitting from Oceanside.

“I know (Western League) coaches get tired of hearing this, but we play tough football in the (Avocado League),  said Wildcats coach Herb Meyer.


Chula Vista means beautiful view, but the Spartans’ view was anything but on this Friday night after a galling, 22-19 loss to San Diego Southwest.

–They surrendered the Metropolitan League championship after four consecutive titles.

–This, after their 36-game, league unbeaten streak came to an end the previous week in a loss to Castle Park.

–The Spartans were beaten by Southwest for the first time in seven years.


Chula Vista coach George Ohnessorgen saw a fumble; the officials saw a completed pass.

Southwest faced a fourth-and-five midway in the fourth quarter at the Chula Vista 10-yard line. Raiders quarterback O’Brien Woods passed to Tony Diaz, who caught the pass at the three and was hit by J.J. Rosier. The ball came loose.  Southwest’s Danny Lim recovered.

Chula Vista celebrated, thinking the pass was incomplete. Game officials ruled that Diaz caught the ball and that his feet hit the ground before Diaz fumbled, making the pass a completion.

Southwest scored on the next play.

“I’m sorry for the kids that the game had to be taken away on a bad play,” Ohnessorgen said to writer Tom Shanahan, “but we made some critical mistakes and Southwest did a good job of coming back (from deficits of 13-0 and 19-14).”

Raiders coach Alan Kaylor didn’t exactly have a straight face when he told Shanahan, “It was a catch.  We’ll have to look at the films.”

San Pasqual's Mike Dolan could be experiencing thrill of victory...or agony of defeat.

San Pasqual’s Mike Dolan could be experiencing thrill of victory…or agony of defeat.


“Sometimes I have no idea,” said Ed Burke.  “Unfortunately for me, I’m one of the weirdos who chooses to do this.”

The legendary Torrey Pines coach was addressing the question posed by Ed Graney of The San Diego Union.

Long hours, myriad logistics, and problems with players and parents are only part of a high school coach’s job.

“It gets to a point where you are validating your lifestyle around how determined 16- and 17-year-old kids are at winning football games,” said Vic Player of Lincoln.

“We sat down once, figured out how many hours we spent during the season, and the pay (actually a stipend) came out to something like 12 cents per hour,” said San Pasqual’s Mike Dolan.

The three coaches may at times have had a love-hate relationship with their profession, but they couldn’t resist the lure.

Together the three won more than 500 games in their careers.

Before he coached, Player (left) starred in 1960 St. Augustine backfield with Tom Procopio, Mike Moses, and quarterback Oliver Walker.

Before he coached, Player (left) starred in 1960 St. Augustine backfield with Tom Procopio, Mike Moses, and quarterback Oliver Walker.


Four of the County’s most renowned coaches got together in the spring and came up with the idea for a season-opening doubleheader. Vista was the venue, with Herb Meyer’s preseason No. 1 El Camino squad meeting No. 2 Point Loma and John Shacklett’s No. 6 Morse Tigers taking on Craig Bell’s No. 4 Rancho Buena Vista Broncos.

An added fillip was Meyer, the County’s winningest coach (243) against Edens, No. 2 (211).

The buildup was greater.   El Camino stifled Point Loma, 20-0, and Morse ran away from RBV, 45-29.


Morse actually began the season 2,600 miles away several days earlier in Hawaii, marking its eighth consecutive lid-lifter in the islands.

The Tigers were joined by three other San Diego Section teams that took part in a 10-team carnival at Aloha Stadium.

The surfeit of games honored Shawn Akina, a 19-year-old Honolulu Punahou graduate who died of a heart ailment at the University of Utah, where he was going to play football.

The Tigers defeated Kamehameha, 22-15, in the third and final game on a Friday evening card that ended well after midnight.

Kickoff for the first game was at 6:30 p.m., Kaneohe Castle defeating Monte Vista, 6-2.

Orange Glen’s 22-20 victory over Punahou began at 9 p.m., followed by Morse at 11:30.

Lincoln fell behind, 21-0, and came up short, losing 34-24 to Kahuku the next evening.  Mountain View of Mesa, Arizona Honolulu St. Louis appeared in the final contest.


Someone was snoozing.

San Pasqual’s 34-20, quarterfinals playoff win over Santana was notable for a  very slow- developing touchdown.

The Eagles’ David Villa intercepted a pass by Santana’s Doug Schultz five yards deep in San Pasqual’s end zone. Villa tucked the pigskin under his arm and began moseying off the field to give the ball to an equipment man for safekeeping.

“I was thinking about keeping the ball as a memento,” said Villa.  “But then everyone started yelling at me to run with it.”

Run Villa did, 105 yards for a touchdown and a 19-10 Eagles lead at halftime.


Addie Jacobs, a second-team, all-San Diego Section choice in girls’ soccer last year, kicked an extra point for Madison in the Warhawks’ 14-7 loss to Patrick Henry. Jacobs is believed to be the second young lady to appear and score for a local squad, joining San Diego’s Mia Lebowitz, who kicked a field goal as San Diego defeated St. Augustine, 3-0, in 1988.

Jacobs isn’t the only female on the Madison squad.  Dawn Collins also kicks for the Warhawks, as does Sheila Walsh for Clairemont.


El Camino’s Bryant Westbrook was one of three players to get all 10 Pacific 10 head coaches’ votes for the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s annual “Best in the West” team.

Westbrook, who also was the San Diego Section AA defensive player of the year, was joined by running back Lawrence Phillips of Baldwin Park and quarterback Pat Barnes of Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills.

El Camino's Westbrook was one of nation's best.

El Camino’s Westbrook was one of nation’s best.

The coaches may have viewed game film of El Camino’s 14-0 victory over Carlsbad.

A  205-pound defensive back, Westbrook intercepted a pass, returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown, forced a fumble, and caught a touchdown pass against the Lancers.

Westbrook was known as a big-hitting cornerback at the University of Texas and was the fifth selection in the first round by the Detroit Lions in the 1997 NFL draft. He played seven seasons.

Westbrook was the latest future NFL standout that Herb Meyer coached at Oceanside and El Camino.

The list also included Willie Buchanon, Dokie Williams, Darron Norris, and Jayice Pearson.


Holtville, 44-7-1 since 1987, won its fourth straight A championship in its fifth title game in a row.  Anthony Iten passed for three touchdowns as coach Sam Faulk’s Vikings topped Mountain Empire 41-6.


San Diego’s star was quarterback-defensive back Jacque Jones, who went on to play 10 seasons in the major leagues with 165 home runs and a  career .277 average…Tommy Casper, the son of legendary golfer and former U.S. Open winner Billy Casper, was a starting tackle for Bonita Vista and also a member of the Barons’ golf team…Grossmont’s six wins in  its 6-5 season were against teams collectively 13-39, none with a winning record…San Pasqual defeated Lincoln, 28-22, for a 4-1 postseason record against the Hornets after the teams met  for the fifth time in six postseasons…Julian whipped Francis Parker, 37-20, in the final regular-season game, then turned around the next week to defeat the Lancers, 34-14, for the 8-Man championship…San Diego High athletic director Allan (Scotty) Harris touted safety Marlin McWilson as the first Caver in 18 years to bid for a college Division I scholarship…McWilson went on to play at California…Cavers Michael Hayes (USC) and Frankie Wilson (UCLA) won schollies after the 1974 season…a preseason publication rated Lincoln’s Akili Smith among  the top 13 quarterbacks in the nation…Linebacker Tom Stehly was the seventh brother to play football at Orange Glen…one more was coming, sophomore Pat, who was on the junior varsity…attendance for the championships at Jack Murphy Stadium was 8,182…

Teams and officials weren't always at odds, as touchdown by Orange Glen's Jeff Mahaffey brings mutual agreement in 6-0 win over Escondido.

Teams and officials weren’t always at odds, as touchdown by Orange Glen’s Jeff Mahaffey brings mutual agreement in 6-0 win over Escondido.

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1991: Vista Returns to Prominence

Successive records of 4-7, 0-10, and 6-6, had turned whispers into shouts at Vista. Had Dick Haines, borrowing baseball parlance, lost the hop on his fastball?

Two state No. 1 rankings, three San Diego Section titles, and 11 league championships were a distant memory until the Panthers shot down Morse, 21-7, in the season’s third week, erasing 57-14 and 48-14 losses to the Tigers in 1990.

Morse came into the game No. 1 in San Diego County, No. 2 in Southern California, No. 3 in California, and No. 20 in the country.

From that redeeming moment the rebuilt Panthers went all the way to 13-0 before losing to Point Loma, 14-0, in the Section AAA title game.

It may have been Haines’s finest hour.

Haines overcame obstacles and returned Vista to championship level.

Haines overcame obstacles and returned Vista to championship level.

Vista’s retreat in the late ‘eighties was traced to the school district’s arbitrary and perceived gerrymandering of enrollment boundaries that favored newbie Rancho Buena Vista.

The fledgling Broncos won section titles in two of their first three seasons, corresponding with Vista’s decline.

Cries of political wheeling and dealing were heard.


Haines, often feisty and confrontational, wasn’t the most popular employee in the Vista School District.

“Dick felt very slighted after the split, “said Morse coach John Shacklett.  “Maybe if someone was doing something just to get him, I don’t know.”

Shacklett, speaking with Ed Graney of The San Diego Union, was a fan of his coaching rival.

“No matter what kind of talent he has been dealt, he always gets the most out of his kids,” said Shacklett.   “He loves to win, but is gracious in defeat.  He certainly has been a force.”

Haines’ son, Rik, a head coach at Redmond in Washington State and former Torrey Pines head coach, may have put it best to Graney. “Really, he’s about as steady as rain in Seattle.”

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2014: Edward Silva, 83, Star of ’49 Pointers

Fullback Eddie Silva, who passed away recently in San Diego, where he was born, was the leading scorer in the County in 1949 and Point Loma won a championship.

Silva and Marshall (Scooter) Malcolm were touchdown twins for coach Don Giddings’ squad, which posted a 9-1-1 record and rolled to the Southern California minor division championship.

Silva scored 13 touchdowns and 78 points in 11 games. Malcolm added 11 touchdowns as the Pointers raced through the Metropolitan League, stopping only for a 13-13 tie with rival La Jolla.

Point Loma then swept through the playoffs, defeating San Dieguito, 48-7, San Jacinto, 42-12, and Bonita, 27-13.  Silva scored 4 touchdowns in the three playoff games.

Point Loma scored 330 points, with Ed Perreria, Silva, Marshall Malcolm, and Jim Dible (from left) providing the impetus.

Point Loma scored 330 points, with Ed Perreria, Silva, Marshall Malcolm, and Jim Dible (from left) providing impetus.

The Pointers’ only loss was 28-13 in the season opener to San Diego.  Silva scored one touchdown and passed to Malcolm  for the other in that game.

Silva scored twice as Point Loma beat Oceanside, 26-6, in its Metro League opening game and his 50-yard dash opened the scoring for the Pointers in a 47-7 win over Kearny.

After a 27-0 victory  over Coronado, Giddings spoke of his deep, talented team’s  two-platoon system: “Each player can concentrate his talent on either the offensive or defensive phase of his position. For this reason, twenty-two first-string players are twice as happy and fresh as eleven.”

Gene Earl of The San Diego Union offered an enthusiastic endorsement:

“The Pointer backfield of quarterback Jim Dible, backs Marshall Malcolm and Ed Perreira, and fullback Ed Silva, rolls like a well-oiled gyroscope, never a miss as they repeatedly reverse the pigskin three times from the single wing formation before stepping through the yawning holes opened by the Lomans’ forwards.”

Silva earned all-Metropolitan League and all-Southern California honors.

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2014: McFadden’s .735 Third Highest

John McFadden’s  announced decision to step down as head coach at Eastlake leaves  nine active San Diego Section coaches with at least 100 victories.

McFadden became the Titans’ head coach in 2000 and posted a record of 120 wins, 42 losses, and 4 ties in 14 seasons.

McFadden’s  .735 winning percentage is third only  to the active John Carroll of Oceanside (234-74-6, .755) and the late Birt Slater of Kearny (134-41-9, .753).

Duane Maley of San Diego was 97-19-2, .826, from 1948-59, when County schools were in the  Southern Section.

Other 100-game winners still  listed as active heading into the 2014 season: Rob Gilster (183),  Willie Matson (166), Sean Doyle (145), John  Morrison (140),  Gary Blevins (129), Chris Hauser (115), Matt Oliver (115), Jerry Ralph (111), and Mike Hastings (111).

McFadden’s teams won eight Mesa or South Bay League championships, tied for another, and earned two San Diego Section championships.

His replacement has not been  announced but John Maffei of U-T San  Diego reported that Lee Price, a longtime assistant at Eastlake, is McFadden’s likely successor.

Price was 6-5 and won the Harbor League championship at Coronado in 1992.

A complete list of 100-game winners can be accessed by linking to “Football” and Coach 100 Club on the drop down menu.

With training camps still  weeks away, eight new head coaching appointments have been announced:

Drew Westling Chula Vista Judd Rachow
Joe Kim Clairemont Ron Gladnick
Jon Goodman Classical Jon Burnes
John Roberts El Camino Pulu Poumele
Tyler Hales La Jolla Country Day Jeff Hutzler
Lance Christensen Otay Ranch Anthony Lacsina
Jason Patterson Orange Glen Kris Plash
Ron Gladnick Torrey Pines Scott Ashby


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1969: Cavemen Dissed But Claim Title Share

The result of the Eastern League’s vote to determine its champion after a three-way tie for first was considered so egregious that even a coach of a potential playoff opponent led the shouting.

San Diego High was the selection of the league’s principals after the Cavemen finished with a 5-1 record, same as St. Augustine and Patrick Henry.

That the Cavemen were in the playoffs for the first time since 1960, following a 2-7 season in 1968, should have been enough for a collective doffing of headwear to Allan (Scotty) Harris.


Harris, a retired major and former coach of the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot team, took over the Cavemen’s program in 1968 and the team found its stride after a 2-3 start this season.

San Diego won the City Conference playoffs  and went on to tie County Conference titlist Escondido, 21-21, for the AA title, but not before critics, including Kearny coach Birt Slater, were heard, loudly.

One complaint was that San Diego’s closing run of victories over Crawford (57-6) and Hoover (56-7) gained too much currency with the league’s voting representatives.

Another charge was that the Eastern League schools “were punishing St. Augustine” for unproven charges of misconduct.

St. Augustine virtually had to shoot its way into the City Prep League in 1957 and some schools still chafed at the Saints’ perceived advantages of recruiting and in handling eligibility issues.

The most vocal beef was that St. Augustine’s head-to-head victory over San Diego and the Saints’ superior team statistics were dismissed.

The issue even got the attention of the San Diego Section board of managers, the ruling body of the San Diego Section.

The managers hung with the Eastern League, citing Article 24 of the CIF bylaws. The article states… “Leagues shall determine their own champions in any way they see fit, provided their methods are not contrary to the rules of the San Diego Section.”


San Diego entered the playoffs with a 6-3 overall record and with a 21-14 victory over 6-3 Patrick Henry but with a 24-21 loss to St. Augustine, which was 8-1 and with a 7-0 loss to Henry.


It was a strong San Diego Section season.

The eight playoff teams, four in the City Conference and four in the County Conference, posted a combined record of 62-11. Escondido (9-0) was the County’s top seed.

Kearny (9-0) was the City’s top seed and would play a lower-seeded, at-large team, one that was to be added to the bracket after league winners were positioned.


Birt Slater was one unhappy camper.

Birt Slater was one unhappy camper.

Kearny suddenly was forced to the take on at-large St. Augustine in the first round.

Birt Slater fumed. He figured  his first opponent would be San Diego, a team the Komets whipped 21-6 early in the season.

“There is no question which team proved itself this season,” Slater told Bill Finley of the Evening Tribune. “It would (even) have made more sense to choose Patrick Henry than San Diego.  At least (Henry) was good enough to beat San Diego.”

Slater compared the San Diego selection to a student who “flunks the first half of the semester, then passes the second half.  You don’t give him an ‘A’.”


Slater went on.  “The reason we have two separate playoffs (since 1967) is because the County has always distrusted us.  This is why,” Slater said.

The Kearny mentor, a former San Diego High assistant, was referring to a selection process which the County felt always favored the city schools.

Slater never was one to duck controversy. He railed that the “democratic” league vote was faulty because “there’s too much self-interest.”

The coach’s solution was a “dictatorship”.  He favored allowing CIF commissioner Don Clarkson to  select the teams. “He’d be fair and this type of thing wouldn’t happen,” said Slater.

Kearny was pushed out by St. Augustine, 14-6, and San Diego had the last laugh.  The Cavers, behind the thrusts of Robert Jones, cousins Lee and Paul Davis, and Arnold Miller, rushed for 321 yards and ran St. Augustine out of the playoffs, 31-7.

The Eastern League had gotten it right.


Greg Durrant was a fledgling teenager and his parents helped guide Greg’s passion for football, taking the youngster to all 11 Castle Park games.

Castle Park's white shoes are apparent in lower left corner of  photo as is quarterback Ray Sablan's hands-up signal for George Ohnessorgen's touchdown. But Escondido won the playoff game, 35-33.

Castle Park’s white shoes are apparent, as is quarterback Ray Sablan’s hands-up signal for George Ohnessorgen’s touchdown. But Escondido won  playoff game, 35-33.

According to Durant, citing the Castle Park Trumpet newspaper, the Trojans were the first high school team in the country to be outfitted with white shoes, joining the pros’ Joe Willie Namath and Fred (The Hammer) Williamson as history makers of this color footwear.

When Castle Park came out on the field for the pregame warmup before their kickoff against Morse, the Trojans were in all white.

“Morse thought Castle Park was wearing only socks,” remembered Durrant.

The Trojans scored a 24-0, opening game victory, then ran off nine more victories in a row.

Maybe it was the shoes.


Escondido meantime fell behind, 27-14, in the second quarter but finally knocked out Castle Park, 35-33, in the County final at Aztec Bowl.

Escondido coach Chick Embrey called a quarterback sneak as the championship game ended before 13,572 at San Diego Stadium.  This after the Cougars had tied the score with 2:09 remaining.

“Sure, I’d be in favor of sudden death,” said Embrey, fearing the worst after a series of mishaps leading up to the last play, “but it’s unfair to say we were playing for a tie.”

The deadlock was only the third in Embrey’s 14 seasons and 136 games as Escondido coach. San Diego had a 17-7 advantage in first downs.


For the first time since 1966 the Southern League was able to formulate a true playoff bracket.

The eight-team circuit (three would be added for other sports) was divided into two divisions, with each division’s winner meeting in a championship game.

La Jolla Country Day, San Miguel School, Army-Navy, and San Diego Military were in the Coastal Division and Borrego Springs, Mountain Empire, Julian, and Ramona comprised the Mountain Division.

Ramona (6-3) topped Army-Navy (3-5), 32-0, for the title.


That was a new and often anxious decision awaiting coaches.

Eleven years after the colleges, nine years following the American Football League, and 25 years before the NFL, the nation’s high schools, including the 48 football-playing squads in the San Diego Section, opted for the rule allowing the two-point conversion try following touchdowns.

Football scientists over the years determined that the 2-point option probably is successful 50 to 55 per cent of the time, depending on time and situations in the game.

Accordingly, San Diego Section teams attempted 22 two-point attempts and converted 12 on the first weekend of games.  The success rate was 52.2 per cent.


Teams were good on 7 of 10 passing attempts and 5 of 12 running attempts.  None of the successful two-pointers played a direct role in the outcome of the game.

The traditional, one-point kick still was en vogue.

Mission Bay’s Mike Marquez, who scored touchdowns on runs of  six and nine yards, booted two points after  to give the Buccaneers a 14-13 victory over Mar Vista.


Kicking also was going to become more optimal, suggesting a long-delayed acknowledgement of the vintage and mostly unused field goal.

Goal posts were being widened from the existing 18 feet, 6 inches, to 23 feet, 4 inches, in compliance with National Collegiate Athletic Association guidelines.

Football cleats also would be reduced from 7/8-inch to ½-inch in an effort to decrease knee injuries. T

he goal posts and cleats would be implemented gradually but become mandatory by 1971.

‘SIXTIES FAVORITES Kearny’s season came to an abrupt end but the Komets and Escondido, completed the first decade of the CIF San Diego Section as the preeminent teams from 1960-69:

Kearny 68-23-5 .719 Birt Slater
Escondido 67-29-3 .687 Bob (Chick) Embrey
Oceanside 64-26-5 .692 Herb Meyer
Helix 62-25-2 .701 Dick Gorrie, Warren Vinton, Al Hammerschmidt
Lincoln 61-27-4 .677 Shan Deniston, Earl Faison
University 56-29-5 .640 Robert (Bull) Trometter
Grossmont 55-25-1 .688 Ken Maynard, Sam Muscolino,Pat Carroll, Pat Roberts
St. Augustine 55-33-3 .636 Tom Carter, Ed Doherty,Joe DiTomaso
Point Loma 54-32-6 .607 Bennie Edens
Carlsbad 53-35-3 .592 Sveto (Swede) Krcmar


A state CIF decision near the end of the summer allowed the Grossmont League to count its preseason carnival as a scrimmage.

District schools now were allowed to schedule a ninth regular-season game. The ninth annual Grossmont League carnival, which spun off the original Metropolitan League carnival that began in 1956, attracted almost 12,000 persons to Aztec Bowl.


But the carnival “leaves most of the league’s coaches cold,” said the Evening Tribune’s Jack Williams.  “I’d play my JV if I could get away with it,” said one coach.

A complaint that dated to the City Schools’ carnival in the 1940s was that teams often had to play full games the next day in order to fill nonleague schedules.

Coaches worried about the quick turnaround and carnival injuries and deplored the interruption of season preparation.


A City Schools carnival comeback?

No, but it was under consideration because of the rising cost of athletic programs.

The City Schools carnival, a September fixture since the second carnival in 1940, was discontinued after the 1962 contest when schools asked for, and were granted, the option of scheduling a ninth game, according to Bill Center of The San Diego Union.

But a strong contributing factor to its demise

was that the carnival also had become a hot potato for city honchos as rowdiness and violence in and around Balboa Stadium seem to occur each year.  


The carnival had been under the lights since its origin at the end of the 1939 season until moving to the afternoon in 1959. Program costs were such that  numerous budget  measures were on the table, including, but not confined to, the scary idea cutting of coaches’ game film and equipment.

Castle Park's Steve Riley was No. 1 draft choice of Minnesota Vikings out of USC.

Castle Park’s Steve Riley was Minnesota Vikings pick.


Castle Park standouts included future NFL first-round draft choice Steve Riley, a tackle out of USC, and future Metropolitan League coaches George Ohnessorgen and Andy Sanchez.

Another lineman was Coronado’s Ken Huff, who became a first-round selection after playing at North Carolina. Coronado’s quarterback was George Murphy, son of a former USC player and longtime NFL game official.  

Fallbrook quarterback Eddie Feigner was the offspring of the world-famous fast-pitch softball star of the same name.

Point Loma tight end Peter McNab was the son of San Diego Gulls hockey coach Max McNabb and a future, 15-season NHL player.

Mar Vista quarterback and all-purpose Gene Alim, who went on to dominate the 1980’s as head coach at Sweetwater, may have intercepted as many as 12 passes from his safety position.  Years later was reported to have ended his career with a CIF record-tying total of 22.

Alim’s three field goals, from 15, 21, and 17 yards, were enough for Mar Vista to defeat Coronado, 9-7.

Dwight McDonald had future with Chargers in  NFL.

Dwight McDonald had future with Chargers in NFL.

Kearny wide receiver Dwight McDonald went on to play at U.S. International in San Diego. McDonald’s senior season was across town  at San Diego State. Dwight  led the nation with 86 catches in 1974 and caught the eye of NFL scouts.

He signed as a rookie with the San Diego Chargers and played four years with the local pros.

David Plaut was the student representative from Patrick Henry High, reporting on Patriots games to the Union. Plaut followed a journalism path at Northwestern University and  has enjoyed an award-winning career as a writer and director for NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.


The unwieldy Palomar League, featuring Marian in South County, Ramona in the East County, and Army-Navy and San Marcos in North County, shut down, to return in a subsequent year.

While Ramona and Army-Navy stayed together, Marian found residence in the Metropolitan League and San Marcos in the Avocado.


The Patrick Henry Patriots played a complete varsity schedule in their second year and in the school’s first year with sophomore, junior, and senior classes.

The Francis Parker Lancers teed it up for the first time in the school’s 57-year history, playing a junior varsity schedule.


Sweetwater’s Mike Faketty, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 220-pound tackle, recovered a fumble, sacked the quarterback twice, was in on 11 tackles, blocked a punt, and provided the essential block on a touchdown run.

“It was the finest game I’ve seen a linemen play in the four years I’ve been here,” said Red Devils coach David Lay.

Faketty’s fury was directed at Mount Miguel, a 30-0 loser to Sweetwater.

In the Red Devils star system, which awards outstanding performance, Faketty received five stars. “Nine or ten is the most we’ve had,  in a whole year,” Lay told writer Jack Williams.


Marian’s new coach, Bill Craven, was at Buena Park High in 1968 after stops at Norwalk Excelsior, Artesia, San Juan Capistrano (now San Clemente), and Garden Grove Bolsa Grande. C

raven moved on again following the overmatched Crusaders’ 0-9 debut in the Metropolitan League.


When you’re winning you can say almost anything, witness Grossmont coach Pat Roberts’ description of his  linemen for Union writer Bill Center:  “We’re so slow we’d drown in a car wash”…Hilltop’s A.J. (Art) Sisk resigned about a week before the season to take a job in the publishing business…Byron Meyers replaced Sisk, who was 29-24 in six seasons…coach Scotty Harris on San Diego High’s  defense, to Bill Finley:  “They don’t  care about their lives.  They just throw their bodies at the ball”… Helix coach Al Hammerschmidt estimated that quarterback Steve Coover threw almost 3,000 passes since the end of the 1968 season and before the start of September practice…La Jolla fans were cheering hurrah when Jim Harrah was on the field…the riffs in the Sweetwater offense were orchestrated by sophomore quarterback Steve Riif…Brad Mc Roberts went from being a quarterback at El Cajon Valley in 1968 to a tailback-linebacker at Santana this season…Mount Miguel coach Ben Cipranic listed nine assistant coaches on his staff, including Duane Freeman, a star on the 1960 team…after a 0-0 first quarter, Castle Park savaged Marian, 54-0, setting a school record for most points and amassing 524 yards in total yards…three Castle touchdowns were called back by penalties…Coronado’s 63-0 victory over Army-Navy represented the most points by the Islanders since a 73-6 win over La Jolla in 1929…

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2014: Women Tracksters Star and Look to 2015

The names that figure to be shouted out in 2015 are Labrie-Smith and Johnson from Cathedral, Acolatse from Mission Hills, with maybe a raised voice by Mongiovi from West Hills.

All were underclass standouts among the women, who made the most noise on what was, at best, another average season by San Diego Section athletes, at least in comparison to most of the other nine CIF sections in California.

Junior Hanna Labrie-Smith was second in the state meet and set a Section record of :41.67 in the 300 hurdles and sophomore teammate Dani Johson ran :42.13 and blitzed  wind-aided times of  :13.81 and :13.99 in the 100 hurdles in the state meet. Johnson set a Section record with a non-wind :14.16 at the finals at Mt. Carmel.

Junior Suzie Acolatse turned in the fourth (:11.59) and seventh (:23.97) all-time fastest times in the 100 and 200. Junior Melissa Mongiovi logged :55.61 in the 400 but did not approach her personal best of :54.70 from 2013.

Madison’s Doton Ogundeji led the men and won the state shot put at 65 feet, 5 1/2 (fourth) but fouled at over 200 feet in the discus trials and did not qualify.  Ogundeji’s accepted 194-5 is sixth all-time.

The edited best marks list for 2014 was compiled by Steve Brand, for more than 40 years an expert and fan of the sport.


100 (Fully Automatic)— Brandon Lucas (Poway) 10.63 (Tie No. 16 all-time),  John Kendrick III (Morse) 10.69, Dosier (Monte Vista) 10.80, Dickens (Grossmont ) 10.82, Doan (St. Augustine) 10.84, Stinson (Helix) 10.85, Beck (Tri City Christian) 10.85, LeBlanc (University City) 10.88. Continue reading

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1938: Weird End to Vikings’ Season

Call it the case of “The Missing First Downs”.

La Jolla and Calexico engaged in a Southern California Lower Division playoff at La Jolla.

The game ended in a 6-6 tie, but The San Diego Union reported the next day that the Vikings “won”  7-6 and advanced to a championship encounter.

As Union writer Mitch Angus noted, “An extra point tossed in for an edge in first downs made gave La Jolla High school a 7-6 victory over an invading Calexico High eleven in a bitter minor league football playoff on the Jewel City gridiron.”

“The Vikings scored 13 first downs to nine for the visitors to win the game on a CIF ruling,” wrote Angus.

Headlines the next few days tell a story.

Calexico did not protest but asked CIF commissioner Seth Van Patten for clarification of the rule pertaining to tied playoff games.

38ljheadline0617140003 Van Patten sat up.

According to a Mr. Lawson, the principal at Calexico, the commissioner said that because no official record of first downs was kept  the game either would be replayed in Calexico or go down as a tie.

(Van Patten had ordered replays before.  See Calexico vs. Grossmont, 1927).

The Union conducted a review and reported that in an unofficial count of five newspapermen and “other interested parties”, La Jolla was given the edge in four first down tabulations and one was even.

La Jolla principal Clarence Johnson was out of town and could not be reached for comment. 38lj2headline0617140001

Days later the matter still was unsettled as thoughts turned to Christmas and basketball.

The game wouldn’t be replayed.

According to the Union, the head linesman assigned to the game was responsible and failed to keep a record of first downs.

The official in question was Joe Beerkle, the head coach at San Diego High.

Area coaches manned the other officiating positions. Grossmont’s Jack Mashin was referee, Morris Gross of San Diego State was back judge, and Sweetwater’s Cletis (Biff) Gardner was umpire.

The CIF Southern Section record book lists no lower division champion for 1938.


There was talk of a postseason, Thanksgiving Day game for the Metro League title after Point Loma and La Jolla tied for first with 5-1 records (La Jolla beat Point Loma, 22-7, and Coronado upset La Jolla, 6-0).

A decision not to play was made after principals from each school met with coaches.

Point Loma honcho Clarence Swenson stated, “We felt it might hinder the chances of the Metropolitan League entry in the CIF minor league playoff.”

Point Loma had won league titles in 1936 and 1937 but had declined invitations to participate in the postseason.

La Jolla later won a coin flip with the Pointers to determine the league’s playoff representative against Calexico.


USC coach Howard Jones mined the recruiting fields in San Diego with great success during his tenure as the “Head Man” at USC from 1926-40.

Five players  from San Diego were on Jones’s 1938 squad that upset undefeated Notre Dame, 13-0, then defeated a Duke team that had not been scored on, 9-0, in the 1939 Rose Bowl.38tsdtrojans0619140001

From left:  blocking halfback Joe Shell (Hoover), end Sal Mena (San Diego), guard Ben Sohn (San Diego), fullback Roy Engle (Hoover), and quarterback Oliver Day (San Diego).


Coach-speak could be ponderous at best, or did sportswriters of the day just report quotes the way they wanted to hear them?

La Jolla boss Marvin Clark was quoted thusly when Clark spoke of the team’s prospects after 40 candidates turned out:

“Since we have no outstanding threat—no player capable of breaking away for touchdowns with enough frequency to be considered a menacing ball packer—we must work extra hard for our touchdowns, which means that we are not apt to be more than a good defensive (sic) team.

“The club is too small to be overly powerful, for our players will not average more than 150 pounds, and that means we will have to content ourselves with making trouble for the big fellows.

“We hope to have a good team but our prospects are not brilliant.”

La Jolla, 3-5 in 1937, improved to 8-1-1.


Coach Joe Beerkle moved from Point Loma to San Diego and one of his standout Pointers, halfback Paul (Red) Isom, followed Beerkle, accompanied by much hoopla.

The coach complimented Isom, sort of.

“They’re trying to put Red on the spot,” said Beerkle.  “He’s no flashy, triple threat man. He’s good, however.”

Isom played through  injuries and led the Cavemen with five touchdowns and 30 points.

Red guided the Cavers 70 yards to the winning touchdown in the final minutes  as San Diego defeated Phoenix Union, 19-14, on the sixth annual Homecoming weekend. The school honored graduates from the class of 1891.

The Cavers had met the Arizona squad 12 times since 1923 but the series was suspended because of travel concerns and wouldn’t be renewed until 1946.

Isom also was star on Beerkle's '37 Point Loma team.

Isom also starred on Beerkle’s 1937 Point Loma team that won Metropolitan League championship.


Alhambra won the Coast League championship after the Cavers missed a point after touchdown in a 6-6 tie, but the Moors were ending an affiliation with the Coast that began in 1925.

Games on the road with San Diego and Hoover usually were two-day trips, sometimes three.

Ground breaking for Mark Keppel High meant a new school would open on the east side of the city, cutting into the enrollment of the largest school in Southern California.

Alhambra would join the Foothill League, made up of mostly neighboring San Gabriel Valley schools, and the Coast League would be reduced to three teams, San Diego, Long Beach Poly, and San Diego Hoover.

3 LEAGUES MEET                                                                                     

A meeting in Long Beach among the 16 Bay League, Coast and Foothill schools resulted in a realignment proposal that was adopted at a meeting at South Pasadena High in early 1939.

Representatives, including San Diego High vice principal Edward Taylor,  agreed to guarantee five league games in 1939-40 for the six Foothill, seven Bay, and three Coast League squads in football, basketball and baseball.

San Diego would play Hoover, Poly, Whittier of the Foothill League, and Compton and Inglewood of the Bay.

The Bay League’s Long Beach Wilson and the Foothill League’s Alhambra and Glendale Hoover were scheduled to be San Diego Hoover opponents.

The intersectional games would count in the teams’ league standings and hopefully revitalize the struggling Coast League.


Rivalries, partisanship and potential charges of bias were noted by commissioner Seth Van Patten when opponents were to be selected.

Van Patten named an executive committee that was charged with drawing up schedules.  Members of the select group did not have any connection to the schools involved.

Another recommendation that was not passed at the subsequent meeting called for the elimination of all playoffs.  The postseason apparently was not profitable and therefore not popular, but they would continue.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES Patrol Squadron 4

Seventeen bomber planes, from Navy Patrol Squadron 4, flying in formation all night, set a record for air time from San Diego to Honolulu on Sept. 7.

The planes covered the 2,150 miles in 17 hours, 17 minutes.

The trip, described politely as a “routine transfer of patrol bombers,” was made at an average speed of 145 knots, according to officials.  Converted, 145 knots was equal to 167 miles per hour.


The San Diego temperature of 94 degrees on Oct. 2 broke the record of 88 set in 1893. Six weeks later, on Nov. 12, the temperature dropped to 18 in Descanso 25 in El Cajon and 30 in Escondido.

Tomatoes suffered in El Cajon and water froze on Palomar Mountain.


The San Diego State Aztecs attended the USC-Notre Dame game in Los Angeles and then spent the night in a downtown L.A. hotel.

The next morning, after a team breakfast, graduate manager Al Morrison prepared to pay.

Morrison discovered that his wallet had been emptied of its contents. A further check revealed that currency had been removed from the billfolds of head coach Leo Calland and athletic director Morris Gross.

One other hotel guest reported that he, too, had been robbed. The Aztecs made good on the breakfast tab after returning home.


Bobby Cifers, a triple-threat halfback from Kingsport, Tennessee, set a national high school record with 233 points in 12 games. Cifers scored 34 touchdowns and 29 PAT to break the mark of 211 set by Chicago prep Bill DeCorrevont in 1937.


They were  mostly former San Diego High players  and they represented the Golden Hill Gophers, who defeated the Hilltoppers’ junior varsity, 12-0.


Coover was on San Diego prep scene many years as player and coach.

Coover was on San Diego prep scene many years as player and coach.


Chuck Coover was a 140-pound, second-team all-Coast League end and one of many future coaches mentored by Hoover’s John Perry.

Coover coached many years in San Diego, taking on almost impossible tasks at football-barren St. Augustine (1947), Mar Vista (1952-53), and Mission Bay (1959-61), before moving to Morse.

The school South of Encanto in the city’s Skyline District opened in 1962 and Coover built the program from the ground up.  He retired after a 9-2 season in 1968.


Joe Beerkle was desperate for backfield help and placed a faux help-wanted ad in the morning newspaper.

“Any halfback, quarterback, or fullback not regularly employed at present kindly report to the San Diego High practice field at 2:30 this afternoon for a tryout.”

Beerkle was elated when Dempsey Holder, a 180-pound halfback, transferred in from a school in the Phoenix area in Arizona.

Like some Hollywood marriages, the relationship was brief and ended unhappily for Beerkle.

Holder, who stepped in at right halfback against Long Beach Poly, was gone three weeks later, moving back to Arizona.


The first night game at Coronado turned in a frenetic last quarter.

Coronado scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes to overcome St. Augustine, 13-6, after the Saints took a fourth-quarter lead on Les Duffy’s 100-yard punt return.


Film study still was in its development stage, but San Diego coach Joe Beerkle took up most of one practice say by showing the squad “slow motion pictures” of the California-UCLA game from the previous week.

Beerkle hoped the film would aid Cavers backs blocking for Red Isom.


San Diego's Hank Newman caught pass from Red Isom and scored on 15-yard play for first touchdown against Hoover.

San Diego’s Hank Newman caught pass from Red Isom and scored on 15-yard play for first touchdown against Hoover.

A fight almost started at midfield game over possession of the game ball after  San Diego defeated Hoover, 14-0, before 16,000 in City Stadium…the ball finally was delivered to San Diego coach Joe Beerkle…San Dieguito spoiled dedication of Escondido’s new field, edging the Cougars, 7-6,  in the season opener for both team…Fallbrook, in its third season of football, welcomed a turf playing field; so did San Dieguito…Ramona won its inaugural game, 7-0 over Fallbrook…Metropolitan League rivals Oceanside and Escondido played a Thanksgiving Day nonleague game with proceeds setting up a fund for injured players…Escondido made it two in a row over the Pirates, winning, 20-0…Hoover and Tucson drew 5,000 spectators in the  Arizona city the day after Thanksgiving…the Badgers beat the visitors, 14-6…Point Loma’s ace blocking back and defensive star Jack Farrell turned 20 in the middle of the season and had to leave the team, having exceeded the CIF age limit….

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2014: Mac’s fleet 1,500 propels Ducks to title

Happy Father’s Day!

Oregon’s Mac Fleet defended his national collegiate 1,500-meter run championship with a time of 3:39.09 yesterday, helping the Ducks win their first men’s championship since 1984.

Nosing out Arizona’s Lawi Lalang, who was seeking a ninth NCAA individual championship, Fleet made a powerful stretch run in front of his parents, Dale and Jana Fleet, and  a crowd of more than 10,000 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Fleet is a name that has resonated many years in San Diego track and field circles.

Dale Fleet was the 1971 state champion for Clairemont High with a time of 8:53.8 in the two-mile run at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus in Westwood.*

Fleet is among the state's and San Diego's all-time runners.

Fleet is among the state’s and San Diego’s all-time runners.

Dale’s time, converted to meters, is 8:50.84, fourth all-time in San Diego County.

Mac ran 4:05.33 to win the state 1,600 meters as a senior at University City in the 95-degree heat at Buchanan High in Clovis in 2009.

The younger Fleet’s 1,600 meters is No. 2 all-time among area runners and his 1:50.31 for 800 meters is fourth.

Mac also is sixth in the all-time California prep rankings with a 4:02.9 mile that converted to 4:01.29 for 1,600 meters.  His 3:39.09 1,500 meters in the NCAA event converts to a 3:56.55 mile.

Fleet also won the 1,500 in 3:50.25 in 2013 at Eugene  and ran a personal best 3:38.35 last season.

*That  meet still ranks among the best ever in California.  Competition, before a crowd of more than 12,000,  was so intense and marks so outstanding  that Lincoln’s Donald Tyler, for example, ran a  :47.3 440 and finished eighth in a field of nine.

Tyler’s :47.3, converted to :47.14, has been bettered by only three San Diego runners, led by the :46.85 of Morse’s Lydell Burston  in 1996.

Dale Fleet, a San Diego school teacher, still is involved in the sport, helping out with the cross-country program at University City.

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1990: Was Morse The Number One Number One?

As far back as early 1989, Morse coach John Shacklett was able to smile through some struggles, supported by a mantra that the best was yet to come.

This after the Tigers had defeated Orange Glen, 31-28, for the 1988 AAA championship and not about the potential of the team that would reach the AAA finals again before losing, 21-7, to Rancho Buena Vista.

Shacklett was thinking further ahead, to 1990, and to Teddy Lawrence’s senior season.

Built around the explosive running and passing of Lawrence and junior running back Gary Taylor, Morse returned 29 lettermen and 18 players who started at least one game in 1989.

Rancho, El Camino, Helix, Mira Mesa, Chula Vista, Orange Glen, Oceanside, and Kearny also would be formidable. Morse met five of those teams, but only George Ohnessorgen’s Chula Vista Spartans, in the AAA semifinal, came within a touchdown.

Did this group of gifted players gathered on the 28-year-old campus at 69th Street and Skyline Drive represent the all-time, No. 1 San Diego County team?

Better than the 1955 San Diego High national championship team?

Better than the 1985 Vista juggernaut?

Or some of the Oceanside, Vista, Rancho Buena Vista, and El Camino teams that reflected the population explosion and increased talent pools in the 1970s and ‘80s in the North County?

Not to mention Birt Slater’s 1963 Kearny Komets; any of a number of Duane Maley’s other San Diego High clubs; the Helix teams coached by Jim Arnaiz and Gordon Wood, or the Sweetwaters of David Lay and Gene Alim?

The Tigers built a case for themselves, game by game, beginning in Hawaii Aug. 26.


Barack Obama’s alma mater, a storied program on the islands, was no match. Teddy Lawrence rushed for 206 yards in six carries and scored on runs of 85, 42, and 67 yards and passed for touchdowns of 65, 11, and 36 yards.

A couple weeks later Punahou defeated St. Louis, Hawaii’s No. 1 team.

Running or passing, Lawrence ranks among San Diego Section's greatest.

Running or passing, Lawrence ranks among the San Diego Section’s greatest.

MORSE 28, RANCHO BUENA VISTA 14, @Mesa College

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2014: Ogundeji, Cathedral Girls Stand Out

A couple hard-knocking hurdlers from Cathedral and a shot putter from Madison furnished the star power for the San Diego Section in the boys’ 96th and girls’ 41st State high school track and field championships over the weekend in Clovis.

Doton Ogundeji of Madison, overcoming a fouled-filled, nonqualifying 163-foot effort in Friday’s discus trials, won the shot put on Saturday with a toss of 65 feet, 5 1/2 inches, matching his career best.

Ogundeji’s victory, coming in one of the meet’s final events, kept alive a streak dating to 2002 in which the San Diego Section has produced an individual winner.

Hannah Labrie-Smith finished second in the 300 hurdles with a San Diego Section record :41.67.

Labrie-Smith’s sophomore teammate, Dani Johnson, was seventh in the 100 hurdles but her time of 13,99, which followed a :13.81 in Friday’s trials, would have  broken her section record of :14.16 but each race was contested in wind over the allowable 2.0 meters.

San Diego Section athletes scored 58 points total, including Johnson’s seventh, a seventh by Tal Braude in the boys’ 3200, and Emma Abrahamson’s eighth in  the girls’ 3200.


What kind of season was it?

The  58 points were less than the 64 scored by the Long Beach Poly girls.

San Diego athletes earned eight medals.  By comparison, Central Section athletes, perhaps more adapted to the 100-degree temperatures in Clovis and  the surrounding San Joaquin Valley, were awarded 23 medals.

The Central Section has 131 schools, San Diego Section 123.

Labrie-Smith  and Johnson will lead the class of 2015.

Other standouts returning next season:

Sprints–John  Kendrick (Morse), :10.69, :21.99.  Suzie Acolatse (Mission Hills), 11.59, :23.97.

110 Hurdles–Devon Alvarado (Rancho Buena Vista), :14.65.

400–Melissa Mongiovi (West Hills), :55.31 (:54.70 as a sophomore).

1600–Erik Armes (Coronado), 4:13.67.

Long Jump–Jordan Miller (Oceanside), 23-8w.

State Meet Medal Winners Continue reading

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2014: Ogundeji leads Section State Qualifiers

The San  Diego Section has 16 state top 10 performances, compared with 18 two weeks ago and 11 last week as the 96th meet championships loom this weekend at Clovis’ Buchanan High.

There are many scoring opportunities for the local group after a strong finish to the San Diego Section season Saturday at Mt. Carmel, but the field at Buchanan is as loaded as ever. Some  potential point-scorers:

–Madison’s Doton Ogundeji has to be favored in the shot put and discus, with state-leading efforts of 65 feet, 5 1/2 inches, and 194-5.

Ogundeji was the only San Diego Section athlete to qualify for Saturday’s finals in two events last year.

But the pressure will be on. Matt Katnik of Bellflower St. John Bosco trails Ogundeji by an inch in the shot put and Malik McMorris of Santa Ana Mater Dei is close in the discus at 192.

–Brandon Lucas of Poway is in three events, 100 (:10.63), 200 (:21.18), and 4×100 relay (:41.45). He would have qualified in the 400 but dropped that event in the San Diego Section finals.

Lucas’ best individual event is the 200, with a fifth-best time of :21.18.  Should he qualify in all three, the Saturday night 200 final would be Lucas’ sixth race in two days.

Rumors abounded at the San Diego finals that Poway would make a state meet personnel change, Ryan Morgan replacing one of the foursome that included Will James, Tyjon Lindsey, Lance Mudd, and Lucas in the league and section meets.

–Suzie Acolatse of Mission Hills has come out of the weeds and inserted herself into the conversation  with an :11.59 100 and :23.97 200, both times representing significant improvements in the last month.

–Melissa Mongiovi of West Hills ran :54.70 as sophomore last year and finished fifth in the 400.  Her best this season is :55.61  and Mongiovi  seems to have too much left at the end of her races, but she is a technically sound and fast enough  to hang with the favorites.

–Adrian Mangoba of Vista (who?)  was laboring in 1:57.74 obscurity 30 days before the section final, but took the lead Saturday early in the second lap and no one could run him down.

Mangoba held on to win in 1:52.33, beating back the challenge of Bannon Greer of Valley Center, who ran 1:52.96.

–Hannah Labrie-Smith, Cathedral’s section record-holding 300 hurdler, was among the state leaders since April with a :42.24, but she fell to No. 8 when Southern Section hurdlers blew out some low :42s and mid :41s.

–Stephen Fahy of La Costa Canyon hopes to make a run at Bakersfield Stockdale’s Blake Haney in the 3200.

Fahy’s 8:53.5 is third best going in and Haney, undefeated in 23 races this year,  has not run close to his state-leading 8:46.80 since early April. But Haney tripled in  the Central Section finals, running 1:52.86 in the 800, 4:13.07 in the 1600, and 9:18.1 in the 3200.

San Diegans in State Top 10 Continue reading

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2014: San Diego Leaders Eye Section Finals

Were the San Diego Section trials yesterday the “proof of the pudding” for area qualifiers who now enter the two most important weeks of the season?

Section finals will be Saturday at Mt. Carmel High, followed  by the state meet in Clovis June 6-7.

While the ancient proverb may not apply, San Diego athletes did  not come close to season standards in almost every event yesterday.

Meanwhile, 12 season bests were recorded as the rest of the state competed in divisional meets.  The Central Section held its finals.

Eastlake’s Shane Martin traversed the 110 hurdles in a fully electronic :14.48 for a 2014 best.  Dalish Dozier of Mount Miguel took the lead in the girls’ long jump at 18-11.

Two significant casualties from league meets were Helix’ 4×100 relay squad, which had a hand-timed :41.8, and Scripps Ranch’s Brian Thomas, the section leader for most of the year with a :48.18 400.

The Highlanders were guilty of a lane violation in the Grossmont Hills finals and Thomas pulled a muscle in the Eastern finals.

If healthy this week, Thomas possibly could run a leg for the Falcons’ 4×400 relay squad, which qualified.

SAN DIEGANS IN STATE TOP 10 Continue reading

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2014: League Finals Produce State Contenders

It’s that time of year.

Fire-delayed league finals didn’t slow San Diego Section track and field athletes in their pursuit of May-June honors. Seven new state top 10 performances were recorded (see table below).

Poway’s Brandon Lucas turned a wind-assisted :10.64 100 meters and hustled to a :21.18 200 (County No. 13 all-time) in the Palomar League finals. Mission Hills Suzie Acolatse ran :11.83 in the Valley League 100.

Oceanside’s Kevin Dodds moved up in the triple jump at 48-1, with wind, while teammate Jordan Miller proffered a wind-aided 23-8 long jump.

Poway’s Charlie Bush cleared 15-9 in the pole vault  and Mt. Carmel’s Tobe Ezeokoli logged :48.16 in the Valley League 400.

Lucas and other members of  Poway’s  fine short and long relay teams sat out those events but will be action this week. Brian Thomas, the Section 400-meter leader from Scripps Ranch, scratched from the 200 after struggling to :53.87 and seventh place in the Eastern League 400.

Ill or injured, Thomas would have to get a favorable nod to be byed into the San Diego Section trials.

Although she did not break into the state’s top 10, Cathedral’s Dani White raced over the 100 hurdles in :14.28, Section No. 3 all-time, in Western finals.

White’s teammate, Hannah Labrie-Smith, No. 2 in the state 300 hurdles at :42.24,  was cut a break when Long Beach Poly’s Ebony Crear, the leader at :41.46, stumbled and fell in a Southern Section divisional meet.

Unless Crear is politicked into the Southern Section final this week, Labrie-Smith will have one less formidable  rival in the upcoming meets.

Section trials will be at Mt. Carmel Saturday.  Girls competition starts at 9 a.m., followed by the boys at 2 p.m.

State Finishers Continue reading

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2014: 48 Years After, Danielson’s Marks Still Best

Tim Danielson was convicted last week in El Cajon Superior Court of murdering his ex-wife in 2011.  His expected sentence of 50 years to life is pending.

I’d like to remember Danielson as the billiant runner who competed  for coach Harry Taylor at Chula Vista High and set San Diego Section standards in 1965-66 that still are unequaled, 48 years later.

Danielson became the second high school runner (after Jim Ryun)  to better 4 minutes in the mile in 1966 when he finished fourth in 3:59.4 behind Jim Grelle, Neil Duggan, and Dave Bailey in the San Diego Invitational of internationally-ranked runners in Balboa Stadium.

Danielson was congratulated by Spoken prep Rick Reilly, who ran 4:04.7 in same race.

Danielson was congratulated by Spoken prep Rick Reilly, who ran 4:04.7 in same race.

The 4-minute mile has been reached by high schoolers three times  since, by New Jersey’s Martin Liquori, who ran 3:59.7 in 1967; by Virginian Alan Webb, who ran 3:53.43 in 2001, and by Illinois’ Lucas Verbickas, who ran 3:59.71 in 2011.

The mile,  the most famous event in the sport’s history, is seldom run.  Its currency faded when the United States went to the metric system 35 years ago.

Danielson competed in the era of  yards and hand-timed races, but we’ve attempted to measure  Danielson’s marks as if he were competing in meters and with electronic timing.

The table below shows Danielson’s best converted efforts in his final two years at Chula Vista, including  dominance of California distance aces.  He  won back-to-back state championships,  by 10 yards in Bakersfield in 1965 and by 12 yards in Berkeley in 1966.

Today’s runners, with several evolutionary advantages, would have to hustle to keep up with him.

Event                    Mark Meet Site Date
400 49.95 vs. Escondido Escondido 04/01/66
800 1:52.50 Metropolitan League Escondido 05/13/66
1600 3:57.50n Invitational Balboa Stadium 06/11/66
4:01.70n National AAU New York 06/25/66
4:02.30n Police Games Toronto 07/23/66
4:04.60 San Diego Section Balboa Stadium 05/27/66
4:05.40 State Berkeley 06/04/.66
Golden West Sacramento 06/18/66
4:05.80n National AAU (h) New York 06/25/66
4:06.40 State Bakersfield 06/05/65
4:06.60 San Diego Section (h) Balboa Stadium 05/21/66
4:07.10 San Diego Section (h) Balboa Stadium 05/22/65
4:08.30 San Diego Section Balboa Stadium 05/28/65
3200 8:52.0 Golden West Sacramento 06/18/66
9:01.40 vs. Mar Vista Chula Vista 05/06/66

 n–nonwinning.  h–heat.

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2014: Titans Run Very Fast 4×100

Poway’s 400-meter relay team was as hot as the 100-degree  weather at the Escondido Invitational last night.

A Titans foursome of Will James, Jarod Turnage, Brandon Lucas, and Lance Mudd flawlessly passed the baton and covered the toasty, all-weather layout  in :41.62, fourth fastest time in California this year.

It is rarefied air for the Titans, whose previous best was :42.02, and for San Diego Section squads.

No County teams  have gotten under 42 seconds since a Reggie Bush-anchored Helix quartet blazed :41 flat in 2003.  At that time there had been 18 teams which had run at least :41.44.

The Section’s all-time best is :40.66 by sprinters from University City in 1998.

High schools dropped the 880-yard relay in 1968 and went to the 440 and mile races, followed by the move to 400 and 1,600 meters with the U.S. switch from yards to meters  in 1980.

The best 880-yard relay team still is the 1963 San Diego team of Walter (Budda) Blackledge, Gordon Baker, Raymond Dixon, and Charles Sanford. That group ran a perfect half mile in 1:26.3 and won the state championship at Berkeley by almost five yards.

San Diego-area teams seldom run the now metric 800 relay.

It would have been interesting to see what the U. City and Helix squads could have negotiated in the mid-distance sprint and what that group of Cavers could have achieved in the 400.

The Highlanders, in  2003 with Bush, ran a leisurely 1:28.7 at Mt. San Antonio in an infrequent attempt at the distance.


Poway is expected to get a challenge from Helix in the upcoming section meets.  The Highlanders have a hand time of :41.8 and a :41.97 fully automatic.

According to Athletic.net, the state leader is Temecula Great Oak at :41.33.

Mission Bay is reported second in the state with  a  :41.44.  That mark seems very  shaky, although the Buccaneers, with no history of great speed, allegedly ran ran that hand-converted time in a dual meet with Kearny at Clairemont on April 18.

Other state leaders include Upland, :41.57; Los Angeles Loyola, :41.58; Gardena Serra, :41.64; Fresno Edison, :41.64, and  Long Beach Poly, :41.76.


Poway’s Lucas improved the section lead in the 200 meters to :21.56, tenth fastest in the state, and threw a shot across the bow at Scripps Ranch’s Brian Thomas and Mt. Carmel’s Tobe Ezeokoli with a :48.39 in the 400.

Scripps Ranch’s Brian Thomas is the section leader at :48.18.  Ezeokoli has run :48.26.

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1961: Grossmont Teams See The Light(s)

Modified Sportsmen race cars and the arrival of the San Diego Chargers may have saved night football in  the foothills east of San Diego.

Talk about unusual alliances.

Grossmont School District teams, faced with an illumination problem, played many games on the infield of the dirt track oval near the Gillespie Field airport from 1958-64.

New schools (Mount Miguel, 1957, El Capitan, 1959, Granite Hills, 1960, and Monte Vista, 1961) created an exponential need for lights on East County gridirons.

No lights, no night football. Helix and Mount Miguel were the only schools this year in the new, seven-school Grossmont League that were able to host games after dark. Cajon Speedway, formerly County Stadium, became increasingly important.

Aztec Bowl was E; Capitan coach Art Preston's turf when he starred at San Diego State, a point not lost on Vaqueros  backs Dave Phillips (15), Dennis Childers, Dave Varvel, and Leon Herzog, from left.

Aztec Bowl was El Capitan coach Art Preston’s turf when he starred at Grossmont and San Diego State, a point not lost on Vaqueros backs Dave Phillips (15), Dennis Childers, Dave Varvel, and Leon Herzog, from left.

The Speedway in North El Cajon near the future Eastbound State 52, was home for El Cajon Valley, Granite Hills, and Grossmont.

El Capitan played home games at Aztec Bowl.


Earle Brucker, Sr., who played and coached for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics and had a long career in the minor leagues, had baseball on his mind when he  became involved in plans to build a spring training facility for a major league team.

A plot of land next to Gillespie Field seemed destined to become the site, according to Bob Gardner, an El Cajon Daily Californian staffer who later became publicist at Cajon Speedway.

A hotel chain sought a lease from the County of San Diego to build on the land in 1955. The corporation also hoped to erect a major hotel on one of the hills west of the city. But a change in state tax laws forced the innkeepers to abandon their plan.

Brucker, according to Gardner, stepped up and acquired the lease.

“At the time the idea still was to build a ball park,” said Earle Brucker, Jr.  “After we got it built the baseball team (Detroit Tigers) decided to go elsewhere.

Race cars shared Cajon Speedway with high school football t\eams from the area.

Race cars shared Cajon Speedway with high school football teams from the area.

“Since the high schools around here didn’t have anywhere to play night football and since we were committed to put in some lights, we converted the baseball field into a football stadium,” said the younger Brucker.

A motorcycle track was installed after the first year of football. “The money we got from the motorcycles was the only income we had other than the minimal amount we got from the high schools,” said Brucker.

The struggling Bruckers soon were gifted with some good luck.


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2014: Escondido Meet Next Up

Madison’s Doton Ogundeji continues to lead state and national shot putters and Mt. Carmel’s Derek Morton has moved in front of California 800-meter runners.

Both are expected to take on some of the nation’s best in the annual Arcadia Invitational Friday and Saturday.

Ogundeji leads the nation with a throw of 65-4 1/2 and is 10th in the U.S. and fourth in California with a 180-foot waft in the discus.

Morton took the state lead with a  1:53.60 last week in a dual meet at Westview and is fifth in the country.

The Sundevils senior showed promise last year with bests of 1:57.80 and 4:18.16 in the 1,600 meters and cranked a 1:55.65 month ago in the Mt. Carmel Field and Distances invite.

Other San Diego Section athletes who have moved into respective state Top 10’s:

Event Rank Name School Mark
300 HurdlesG 4 Hannah Labrie-Smith Cathedral :43.4
1600 MetersG 5 Emma Abrahamson La Costa Canyon 4:55.81
1600 MetersB 7 Erik Armes Coronado 4:16.32
Pole VaultG 8T Augusta Thomason Rancho Bernardo 12-0
800 MetersB 9 Bryan Alvarado Sweetwater 1:55.30
800 MetersG 9 Kelly Bernd Canyon Crest 2:15.09
200 MetersG 9T Melissa Mongiovi West Hills :24.79
Pole VaultB 9T Charlie Bush Poway 15-7
Shot PutG 10 Kiely Osby Escondido 42-10 1/2
400 MetersB 10 Brian Thomas Scripps Ranch :48.41
1600 RelayB 10 Scripps Ranch 3:20.75
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2014: Steve Brand’s April 27 List

Sprints and hurdles times are fully automatic.  Some better marks in parenthesis are hand timed. w–wind aided.


100— Lucas (Poway), 10.81, Dickens (Grossmont), 10.82, Doan (St. Augustine), 10.84, LeBlanc (University City) 10.88, Brewer (Brawley) 10.90, Dosier (Monte Vista) 10.90, Hennie (San Marcos) 10.94, Miller (Oceanside) 10.95. STATE–Godin (Santa Ana Mater Dei), 10.36.

 200— Doan (St. Augustine),  21.76, Lucas (Poway), 21.85 (21.5), Dosier (Monte Vista),  22.01, Carson (Olympian), 22.04, Miller (Oceanside), 22.16, Dickens (Grossmont),  22.22, Mudd (Ramona), 22.23 (21.7), Kendrick III (Morse), 22.27, Ellis (Valhalla), 22.29. STATE–Godin, 21.03.

400— Thomas (Scripps Ranch), 48.18, Ezeokoli (Mt. Carmel), 48.26, Lucas (Poway),  48.73, Collins (Granite Hills), 49.1, DeHaven (Granite Hills), 49.46, Capoocia (El Capitan), 49.5, Jackson (Monte Vista), 49.5, Durall (Del Norte), 49.95. STATE–Kurtz (Brentwood Heritage), 47.35.

 800— Morton (Mt. Carmel), 1:53.60, Famolaro (West Hills), 1:54.63, Rhodes (Steele Canyon) 1:55.03, Alvarado (Sweetwater), 1:55.30, Greer (Valley Center), 1:55.49, Morton (Mt. Carmel), 1:55.65, Meza (Granite Hills), 1:55.75, Grant (Del Norte), 1:55.84. STATE–Haney, Bakersfield Stockdale, 1:51.97.

1600— Armes (Coronado) 4:12.09c, Morton (Mt. Carmel) 4:17.33, Greer (Valley Center) 4:19.16, Sinisalchi (Westview), 4:19.96, Tucker (Westview), 4:20.22, Fahy (La Costa Canyon), 4:20.32, Grant (Del Norte), 4:20.81. STATE–Corcoran, Villa Park, 4:06.

3200— Fahy (La Costa Canyon), 8:53.95 (Section No. 4 all-time), Braude (Torrey Pines), 9:06.01, Hansen (San Marcos),  9:24.54, Siniscalchi (Westview), 9:25.70, Montavo (Mt. Carmel), 9:30.15, Freeman (Carlsbad), 9:34.95. STATE–Haney, 8:46.80.

 110HH— Martin (Eastlake), 14.48, Johnson (Serra), 14.97, Goodloe (Steele Canyon), 15.02, Thibadeaux (Monte Vista), 15.12, Skillin (University City), 15.26, Alexander (Brawley), 15.27, Lachica (Mt. Carmel), 15.38, Grumbling (Oceanside), 15.42. STATE–Viltz, L.B. Millikan, 13.71.

300IH— Johnson (Serra), 39.34, Ramos (Granite Hills), 39.5, Goodloe (Steele Canyon) 39.84, Grumbling (Oceanside), 39.99, Tibodoux (Monte Vista), 40.05, Martinez (Sweetwater),  40.29, Lindsey (Poway), 40.29. STATE–Morris, Concord De La Salle, 36.94.

4x100R— Helix, 41.97  (41.8), Poway 42.02, Granite Hills 42.87, Monte Vista 43.08, Steele Canyon 43.17, Sweetwater 43.24, Rancho Buena Vista, 43.1, Oceanside 43.45, Madison 43.5, El Capitan 43.64, La Costa Canyon 43.65. STATE–Temecula Great Oak, 41.33.

4x400R— Granite Hills 3:20.46, Scripps Ranch 3:20.75, Steele Canyon 3:22.73, Mt. Carmel 3:23.07, Poway 3:23.50, Del Norte 3:24.23, Monte Vista 3:24.6, Sweetwater 3:25.43. STATE–L.A. Dorsey, 3:15.00.

 High Jump— Bush (Pow) 6-7, Arroyo (WV) 6-7, Patmon (PH) 6-6, Probe (Se) 6-6, Carson (BV) 6-5, Benson (PL) 6-5, Rettig (ECap) 6-4, Beebe (MD) 6-4, Dumas (ECap) 6-4, Podraza (SR) 6-2 ¼. STATE–Moore (Rialto Carter), 7-0.

Pole Vault— Bush (Poway), 15-7, Sones (Vista), 15-0, Wagenveld (Calvin Christian), 14-7, Zawadski (Patrick Henry), 14-6, Logan (Rancho Bernardo), 14-6, Rothweil (Rancho Bernardo), 14-2, Winters (Rancho Bernardo) 14-0, Martinez (Steele Canyon), 14-0. STATE–Johnson (Orange Lutheran), 16-8.

 Long Jump— LeBlanc (University City), 22-11 ½, Wiley (Steele Canyon), 22-7, Dodds (Oceanside), 22-5, Hennie (San Marcos), 22-4, Brooks (Patrick Henry), 22-2, Carter (Imperial) 22-1, A. Holder (Oceanside), 22. STATE–Moore (Castro Valley), 25-10w.

Triple jump— Dodds (Oeanside), 47-0 M. Holder (Oceanside), 45-4, Carter (Imperial), 45-0, Wiley (Steele Canyon),  44-11 ¾, Collins (Granite Hills), 43-10, Pritchard (Helix), 43-9 ½, Thompson (Calvin Christian), 43-7 ½, Davis (Sweetwater), 43-5. STATE–Moore (Castro Valley), 50-4 1/2.

Shot Put—Ogundeji (Madison), 65-5 ½ (Section No. 4 all-time), Braddock (Eastlake), 55-8, Wyatt (Helix), 54-10, Hendrickson (San Pasqual), 52-10, Hampton (Helix),  52-1, Basinger (El Camino), 51-0, Lecakes-Jones (Rancho Bernardo),  50-9. STATE 2: Katnik (Bellflower St. John Bosco), 65-4.

 Discus— Ogundeji (Madison), 180-2, Braddock (Eastlake), 168-0, Savage (Morse), 167-10, Hampton (Helix), 164-6, Gonzalez (El Camino,) 160-1. Black (High Tech High), 154-0, Wyatt (Helix) 151-10. STATE–Hudson (Lemoore Kings Christian), 188-7.


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2014: 2 State Leaders Await Arcadia Invitational

Madison’s Doton Ogundeji continues to lead state and national shot putters and Mt. Carmel’s Derek Morton has moved in front of California 800-meter runners.

Both are expected to take on some of the nation’s best in the annual Arcadia Invitational Friday and Saturday.

Ogundeji leads the nation with a throw of 65-4 1/2 and is 10th in the U.S. and fourth in California with a 180-foot waft in the discus.

Morton took the state lead with a  1:53.60 last week in a dual meet at Westview and is fifth in the country.

The Sundevils senior showed promise last year with bests of 1:57.80 and 4:18.16 in the 1,600 meters and cranked a 1:55.65 month ago in the Mt. Carmel Field and Distances invite.

Other San Diego Section athletes who have moved into respective state Top 10’s:

Event Rank Name School Mark
300 HurdlesG 4 Hannah Labrie-Smith Cathedral :43.4
1600 MetersG 5 Emma Abrahamson La Costa Canyon 4:55.81
1600 MetersB 7 Erik Armes Coronado 4:16.32
Pole VaultG 8T Augusta Thomason Rancho Bernardo 12-0
800 MetersB 9 Bryan Alvarado Sweetwater 1:55.30
800 MetersG 9 Kelly Bernd Canyon Crest 2:15.09
200 MetersG 9T Melissa Mongiovi West Hills :24.79
Pole VaultB 9T Charlie Bush Poway 15-7
Shot PutG 10 Kiely Osby Escondido 42-10 1/2
400 MetersB 10 Brian Thomas Scripps Ranch :48.41
1600 RelayB 10 Scripps Ranch 3:20.75
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2000: New Century & New Faces

There wasn’t just a millennium going on.

Wholesale league changes and the San Diego Section’s annexation of schools in the Imperial Valley were creating a new landscape.

What started in 1980 with the addition of Calipatria, Holtville, and Imperial, was complete after Blythe Palo Verde,  El Centro Central, Brawley, Calexico, El Centro Southwest, and Calexico Vincent Memorial left the Southern Section.

Winterhaven San Pasqual also joined in 1980 and Salton City West Shores became a member in 1998, but neither of those schools was in for the long run.


Not everyone was happy.

Brian Hay wondered about his new associates. The El Centro Southwest coach was miffed when his 7-3 team was left out of the playoffs and three with losing records were bracketed into D-III.

“All of the San Diego-area team reps teamed up to keep us out,” Hay told Steve Brand of The San Diego Union.  “There’s something wrong when you’re 7-3 and don’t get into the playoffs.

“Only one of the Imperial Valley teams (Brawley) made it,” Hay added.  “I’d like to see the top two teams from each league be included.”

Hay was determined:  “We’re looking for a game against a San Diego-area team next year, so this won’t happen again.”


Hay didn’t get that game for El Centro Southwest.

He  went one better.

The Southwest mentor headed west to San Diego to become head coach at Hilltop and became a fixture in the South Bay area, moving on to Mar Vista and then Sweetwater.


University was in the playoffs with a 3-7 record, but Rancho Bernardo (4-6-1) and San Diego (6-3-1) received the veritable rubber key.

“They say they want the best teams playing each other, so we play marquee teams and get punished because of our record,” said Rancho Bernardo’s Ron Hamamoto.  “We’re one of 12 best teams in the County.”

The Broncos defeated Vista, 6-3, and Rancho Buena Vista, 28-27.  Those teams received first-round byes in D-I.


The Metropolitan Conference, which started as the eight-team Metropolitan League in 1933, servicing city and county schools, became two-headed, splitting into Mesa and South Bay circuits.

Sweetwater, San Diego Southwest, Montgomery, Chula Vista, and Bonita Vista came together as the Mesa League, all with larger enrollments than their South Bay brethren.

Marian (enrollment about 450), was by far the smaller entry among Mar Vista, Castle Park, Hilltop, and Eastlake, which made up the South Bay.

The Metro split once before, in 1960, when it divided into Northern and Southern divisions as the San Diego Section began play.


The Central League, born in 1980, went to the Great League in the Sky (to be resurrected in 2005) and its passing was felt throughout the city.

The Western League greeted Crawford, San Diego, and Madison from the deceased Central, and Hoover, which bid bon voyage to the Harbor. Western holdovers were La Jolla, Lincoln, and Kearny.

The Eastern League, which debuted with the Western when the City Prep League divided in 1959, also was involved.

University and St. Augustine moved from the Western to the Eastern.

The parochial schools joined Morse, Mira Mesa, Paddy Henry, Scripps Ranch and Point Loma.


Despite attempting to level the field based on enrollment, Mesa and South Bay teams still were scheduled to play interleague games.

There were unintended consequences.

Large school San Diego Southwest (Mesa) was run off the field, 66-0, by small-school-but-traditionally-formidable Castle Park (South Bay).

“We shouldn’t have had to play this game,” Southwest coach Joe Gonzalez fumed to writer Tom Shanahan.  “We’re struggling.  We’re overmatched.  We should be in a different league.”

Gonzalez added, “Give us a couple years to turn this around, but don’t force us to play strong competition we’re not ready to play.”

In a 0-10 season the loss to Castle Park was not the most humilating.  Mesa League rival Sweetwater defeated the Raiders, 72-0.


The North County Conference also was shuffling. Torrey Pines moved from the Avocado League to the Palomar and Oceanside went from the Avocado to the Valley.

This made for three, more symmetrical alignments–five-team Avocado and six-team Palomar and Valley.


Chris Hauser’s first game as head coach at Vista was against the most storied program in California.

It was a formidable assignment, but the fiery Hauser had been preparing for the moment.

Hauser was a wide receiver and defensive back in the early 1980s for legendary Vista coach Dick Haines.

After college Hauser returned to the school as a classroom teacher, was married to a Vista graduate, coached the Panthers junior varsity from 1990-93, and was varsity defensive coordinator from 1994-99.

Hauser became head coach at Vista, his alma-mater.

Who says you can’t go home again?  Hauser returned to Vista, his alma mater, and became head coach.

The Panthers dropped a 20-14 decision to Long Beach Poly, ranked second in California by Cal-Hi Sports and third in the country by USA Today.

Hershel Dennis’ 65-yard touchdown run with 5:07 remaining clinched the victory for the visitors.

“We talked about spilling our guts and our guys spilled their guts tonight,” Hauser said to writer Mick McGrane.  “It’s neat to see them leave with a different taste in their mouth.

“They came in here pretty arrogant, thinking they were going to mow us down.  It’s great it was a close game, but I want to win.”


Mission Bay’s 13-0 season included a stiff regular-season test when the Buccaneers went to 9-0 with a 10-7 victory over Lincoln (8-1).

David Abbott, a 6-foot, 245-pound lineman, blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Lincoln’s Noe Gonzalez  with 5.2 seconds left.


Although Shannon Nowden owned a car, most of Mission Bay’s football players were products of optional school choices and were bused in.

Coach Dennis Pugh said that probably 75 per cent of his team came from areas outside the Bucs’ natural enrollment boundaries.

JaJa Riley rushed for more than 1,400 yards, scored 18 touchdowns as transfer to Mission Bay.

JaJa Riley rushed for more than 1,400 yards, scored 122 points as transfer to Mission Bay.

Nowden was from the Lincoln district.  Others included JaJa Riley and Scott White (Morse), Marcus Smith and David Abbott (Hoover),  and Jared Bray and Adam Riccardulli (Clairemont).

“When we start in the fall it’s like  we have a bunch of kids moving in from out of state,” Pugh told Tom Shanahan of The San Diego Union. “These kids go through a lot to make it work.  They spend more than two hours a day on the bus.”


Those transfers played a part in the biggest play of Mission Bay’s season.  Trailing Lincoln, 13-7, Marcus Smith pick-pocketed Lincoln quarterback Jason Swanson and raced 96 yards for a touchdown in the Buccaneers’ 27-13 win in the D-III final.

“First I went for the strip and then I went for the end zone,” said Smith, who heard “dangerous” footsteps chasing him.  Then Smith took advantage of something not usually available in high school games, sccording to Steve Brand.

“I looked up at the Jumbotron (in Qualcomm Stadium) and when I saw Shannon (Nowden) take out two blockers I knew I had a touchdown,” said Smith.


North County big shot Rancho Buena Vista did not play a team from any of the Grossmont leagues  until it tested the waters in 1998, when the Broncos dismissed Granite Hills, 20-0, and West Hills, 61-28.

Craig Bell’s No. 4-ranked Vistans ratcheted it up this season, visiting No. 6 Helix.

Sophomore Reggie Bush had 157 yards in 14 carries and ran 77 yards for a touchdown that gave Helix a 34-22 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Highlanders held on for a 34-29 victory, but their fifth straight victory without loss was just the beginning.

With Bush and junior quarterback Alex Smith setting the pace, Helix rolled to a 13-0 record and beat two more North County clubs in the playoffs, Oceanside, 28-10, in the semifinals and San Pasqual in the II championship, 24-14.

Bush rushed for 1,034 yards and scored 11 touchdowns and Smith passed for 1,592 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Bush’s emerging greatness was evident in another game when he ran 80 yards for the clinching touchdown with five minutes remaining  in a 22-19 triumph over Monte Vista, which had taken a 16-0 halftime lead.

The pair of future No. 1 NFL choices made for an outstanding coaching bow for Gordon Wood, who inherited a full cupboard when Wood took over for the retiring Jim Arnaiz.


For awhile at least Helix was a secret, not even in preseason state Top 20.  That was not the case with Fallbrook.

After first-year coach Randy Blankenship revived the Warriors with a 7-4-1 season in 1999, Fallbrook was ranked 11th and ready to make its first serious run since Tom Pack’s 1986 team was 11-2-1 and upset Vista, 28-14, in the AAA championship.

From 1987-98 the Warriors were 45-78-2, including an 11-49 drought since 1993.

Fallbrook overcame early defeats of 28-21 at Santa Ana Mater Dei and 42-23 at Anaheim Esperanza and then ran the table to an 11-2 record that included a 50-12 victory over Carlsbad for the D-I title.

Blankenship left after the season and was replaced by Dennis Houlihan.

William kept alive the Buchanon tradition.

William kept alive the Buchanon tradition.


Willie Buchanon was an all-pro cornerback with the Green Bay Packers and completed an outstanding, 11-season career with the San Diego Chargers, but Buchanon, in his prime, would have had trouble covering his 6-foot, 5-inch son.

William Buchanan caught 84 passes in 13 games, for a 19.3-yard average and 16 touchdowns for  Oceanside this season and marked the third generation of Buchanons at the school.

Willie stood out in football and track in 1967-68 and William’s grandmother was the first Africa-American to graduate from the school in 1947.

The family lineage did not stop there.  William’s grand-uncle, C.R. Roberts, was the legendary star halfback on the Pirates’ 1951-53 squads. Roberts scored 61 touchdowns in his final two seasons.


Craig Bell, who posted a record of 106-62-1 at Rancho Buena Vista and won two section championships in 14 years, retired at the end of the season.

Bell, 57, began the RBV program when the school opened in 1987.  He also was head coach at Burbank Burroughs and was 24-33-2 in six seasons at San Dieguito.

Bell, in shot taken by Charlie Neuman of The San Diego Union,  won more than 100 games in 14 seasons at Rancho Buena Vista

Bell, in photograph by Charlie Neuman of The San Diego Union, won more than 100 games in 14 seasons at RBV.

Bell told Mick McGrane of The San Diego Union that his decision was made during a summer vacation trip to Wyoming with his wife.

“I was able to relax, my blood pressure was down, my hair wasn’t falling out, and I was able to eat something other than burritos and French fries, which is about all you ever eat during football season,” said Bell.

Bell won titles in 1988 and 1989 in a  sometimes contentious tenure that was  marked by legal proceedings and a law suit against the Vista School Board.

11TH HOUR REPRIEVEHorizon logo

Actually it was eight hours before kickoff when Horizon’s 11-game forfeiture mandated by San Diego Section commissioner Jan Jessop was overturned by an appeals committee.

Horizon responded by defeating The Bishop’s, 33-20, for the Division IV championship.

The Panthers were penalized for using an ineligible player.  There also was a question of another player’s eligibility.

The committee consisted of John  Collins, Poway district associate commissioner; Mark Oschner, Rancho Bernardo athletic director, and Kamran Azimzadeh, Lakeside district deputy superintendent.

“It was a good decision,” said Bob Ottilie, one of two lawyers working on Horizon’s behalf.  “It was a good decision, a well-reasoned decision.  These kids will not suffer because of the administration.”

The Horizon player was declared ineligible for violating the so-called “eight-semester rule.” Students enrolled in school for eight semesters must receive a waiver from the San Diego Section to be eligibile for sports in their fifth year.

Horizon did not seek a waiver, said Jessop.


Granite Hills in El Cajon was the easternmost school when the section began in 1960, as Mountain Empire in Campo remained in the Southern Section for a few years.

After the first immigration of Imperial Valley schools, the  longest distances from San Diego were to Holtville (124 miles) and Imperial (133 miles).

Blythe Palo Verde, which had to make long trips in the Southern Section, was essentially in the same travel situation when it became a San Diego Section member this year.

The 104 miles from Imperial Valley League rival El Centro Central had not changed, but a Palo Verde game in San Diego would be 215 miles distant, at least three and a half hours.

Spates passed and ran with equal success for El Camino Wildcats.

Spates passed and ran with equal success for El Camino Wildcats.


El Camino’s 17th consecutive victory was fueled in part by a sign that greeted the Wildcats’ bus when it entered the Vista campus. The sign read, “The Streak Ends Here”.

“We saw that when we drove in,” said El Camino quarterback Demetrious Spates.  “That gave us a tremendous amount of motivation.  You may not like us, but don’t disrespect us.”

It was Vista that got the message.

El Camino rolled, 56-20, as Spates passed for two touchdowns to Antwaine Spann and rushed nine times for 168 yards and three scores.

A 42-25 win over Oceanside the next week was El Camino’s 18th in a row over two seasons and moved the Wildcats past Lincoln (1978-80) for the third longest winning streak in the County.


El Camino’s streak came to a quick and decisive end. Carlsbad’s Eddie Sullivan scored on a 99-yard pass play and 97-yard kickoff return, propelling the Lancers to a 35-17 victory and a pungent observation by Wildcats coach Herb Meyer.

“We didn’t practice well all week and I coached us right into the toilet,” Meyer told Tom Shanahan of the Union.

“We’re 0-1 in the Avocado League,” said Meyer.  “That’s all that counts.  The streak and all that other stuff are for sportswriters to write about.”

El Camino finished with a 10-3 record, nosed out by Fallbrook, 27-24,  in the playoff semifinals.


Coronado won 10 games in a row for the most successful season in the school’s 86-season history.Coronado shield

The Islanders won their first seven in an 8-1 campaign in 1929 and won eight in a row in 1940, after opening the season with a 0-0 tie against an alumni squad.

Islanders coach Bud Mayfield also was part of the chorus complaining about playoff seedings.

Coronado’s reward was a seventh seed in D-III, which Mayfield described as “a kick in the teeth”.

After a bye, the Islanders were eliminated, 34-21, by Lincoln in the quarterfinals.


It looked like a misprint: Desert Hot Springs versus Monarch High of Lewisville, Colorado…at El Camino?

The off-beat scheduling called for the two schools to be on the undercard of an opening week doubleheader featuring host  El Camino and Whitehall, Pennsylvania.

Whitehall school board bosses moved in after the game was set and declared that the Zephyrs couldn’t play a game out of state for the second consecutive season.

El Camino reconnoitered and signed to play at Rancho Bernardo.  The Palm Springs-area school and Monarch went through with their contest and played at El Camino.


Ramona’s Jason Bash batted down a last-second pass in the end zone to preserve a 20-17 victory over Poway. Poway had been 11-0 against the Bulldogs from when it opened in 1961.


The bronze bell trophy was in the offing when San Diego Southwest had a first down on Mar Vista’s two-yard line with 50 seconds remaining. The Mariners stiffened and held on to win, 20-13, and reclaim the bell.

The bauble  had sat on the desk of Southwest  coach Joe Gonzales since the rivalry was suspended after a 32-6 Southwest win in 1993. Mar Vista moved to the Harbor League in 1994.

The teams had played for the bell since  Southwest was introduced in 1976.

Lou Coons (left) was fit to be tied by father Skip.

Lou Coons (left) was fit to be tied by father Skip.


Crawford more or less ended a 14-game losing streak when it tied Kearny, 14-14, in a matchup of father (Kearny coach Skip Coons)  versus son (Crawford coach Lou Coons).

We just ran out of time.  Give us another minute and we win,” said Lou.

QUICK KICKS–West Hills quarterback Troy Burner was on fire, bettering the section record by completing 88.8 per cent of his passes (32 of 36) for 346 yards and five touchdowns, including the 35-34 winner with 23 seconds left against Granite Hills…Helix gained 578 yards and averaged 9.6 yards a play in a 57-18 win over West Hills…it was the Highlanders’ most points since a 57-7 win over  Mount  Miguel in 1993…the Helix record came in a 68-0 victory over Santana in 1966…Valhalla’s 24-14 victory over Granite Hills was the Norsemen’s first on opening night since 1990 and marked the first time since 1992 they had scored more than seven points in an opener…”Field Turf”, a modern, more convenient and safer version of  the original Astroturf, was installed at La Jolla and Grossmont College…La Jolla was the first high  school in Southern California south of Ventura to use the rubbery stuff…awful loss for San  Pasqual:  Rancho Buena Vista’s Justin Nelson sneaked 1 yard for a touchdown with 16 seconds left in the game, then scrambled two yards for a two-point conversion and 22-21 defeat for Eagles…Carlsbad coach Bob McAllister opted to play a rare day game at Hoover and told his squad that the sunshine contest would be a prelude to Saturday afternoon games when they would be in college…the Lancers won, 21-0…Sean Sovacool, Fallbrook’s standout linebacker, went on to become head coach at La Costa Canyon….

Fallbrook's Sean Sovacool, tackling El Camino's Chris Williams, was future coach.

Fallbrook’s Sean Sovacool, tackling El Camino’s Chris Williams, was future coach.

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2014: Ogundeji Takes National Lead in Shot Put

Madison’s Doton Ogundeji, who made noise in the state meet in 2013, raised the decibel level to a shout  at the Sundevil Invitational Saturday at Mt. Carmel.

The all-San Diego Section football linebacker last season took the national lead in the shot put with a 65 foot, 4 ½ inch heave, almost two feet better than the reported 63-7 by Kord Ferguson of Ottawa, Kansas.

Only three other County athletes have bettered Ogundeji’s throw.

Fallbrook’s Brent Noon went 76-2 in 1990, Morse’s Darius Savage 66-3 ½ in 2006, and El Cajon Valley’s Curt Hampton 65-11 1/4 in 1974.

Ogundeji was sixth in the state shot put at 58-11 ¾ last year and was the only double-qualifier from San Diego. He was a nonscoring discus finalist at 175-2.

Meet Director Dennis McClanahan’s annual  Sundevil event is usually a barometer of the big meets in late May and early June.

Outstanding marks, including several state Top 10 efforts, were made by section athletes in what was for most the first significant meet of the season.

Hanna Labrie-Smith’s :43.4 in the 300-meter hurdles moved the Cathedral junior into second place in California behind the :43.14, converted hand time of Bakersfield Liberty’s Morganne Hill.

Labrie-Smith in 2013 came within 1/10 of Gail Devers’ 1983 San Diego Section record of :42.26.

A rare dead heat occurred in the Girls’ 3,200-meter run, when favored Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley and Irvine Northwood’s Bethany Knights were inseparable.

Each finished with times of 10:07.52, fastest in the country this year.

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2013-14: Section Overwhelmed in state playoffs

La Jolla Country Day’s 60-42 loss to Los Altos Hills Pinewood in the State Girls’ V championship last week was the final, tumbling domino in a disappointing San Diego Section season.images

Mater Dei Catholic was the only boys’ team to advance beyond the first round of the Southern California Regional and got to the Division II semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Bellflower St. John Bosco, 84-64.

San Diego Section boys teams lost 11 of 12 first-round encounters.  The girls won 6 of 14.

Mount Miguel girls reached the D-III semifinals but were beaten, 60-50, by Santa Barbara, which got to the state finals before losing to Modesto Christian, 64-55.


Local teams won 8 of 11 first-round games in 2012-13 and earned two championships, St. Augustine boys in D-III and Horizon girls in D-V. Area squads had won championships in three of the previous four years.

St. Augustine was denied the opportunity to defend its  championship and forced to play in the new Open Division.  The Saints went out early, losing to Santa Ana Mater Dei, 65-38.

La Costa Canyon, another Open Division entry, went down, 71-51, to Redondo Beach Redondo.

Criteria for the Open Division is based on a premise of  “past success” and other factors in a confusing tableau.

Why, then, should La Jolla Country Day, a traditional girls state power, be allowed to drop after elimination in San Diego’s Open division to the state D-V bracket?

That champions St. Augustine and La Costa Canyon had to play on the road in first-round games was a radical departure from other years.

Adding to confusion, the divisional nomenclature in San Diego is not the same as for the rest of the state.  Example, Kearny won the San Diego Section D-IV title but played in the D-III regional bracket, losing to La Canada St. Francis, 67-62.


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2014: San Diego Legends Meet

Bill Walton and Larry Blum had more in common than just being among the crowd at the University of San Francisco’s National Invitation Tournament game recently.

Both are former San Diego Section basketball players of the year, Blum at Crawford in 1962-63 and Walton at Helix in 1969-70.

San Diego ;legends Walton and Blum.

Walton and Blum starred at area  schools.

Blum set a San Diego Section record with 737 points and had a 23.8 average in Crawford’s 24-6-1 season that concluded with a championship-game,  64-44 victory over St. Augustine.

Walton averaged 29.1 points  and scored 960 points in leading  Helix to a 33-0 season.  Helix defeated Madison, 87-72, for the title in 1969 and repeated, 70-56 over Chula Vista in 1970.

Blum went on to play at the University of San Francisco and forged a highly successful career in the business world in the Bay Area.

Even in his ‘sixties, Blum still plays fullcourt basketball 2 or 3 nights a week and has a key to the USF gymnasium.

Walton became one of the most famous basketball players in history, winning championships at UCLA and with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics in the NBA.

The 6-foot, 11-inch Walton and 5-11 Blum hooked up last week, when Louisiana State defeated USF, 71-63, in a NIT first-round game at which Walton served as analyst on the ESPN broadcast.

As Walton said during the broadcast, “There is my good friend, Larry Blum, who set all the high school scoring records in San Diego (which Walton broke) and had a successful career at USF and after graduation he produced the world famous Haight-Asbury street sign poster and has been very successful ever since.”

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1999: Avocado League Avalanche

What a difference 50 years makes.

The population growth of San Diego’s North County coincided with the rise of the once small and remote Avocado League.

After years of  ascendancy, a punctuation mark was added this season.

As Tom Shanahan of The San Diego Union pointed out:

–Five Avocado schools ranked in the top six of the County Top 10.

–Avocado champion El Camino won the section Division I title, defeating Carlsbad in an all-Avocado final.

–Oceanside won the D-II championship.

–Five of the league’s six schools were unbeaten against nonleague opponents and posted a 32-2 record against outsiders. (La Costa Canyon, 3-7 overall and 0-5 in the league, was beaten by two North County Palomar League teams).

Cal-Hi Sports declared the Avocado League the most competitive in the state.

–El Camino was ranked third in the state behind Concord De La Salle and Hart by Cal-Hi Sports.  Oceanside was twelfth.

–Torrey Pines, with a 91-29-2 (.754) record, and El Camino, 92-36-1 (.717), had the best San Diego Section records for the decade of the 1990s.


“I came here from a strong league,” said Randy Blankenship, who coached state power Clovis West before moving to Fallbrook this year. “What made the Avocado different is we faced a college running back every week.”

October fog was a ubiquitous companion to San Diego Section teams, including Avocado League powers Carlsbad and El Camino.

Fog reared its seasonal self during the football season, as El Camino and Carlsbad players discovered.

”…In general North County football is as good as anywhere in the nation,” said Carlsbad coach Bob McAllister.

“I’m not saying we’d beat (Concord) De La Salle (winner of almost 100 games in a row), but…our top teams could play with anybody,” said El Camino’s Herb Meyer.

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2013-14: First Round: San Diego 7, Opponents 19

Wipeouts like these usually are reserved for the North Shore of Oahu.

San Diego Section boys basketball teams lost 10 of 11 games in the first round of the Southern California regional playoffs.

Girls teams helped ease the pain and won 6 of 14.

In four games in which San Diego boys teams were seeded higher their combined record was 1-3.

imagesMater Dei (29-2), the 4 seed in Division II, was the only area squad to win, defeating visiting Tustin (22-9), 59-50.

‘Dei will get a second home game Friday night when it takes on 5 seed Calabasas (28-5), which defeated Sylmar of the Los Angeles City Section, 57-54.

More negative reinforcement is expected Friday night when Open division play begins. No. 8 St. Augustine (29-3) is at 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-0) and 6 La Costa Canyon (27-5) goers to Redondo Beach Redondo (24-5).


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2013-14: Mavericks Return to No. 1

What goes around, comes around.

La Costa Canyon, ranked No. 1 in the first UT-San Diego basketball poll in December, is first again after vacating the top spot weeks ago.

LA-Costa-CanyonThe Mavericks defeated St. Augustine, 62-60, in the San Diego Section Open Division championship last week and received 10 first-place votes.  St. Augustine dropped to second and Mater Dei, which received three first-place votes, is third.

The first eight teams will be in Southern California playoffs beginning Wednesday. Morse, ranked ninth, and San Marcos, ranked 10th, played in the Division I final last week but were dissed by the state playoff committee.

# Team(1st place votes) W-L* Points** Last Week
1 La Costa Canyon (10) 27-5 127 5
2 St. Augustine 28-3 112 1
3 Mater Dei Catholic (3) 28-2 110 2
4 El Camino 27-4 82 4
5 Kearny 25-2 71 10
6 Torrey Pines 26-5 63 6
7 Sweetwater 28-1 53 3
8 Francis Parker 26-5 39 8
9 Morse 18-12 32 NR
10 San Marcos 21-9 11 9

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

Others receiving votes: Orange Glen, 8; Eastlake, 6; Foothills Christian, 2.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego stringer);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).
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2013-14: San Diego Teams Whacked in Seedings

Talk about a kick in the pelvic region.  The new State Basketball Tournament Open Division pairings did no favors for two San Diego Section stalwarts.

The seedings and pairings were announced by the state CIF this evening.

St. Augustine (28-3) will visit Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-0), the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, Friday night, March 14.

Santa Ana Mater Dei is the top seed in the Open Division and the Saints are No. 8.

On the same evening, La Costa Canyon (27-5), seeded sixth, goes to Redondo Beach Redondo (24-5), seeded third.

La Costa Canyon, playing from behind as the fourth seed, won the San Diego Section Open championship by defeating St. Augustine, 62-60, before more than 4,000 persons  at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus on Saturday night.

The Saints were the state D-III champions last season and would have been accorded at least an even chance to repeat, but they will not get that more competitively friendly opportunity.

The Open Division includes four Southern Section squads (Mater Dei, Redondo, Riverside North, and Etiwanda), two from San Diego, two from the Los Angeles Section (El Camino Real and Westchester), and zero from the Central Section.

No San Diego Section team gets a home game until Division II. The highest seed for any San Diego Section squad is 3 by the La Jolla Country Day women.  Mount Miguel’s women are seeded fourth.

Chula Vista Mater Dei is the highest seed among men’s teams, with a 4.

Unhappiness award goes to San Diego D-I winner Morse (18-12) and IV winner Orange Glen (26-5), who are uninvited.

All divisions except Open begin play Wednesday, March 12.

First round airings:

–No. 13 seed Torrey Pines (26-5) at 4 Lakewood Mayfair (23-6).
–No. 10 El Camino (27-4) at 7 Mission Viejo (24-7).

–No. 13 Tustin (22-8) at 4 Chula Vista Mater Dei (28-2).
–No. 10 Santa Ana Foothill (23-7) at 7 Francis Parker (26-5).
–No. 14 San Diego Hoover (18-11) at 3 Anaheim Canyon (28-4).

–No. 11 La Canada St. Francis (19-12) at 6 Kearny (25-2).
–No. 13 Sweetwater (28-1) at 4 Brea Olinda (23-10).

–No. 9 Tri-City Christian (21-9) at 8 San Juan Capistrano JSerra (18-11).

–No. 10 Palm Springs Desert Chapel (23-5) at 7 Escondido Adventist (20-6).
–No. 12 Lutheran (16-7) at San Juan Capistrano Saddleback Valley Christian (25-6).


–No. 8 Mission Hills (22-8) at 9 Alhambra Mark Keppel (26-3).
–No. 13 Mt. Carmel (25-7) at 4 Fullerton Troy (22-7).

–No. 10 Redondo Beach Redondo (20-10) at 7 La Costa Canyon (25-3).
–No. 9 Poway (17-11) at Norco (26-5).
–No. 14 San Diego Serra (19-10) at Placentia El Dorado (26-5).

–No. 13 Yorba Linda (11-15) at 4 Mount Miguel (25-5).

–No. 11 Fullerton Rosary (17-14) at 6 Chula Vista Mater Dei (22-8).
–No. 13 Ocean View Christian (17-3) at 4 San Juan Capistrano JSerra (21-10).

–No. 14 L.A. Shalhevet (19-3) at 3 La Jolla Country Day (16-11).
–No. 9 San Bernardino Aquinas (27-2) at 8 Horizon (9-18).
No. 12 Foothills Christian (17-5) at 4 Garden Grove Orangewood (23-8).

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2013-14: Game of Year Revisited

St. Augustine and La Costa Canyon, which played arguably the game of the regular season in January, go for the gold tonight.

The Saints edged the Mavericks, 79-74, as part of a Martin Luther King Day doubleheader at Francis Parker and things haven’t changed.  Expect the score to be a little lower but the intensity a little higher.

To the winner goes the San Diego Section Open Division championship.

The question that remains unanswered is where these two clubs will be placed in next week’s Southern California regionals, depending, of course, on the loser getting a bid.

Does St. Augustine stay in the Open Division or go back to D-III?  Does La Costa Canyon revert to D-1?

Two of the area’s best coaches, the Saints’ Mike Haupt and La Costa’s Dave Cassaw, will match wits again.

Tip is at 7 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus.  Another big game will begin at the same time about 10 miles east, when San Diego State opposes New Mexico for the Mountain West Conference marbles.


St. Augustine 64, La Costa Canyon 58.

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2013-14: Kearny Knocks Off Sweetwater

Kearny High found the key to ending Sweetwater’s great run Saturday afternoon.

Coach Carl Bronson, ably assisted by UT-San Diego sportswriter Mark Zeigler, exposed the shorter Red Devils’ lack of a low post defense.

The strategy allowed the Komets to repeatedly attack from the low block under the basket for layups and point-blank shots.

Kearny took the lead at 33-32 at the start of the third quarter and never looked back, pulling away for a 73-58 victory in the San Diego Section III finals before about 2,500 persons at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

David Moa led Kearny with 19 points and 18 rebounds in a contest that had a pin ball machine pace.

Errant passes and turnovers were routine as the Komets matched Sweetwater’s rapid, pressing style, which had worn down the Red Devils’ first 28 opponents.

Spencer Mattox  scored 19 points for Sweetwater but the hustling, high-energy senior seemed fatigued in the second half.

For the game, Mattox missed on five three-point attempts.

Kearny, now 25-2, await its seeding and opponent in the Southern California playoffs next week.


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2013-14: Alma Maters Beckoned Coaches

How uncommon is this?

When Kearny (23-2) meets Sweetwater (28-0) Friday afternoon the teams will be coached by alumni of their respective schools.

At stake will be the San Diego Section Division IV championship.

Historian Greg (Stats) Durrant came up with this and other nuggets as the veteran prep sports maven prepared to take in five boys’ and girls’ division finals Friday and five more Saturday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus.

Sweetwater is coached by Jesse Aguirre, class of 1985,  Kearny by Carl Bronson, class of 1983.

Both schools returned to prominence this year.


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2013-14: Foothills Coach Not Quite Boeheim

There are 20.8 seconds remaining in the game.  Your team trails, 58-54, after battling back from a 14-point deficit.

A blocking foul is whistled on one of your players.

The frustration finally got to Foothills Christian coach Brad Leaf.

Leaf channeled his inner Jim Boeheim and was slapped with a technical.

The Knights mentor’s outburst at the officials differed from that of the Syracuse coach, who was famously double T’d and ejected late in a loss to Duke last week.

Leaf, unlike Boeheim, was not wearing a coat when Leaf came onto the court.

Sweetwater then converted  three free throws and ran out a 61-54, Division III semifinals victory over the Knights, who, adding to Leaf’s game-long unhappiness, blew several opportunities to oust the undefeated, 28-0 Red Devils.

A vocal crowd of about 2,000 nearly filled the hosts’ gym and they saw coach Jesse Aguirre’s swifties race to leads of 7-0 and 23-9.

T.J. Leaf, the coach’ 6-foot, 8-inch sophomore son,  had a good line, 22 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and four assists.

But Leaf missed 6 of his first 7 free throws and could not get several point-blank shots to go down as the very short Red Devils, like a pack of swarming bees, harassed their taller opponents.

Leaf fouled out with 3:03 left in the game with the Knights lagging, 55-47.  Foothills manned up and closed to 57-54 but could get no closer.

Sweetwater’s Spencer Mattox scored 29 points and rebounded, dished, and stole in a pell-mell performance.  Mattox also mockingly preened for the Foothills crowd after he  drained an NBA-distance prayer  at the third quarter buzzer, increasing the Sweeties’ lead to 48-38.

Foothills surprisingly, and to Leaf’s dismay, was assigned a fourth seed in D-III, guaranteeing that it would have to meet the No. 1 Red Devils before the championship  game, which now matches Kearny and Sweetwater Friday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Leaf’s week thus began and ended on  sour notes.

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2013-14: Great Matchups in Open Final 4

There will be basketball almost every night this week in the San Diego Section.

Girls begin quarterfinals play in Divisions II, III, and IV tonight and  Tuesday night.  Boys tip Tuesday night in II, III, and IV.

Open semifinals are Tuesday and Wednesday and finals  Saturday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus.

D-V teams will play championship games Thursday evening at Sage Hill High in Carlsbad.

A look at this week’s Boys’ games:

OPEN—Two terrific semifinals matches and a potentially great final, if St. Augustine and El Camino pass their tests.

El Camino won its 20th in  a row and is 27-3 after a  105-68 romp over Lincoln (13-14), which trailed only 28-24 after one quarter.

The second-seed Warriors take on tough La Costa Canyon (25-5) Wednesday at El Camino. St. Augustine (27-2) will meet Torrey Pines (26-4) at University City High.

Ray Johnson ‘s Wildcats, coming strong after the January eligibility  of Army-Navy transfer Devin Watson, have averaged 80.2 points a game during their streak.

The Oceanside club has not lost since dropping a 77-71 decision to Sweetwater Dec. 21 and hold two February decisions over La Costa Canyon, 74-70 and 78-70.

Beating the same team three times in a row in the same season is El Camino’s test.  Cathedral could not pull off the trifecta a year ago against St. Augustine.

Prediction:  El Camino 64, La Costa Canyon 61.

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2013-14: Saints No. 1 Here, 18th in State

St. Augustine is top-ranked in the final UT-San Diego regular-season poll and is the defending state champion in Division III as playoff teams enter the homestretch of the season.

Coach Mike Haupt’s team,  29-4 a year ago, take a 26-2 record into this season’s playoffs and are ranked 18th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

St. Augustine finished 10th overall in the state in 2012-13.  The Saints  defeated San Francisco Sacred Heart 59-52 in overtime for the championship after Trey Kell buried three consecutive free throws to forge a tie in the final three seconds of regulation.

The two teams with victories over the Saints are Chino Hills (24-4), ranked seventh, and Lakewood Mayfair (23-5), ranked 17th.

Chino Hills holds a 66-55 win over the Saints and Mayfair beat them, 62-61, in late December in the  Torrey Pines tournament.

Should St. Augustine win the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs there is no guarantee it would revert to D-III in the Southern California alignment.  The Saints may be placed in the Open Division and be grouped with a maximum of four Southern Section Open clubs.

El Camino is 15th in D-1, Mater Dei Catholic eighth in D-II, St. Augustine third in D-III, Sweetwater sixth and Kearny ninth.  Francis Parker is “on the bubble” in D-II.  La Costa, No. 10 a week ago, dropped out of the D-II Top 10.

Cal-Hi Sports does not follow the San Diego model in identifying teams’  divisions.

1 St. Augustine (13) 26-2   130         1


Mater Dei










El Camino





La Costa Canyon





Torrey Pines










Francis Parker





Foothills Christian









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

Others receiving votes: San Marcos, 12;  Mission Bay, 5; Steele Canyon, 3; Calvin Christian, 1.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego correspondent);                          Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego correspondent);

Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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2013-14: Basketball’s Second Season Begins

Seventeen teams with losing records and three .500 squads  made the San Diego Section playoffs.

It doesn’t look as ridiculous as in previous years.

Pairings announced Saturday promise good games, even  in early rounds, especially considering size of brackets and number of divisions.

Only in Division II is there virtual mediocrity. Seven of the eight, first-round visiting clubs have losing records, some real bad (see Hills, Granite 7-19).

D-II clubs have a combined .503 winning percentage and overall record of 198-196.  The others reflect more success:  Open–157-65, .707; I–251-173, .592; III–260-148, .637; IV–216-166, .565; V–108-55, .662.


The eight-team Open Division promises big matchups in later rounds.  Only Vista (7-20) and Lincoln (13-12) look out of place.Elcam logo

St. Augustine (26-2) and El Camino (26-3) are the Open 1-2 seeds and could meet in a blockbuster final at the University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion on March 8.

Eastlake (23-5) and Mission Bay (13-8) are top-ranked D-I entries, but that division looks wide-open.

San Marcos (18-8) is dangerous.  In-an-outers Poway (17-11), Carlsbad (17-11), Escondido (19-8), Westview (17-10), Helix (16-12), and Cathedral (15-10) all could make runs.


Mater Dei (24-2) and Francis Parker (22-4) should  ride to the D-II final.

Teams in the Mater Dei half of the bracket are a combined 80-103. Teams in Parker’s half are 94-92.

SweetwaterPrimaryLogoSweetwater (25-0) and Kearny (21-2) are at the top of D-III, but questions persist over Kearny’s less-than-robust list of opponents.

Foothills Christian could meet Sweetwater in  the semifinals in  the division’s most appealing contest.

D-IV lacks pizzazz, although Orange Glen (22-5) has emerged after years in the tank.  Second seed behind the Patriots is Tri-Christian (18-8), which has dropped two to D-V seven-seed Pacific Ridge.

D-V is the smallest of the small.  Escondido Adventist (18-6) is top seed.


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1960: For Better or (Mostly) Worse

San Diego County was “free” of the giant Southern Section and on its own, thirty-one schools strong.

The formation of the local CIF section pleased administrators and assorted education honchos who now wielded the sharp end of the stick.

Coaches and the media were ambivalent, at best.

The great competition against Northern schools and the building excitement of playoffs at foreign sites against largely unknown opponents was gone, replaced by two divisions and two weeks of watered-down postseason play.

Champion of 31 schools was not like champion of more than 300.


Three County affiliates did not join the new section. Mountain Empire and Rancho del Campo remained in the Southern Section and usually played more easily accessed Imperial Valley squads.

Faallbrook deuceFallbrook, 0-8 in 1957 and 0-9 in ’58 as a member of the Avocado League, was not considered strong enough to compete against schools from the North County circuit.

The Warriors had joined the DeAnza League in Riverside County in 1959 and stayed there through this football season.  Their opponents were schools such as Hemet, Perris, San Jacinto, and Beaumont.

The alignment agreed with coach Al Waibel’s club, which was 3-1 in the league and 6-3 overall.

Fallbrook dropped a 32-0 decision to San Pedro Mary Star of the Sea in the first round of the Southern Section small schools playoffs.

Football at Julian still was seven years away, making 30 the actual count of football-playing schools in the San Diego Section.

San Diego fans were happy, as long as their teams were winning.

That meant that virtually every week was a celebration at Escondido High, where coach Bob (Chick) Embrey built a small school power into a major force in the new order.

The game of the year matched San Diego, at 6-2 the Eastern League champion and, by reputation, the favorite, against the 7-1-1 Cougars in the AA semifinal.


Escondido fired a shot across the Cavers’ bow before the kickoff.

The North County school’s pep band struck up “The March of the Olympians,” which was written for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, as the Cougars’  marched onto the field from the South end of Balboa Stadium, helmets tucked under their arms against their sides.

They could have been matadors entering the ring.

The novel approach clearly one-upped the Cavemen, who for years cowed visiting teams with their traditional entrance down the steps from the top of Balboa Stadium’s North end zone.


Escondido’s 19-13 victory was not as close as the final score.  The Cougars outgained San Diego, 293-246, and led, 19-7, in the third quarter.

“We could have scored more, don’t you think?” enthused the jubilant Embrey.

Embrey had a shout out for center Don Clothier (left), who snapped the ball and blocked for quarterback Doug Bennett (right).

Embrey had a shout out for lineman Don Clothier (left), who was up front for quarterback Doug Bennett (right).

Embrey could not have been blamed for gloating, although that was not his intention. He was Escondido’s star player in 1944, when the Cavers beat the Cougars, 20-0, in a Southern Section playoff.

Quarterback Doug Bennett completed 6 of 9 passes for 161 yards against San Diego and, as further evidence of a changing of the guard, had the fastest man on the field.

Wingback Dave Blunt was on the receiving end of a 66-yard pass play which gave the Cougars a two- touchdown lead.

Blunt also became the first San Diego Section sprint champion the following spring, running :09.7 in the 100-yard dash and 21 seconds in the 220.


Point Loma tied Helix, 6-6, in the other semifinal and advanced because of their 13-8 advantage in first downs.

Mount Miguel, winner of five in a row since it had gone to a power ground game, in coach Harry Johnston’s words, defeated La Jolla, 7-6, and Vista beat University, 32-20, to reach the Class A, small-schools championship.

The championship games went to form.

Escondido defeated Point Loma, 20-13, before an estimated overflow crowd of 9,000 at the Cougars’ field.

Dave (left) and Bob Blunt spanned globe for Esconido Cougars.

Dave (left) and Bob Blunt spanned globe for Esconido Cougars.

Doug Bennett passed 42 yards to Dave Blunt and 4 yards to Pete Schouten and Blunt returned an intercepted pass 40 yards to give the Cougars three touchdowns and a 20-6 lead.


No one, but that was what several residents of Spring Valley thought I was calling Mount Miguel after the Matadors defeated Vista, 40-13, for the Class A title.

In my game story I made a comparison of the good big man always defeating the good little man.  And  I wrote, using a very trite and poor play on words, “Mount Miguel’s Matadors, a big, bullish Metropolitan League entry, overpowered Vista, a small tough Avocado Leaguer….”

I received telephone calls and letters from outraged Mount Miguel followers, saying I had called their team a bunch of bullies and most suggesting I should not show my face in Spring Valley, where the school was located.

Looking back, what was Mount Miguel doing in the small schools bracket?

Torge was Mount Miguel gamebreaker.

Russ Torge was Mount Miguel gamebreaker.

With more than 2,500 students, Mount Miguel was the largest school in the County.  Vista had an enrollment of about 950.

Mount Miguel and La Jolla were the two at-large teams invited to the small school playoffs after finishing second in their large school leagues and with the best second-place records.

“They were just too big and too strong,” said Vista coach Pat Mongoven.  “Maybe they’ll do something next year about those pairings.”


“Torge and Freeman, then comes the Screamin’!” That was how Tribune writer Roger Conlee described the Mount Miguel attack.

Russ Torge gained 146 yards in 11 carries and scored two touchdowns, including one from 71 yards.

Duane Freeman had 74 yards in 14 carries, scored once, and blocked a punt which Matador John Rea returned 19 yards for a touchdown.

Bennett passed for 17 TD's.

Bennett, behind center Jim Hundley,  passed for 17 TD’s.


Doug Bennett, who played behind Steve Thurlow at Escondido in 1959, completed 98 of 155 passing attempts for 1,577 yards and 17 touchdowns in 11 games.

San Diego’s Ezell Singleton had a sizeable advantage with 28 touchdown passes in 1958, but wasn’t that far ahead with 111 completions in 179 attempts for 1,711 yards.

Bennett averaged 10.2 yards per passing attempt and Singleton 9.6.  Singleton averaged 15.4 yards per completion and Bennett 16.1.


The alignment would be for only one season, but the 10-team Metropolitan League was halved into Northern and Southern Divisions, geography be damned.

Grossmont, El Cajon, El Capitan, Escondido, Granite Hills and Hilltop formed the Northern Division. A Southern Division embraced Helix, Grossmont, Chula Vista, Mount Miguel, and Sweetwater.

The distance between division rivals Escondido and Hilltop was 36 miles.  The distance between Hilltop and city neighbor and non-division opponent Chula Vista was 3 miles.

The six schools in the Grossmont League would have their own circuit in 1961, plus the new Monte Vista High in Spring Valley.


St. Augustine’s defense braced and stopped Point Loma on the Saints’ 19, 22, 37, 24, and one-yard lines, but the Pointers finally put the 12-6 game away with a touchdown by Curtis Mosley that ended a five-play, 27-yard drive with 1:36 remaining.

It was St. Augustine’s first loss in 14 games.


They were abundant and they were popular.

San Diego scored its first victory in five tries over the Los Angeles City aggregation in the 12th annual Breitbard College Prep All-Star game.

The 27-12 victory, fueled by the performance of Escondido’s Steve Thurlow and San Diego High’s Richard (Prime) McClendon, came before an Aztec Bowl record turnout of 13,700.

Thurlow faked to McClendon (20) and scored against L.A. All-Stars in 27-12 San Diego victory.Thurlow faked to McClendon (20) and scored against L.A. All-Stars in 27-12 San Diego victory.

Thurlow passed for two touchdowns and ran for another.  McClendon rushed for 151 yards and ran 66 yards for a score. The local squad trailed 12-0 at halftime but wore down the Los Angeles stars with a rushing attack that netted 333 yards.

The San Diego-L.A. format replaced the Southern California-L.A. game in 1956.  The series started in 1949.

A crowd of 17,000 saw San Diego High score three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to top Kearny, 21-6, but the West defeated the East, 25-21, in the 22nd City Schools’ Carnival.


Passes by the Cavers’ Lou White resulted in carnival scoring plays of 88 yards to Thomas Phillips, 22 yards to David (Dutch) Ortman, and 68 yards to Eddie Frost.

The Metropolitan League carnival featured only Grossmont District squads and drew a capacity crowd of 12,000 to Aztec Bowl.

Six teams played three, 20-minute quarters.

Mount Miguel beat El Cajon Valley, 19-0, in the second quarter after Granite Hills, teeing up for the first time, battled to a 6-6 standoff with El Capitan. Helix and Grossmont played to a scoreless deadlock in the final quarter.

Mount Miguel, Granite Hills, and Helix of the West won, 25-6.


Granite Hills opened its doors for the first time, minus some of the usual necessities.

The Eagles’ one “luxury” was cold showers, which preceded hot water but was an improvement over the initial conditions.

Coach Glenn Otterson’s team originally was forced to use hoses to wash off practice sweat and dirt. The players then had to take their uniforms home for a more complete cleaning and bring their own towels to school.

Lockers became available midway into the season.  Until then, the Eagles’ used a “dressing room.” As Roger Conlee wrote in the Evening Tribune, the players piled their gear in a bare, four-walled enclosure that was locked during practice.


Four seconds remained at Mount Miguel, where Granite Hills and Sweetwater were completing a nonleague game which Sweetwater won, 20-6.

As Granite Hills quarterback Tom Roth was about the accept the snap from center, Roth and his teammates heard a hissing noise behind them.

Sprinklers went on all over the field.  Scrambling officials were unable to find the automatic timing device which controlled the system, so the teams went ahead and with the last play in a shower.

“Both benches emptied fast,” said Otterson.  “They scattered like it  was a fire drill.”


Coach Robert (Bull) Trometter’s University of San Diego High Dons dropped a 30-6 decision to Fallbrook.

Nothing out of the ordinary about that.

But the Dons had five touchdowns erased by penalties, including 4 in the game’s first six minutes.

Uni, playing a full varsity schedule for the first time, was eager to please Trometter, the highly successful former Marine Corps Recruit Depot mentor.

“I wouldn’t say it was the officials’ fault,” tactfully noted Trometter, a decorated, retired Marine Corps Lt. Colonel. The coach said his players essentially were “over-eager and inexperienced,” leading to a flood of off-sides, holding, and other violations.

The Dons dropped their first three games, won their final three and earned a first-round Class A playoff berth.


Rowdism, which provoked the city football carnival to be moved from evening to afternoon in 1959, was a continuing problem.

Mission Bay tacklers bring down Hoover's Ron Greenig before empty stands during afternoon game at Hoover.

Mission Bay tacklers bring down Hoover’s Ron Greenig before empty stands during afternoon game at Hoover.

Police Chief Elmer Jansen addressed several concerns for his department, including staffing and expense, and suggested switching games to daylight.

Very Rev. John Aherne, principal at St. Augustine, was spokesman for the pro-night-games group and said crowds would be down at day games and that there was no guarantee that rowdyism would not continue.

Night games continued in the city during the playoffs  after much rhetoric.


An  Oceanside-Carlsbad school district trustee suggested that Oceanside and Carlsbad replay their 0-0 tie.

John Prenzel proposed an investigation to determine if such a game “would be in accord with California Interscholastic Federation rulings.”

Prenzel thought a rematch under auspices of the Oceanside Lions  Club could be played on Thanksgiving Day, with proceeds going to the rival schools’ student body funds.

The game wouldn’t affect league standings, said Prenzel.

It was an idea whose time had not come. No action and no game took place.


Field goals were making a comeback, or rather they were being discovered.

After years in which no placements were made or attempted, at least four attempts were successful this year.  Soccer-style kicking still was a few years away.

Coronado lost to Ls Jolla, 21-10, but the Islanders’ Bob West kicked a 21-yard field goal.  San Dieguito’s Randy Simpson made a 34-yard placement in a 3-0 victory over El Centro Central.

Not to be outdone, Helix’ Bill Burnett was good from 25 yards in a 36-0 win over Grossmont and Fallbrook’s Jim Martin converted from 22 yards in a 24-14 win over Elsinore Military Academy.


City schools quarterly grades during the season meant academic casualties.

Clairemont, the consensus preseason favorite, would not win a league game and lost fullback Ron Power, one of the area’s better offensive players, to grade deficiencies.

Mission Bay was down to 24 players after first teamers Jeff Moran, Martin Brown, and Gene Scales were beaten by the books.

Lincoln lost halfback Vernus Ragsdale.  San Diego halfback George Mahaffey and tackle Billy Tyus also received the academic rubber key.

In another, unexpected move, Robert Nelson, a promising halfback at Point Loma, suddenly transferred to Lincoln.

Ron Miller was scoring pacesetter.

Ron Miller was scoring pacesetter.


A practice injury left Crawford’s Jeff Greenleaf paralyzed from the waist down.  To help incur Greenleaf’s hospital bills donations were sought and the Colts met Sweetwater in a Thanksgiving Day, postseason contest at Hoover.

More than 6,000 persons were on hand as Crawford, giving an indication of what to expect in 1961, ran past the Red Devils, 33-9.

The Red Devils’ Ron Miller was held scoreless but still led the County with 13 touchdowns and 78 points. Sweetwater coach Tom Parker donated the game films to Greenleaf’s family.


Army-Navy coach John Maffucci described life at the Carlsbad military academy:

“We’re a boarding school and there is an advantage to having the players on campus  most of the time. When we lose, they stay in; when we win, they can go out.”


The frontage road serving hotels in Mission Valley was renamed Hotel Circle by the San Diego City Council.


Colts' McCorquodale was more easily known as "Corky".

Colts’ McCorquodale, third team all-Southern California was more easily known as “Corky”.

Crawford coach Walt Harvey on running back Jim (Corky) McCorquodale:  “He can run, pass, punt, play defense, and block”…Corky was among the County leaders in scoring with 55 points…“We played better in the carnival (21-6 loss in one quarter to San Diego) than we did tonight (7-0 victory over Crawford),” said Kearny coach Birt Slater….Mission Bay outrushed Pomona Catholic, 258-104, and lost, 27-7…obscure name of the year: Vista halfback Joe Picchiottino (pitch-ee-oh-teen-oh)…Point Loma’s Robert Nelson scored on a 48-yard run on his first attempt as a varsity player…Glenn Forsythe returned to Ramona as head coach after one year as a journalism professor at Reedley Junior College near Fresno…defenders of San Diego’s move away from the Southern Section reminded that the AAAAA finale between Compton Centennial and Santa Barbara drew only 8,619 persons to the Los Angeles Coliseum… …St. Augustine’s 14-6 victory over San Diego was the Saints’ first ever against the Cavemen…they were 0-8-1 against Cavers teams of  different levels dating to 1926…the Saints’ Mickey Frank, 6-foot-3 and 292 pounds, was credited for an outstanding defensive performance…Helix’ defense called itself the “Untouchables”…so did San Diego’s offensive backfield…Vista coach Pat Mongoven had another job, president of the North Cointy community’s  American Little League….

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2013-14: Playoff Seeding and Pairings Next

Selection Saturday is just five days away.

League play wraps up this week, but all eyes are on the postseason and the ensuing rounds that lead to the state championships in Sacramento next month.

Seedings and pairings for the San Diego Section playoffs, to be waged in 5 divisions,  will come out of  Section commissioner Jerry Schniepp’s office sometime Saturday, depending on the length and volume of discussions.

With the new, Open Division format, several teams are on a collision course, including St. Augustine, El Camino, La Costa Canyon, and Torrey Pines, the favorites in an eight-team bracket that also includes Mission Hills, Hoover, Lincoln, and Vista.

Vista, at 5-20,will exit very early, but the others can make things interesting.

Eastlake is the highest ranked Division I team.  The other 15 squads essentially are lying in the weeds.  Mission Bay might be a factor.  The Buccaneers are only 12-7 but hung with St. Augustine last week, ending with a flurry of 3’s that cut the final deficit to 54-53.

D-II features Mater Dei, Francis Parker, and Steele Canyon.

Sweetwater and Kearny headline D-III, with Foothills Christian, Del Norte and Calvin Christian gaining some cred.  Calexico Vincent Memorial and Orange Glen may have the edge in D-IV.

El Camino is still fourth in this week’s UT-San Diego poll, but  the Wildcats of coach Ray Johnson have lately positioned themselves for a postseason run.

# Team (1st place votes)1 W-L Points** Last Week
1 St. Augustine (13) 24-2 130 1
2 Mater Dei Catholic 22-2 114 2
3 Sweetwater 23-0 97 3
4 El Camino 24-3 88 5
5 La Costa Canyon 23-4 87 4
6 Torrey Pines 23-4 70 6
7 Foothills Christian 16-8 28 9
8 Eastlake 21-5 26 8
9 Kearny 19-2 25 10
10 Francis Parker 21-4 24 7

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

Others receiving votes: San Marcos, 10; Escondido, Mission Bay, 8; Del Norte, 5; Steele Canyon, 4; Calvin Christian, 1.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego stringer);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
and Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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1916: The Legendary Hilltoppers

The 12-0 season, Southern California championship, and acclamation as national champions proved  just the beginning for coach Clarence (Nibs) Price and many of the San Diego High Hilltoppers.

–Price left the school after the 1917 season and made his way back to his alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, joining the staff of head coach Andy Smith in 1920.

Price was the Bears’ head coach following Smith’s death and guided the Bears to a 27-17-3 record from 1926-30, including the 1929 Rose Bowl, made famous by the wrong-way run of California’s Roy Riegels.

The 1922 Golden Bears' coaching staff. Nibs is second from left, next to Andy smith (left).

The 1922 Golden Bears’ coaching staff. Nibs is second from left, next to  head coach Andy Smith (left).

Price was head coach of the Bears’ basketball team from 1924-54.  His teams won 453 games,  seven conference championships, and went to the Final Four of the 1946 national collegiate tournament.

Perhaps most significant, seven members of the 1916 Hilltoppers were recruited by Price and played on the 1920 California squad that was 9-0, outscored opponents, 510-14, and defeated Ohio State, 28-0, in the Rose Bowl.

The Bears were known as the “Wonder Team”.  In 1953 the Helms Athletic Foundation in Los Angeles named the 1920 squad the greatest in collegiate history.

–Bryan (Pesky) Sprott was known more in college as Albert, his given name, and was the offensive catalyst for the Bears in the Rose Bowl, gaining 92 yards in 20 carries and scoring two touchdowns.

Karl Deeds, another former Hilltopper, raced 61 yards with an interception for the Bears’ final touchdown.

Sprott was star on "Wonder Team".

Sprott was star on “Wonder Team”.

Sprott scored seven touchdowns against Stanford in 1918.

A star runner in high school, Sprott was fifth in the 800-meter  run at the 1920 Olympics  in Antwerp, Belgium.

–Harold (Brick) Muller won the state high jump championship in 1918.

Muller won the state high jump and broad jump in 1919 after transferring to Oakland Technical  and was a silver medalist at 6 feet, 2 ¾ inches, in the 1920 Olympics.

Muller  threw a pass 57 yards in the air for a touchdown in the 1921 Rose Bowl.  It was said to be the longest pass in football history.

The future orthopedic surgeon was the first West Coast player to be a collegiate all-America  and won several all-time all-America honors.

Having graduated from medical school, Muller signed with a professional team, the Los Angeles Buccaneers of the fledgling American Football League, then became the team’s head coach in 1926.

Muller ranks as one of  the Bears' all-time greatest athletes.

Muller ranks as one of the Bears’ all-time greatest athletes.

For many years Muller served as the team doctor for the Bears’  athletic teams.

Walter (Dutch) Eells, Karl Engebretsen, Karl Deeds, Stan Barnes, and Olin (Cort) Majors also played for the 1920 Bears.

Barnes became a federal judge and Majors was a special assistant to the University of California chancellor.

The esteem with which the 1920 teammates were held was such that Sprott’s death in 1951 resulted in giant headlines in Bay Area newspapers.

Sprott, who was hard of hearing, did not see an oncoming freight train.  He  dodged the train at the last moment but  hit his head on the iron step of an stationary box car nearby.

Sprott  was on his lunch break from work and enjoying a favorite hobby, counting and comparing numerals on passing trains.

Nibs Price may have asked that question when he became coach at San Diego High in 1914.

The 5-foot, 6-inch Price had been a star high school footballer in Iowa but discovered that rugby was the prevailing sport when he enrolled at the University of California.

Price had to re-learn the difference between football and rugby.  Rules of the gridiron game had changed dramatically.

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2014: Coaching Legend Walt Harvey, 95

Walt Harvey, whose firm and folksy touch resonated with generations of San Diego-area athletes and future coaches, passed away Feb. 7 at age 95.

A memorial will be held at noon Saturday, Feb. 22, at La Vida Real, where Harvey resided the last several years.

La Vida Real is located at 11588 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon Ca., 92019.

Samuel Walter Harvey was born in San Diego and attended John Adams elementary, Wilson Junior High, and graduated from Hoover in 1936.

Harvey, third from left in top row, was memb er of Hoover's outstanding team in 1935.

Harvey, third from left in top row, next to Roy Engle, was member of Hoover’s outstanding team in 1935.

“He never forgot a name, a face, or a particular play in a game,” said Tom Whelan, quarterback of Crawford’s 1961 championship team .  “He was amazing.  Even when he developed health issues we got to see him and it was a special time.”

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1916-2013: Did Hilltoppers forfeit to Drillers?

It was a moot point for 97 years.

But when Bakersfield defeated Loomis Del Oro, 56-26, in the State Division I championship in 2013 an old wound apparently was reopened.

Officially the title was Bakersfield’s seventh, along with years of 1920, ’21, ’22, ’23, ’25, and ’27. State championships were not played from 1928-2005.

Bakersfield historians claim the win over Del Oro was the Drillers’ eighth championship, because San Diego High refused to play then-named Kern County Union in 1916.

But did the Hilltoppers’ default, or worse, forfeit?

San Diego coach Clarence (Nibs) Price apparently never agreed to or intended to play the unscheduled game.

Twelve games were enough for Price.

Twelve games were enough for Price.

Student manager Ralph Noisat is reported to have offered Bakersfield a $300 guarantee days before the Southern California final against Los Angeles Manual Arts.

Noisat, probably acting at the behest of the school’s executive committee, apparently issued a challenge, the Hilltoppers to meet Kern County Union in San Diego on New Year’s Day.

Price said no, not now. He would think about it and decide after the Southern California championship game.

Hours after the 9-0 win over Manual Arts Price said his team was “fatigued” and that the Hilltoppers would call it a day, their season complete.

The coach made plans to take advantage of the school Christmas vacation and headed for Catalina. Many players visited friends or relatives in the Los Angeles area before eventually making their way back home.

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1916: San Diego Hilltoppers Are National Champions

Follow the 12-0 San Diego High team, which won the Southern California title and was declared No. 1 in the U.S. by the National Sports News Service, as covered by Jack Darroch, “beat writer” for The San Diego Union.

Darroch’s view took in the inner workings of the country’s outstanding high school program and was witness to some surprising (in 21st century football dynamics) and interesting intramural politics that were part of the Hilltoppers’ memorable season.

Darroch saw it all and wrote about most of it.

Virtually forgotten but noted here were the  five other  football-playing squads in the County: Escondido, National City (Sweetwater), Coronado, Army-Navy, and the  San Diego High reserves, known as the “Seconds.”

Fallbrook, Ramona, and Julian did not field teams.

Aug. 28—On the first day of school and of practice (San Diego High opened two to three weeks ahead of other highs in Southern California) Hilltoppers coach Clarence (Nibs) Price revealed that he would “probably play in the style used by Harvard University” in 1915.

“Harvard’s offense began with the kicking formation, which forced the defense to draw back in preparation for the kick and that opened possibilities for the end run or forward pass,” Darroch wrote.

The 26-year-old Price built a winner at San Diego and went with the Harvard offense.

Price utilized Harvard offense.

Price finished the initial workout by sending the team on a short run around the City Stadium field and then through a session of “falling on the ball”.  The runways and landing pits for track and field were full of sawdust and useful for this exercise.

The team will be much lighter than last year, but faster, said manager Ralph Noisat, a student at the school.

Sept. 4—Awaiting purchase of a tackling dummy, Price planned to work the team in “signal practice, calling of the plays, and falling on the ball.”

Sept. 5—With graduates helping, five coaches were assisting Price.

Manager Noisat was awaiting approval by the school executive committee to purchase a blocking dummy and bucking machine.

Sept. 6—Additional candidates brought the number at practice to 48.  Perhaps the increase in numbers was due to a rally in the auditorium yesterday.

Sept. 7—Coronado’s Ed Suggett averaged about 35 yards a carry in an intrasquad scrimmage at the Coronado Polo Grounds, home field for the Islanders.

“The boys are showing more enthusiasm than in former years, “said captain and kicker Albert (Dabs) Madden, who predicted the Islanders would field a “crack team.”

San Diego was attempting to sign rival Santa Ana for a Thanksgiving Day game, but the Saints said they wouldn’t come unless they received a percentage of the gate receipts, plus a guarantee.

Sept. 9—The executive committee turned down an offer from East High in Salt Lake City.  The Utah school wanted San Diego to foot all of its travel expenses.

Turnout at San Diego jumped to 68 boys, with others turned away because of lack of uniforms.  No more than 38 had reported in 1915.

Sept. 12—Lincoln High of Portland proposed a Thanksgiving Day game in San Diego but projected expenses of $800 made the game unlikely.

Manager Ralph Noisat reported that he worked all weekend constructing a bucking machine and installed a rubdown table in the gym.

Sept. 13—Finally, a game.  Los Angeles Manual Arts agreed to a $50 guarantee and 10 per cent of the gate receipts to play  in the new City Stadium.

Admission was set at 10 cents and a game with Coronado also was scheduled.

Sept. 20—William Buck sustained a broken nose in an intrasquad scrimmage.

The executive committee allowed yell leader Bert Picketts $4 to purchase a blue and white sweater so he would be “all dolled up” for the opening game with Coronado.

Sept. 21—A game with the USC freshman was scheduled.  The Hilltoppers covered travel expenses but would keep  gate receipts.

Sept. 22–San Diego High spent today on ”blackboard practice”, following a tough Thursday practice that was its last before the Coronado game.

Discontent was reported to be “rampant” on campus.

A game with Santa Ana was agreed to without the consent of coach Price. It was not until two days after  final arrangements were made that Price was informed of the game and then only indirectly.

Santa Ana played only for expenses in 1915.  “Weaker” thus year, the Saints wrangled a 20 per cent take of the gate, a sum of about $300.

When the 1916 game was proposed it was accepted by the executing committee with one dissenting vote.

End Brick Muller, a student representative on the committee, was among those who voted for the game.

Football star Bryan (Pesky) Sprott was elected captain of the swimming team.  Sprott also played basketball and would be the player-manager of the baseball team.

Sept. 23—San Diego’s starting lineup averaged 153 pounds to Coronado’s 142, but the Hilltoppers were without Brick Muller who injured his nose in practice.

Coronado advanced to San Diego’s 1 and 4-yard lines but couldn’t score as the Hilltoppers won, 19-0, in the City Stadium.

Sept. 25—Officials from the County Conference met to discuss a constitution and set up a schedule.  Teams were Army-Navy, National City, Coronado, Escondido, and the San Diego “Seconds”.

Sept. 29—Price gave each player a rule book and said he would  periodically quiz them on the different rules and plays.

Every play to be used tomorrow against Manual Arts will be diagrammed on the blackboard this afternoon.

Word from Los Angeles was that Manual Arts players had not been attending class, but were “living” at school and taking all of their meals there.

The Toilers toiled from 6 to 8 each morning and from 4-6 in the afternoon.

The executive committee  voted $15 for Noisat and Price to tour northern schools in  an attempt to schedule more games.

Sept. 30—A squad of 17 Manual Arts players arrived and were met by a delegation of Hilltoppers rooters.

Price put his players through a “mental drill and worked out every play in theory.”

Oct. 1–San Diego scored a 6-3 victory over the team from Los Angeles.

Oct. 3—Price announced he would work more with the Seconds team in preparation for its County Conference opener with Coronado and called off practice because of rain.

Noisat traveled North by “machine” with Frank Rudolph, manager of the Los Angeles High team.  Rudolph had visited the Hilltop in hopes of finalizing a game contract.

The Hilltoppers turned down a game with the University of Redlands since they had scheduled the USC Frosh.

The “Midgets” team  played to a scoreless tie with a squad from University Heights playground.

Oct. 6—Noisat signed a two-year, home-and-home contract with Long Beach. A  game at Pasadena also would be scheduled if the Bullpups would provide a minimum guarantee.

Oct. 7—County Conference play began with Coronado beating the Seconds, 27-0, and Escondido topping National City, 6-0, on Barr’s eight-yard run.

Oct. 9—Price kept the team practicing until darkness in preparation for the recently signed Orange squad, reputed to be the largest in Southern California and averaging 164 pounds.

Elmer Weitekamp and Werner Shurr, members of the Seconds, were promoted to the varsity, meaning they no longer could play in County Conference games.

Bob Frick, back in school, was declared academically ineligible by the faculty and would miss at least two weeks.

Oct. 10–Noisat wired $90 to Orange for expenses.  The Panthers were to arrive Friday evening.

Officers of the junior class announced that a Saturday postgame dance would be held in honor of the visitors.

Oct. 12—The Hilltoppers scrimmaged a team from representing the Mission Hills community.

Oct. 13–A ticket, in the color of and shaped like an orange, was produced by the graphic arts department and was used for admission.

Walter (Dutch) Eells scored  touchdown  in championship game against Manual Arts.

Walter (Dutch) Eells scored touchdown in championship game against Manual Arts.

San Diego students did the traditional pregame, serpentine dance down city streets before arriving back at campus.

Noisat was allowed to spend $6 to replace the worn and  recently purchased tackling dummy.

Oct. 14—The question was, how good are the Hilltoppers, now 3-0 after an 84-6 rout of Orange?

Pesky Sprott scored 5 of the 13 touchdowns.  Bill Garber scored a touchdown and drop-kicked a field goal.

Oct. 17—A final account showed that San Diego barely made expenses for the Orange contest.  An estimated crowd of only 300 was on hand, including just 4 of the 96-member faculty.

A turnout of at least 580 persons was necessary for the school to cover the expected $145 in travel and advertising expense for the game with the USC Frosh.

Hilltoppers principal Arthur Gould switched the USC contest from Saturday to Friday so that many students, who claimed to having to work on Saturday, could attend the game.

Oct. 21—The Hilltoppers were outweighed, 170 pounds to 155 per man, but defeated the first-year collegians, 10-7, as Lincoln (Abe) Frick scored their only touchdown with a 24-yard pass interception return.

Coronado smashed Army-Navy, 87-0, before a “hilarious crowd that capered along the sidelines” at the Polo Grounds.

Ed Suggett scored 7 touchdowns.

Oct. 23–Bob Frick was officially declared ineligible for the season.  Frick had given “insufficient statements” as to why he previously dropped out of school.

Oct. 24—Coronado coach George Perry was looking for a new quarterback.  His starter, Lyons, quit school yesterday to go to work in a local bank.

Oct. 28—Principal  Gould heard that many students were preparing to “ditch” school and take a special railroad car to Pasadena on Nov. 3.

Gould declared that any student going to the game would be required to remain in school after hours and double the time lost.

The principal then  switched gears after receiving permission from his Pasadena counterpart to play the game a day later on Saturday.

Some students reportedly “pouted” and were upset that Gould didn’t “consult” student manager Noisat about a change in the game’s date.

Oct. 28—San Diego Junior College, also coached by Price and located on the high school campus, defeated Fullerton JC, 7-6, in the first intercollegiate game ever played in San Diego.

Backup halfback Preston Perrenot, who also wrote about the team in the San Diego Sun, scored Hilltoppers touchdown against Whittier State School.

Preston Perrenot (left), who also wrote about the team in the San Diego Sun, scored a touchdown against Whittier.

On the same day San Diego High whipped Fullerton, 40-0, before an announced attendance of 800.

Bryan (Pesky) Sprott returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown for the Hilltoppers, who lost Karl Deeds during the game.

Deeds and Fullerton’s Johnson were ejected, Deeds for holding Johnson and Johnson  for punching Deeds.

Oct. 31—Two “female members” of the faculty voted against the eligibility of Jackson Draine, who transferred from a school in Chicago and had to repeat a class at San Diego.

Students repeating classes were not to receive credit, but school administrators determined that San Diego High came under a rule affecting all  California schools.

The rule was that a student had to pass only nine units of credit to play.

Nov. 3–Seventeen players, coach Price, manager Noisat, a writer from each of San Diego’s three daily newspapers, and a group of boosters rode on the “High School Special” to Pasadena.

Price entertained, playing ragtime tunes on his ukelele.

Passing through Oceanside the squad led out a yell for Les Gould, a “seaside Hilltop booster”, who waved as the train went by.

The train stopped in Santa Ana and team members awakened the city with a war whoop. The travelers then made their way to an overnight stop in Los Angeles.

Nov. 4—The Hilltoppers rolled past Pasadena, considered the strongest team in Southern California, 26-0, as Karl Deeds set the victory in motion with a 55-yard touchdown return of an intercepted pass.

Price’s team now was 6-0 and had outscored its opponents, 185-16.

Coronado  followed up its rout of Army-Navy with a 74-0 victory over National City. Ed Suggett’s scoring totals were not included in the game summary in the city’s three newspapers.

Nov. 11—Attendance was picking up.  About 1,000 were on hand in City Stadium as Sprott scored three touchdowns and Garber and Deeds 2 each in a 62-0 victory over Long Beach.

Nov. 14—Ralph Noisat was ousted as team manager for scholastic deficiencies.  Renwick Thompson, 1915 manager, took over.

Ed Suggett scored 4 touchdowns and ran for five points after in Coronado’s 53-0 win over the 21st Infantry team, which was part of an Army Regiment that protected the borders of California and Arizona and was stationed in San Diego.

Nov. 15—Noisat was reinstated.  Principal Gould cited an error by the committee on eligibility.

Nov. 18—Noisat was part of the game officiating crew, serving as head linesman as San Diego defeated the Whittier State School, 47-10.  State was a correctional facility for boys.

Nov. 28—Plans for the Thanksgiving Day game with Los Angeles Poly included marching in serpentine formation around the stadium and through  city streets, followed by a bonfire.

Students were seen bringing boxes to schools instead of textbooks.

San  Diego's Pesky Sprott scores first touchdown in 41-0 victory over L.A. Poly. Players were issued jersey numbers for first time.

Pesky Sprott scored first touchdown in 41-0 victory over L.A. Poly. Players were issued jersey numbers for first time.

Nov. 30—The Hilltoppers’ 41-0 victory over L.A. Poly, before a Thanksgiving Day gathering of almost 6,000 persons at City Stadium guaranteed that Ontario Chaffey would be their opponent in quarterfinals of the Southern California playoffs.

Other quarterfinals matchups paired Manual Arts against Pasadena and Fullerton against Glendora Citrus.  The six teams led their respective “leagues”, which actually were districts based on geography.

Dec. 4—Price announced that the team would scrimmage only once a week through the end of the season.

Dec. 7—Price had a painted, white football for practice and kept the team on the field until “long after the moon rose over the hills.”

The executive committee voted to pay yell leader Bert Pickett’s expenses to Los Angeles for the Chaffey game, which would be played at the neutral Manual Arts field.

If at least 100 students go, Santa Fe Railways agreed to provide a special coach.

Dec. 8—Price installed an 8 p.m. curfew at the well-appointed, two-year-old Clark Hotel, located at 4th and Hill streets in downtown L.A.

San Diego High and Manual Arts players were on Jack Darroch's All-Southern California 11.  Clockwise from lower left:  Guard Cortis Majors, left halfback Bryan (Pesky) Sprott, right end Brick Muller, and quarterback Karl Deeds of San Diego.  Fullback Jim Blewett and left tackle Brockman of Manual Arts.

San Diego High and Manual Arts players were on Otto Frisch’s Spalding Sporting Goods Company All-Southern California 11. Clockwise from lower left: Guard Cortis Majors, left halfback Bryan (Pesky) Sprott, right end Brick Muller, and quarterback Karl Deeds of San Diego. Fullback Jim Blewett and left tackle Brockman of Manual Arts.

“The boys are in fine shape,” said Price.  “They are hard and trained to the minute and have plenty of confidence.”

Dec. 9—Playing what writer Darroch described as its best game of the year, San Diego defeated Chaffey, 21-7, before a crowd generously estimated at 7,000.

Pesky Sprott caught two touchdown passes from Brick Muller and Bill Garber drop-kicked a 44-yard field goal.

Telephone operators at The San Diego Union estimated they received at least, 1,500 calls from fans wanting the game score after the result was received in the Union newsroom at 5 p.m.

Dec. 12—Calexico was offered $200 in expenses, a larger-than-usual sum, to come to San Diego for a semifinals playoff.

Price wanted no part of a game in the Imperial Valley.  San Diego would have to leave two days later for a championship game in Los Angeles. The coach said it took a week to recover from a road game.

Sprott sustained  a sore neck against Chaffey and would not play against the Bulldogs.

Money was taken from the football budget to pay for a Los Angeles physician, who was on duty at the Chaffey game.

Allan Sampson kept Manual Arts off scoreboard.

Allan Sampson kept Manual Arts off scoreboard.

Dec. 15—Calexico was averaging 25 points a game and was undefeated, but had played only four games.

Dec. 16—San Diego “easily outclassed the ‘desert rats,’” Darroch wrote of the 55-0 victory.

The Hilltoppers advanced to play Manual Arts, 47-7 winner over Pasadena and 52-0 conqueror of Fullerton,  in a Wednesday championship game at Washington Park, home of the baseball Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

Dec. 18—Sprott, idled about 10 days with a sore neck, retired for the day after an end run in practice, coming down with a bruised foot.

Manual Arts’ star player, Jim Blewett, was slowed by what was described as torn ligaments in his knee.

Dec. 19—Twenty-two Hilltoppers arrived on the noon train in Los Angeles and worked out on the turf, Washington Park field.  Sprott may play but would not start, said Price.

Blewett was said to be out of a hospital and would play with a brace on his leg.

Price established a 9 p.m. curfew for the team, which again was quartered at the Clark Hotel.

Local San Diego sportsman Mouney Pfeffercorn wrote an op-ed piece in the Union that was critical of the Hilltoppers’ football administration.

“San Diego already has beaten Manual Arts and should not have to play the game in Los Angeles,” said Pfeffercorn.

“The high school needs a graduate manager trained in different tricks of arranging games and selecting officials, etc.”

In closing, Pfeffercorn seemed to exonerate Ralph Noisat.

“Unfortunately, they had too many managers (on) the ‘High’ grounds this season and had they left Noisat alone he would have done his best to come out ahead of the game.”

Manual Arts quarterback Harold Galloway looks for receiver as San Diego defenders battle it out with Manual Arts in championship game.

Quarterback Harold Galloway looks for receiver as San Diego defenders battle  Manual Arts in championship game.

Dec. 20—Sprott did not make an appearance until the third quarter, with the score deadlocked at 0-0.

When Sprott took the field “the band of rooters (approximately 300 made the trip) accompanying the team from the Southern City let forth a battle yell,” wrote Darroch. “The din could have been heard from La Jolla to Dulzura.”

Sprott’s arrival “acted like an electric charge on the tired San Diego players,” wrote Howard Angus of the Los Angeles Times.

Sprott gained 23 yards in six carries, positioning Garber’s 25-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead after a drive that started at Manual’s 37-yard line.

Walter (Dutch) Eells’ 36-yard run in the fourth quarter sealed the Hilltoppers’ 9-0 victory before about 5,000 persons.

Sprott played enough to gain 53 yards in 12 carries.

Blewett was 3-for-3 for 26 yards passing, which gave the Toilers a first down on the Hilltoppers’ 13, where a field goal attempt was blocked on fourth down in the first quarter by San Diego’s Allan Sampson.

Blewett took a shot in the second quarter and did not reenter the game until the fourth quarter and, after a sack of six yards, was carried off the field.

Price nixed Noisat’s challenge to Kern County Union (Bakersfield) to play a state championship game on New Year’s Day and the Hilltoppers returned home and turned in their uniforms.



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2013-14: Sweetwater Runs to Fourth in Poll

Echos of Gary Zarecky’s fast-breaking teams of the 1980’s are being heard at Sweetwater, where the Runnin’ Red Devils now are 16-0 and inching higher in the UT-San Diego weekly poll.

An 82-66 victory over Morse last week was preceded by five games in which coach Jesse Aguirre’s hustlers scored at least 90 points and 100 twice.

Sweetwater defeated San Diego  Southwest, 116-30, recently, but that scoring total is only fifth all-time at the National City school, made famous by Zarecky’s relentless offensive teams.

The Red Devils defeated Coronado, 136-48, and Mar Vista, 123-54, in 1984-85, rolled a 123-48 number against San Diego Southwest and ran past Marian, 122-91, in 1983-84.

This Red Devils squad is averaging 83.7 points a game, while Zarecky’s clubs averaged 92.3 in ’84-85, 91.7 in ’82-83, and 88.4 in ’83-84.

St., Augustine and Mater Dei are running 1-2 in this week’s poll, with La Costa Canyon third.

The 18-2 Saints lost to Chino Hills, which is 17-4, and to Lakewood Mayfair, now 16-5. A more relevant evaluation of the Saints may come Wednesday night when Chino Hills meets 18-3 La Verne Damien, a 73-63 loser to St. Augustine.

Mater Dei’s two losses were in a tournament in Phoenix, where it was outscored by Capistrano JSerra, 63-48, and West Hills Chaminade, 55-47.

JSerra is 11-7 and lost its most recent game to Santa Ana Mater Dei, 69-39, ranked No. 1 in the country today by USA Today. Chaminade is 17-3 and holds a 73-61 win over Loyola, ranked twelfth nationally.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Last Week
1 St. Augustine (13) 19-2 130 1
2 Mater Dei 17-2 115 2
3 La Costa Canyon 17-4 96 3
4 Sweetwater 16-0 88 5
5 Torrey Pines 17-4 82 4
6 El Camino 18-3 70 6
7 Francis Parker 16-4 46 7
8 Eastlake 16-4 31 8
9 Hoover 14-8 19 9
10 San Marcos 13-7 11 10

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

Others receiving votes: Foothills Christian, 9; Grossmont, 8; Kearny, Mission Hills, Westview, 2 each.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego stringer);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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2013-14: Saints Unanimous No. 1 in Poll

The Martin Luther King Day doubleheader at Francis Parker produced the best game of the season, St. Augustine’s 79-74 victory over La Costa Canyon, and the Saints are unanimous choices as San Diego’s top team in the UT-San Diego poll.

Trey Kell was brilliant for the winners and scored  37 points, but the tough Mavericks hounded Kell into four turnovers in a highly-charged game in which bodies resounded as they hit the floor and the two game officials “let them play.”

UT-San Digo photographer catches Kell putting up two of his 37 points against La Costa Canyon,

UT-San Diego photographer catches Kell putting up two of his 37 points against La Costa Canyon.

St. Augustine jumped to a 27-15 lead early in the second quarter and was up 48-34 midway in the third, but  La Costa Canyon kept coming and narrowed the gap to 62-61 in the fourth.

Coach Mike Haupt’s team held serve.  The  Saints came up with  late steals and hit most of their free throws in the stretch run.

A full house at Parker included head coach Steve Fisher and assistants Brian Dutcher,  Justin Hutson, and David Valenzuela of San Diego State, and many of the local basketball cognoscenti.


Torrey Pines coach John Olive sauntered along the edge of the court in front of his team’s bench, seemingly at ease despite’s Francis Parker’s  opening a 10-point lead in the first quarter.

Olive obviously knew better things were in store for his squad.  The Falcons got rolling and were up by 25 points in the second half, then geared down and cruised in with a 62-47 win over the host Lancers.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Last Week
1 St. Augustine (13) 17-2 130 1
2 Mater Dei 15-2 117 2
3 La Costa Canyon 16-3 98 3
4 Torrey Pines 15-3 85 4
5 Sweetwater 13-0 79 5
6 El Camino 16-3 76 6
7 Francis Parker 15-3 41 8
8 Eastlake 16-3 28 10
9 Hoover 13-8 18 9
10 San Marcos 11-7 14 7
**Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis
Others receiving votes: Foothills Christian, Grossmont, 8 each; Cathedral, Kearny, Mission Hills, 3 each; Steele Canyon, Morse, 2 each.
Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego stringer);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).
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2009: They Became Booming Sooners

The University of Oklahoma was quick to notice that Randall, Baxter, and Seale weren’t the only San Diego Section football stars with exclamation points next to their names.

Running back Brennan Clay (Scripps Ranch), wide receiver Kenny Stills, Jr. (La Costa Canyon), and free safety Tony Jefferson (Eastlake) all took their diplomas and moved to where the wind comes rolling down the plains.

With apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein and their musical creation, “Oklahoma!”

Each San Diegan was  a productive Sooner for coach Bob Stoops, whose teams don’t always recruit players west of the Rio Grande River.

Clay  is eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.  Stills was selected in the fifth round and was the 144th taken in the 2013.  Jefferson surprisingly was undrafted but signed with Arizona.


Clay loomed large at Scripps Ranch.

Brennan loomed large at Scripps Ranch.

Rushed for 2,026 yards and scored 27 touchdowns in 13 games as senior after catching 70 passes, rushing for 1,453 yards, and scoring 20 touchdowns as  junior…led Sooners with 957 rushing yards and a 5.5-yard rushing average and scored 6 touchdowns in 2013…caught 16 passes…gained 44 yards in 17 carries and shook off tacklers that earned critical first down which led to  fourth-quarter touchdown in Oklahoma’s 45-31 upset  victory over Alabama in 2014 Sugar Bowl…a later, 12-yard run   forced Alabama into early use of  its timeouts….


Eastlake opponents faced Jefferson's stern countenance.

Eastlake opponents faced Tony’s stern countenance.

Fierce, two-way player…led Eastlake to 2009 D-1 championship with 88 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, two fumbles forced, and recovered two fumbles…averaged 8.9 yards for 223 attempts and rushed for 1,995 yards and 27 touchdowns as senior…projected as middle-round draft choice in 2013 but was bypassed and signed as rookie free agent with Arizona Cardinals…earned roster spot after intercepting two passes and making five tackles in second preseason game against Dallas…got into all 16 games  and started two at free safety…made 19 total tackles…entered NFL draft after junior season….


Kenny Stills, Jr., kicks it with his dad, Kenny, Sr.

Kenny Stills, Jr., kicks it with his dad, Kenny, Sr.

Caught 45 passes for 914 yards and 20.3 average and scored 10 touchdowns in last season for La Costa Canyon Mavericks… had 204 pass receptions for 12.7-yard average and scored 24 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons…made himself available for NFL draft after 2012 campaign…caught 32 passes for 20-yard average and 5 touchdowns in rookie season with Saints…son of Kenny Stills, Sr., who played at El Camino High and University of Wisconsin, was eighth-round draft choice of Green Bay in 1985,  stayed 6 seasons in NFL and got into 77 games for Packers and Minnesota Vikings as defensive back….

A fourth San Diego player was Mira Mesa running back Damien Williams, who was recruited by the Sooners out of Arizona Western Junior College in Yuma.  Williams left the team in 2013 after the ninth game.

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2009: No Neon in This Deon

Deon Randall, his jersey in tatters and his high school career at an end, walked off the Carson Home Depot Field.

“It’s a great parallel,” Randall said, “a great analogy, a great symbol to how the game went…it was a rough game.”

Randall did it all at Francis Parker...

Randall did it all for Francis Parker…

Randall was a warrior in the State Small Schools Bowl.  He rushed for 276 yards in 36 carries and scored three touchdowns, but Modesto Central Catholic hung on for a 44-40 victory


The Francis Parker quarterback pointed to the middle of his jersey (“It was my call”) when asked about the play that brought an end to Parker’s season.

Randall said it was his decision to check from a run to a pass on fourth down with 1:43 left in the game and Parker on the Crusaders’ two-yard line.

The receiver, Dalante Dunklin, caught the pass, but was smothered at the five-yard line.  Game over.

So was Randall’s brilliant career at the little school on Linda Vista Road.

Writer Steve Brand sought out Parker coach John Morrison.

“I would never second-guess him,” said Morrison of his signal caller, who scored 70 touchdowns in his final two seasons.

“I wanted him to make those decisions,” the coach added.  “If that’s what he decided, it was the right call.  He’s not just a great athlete but he’s very smart—heady.  I’d never question his call, never.”


A year before Randall scored 40 touchdowns and rushed and passed for more than 3,000 yards in a 12-1 season.

It wasn’t enough.

Parker was bypassed for the State Bowl Series when Capistrano St. Margaret, undefeated at 13-0 and riding a 42-game winning streak, was selected.

Parker had averaged 52 points a game and was convinced it could beat any Division V team.


To get to a state bowl game this season  the Lancers would have to defeat St. Margaret, either in the eyes of the selectors or in head-to-head competition.

Parker and St. Margaret agreed to play the second week of the season in a quaint stadium with an all-weather field and a view of the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

The game wasn’t that close.  Parker opened a 28-13 lead and won convincingly, 28-20.  Randall raced 86 yards for one touchdown and passed 29 yards to Roland Jackson for another.

“I thought we did a great job on Randall except for two or three plays, but great players make you pay on those plays,” said Tartans coach Harry Welch.

....and Randall is a standout at Yale.

…and caught 85 passes and averaged 5.3 yards per rush for Yale Bulldogs in 2013.

Randall took his  football  East to Yale  and was a star in 2013.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver with 85 catches for a 9.3 average and 8 touchdowns, and  scored three rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards for 33 attempts.

A greater achievement for Randall came during the team’s season-ending awards dinner. He was named captain of the 2014 team, the 137th in Yale’s storied history.


Valley Center was 8-0, ranked sixth in the San Diego Section, and awaiting a visit from Oceanside, No. 1 in Southern California among D-1 squads and fourth in the state.

The Jaguars didn’t score until 23.4 seconds remained in the game and could amass only 40 total yards as the Pirates won, 45-0.

Heeding coach John Carroll’s command to “read the keys and get off to a fast start,” Noah Tarrant returned an intercepted  pass  for a touchdown on Valley Center’s third play and raced  12 yards with a botched punt for another touchdown in the first quarter.

The Pirates led, 24-0, after 12 minutes.

Noah Tarrant scores touchdown for Oceanside in State Championship game against San  Jose Bellarmine Prep.

Noah Tarrant scores touchdown for Oceanside in State Championship game against San Jose Bellarmine Prep.


Oceanside never looked back.

Coach John Carroll’s Pirates rolled past Ramona, 52-6, the following week, a season after the Bulldogs “upset” the Pirates in a 33-33 tie.

Helix was a 26-10 victim in the San Diego Section II championship and Oceanside overcame a 13-3, second-quarter deficit at Carson to defeat San Jose Bellarmine Prep, 24-19, in the State D-I title game, ending the season with 17 consecutive victories, unbeaten in 39 games, and ranked third in the state with a 14-0 record by Cal-Hi Sports.

“Other Oceanside teams may equal this (two championships in three years), but no one will ever beat it,” said Carroll.


Reggie Bush had his San Diego hometown area code 619 penciled onto the eye black he affected at USC.

Escondido’s Ricky Seale also wore taped eye black, honoring “Aunt Jackie”, according to Don Norcross of The San Diego Union. “Aunt” was on one eyeblack, “Jackie” on the other.

Aunt Jackie was Ricky’s father’s sister, who died in 2008.

Seale honored his late aunt.

Seale honored his late aunt.


“After a Pop Warner game she told me, ‘I can’t wait to see you play in the big time,’” Ricky remembered.  “Yet she was the type of person, she knew when I wasn’t trying the hardest and she told me.”

That wasn’t very often. The son of Sammy Seale, a 10-year NFL player (4 with the Chargers), who became an NFL college scout, Ricky went on to set the San Diego Section career rushing record, although finishing his prep career on crutches.

Seale injured his left knee in the second quarter after gaining 55 yards in 13 carries in a 35-14, semifinal playoff loss to Eastlake.

Seale had 6,690 career rushing yards and was the only San Diego Section athlete to surpass 6,000 yards. He moved on to play at Stanford University.


On the night Ricky Seale rushed for 404 yards against San Pasqual, Kenneth James, Jr., of Mt. Carmel rushed for 424 against Westview, breaking the record of 410 by Escondido’s Darrick Jackson in 2003.


Dillon Baxter made a promise as a ninth grader when he joined the Mission Bay varsity.

“I told him I’d get him a ring,” Baxter said before he gave coach Willie Matson a hug.

Baxter fulfilled his promise by almost single handedly knocking out Valley Center in the Buccaneers’ D-IV championship, 48-17 victory.

Baxter delivered on promise to his coach.

Baxter delivered on promise to his coach.

The 6-foot, 205-pounder rushed for 384 yards in 26 carries and scored seven touchdowns.  Along the way Baxter erased Tyler Gaffney’s year-old season rushing record and tied the Section record with 7 touchdowns.

Baxter’s touchdowns were on runs of 6, 21, 9, 92, 87, 1, and 46 yards.

Baxter finished with 2,974 rushing yards in 13 games.  Gaffney had 2,866 in 14.  Baxter came close with 52 season touchdowns but Gaffney held on to the record, having scored 56 in 2008.

The Mission Bay quarterback set a state record with 76 rushing and passing touchdowns, burying the record of 64 by Ventura St. Bonaventure’s Tyler Ebell in 2000. Baxter’s 919 career points and 481 points this season also set state records.

A brilliant career start was short circuited in Baxter’s second year at USC and was followed by a brief stint at San Diego State. He finished his collegiate career in 2013 at NAIA Baker University in Kansas.


Ray Herring’s response to a question from writer Steve Brand on why Herring continued to run so hard after he broke into the clear on a 91-yard interception return:

“I saw a shadow and thought someone was after me, but it was my own shadow.”

Herring also teamed with quarterback Dillon Baxter as Mission Bay ran past Point Loma, 49-27.

Baxter accounted for his almost usual 300 yards in total offense, but Herring shared the spotlight with four catches of Baxter passes for 132 yards, including touchdowns of 59 and 51 yards, and intercepted two passes.


Writer Don Norcross’ game account captured the moment and the tapestry of the annual Imperial County “Bell Game” between El Centro Central and Brawley.

The 9-1 Central Spartans won, 23-18, and now trail Brawley (7-3), 41-24-1 since the Bell was first rung in 1944.

Bell tolls for El Centro's Silvia Soriano (left) and Elena Williams.

Bell tolls for El Centro’s Silvia Soriano (left) and Elena Williams.

However, the rivalry goes back to 1921, and until 2004, the Spartans and Wildcats teed it up for desert bragging rights twice a year.

Norcross pointed out that fans began lining up outside Cal Jones Field in El Centro at 2:30 p.m.

By 5:30 a crowd of 6,000 had filled  the stands and the fire marshal warned that the game wouldn’t start until the aisles were cleared.

Booster Club sales at El Centro normally grossed about $2,500, but upwards of $10,000 worth of merchandise is realized on this night.


A total of 450 “Bell Game” T-shirts, at $12 apiece, was sold to students and the boosters used the $4,600 profit to buy “Bell Game” black jerseys for the Spartans.

El Centro players didn’t see the jerseys until they returned to their locker room after warmups.


Members of the San Diego County Officials’ Association worked the Bell game, instead of representatives from the Imperial County association.

San Diego official Jacob Whittler explained that a perceived bad call could result in recriminations for a local official making the call.

Aggrieved fans could boycott the official’s business and “they’d know where his house is,” said the San Diego arbiter.


A  minute remained in the first half of the Castle Park-Chula Vista season opener when the stadium public address reminded students that progress reports would be coming the following Tuesday.

The announcer was drowned out by a chorus of boos.

“Who invited this guy to the party?” wondered writer Kirk Kenney.

It was a party for Chula Vista, which routed its neighborhood rival, 41-10.


Arsenic is believed to have been around since the Bronze Age, but it was 2,500 years later when discovered at Carlsbad High.

Mode of transportation in background, Carlsbad's Connor Sodano stretches after Lancers arrived at Westview.

Mode of transportation in background, Carlsbad’s Connor Sodano stretches after Lancers arrived at Westview.

The school was being renovated in 2008 and excess levels of the poison element were discovered in a routine soil check.

Swede Krcmar Field, named after the original Lancers coach, was condemned.

The team was forced to play all games in ’08 and ’09 away from its campus, with home designations at La Costa Canyon in ’08 and El Camino and Oceanside this year.

Carlsbad was 7-6 in 2008 and 3-8 this season.

The Lancers’ theme song might have been the 1961 Ray Charles  favorite, “Hit the Road, Jack”.


When St. Augustine coach Richard Sanchez heard that Carlsbad had played away from home for 22 consecutive weeks, Sanchez remarked, “Twenty-two games? We haven’t had a home game since 1922.”

The Saints’ 7 ½-acre site in North Park has no football field.  Their “home” games usually are at Mesa College, Southwestern College, or Balboa Stadium.

4.1 MILES & 47 YEARS

That was the distance and that was how long neighboring schools Morse and Mount Miguel had waited to play a regular-season game.

Referee Mike Parsa flips coin with historic implication at Morse-Mount Miguel game.

Referee Mike Parsa flips coin with historic implication at Morse-Mount Miguel game.

It was an eight-minute drive from Morse’s Skyline Drive campus to Jamacha Road to Blossom Road, site of the Mount Miguel facility in Spring Valley.

But the teams met only once, in the 1987 playoffs, after Morse opened in 1962.

The Tigers played 500 regular-season games before they visited Mount Miguel in the opening game of the 2009 season.

No specific reason could be offered as to why the teams had not met.

The stars apparently never were aligned.

Mount Miguel is a County school and Morse is in the city.  The schools had other rivalries. Schedules conflicted.

A game was to be played at Mount Miguel in 2003 but canceled and forfeited by Morse when a school official was warned that undesirables would be present with weapons.

Mount Miguel dedicated its new turf field with a 35-14 victory.


Mount Miguel didn’t stop there.  The Matadors defeated Helix for the first time since 1987, giving the rivalry spoils, a Scottish Claymore sword, a new address after the 44-21 win.


…that teams play to an 11-7 final score.  When Fallbrook won at El Camino by that score it was only the third time in San Diego County history that a contest ended with that point total.

Madison defeated the host Hoover Cardinals in 1995 and Point Loma won at Fallbrook in 2007.


Quote Cathedral’s 6-foot-5, 307-pound Alex Crosthwaite, headed for California-Berkeley:  “I just want to kick someone’s (behind).  If I don’t pancake the guy I’m blocking, it’s not a complete block for me.”


Writer Don Norcross enjoyed the announcements by Scripps Ranch’s public address announcer Will Bailey, an English teacher at the school:

“Keep the car in neutral, grandma.  There’s flags on the field.”

“Break out your caliper, your abacus, your slide rule, and your yardstick.  Time for a measurement.”


Oceanside  scored a rare San Diego Section victory when the Pirates knocked off Long Beach Poly, 14-7.  The Jackrabbits fell to 1-3, having also lost to No. 2 Ventura St. Bonaventure and No. 4 Anaheim Servite.

La Costa Canyon, No. 2 in San Diego, defeated Rancho Santa Margarita, 28-14,  and Vista, No. 4, was hammered by Mission Viejo, 41-17, in other  matchup’s with Southern Section powers.


Mar Vista had not beaten Castle Park since 1988 and, after dropping the Trojans from its schedule from 1994-2000, the Mariners began a decade in which the average score was 43-7 in Castle Park’s favor.

Enter Danny Salazar.  The Mariners’ senior kicker booted field goals of 46, 42, and 35 yards as Mar Vista lashed back at its South Bay neighbor, winning, 23-0.

Another long wait was over at Valhalla, which claimed the Grossmont South championship. The 14-7 victory over Steele Canyon was the Norsemen’s first league title in the school’s 35 years.

Valhalla held on for the win after a game official ruled “no catch”, nullifying a 35-yard passing gain which would have put the Cougars on the Norsemen’s 7-yard line with 1:20 remaining.

Valhalla safety Hansell Wilson told Bill Dickens of The San Diego Union that “we both had our hands on the ball, but I was able to strip it loose…the ref made the right call.”

QUICK KICKS—Eastlake  spent part of the day shooting a team picture at Qualcomm Stadium the day of the playoff finals…the Titans defeated Vista, 21-14 for the D-I crown…Clairemont forfeited its opener to La Jolla when 12 players were busted for breaking school rules and the Chieftains didn’t have enough players…Grossmont beat Otay Ranch, 16-14,  on Chance House’s 19-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds remaining, one year after the Foothillers missed a 40-yard field goal on the last play that would have won at Otay Ranch…the West Hills pep band’s timing was curious…it played Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust!”, after the Wolf Pack had just fumbled and lost a second-quarter kickoff and with Valhalla leading, 20-0 on its way to 48-7…West Hills unveiled its new, two-tone, all-weather field but again the timing was not good…Steele Canyon beat the Wolf Pack 48-23, in the inaugural game…Point Loma blocked two field goals and sacked El Capitan quarterbacks nine times in a 9-7 victory.. despite a 10-0 record, Eastlake did not receive a first-round playoff bye in D-IV….Mission Bay (10-0) and Valley Center (9-1), more established programs which played tougher schedules, warranted byes in the opinion of the selection committee…

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2013-14: Powell Has Moved on and Lincoln Struggles

Lincoln could have used Norman Powell last night at St. Augustine, but Powell is busy rising  at UCLA under first-year coach Steve Alford.

It should have been expected.

There’s a connection between Powell and Alford.

That was apparent three years ago at a Lincoln-St. Augustine game in the Saints’ old Daugherty Gym.

The date, Feb. 15, 2011.

Alford, then coaching New Mexico, arrived in town for a game the next day at San Diego State.

The coach first took in the afternoon contest between the Hornets and Saints.

Powell is key Bruin.

Norman Powell is a key Bruin.

Alford was there to see Powell, who didn’t disappoint,  dunking and breaking away for 35 points on 14 of 19 shooting from the field, harassing the Saints on defense, and leading Lincoln to an 85-53 victory.

Powell didn’t go to New Mexico. He chose UCLA, but it wasn’t until Alford’s arrival on the Westwood campus this season that the 6-foot, 4-inch junior emerged.

Powell scored a season high 19 points earlier this week and was a stout defender as the No. 25 Bruins scored a 69-56 victory at No. 21 Colorado and put themselves firmly in the hunt for Pac-12 Conference and posteason honors.

“I don’t hang my hat on the offensive end,” Powell told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “Defense, defense, defense, defense.  That’s what coach tells us every time we go out to play a game.”

Alford had another view:  “Norman is a load when you give him freedom in the post and on drives to the basket.”

Meanwhile, Lincoln was woeful  in the Western League rivals’ first 2013-14 meeting.  The Saints entertained a full house  of mostly purple-clad fans and dismissed the Hornets, 70-45, after running to a 45-17 halftime lead.


Tommy McCarthy drained a three-point looper with 1.3 seconds remaining to give La Costa Canyon a 54-52 victory over visiting Torrey Pines in a battle of North County honchos.

La Costa Canyon, ranked third in the U-T San Diego poll, and top-ranked St Augustine will meet Monday evening at Francis Parker in the feature of many Martin Luther King holiday games around the San Diego Section. The undercard  matches  No. 4 Torrey Pines and the host  No. 8 Lancers.

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2013-14: Bennie Edens Basketball Classic?

Amid the flourishing mid-season “shootouts” is Point Loma High, among the increasing number of schools hosting all-day, nonleague “showcase” games.

The contests don’t always turn out to be showcases, because games often have to be scheduled a year in advance and teams’ fortunes change, ebbing and flowing for myriad reasons.

The Pointers call their  annual event Saturday, January 18,  the “Bennie Edens Basketball Classic.”

Let’s try that again.

The “Bennie Edens Basketball Classic”.

Yes, that’s what it’s known as.

Edens, who passed away in 2008,  was an outstanding coach at Point Loma from 1955-97.   His teams won 243 football games, second highest total in San Diego Section history.

Bennie never  blew a whistle, diagrammed a  play, or called a time out in  a high school basketball game.  At least not on the varsity level.

The Edens name still resonates, but a more likely coach to honor in the basketball context probably would have been  Hilbert Crosthwaite, who holds a singular distinction among all Point Loma hoop mentors.

Crosthwaite’s 1959-60 Pointers came out of the weeds to win the Southern California AA championship, the last by a local team before the San Diego Section became reality the following year.

Crosthwaite moved on after the championship run to coach the San Diego Junior College team  and took the Knights to the 1962-63 state championship game, losing to Fresno City, 76-69, and finishing with a 25-5 record.

The San Diego State graduate coached at Point for 11 seasons, from 1947-48 to 1951-52 and for five seasons beginning in 1954-55.  His overall record at Point Loma was 116-116 and his last squad was playing at that pace for most of the season.

The Pointers tied coach Jim Poole’s Kearny Komets for first in the Western League but were only 12-10 overall when they launched their playoff run.

The Pointers won their opening game at Hemet High against Beaumont, 32-24, then defeated  Yucaipa at Redlands University, 55-23.  They followed by knocking off Rosemead Bosco Tech, 54-37 and Lompoc, 54-40, quarterfinals and semifinals games at home, and San Marino, 52-36, in finals at Los Angeles State.

That Point Loma probably was the school with the largest enrollment in the AA division was not lost on the straight-shooting Crosthwaite.  “We had everything to lose.” he said.  “We couldn’t have walked out of here unless we won.”

Winning Pointers, back row from left:  Larry Moore, Mike Dolphin, Dick Walden, Doug Lawrence.  Front: Winston Yetta, Don Sadas, reading newspaper account, and coach Hilbert Crosthwaite.

Winning Pointers, back row from left: Larry Moore, Mike Dolphin, Dick Walden, Doug Lawrence. Front: Winston Yetta, Don Sada, reading newspaper account, and coach Hilbert Crosthwaite.

Crosthwaite and forward Winston Yetta didn’t have to walk.  They were paraded around the court after the victory on the shoulders of the other Pointers before a crowd of about 5,200.

As Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union said, paraphrasing Winston Churchill,  who spoke after the British Royal Air Force had defeated the more heavily armed German Luftwaffe in World War II: “Winston (Winnie) Yetta enjoyed his finest basketball hour here tonight, collecting 22 points….”

The 6-foot Yetta was joined in the starting lineup by 6-1 Don Sada, 6-2 Larry Moore, 6-0 Mike Dolphin, and 6-0 Doug Lawrence, or 6-6 1/2 Dick Walden.

Meanwhile, action was slow in the UT-San Diego Top 10 last week.  Francis Parker dropped a 53-52 decision to 21-0 Brentwood Buckley and went from sixth to eighth. Eastlake replaced Poway at 10th.

Hoover, apparently gaining traction, elevated to ninth after victories of 71-65 over Serra and 73-65 over Woodland Hills Taft.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Previous*
1 St. Augustine (9) 14-2 121 1
2 Mater Dei Catholic (2) 14-2 118 2
3 La Costa Canyon (1) 15-2 105 3
4 Torrey Pines 13-2 91 4
5 Sweetwater (1) 12-0 67 5
6 El Camino 13-3 60 6T
7 San Marcos 11-4 48 8
8 Francis Parker 14-2 47 6T
9 Hoover 10-7 14 10
10 Eastlake 15-3 9 NR

*Last week.
**Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis
NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes: Cathedral, 6; Foothills Christian, Grossmont, 5 each; Mission Hills, 4; Escondido, 3; Steele Canyon, 1.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego correspondent);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office); Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com); Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com); Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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2013: San Diego Teams Land 4 in First 25

No state champions, but there were four San Diego Section teams in Cal-Hi Sports‘ final, overall top 25.  It was a good year.

San Diego tied for second with the Sac-Joaquin Section in number of top 25 squads from the 10 state sections.

Mission Hills (11-2) was 11th,  Oceanside (10-3) 13th.  St. Augustine and Cathedral, each 11-2, were 24th and 25th, respectively.

The vast Southern Section placed six of the first seven teams and 11 of the top 25.  St. John Bosco was 16-0 and number one after a 20-14 victory over No. 2 Concord De La Salle in the  Open Division championship.

De La Salle was the only North Coast Section squad in the top 25.

No. 6 Folsom was the highest of the four from the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Other sections with ranked representatives included the Central Coast (2) and the Central (1) and Los Angeles City (1).  The Northern, San Francisco, and Oakland Sections were blanked.

San Diego teams  in Cal-Hi Sports‘  top four divisions were 11-6 in intersectional games but  1-2 in arguably the season’s three biggest.

Oceanside was beaten 50-39 by Gardena Serra (13-1), which finished No. 4 overall.  Mission Hills lost a state playoff, 35-28, to No. 10 Bakersfield (13-2). Cathedral defeated No. 26 Vista Murrieta (12-2), 35-28.

Cal-Hi Sports‘ state rankings by its traditional format of five divisions:


1–Bellflower St. John Bosco.  10–Oceanside.  11–Eastlake.


1–West Hills Chaminade.  3–Mission Hills.  8–San Pasqual.


1–Newport Beach Corona del Mar.  2–St. Augustine.  3–Cathedral.  11–Mission Bay.  13–Madison.


1–Modesto Central Catholic.  3–Christian.


1–Le Grand.  9–Holtville.


1–Bellflower St. John Bosco.  7–Mission Hills.  9–Oceanside.  10–Eastlake. 13-Cathedral.   14–San Pasqual (10-2).


1–West Hills Chaminade.  4–St. Augustine.  12. Mission Bay (12-2).  14–Madison (9-2). 19–Christian (12-1).


1–Newport Beach Coronado del Mar. 14–Sweetwater.


1–Bakersfield Christian.  (no San Diego Section teams)


Imperial’s Royce Freeman was state medium schools player of the year and Christian coach Mike Ward was state small schools coach of the year.

Freeman, who set a San Diego Section career rushing record with 7,601 yards in four seasons and who rushed for 2,819 yards in 2013, is the fourth San Diego Section medium schools player of the year in the last six.

Others include Madison’s Pierre Cormier, 2012; Mission Bay’s Dillon Baxter, 2009, and Cathedral’s Tyler Gaffney, 2008.  Gaffney and Baxter were overall state players of the year.

Ward, who guided Christian to a  12-1 record and the San Diego Section D-III championship, also was coach of the year in 2011.  A previous winner was Ramona’s Glenn Forsythe, who led the Bulldogs to an 11-0 record and the Southern Section smallest schools championship in 1958.



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2013-14: South Bay Teams Make Noise

Rumblings out of the South Bay have become a roar.

Mater Dei Catholic and Sweetwater barged into the upper half of the ratings in the U-T San Diego poll this week.

Mater Dei, a 26-7 squad and Southern California Division  IV regional semifinalist in 2012-13, is no surprise, posting a 12-2 record and losing only to San Juan Capistrano JSerra and West Hills Chaminade, two schools from higher divisions.

The second-ranked Crusaders received two first place votes and their 118 points are only one less than top-ranked St. Augustine.

Sweetwater’s Running Red Devils went from  unranked to No. 5.

At 12-0, the Red Devils are the only unbeaten team in the top 10 and adamantly made their intentions known in a 91-56 victory over a regarded Poway club last week.

The Red Devils are in their fourth season under coach Jesse Aguirre, who took over a team that was 0-23 in 2009-10.  the Red Devils were  13-11, 17-12, and 12-13 in Aguirre’s first three seasons.


Despite two losses in the Under Armour Tournament at Torrey Pines during the Christmas break, St. Augustine  stayed on top.

The Saints regrouped with a 73-63, home victory over La Verne Damien, which was 13-1 coming into the game.

The Saints were muscled in a 66-55 loss to Chino Hills and beaten, 62-61, by a mid-level Lakewood Mayfair squad in the Torrey Pines event.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Last Week
 1 St. Augustine (8) 13-2 119       1


Mater Dei Catholic (2)





La Costa Canyon (2)





Torrey Pines





Sweetwater (1)





Francis Parker





El Camino





San Marcos














**Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis
NR Not ranked.
Others receiving votes: Lincoln, Cathedral Catholic, 6 each; Foothills Christian, 5; Mission Hills, Grossmont, 3 each; Escondido, Eastlake, 2 each.
Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux, Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego correspondent);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).
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2013-14: Saints Hold off Damien

St. Augustine saw an 18-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to 4 but finally put away La Verne Damien, 73-63, as a full house of about 800 persons nervously looked on at St. Augustine Saturday night.

Trey Kell had 22 points for the winners but it was six free throws in the final 38.7 seconds by sophomore Martin Tombe that got the Saints over the finish line against the resilient visitors, who were 13-1 coming in.

St. Augustine, which led 41-25 at halftime and 50-32 midway in the third quarter, improved to 13-2.

Damien formerly was Pomona Catholic and is the alma mater of baseball slugger Mark McGwire and former San Diego State quarterbacks Dennis Shaw and Dan McGwire.

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1922: Student Gives Newspaper Inside Scoop

San Diego High had an unusual relationship with The San Diego Union.

Student Alan McGrew, who also served in a business position as the “Temporary Football Manager of San Diego High School,” was the de facto Hilltoppers beat writer for the newspaper.

McGrew filed daily reports on the Hilltoppers, the headline sports attraction in the city. He also provided  inside information on coach John Perry’s team along with up-to-date messages on scheduling.

Who the Cavemen were playing and where often was the question of the day, as money guarantees were negotiated and games agreed to on virtually a moment’s notice.

McGrew’s access to the team was apparent on the pages of the Union:

–A player reported to be smoking on a downtown street and who admitted his “guilt” when quizzed before the entire team was suspended by coach John Perry for the opener with Sweetwater and lost half of his letter-earning, game quarters participation.

Youthful Perry laid down the law.

Youthful Perry laid down the law.

–Perry had established an 8 p.m., be-at-home curfew with retirement by not more than an hour later.  The only evening players would be allowed to stay out “late” was after a game, when curfew would be at 10 p.m.

According to McGrew the team voted unanimously to abide by the Perry Rules.  The third-year head man  was 24, not much older than his players.


McGrew’s San Diego High bias also was obvious. The intrepid high school correspondent was one unhappy camper after the Hilltoppers’ 6-3 victory over Sweetwater in the season’s opening game.

Expecting a rout, McGrew was forced to acknowledge a stunningly difficult outing.

“The local players were taken off their feet by the county gang,” wrote McGrew.  “They were dazed, it appeared.”

McGrew continued.  “Possibly some of the players were unstrung, the game being the first of the season, and when they discovered the Sweetwater team had all kinds of  power (they) went to pieces.”

Sweetwater had been 0-3 against the San Diego varsity, losing, 54-6 in 1915, 65-7 in ’20, and 40-0 in ’21.

Fullback Charles Williams drop-kicked a 25-yard field goal to give coach Herb Hoskins’ Red Devils a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Clockwise from left, Hilltoppers' aces Norton Langford, Coney Galindo, Rex Driver, Kenny Zweiner.

Clockwise from left, Hilltoppers’ aces Norton Langford, Coney Galindo, Rex Driver, Kenny Zweiner.

Norton Langford scored to put the Hilltoppers ahead, 6-3, later in the quarter, after which San Diego was stymied by the determined National City squad.

The following week, under a story without byline, the writer hadn’t yet moved on, still unhappy and describing the Sweetwater game as a “catastrophe”.


Sweetwater opened as National City High 1907 and, according to available records, played football in 1910.

For the first 11 years, including the 1913 season when they didn’t field a team, the Red Devils were 10-24-3, according to infrequent newspaper reports.

Hoskins took over in 1919 and was 5-9-2 in his first three seasons, but the Red Devils won the four-team County League with a 5-0-1 record this season and manned up once more in the playoffs against San Diego.

Sweetwater thrived under Hoskins.

Sweetwater thrived under Hoskins.

The Cavemen this time prevailed by a 13-6 score, but Sweetwater had established itself as a credible program.

The Red Devils were 33-16-5 under Hoskins from 1922-27 and made three playoff appearances.


Writer Jess Puryear pointed out that Hoskins apparently had not been considered after the Sweetwater mentor showed interest in filling a position that opened on the San Diego coaching staff.

Hilltoppers basketball coach A.E. Shaver had left after the 1921-22 school year.


San Diego High historian Don King corrected a story which promoted many different versions over the years.

How did the name Cavemen evolve?

In 1921 the football team dressed in dingy quarters beneath the 400 building on campus, King wrote in Caver Conquest, the 1993  history of San Diego High athletics.

There was only one entrance to the dressing room and that was through a long, dark tunnel that supposedly looked like that of a passageway to the caves used by our earliest ancestors, King noted.

Vintage San Diego High Caveman sticker.

Vintage San Diego High Caveman sticker.

Alden Ross, a reporter for the school newspaper (and a future member of the 1922 squad), was standing outside the players’ entrance when the  the squad exited for a game and was struck by the similarity to cave dwellers of the past.

Ross referred to the “Cavemen” in the next issue of The Russ.

“Cavemen” caught on and was used thereafter along with “Hilltoppers”and “Hillers.”

When girls began participating in the 1970s, the name was officially amended to “Cavers,” to correct gender inequity, said King.


USC Freshmen coach H.W. Hess, responding when asked in a telephonic interview with  San Diego writers if there were “any stars who have been showing up” on the Trobabes’ squad:

“There are no stars, but eleven men on the team…and they’re all rotten,” declared the coach.

San Diego coach John Perry said he expected his squad “to be fighting all through the game (but) I do expect to be beaten by more than forty points.”

Interest in the USC team was such that the frosh’s pregame meal was assessed:  two poached eggs and a cup of tea.

The freshmen, featuring many 1921 prep stars from throughout the state, prevailed, 21-0.


According to one writer, 19 players and two coaches traveled to Bakersfield by automobile. Presumably more than one automobile.

Alan McGrew wrote that the team was scheduled to leave  at 8 a.m. on a Friday morning for  an 11-hour trip by “stage”.

Travel would include 48 miles on what was known as the Ridge Route, beginning at the Castaic Junction and featuring switchbacks and sudden  turns over the mountains north of Los Angeles.

Climax to this sometimes dangerous stretch was the Grapevine, a six-mile down grade that took travelers from 4,233 feet to the floor of the San Joaquin Valley, passing native grapevines growing on the hills near Fort Tejon.


In this still developing period of motorized conveyance (passenger railroad travel was not available to or from Bakersfield), why schedule a game so distant and so difficult to reach?

Alan McGrew pointed out that “almost every school south of the Tehachapi pass had received letters seeking games from Hilltop management, but refused.”

San Diego High was feared in the North, particularly around Los Angeles, said McGrew. Scheduling the defending state champion would curtail some of the criticism about Perry’s perceived reluctance to schedule strong opponents.

There was some history with Bakersfield.  The Hilltoppers declined an invitation to play a state championship playoff with the Drillers after San Diego had posted 12-0 record and won the Southern Section championship in 1916.

Hilltop coach Clarence (Nibs) Price sensed his team was fatigued and was not interested in a long trip.

Price did schedule the Drillers in 1917, when the school known as Kern County Union High came south and was beaten by the Hilltoppers, 18-7.

This year’s  result was different.  Dwight (Goldie) Griffith’s Drillers, who were rumored to play some adult roughnecks from the neighboring oil fields, scored a 32-0 victory.

Age limits were nonexistent.  San Diego’s outstanding lineman was Al Scheving, who would be 21 when he graduated in June, 1923.

“I was only eighteen  months older than my team captain,” coach John Perry told writer Jim Trinkle in 1954.


Without a league and of  independent classification, San Diego was required to have  five victories against high school competition for inclusion in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Scheduling was madcap.

With the SCIF postseason beginning in a week, the Cavemen were pressed to play two high school games in two days.

John Perry shrugged when it was suggested that no prep team in California had ever been asked to meet  such a challenge.

The  Hilltoppers teed up at 9:15 a.m. Friday in City Stadium, where they defeated the 7-2 Whittier Cardinals, 26-0, then followed at 12:30 the next afternoon with a 41-0 victory over weak Anaheim, against which Perry employed only four varsity starters.

Students were all for the doubleheader.  They were dismissed from school Friday to watch the game.

The Hilltoppers were fortunate not to have to travel for the Anaheim contest, which originally was scheduled in the northern community but was moved to San Diego because of an Armistice Day parade in Anaheim.


Don King’s Caver Conquest listed 14 games on San Diego High’s schedule, as did the first Evening Tribune Prep Football Record Book, published in 1965.

According to The San Diego Union of November 30, 1922,  the Cavemen had played 17 games and, after meeting  Santa Ana, Gardena and Bakersfield, would finish the season with a stunning total of 20, their record being 14-5-1.

NFL teams don’t play that many, unless they’re a wildcard team that plays in the Super Bowl.

The line between scrimmages and games was blurred in The San Diego Union.  

A midseason excercise with Sweetwater was loosely described as a game but also as a “practice.”  The Cavemen played five “games” with teams from military institutions and seven “games” in 13 days from late September to early October.

Games with military squads were common for San Diego-area teams.


San  Diego’s playoff with Santa Ana matched not-so-friendly rivals in a series that dated to 1905. The Cavemen claimed the Orange County school’s students and players were the poorest losers in the state.

“Besides ‘razzing’ the players on the street  and at the hotel where the team was lodged, the girls at a public dance in Santa Ana refused to dance with the San Diego boys,” reported Alan McGrew.

According to historian Don King, “Santa Ana fans threw soda pop bottles and ripe fruit as Kenny Zweiner ran 65 yards with an intercepted pass for a touchdown.”

Coney Galindo raced 35 yards for another score in a 12-0 victory that elevated the Hilltoppers into the Southern California finals against Gardena.

The winners rushed for 112 yards, Galindo leading with 50 yards rushing, and completing a 17-yard pass.


Perry remembered years later what it was like to practice on the “Rock Pile,” and to play on a dirt surface in City Stadium.

“We weren’t allowed to practice in the stadium, but had to go across the highway by the horse barns,” said Perry.  “Before working out we’d try to get all the rocks we’d kicked up the previous day out of the way.”

The stadium layout would be sprinkled, then rolled before each game.  “There wasn’t any grass and it was as hard as concrete,” remembered the coach.


Future World War II hero aviator Lt. James Doolittle left Jacksonville, Florida at 7:30 p.m. Pacific  time and hoped to land at Rockwell Field, located on Coronado’s North Island, at about 4 p.m. the next afternoon.

The 18 1/2-hour flight included a fuel stop in San Antonio, Texas.


Back to School at Lion Clothing.

Back to School at Lion Clothing.

Two-pant tweed sports suits were available for $19.65, Shoes for $6.50, and caps for $2.50 at Lion Clothing Co., Fifth Avenue at E Street.

National City High, renamed Sweetwater, moved to a new location on Highland Avenue at the South end of National City, serving approximately 325 students from Chula Vista and as far south as San Ysidro.

Construction of Grossmont’s permanent campus on the hill overlooking El Cajon Valley was almost complete, with 350 students listed as having enrolled.

San Diego High pupils paid student dues of .75, plus they were required to make a $4 deposit to assure return of textbooks at the end of the school year.

Students were required to purchase locker padlocks that were available from San Diego merchants.

Incoming freshmen received a 128-page “manual”, detailing all activities and regulations at the school.


Prospective San Diego High players were feted in a banquet at the San Diego Hotel the night before the first practice.

Team leader Norton Langford addressed the players on the “value of close association and the necessity for no petty jealousy (apparently a problem the last couple seasons, along with questions of soft scheduling and Perry’s not coaching ‘fundamentals’).

Langford said he hoped to “see a game up North” at the end of the season “for the state championship and with San Diego returning victorious.”


San Diego players favored a rematch in the state playoffs with Bakersfield, rather than  participate in a so-called national championship game.

The Cavers received challenges from the Amarillo Golden Sandstorm of Texas, Twin Falls, Idaho, and a team in St. Louis.  Coach John Perry postponed any decision until after the Gardena contest.


Gardena, which won at Bishop, 31-0, the week before,  was accorded an edge by the San Diego media because it had played on the Bovard Field turf  gridiron at USC.

Whatever advantage Gardena possessed disappeared in the fourth quarter, when the Cavemen trailing, 14-12, scored 19 points to win 31-14.  Coney Galindo ran for three touchdowns and scored another on an intercepted pass.


San Diego accepted a challenge to play Bakersfield in a state playoff, but only if the game was played in the City Stadium.  In a telegram to Bakersfield officials, McGrew said the Cavemen were “not in condition for another trip.”

The Drillers agreed.

The journey south was easier on the visitors, who were reported to have “passed through Los Angeles” and were spending the night in Santa Ana after practicing at Whittier College.

Transported in two motor coaches, Bakersfield arrived in San Diego on the day of the game.

The Cavemen battled in vain before about 6,000 City Stadium fans who represented the largest turnout in school history, according to the Union, although the 1917 game drew a reported 10,000.

Part of he crowd of 6,000 watched action near San Diego goalline.

Part of he crowd of 6,000 watched action near San Diego goalline.

It was 17-0 before Ed Ruffa scored a touchdown in the final two minutes to send the Hilltoppers home 17-6 losers.


That was the lead on The San Diego Union account of the Cavemen’s 106-6 victory over Army-Navy.  The writer also suggested that flags would be at half mast at the Pacific Beach academy.

Nothing out of the ordinary about that, but in the second paragraph it was noted that the Cadets fully expected to win and to qualify for the Southern California playoffs!

Coach Paul Jones, who exuded such confidence before the game, was slightly off the mark.

Contributing to the carnage was a rule of the day:  Teams scoring touchdowns received the ensuing kickoff, i.e., Army-Navy kicked off after every San Diego touchdown.

QUICK KICKS—By contract with the CIF and Santa Ana, expenses were provided for  18 players when the Cavemen took the train north for the second of three semifinal playoff contests, but coach John Perry traveled a squad of 23… San Diego High was not the only team to play games on back-to-back days…Grossmont sustained a 40-7 loss to the Hilltoppers, then went out the next day and dropped a 7-6 decision to the sailors from the U.S.S. Rapahannock…when writers referred to a team concentrating on its ground game, it was described as “straight football”…passing, infrequently used,  was just that, passing…The San Diego Union published the roster of San Diego High and players’ numbers before the game with the USC Freshmen…24 players were numbered from 1 to 25, with only jersey No. 2 omitted… …Escondido was greeting “a whole set of husky Indians from the backcountry,” according to the Union… County League teams Escondido, Sweetwater, and Grossmont were considered “backcountry”…”The Winning Play,” an article that appeared in Redbook magazine, was read to the team by San Diego coach John Perry before it took the field against Gardena…sweater and Letter Day at Sweetwater was attended by the entire student body, which honored the County League team as Herb Hoskins awarded monograms to 15 players….

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2013: Freeman Sets Scoring Pace

Royce Freeman of Imperial scored 43 touchdowns and 258 points in 12 games to lead the San Diego Section for the third year in a row and finished sixth in the state, according to unofficial statistics provided by Max Preps.

Freeman amassed 39 touchdowns and 3 two-point conversions for  240 points in 2011 and 36 touchdowns and 216 points in 2012.

Freeman scored 111 touchdowns in three seasons for Tigers.

Freeman scored 118 touchdowns in three seasons for Tigers.

Edgar Segura of Mendota in the Central Section was the 2013 state leader with 57 touchdowns and a total of 358 points.

Andrew Brown of Ripon Christian of the Sac-Joaquin Section, had 335 points, followed by Rashaad Penny of Norwalk, Southern Section, 320. Tre Watson of Corona Centennial, Southern Section, was fifth with 306.

Freeman also ended his career with the sixth highest single-season performance in the San Diego Section.

Evan Fisher of Julian scored 342 points in eight-man football in 2001, followed by Tyler Gaffney of Cathedral, 336 (’08); Dillon Baxter, Mission Bay, 324 (’09); Zay Shepard, Brawley, 276 (’04), Dionne Grigsby, San Pasqual Academy 8, 262 (’04), and Freeman.

San Diego Section 2013 leaders:

Player Team Games TD PAT 2Pt FG Pts
Royce Freeman Imperial 12 43 0 0 0 258
Clayton Bowler Holtville V 13 27 0 0 0 162
J.T. Barnes Grossmont 12 13 64 0 2 150
Brandon Alexander San Pasqual Academy 8 7 23 0 0 0 148
Thai Cottrell Oceanside 13 22 7 1 0 141
Justin Santa Maria Calvary Christian S.D. V 9 19 0 12 0 138
Riley Racciato Classical V 10 23 0 0 0 138
Jose Ramirez Calvary Christian Vista 8 7 20 0 4 0 128
Damonte Holiday Hoover 11 21 0 0 0 126
Isiah Olave Eastlake 12 21 0 0 0 126
Jimmie Hill Mar Vista 10 21 0 0 0 126
Tim Clow St. Joseph 8 8 19 0 5 0 124
Elijah Preston St. Augustine 11 20 0 0 0 120
Isaiah Capoocia El Capitan 12 19 0 0 0 114
James Harwell San Marcos 14 7 53 0 6 113
Ray Lyons Crawford 10 18 0 1 0 110
Bulla Graft The Bishop’s 10 17 0 3 0 108
Chris Moliga Cathedral 11 18 0 0 0 108
Tony Miro Santa Fe Christian 10 18 0 0 0 108
Dan McManus West Hills 12 6 29 0 14 107
Nareg Skakarian St. Joseph 8 8 12 34 0 0 106
Damian Ramirez Blythe Palo Verde 12 17 0 1 0 104
Jesse Brookins Francis Parker 11 17 0 1 0 104
Ben Lomibao Mount Miguel 10 17 0 0 0 102
Isiah Henne San Marcos 14 17 0 0 0 102
Manny Rodriguez Olympian 11 17 0 0 0 102
Carlos Campos San Ysidro 10 15 8 0 0 98
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2013-14: Saints Now 10-0 and on 24-0 Run

saints logo deuceSt. Augustine is 10-0  and has a 24-game winning streak after a 65-49 victory over the host team in the first annual Rancho Santa Margarita Tournament today, climaxing a 4-game run through the Orange County event.

The Saints beat Trabuco Hills, 62-61, Seattle Prep, 79-60,  and Alta of Sandy, Utah, 63-56, in earlier games.  Santa Margarita was 7-0 before taking on coach Mike Haupt’s North Park sharpshooters.

Trey Kell led the top-ranked San Diego Section team with 26 points.  Eric Monroe and Danny Caya had 11 each and Martin Tombe  10.

The Saints, ninth in California and 30th in the country in Max Preps‘ ratings,  now gear up for the Under Armour post-Christmas tournament and draw scoreboard blinking Chino Hills in their opening game at 2:15 p.m. on Dec. 26 in the Torrey Pines gym.

Chino Hills is 7-2 and averaging 79 points a game.

The Huskies most recently dropped a 65-63 decision to Etiwanda, ranked fourth in California and 10th in the country by Max Preps. Chino Hills also holds a 121-102 decision over tough Rancho Cucamonga.  Both games were in the Inland Empire Classic at Ontario Colony.

St. Augustine has not lost since dropping a 62-59 decision to Cathedral on Jan. 24, 2012. The Saints won their last 14 in a run that took them to the State III championship and a final record  of 29-4 in 2012-13.

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2013: 38 Coaches Are Members of Club 100

La Jolla Country Day’s Jeff Hutzler, who stepped down recently, became the 37th coach in the San Diego Section to have a career total of at least 100 victories.  Jack Mashin of Grossmont recorded 125 victories in the Southern Section.

Eleven active coaches have 100 or more (see complete list here):

Oceanside's Carroll tops all.

Oceanside’s Carroll tops all.

John Carroll (234-74-6, .755), Ron Hamamoto (195-122-4, .614), Rob Gilster (183-112-5, .618), Willie Matson (166-117-6, .585), Sean Doyle (144-77, .652), John Morrison (140-60-3, .697); Gary Blevins (129-90-4, .587), Chris Hauser (115-54-2, .678), Matt Oliver (115-56-3, .670), Jerry Ralph (111-65-2, .629), and Mike Hastings (111-74-4, .598).

Hutzler, whose Torres finished 5-6 this season, posted a  101-37 record and .732 winning percentage from 2002-13,  joined a select group that is led by Herb Meyer, who was 339-148-15 for a .690 percentage from 1959-2003 at Oceanside and El Camino.

Other 100-game winners include Bennie Edens (240), John Shacklett (229), Gil Warren (216), Ed Burke (215), Jim Arnaiz (213), Dick Haines (194), Carl Parrick (190), Mike Dolan (165), Bob Woodhouse (146), Chick Embrey (144);

Gene Edwards (136), Birt Slater (133), Bob McAlister (132),  Steve Sutton (131), Craig Bell (130), Walter (Bud)  Mayfield, (129), Ladimir (Jack) Mashin (125), Mike David (122), Gene Alim (120), John McFadden (120),  John Bishop (117), Chris Hauser (115), Brad Griffith (112), Vic Player (111), George Ohnessorgen (103), and Dave Lay (102).

Carroll (.755) is first among all San Diego Section coaches, active or retired, in winning percentage and with at least 100 victories. Birt Slater (.747) is second to Carroll in percentage. Ohnessorgen (.745), Lay (.741), McFadden (.735), Hutzler (.732), Arnaiz (.726), Burke (.720), Warren (.707), Alim (.701), and Bishop (.701) round out the Top 11.

Ties are factored in as half games won and half games lost.

The  highest winning percentage, minimum 40 games, in the history of high school football in San Diego is .856, earned in the Southern Section by Chula Vista’s Chet DeVore from 1951-55.  San Diego’s Duane Maley is second with a Southern Section record of 97-19-3, .828.

Bill Bailey, who coached at Point Loma in 1942 and at San Diego from 1943-47, posted a career record of 40-8-1, .810.

The comprehensive list of Win, Lose, Tie records of all 100-game winners.

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2013-14: Saints Switch Places With Mavericks

The season’s first showdown came in the Horsman Invitational at  West Hills and the tournament championship and this week’s No. 1 ranking went to St. Augustine.

Trey Kell fired from three-point range and, driving to the hoop, twisted around Torrey Pines defenders to score 28 points and lead the Saints to a 60-55 victory in a matchup of unbeaten teams.

Torrey Pines went to the foul line 17 times in the first three quarters.  St. Augustine did not make its first visit until early in the fourth quarter.  The Saints led throughout and had opened a 42-33, third-quarter advantage.

La Costa Canyon, the preseason number one, dropped a 61-59 decision to Hoover, then rebounded with a 74-50 win over the Cardinals.

Mater Dei was off to a fast start, then fell to Capistrano JSerra, 63-48, and West Hills Chaminade, 55-47, in the Catholic Cup Challenge in Phoenix.  The Crusaders defeated St. Mary’s of Phoenix, 74-60, in the same event.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Last Week
1 St. Augustine (11) 6-0 128 2
2 La Costa Canyon (2) 5-1 117 1
3 Hoover 5-2 90 3
3 Torrey Pines 5-1 90 5
5 San Marcos 5-1 56 8
6 Mater Dei Catholic 6-2 51 9
7 El Camino (2) 4-2 46 4
8 Foothills Christian 2-1 41 41
9 Francis Parker 4-1 31 7
10 Poway 3-2 30 NR

* Last year
**Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis
NR Not previously ranked.

Others receiving votes: Lincoln, 15; Escondido, 6; Valhalla, Cathedral, 5 each; Mission Hills, El Cajon Valley, 1 each.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego correspondent);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
and Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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2008: He Scored 56, Count ‘em, 56 Touchdowns!

That Tyler Gaffney led Cathedral to a State championship and scored a record 56 touchdowns in 14 games only reinforced the notion that this was a year of the running back.

Thirty-one San Diego Section players rushed for at least 1,000 yards and none were more productive than Gaffney, Escondido’s Ricky Seale, and Madison’s Robbie Rouse.


The 6-foot, 1-inch, 215-pound Gaffney was a power runner and long distance threat.  Third and short, fourth and goal, or from far outside the redzone, Gaffney was the package.

In 2013, when a group of San Diego writers selected the all-time, all-San Diego County squad, Gaffney was one of three, first-team running backs, joining Oceanside’s C.R. Roberts (1953) and Lincoln’s Darrin Wagner (1987).

Gaffney sheds St. Mary's tackler en route to winning touchdown in State III championship game.

Gaffney sheds St. Mary’s tackler en route to winning touchdown in State III championship game.

Gaffney also was named state player of the year for 2008, selected by the respected Cal-Hi Sports.

“Tyler Gaffney is Justin Green and Demetrious Sumlin (earlier star backs for the Dons) rolled into one,” said Cathedral coach Sean Doyle.  “He’s physically the best back I’ve ever had.”

Gaffney rushed for 324 yards in 33 carries and scored 6 touchdowns in a 58-32, regular-season victory over 5-0 Lincoln.

That monster performance, however, was not close to being the story of Gaffney’s season.


Continue reading

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2013: North County, City Take 4 Top Spots in Final Grid Poll

Win or lose Saturday evening, coach Chris Hauser’s Mission Hills Grizzlies are an almost unanimous choice as the No. 1 2013 football team in the San Diego Section.

The final Top 10 poll of the season was voted on after conclusion of the  five San Diego Section championships.

The Grizzlies will host the Central Section champion Bakersfield Drillers in a State Bowl Series Southern California Regional playoff.

If Mission Hills wins, the San Marcos squad will play for a Division I state championship against either San Mateo Serra or Loomis Del Oro at the Home Depot Center in Carson the following week.

Two Eastern League teams, Cathedral and St. Augustine, finished third and fourth, respectively.  The Saints also received a first-place vote.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L Points* Previous
1 Mission Hills (30) 12-1 308 1T
2 Oceanside 10-3 244 1T
3 Cathedral 11-2 232 9
4 St. Augustine (1) 11-2 204 7
5 San Pasqual 11-2 204 5
6 Eastlake 10-2 149 3
7 Helix 9-3 121 5
8 Ramona 10-2 72 8
9 Mission Bay 12-2 47 NR
10 Madison 9-2 29 6

*Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. NR: previously unranked
Others receiving votes: Christian, 22; Carlsbad, 20; Rancho Buena Vista, 8; Sweetwater, San Marcos, 5 each; Holtville, El Capitan, Imperial, 1 each.

Thirty-one sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County voted in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux, Dennis Lin, Lisa Lane, Andrew Burer,
and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan, Tom Saxe, and Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego stringer);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera, Jack Cronin, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, Jordan Carruth, Bobby Wooldridge, Craig Elsten, and Mark Chiebowski (The Mighty 1090);
Jerry Schniepp and John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Willis, Brandon Stone, and Jake Fadden (KUSI-TV);
Bruce Ward (San Diego City Schools);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Steve (Biff) Dolan and Rick (Red) Hill (107.9 FM The Mountain);
Jeff Kurtz (NFHSnetwork.com; Ernie Martinez (XTRA Sports 1360);  and
Nick Pellegrino.

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2013-14: La Costa Canyon Opens on Top

The discussion already is in full swing.  Who’s No. 1?

The U-T San Diego preseason basketball poll has La Costa Canyon No. 1 and St. Augustine No. 2.

North County bias by a majority of the voters aside,  I’ll take the Saints.  Call me South-of-Highway-56-biased, at least for this vote.

Saints Coach Mike Haupt, 330-173 in 18 seasons, guides the state’s defending Division III champions, 29-4 in 2012-13 and returning, among others, four-star San Diego State commit Trey Kell.

La Costa Canyon, 28-6 last season, was eliminated by Westlake, 66-64, in the Southern California playoff quarterfinals in D-II.

The Mavericks opened with a 56-46 victory over Poway earlier this week.  St. Augustine has beaten Serra, 70-47, and Santa Fe Christian, 80-38.

A top 10  adjustment should already be in the works. El Camino, No. 4, was edged by No. 6 Foothills Christian, 74-71, and unranked Poway topped Foothills, 72-70.

In other action:

No. 9 Mater Dei has been the busiest with wins over Chula Vista, 78-55; Rancho Buena Vista, 83-43; Castle Park, 66-33; Patrick Henry, 63-40, and Grossmont, 55-49.

No. 8 San Marcos eased up in the second half but still rolled over Castle Park, 102-18. Cathedral, No. 10, defeated Patrick Henry, 69-48.

Hoover, No. 3, topped Vista, also No. 10, 61-55.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Previous*
1 La Costa Canyon (6) 28-6 111 6
2 St. Augustine (4) 29-4 94 1
3 Hoover 31-6 88 3
4 El Camino (2) 26-7 87 7
5 Torrey Pines 20-10 67 NR
6 Foothills Christian 20-15 50 NR
7 Francis Parker 16-12 46 NR
8 San Marcos 27-6 43 NR
9 Mater Dei Catholic 26-7 32 8
10t Cathedral Catholic 29-5 38 5
10t Vista 15-13 38 NR

*Last year
**Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis
NR Not previously ranked.

Others receiving votes: Westview, 7; Escondido, Mission Bay, 5 each; Lincoln, Helix, 3 each; Eastlake, 2; Serra, Oceanside, Canyon Crest, 1 each.

Twelve sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego stringer);
Bill Dickens (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack ronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office);
Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com);
Jodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com);
and Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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2013: Bakersfield is Stranger in These Parts

BakeSan Diego High first played Bakersfield, then known  as Kern County Union High, in 1917.

The Drillers, who play at Mission Hills Saturday night in a State Southern Regional playoff, last met an area team in  1952.

San Diego holds a 6-5, all-time advantage over the Drillers, the Cavemen having won the last five meetings.  Hoover and Grossmont each is 0-1.

Bakersfield and Long Beach Poly rank 1-2 in most wins by a California prep team.  The Drillers won their 776th  with a 60-21 victory over Clovis North and clinched their 36th Central Section championship.

The school opened in 1893 and is still located at its original site in the middle of the city.  Its 2,800 students represent the largest enrollment in the city but the school’s 25-acre site is the smallest.

All-time results with teams from the San Diego area:

Year Opponent Score
1917 @San Diego 7-18
1922 San Diego 32-0
1922 @San Diego 17-6
1938 @San Diego 21-0
1939 @San Diego 13-6
1940 San Diego 35-13
1946 @San Diego 7-13
1947 San Diego 0-25
1948 @San Diego 0-31
1949 San Diego 12-14
1950 San Diego 7-19
1950 Grossmont 38-7
1952 Hoover 33-13

Bakersfield’s second victory over San Diego in 1922 was a state playoff. San Diego had won the Southern California championship a  week before with a 31-14 victory over Gardena.

The CIF dropped  state playoffs in 1926 and didn’t renew the series until 2006.

Mission Hills will be the first San Diego Section team involved in a playoff with a school from another section since Mountain Empire dropped a 34-26, decision to Claremont in 1965.

Mountain Empire had remained in the Southern Section in 1960, when other San Diego County schools formed their own section, and didn’t become a member of the local group until 1969.


A Superior Court judge in San Diego sided with the state CIF and the CIF San Diego Section and denied a lawsuit by Christian.

The Patriots claimed a bylaw in CIF rules would allow them to move down to Division IV in the State Bowl Series.

The Patriots, who cited their enrollment of less than 500 students as basis for the action, won the San Diego Section III title but the Section declared them D-II for state playoff consideration.

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2013: Mission Hills In; Christian Waits

One San Diego team is in the State Bowl Southern Regional playoffs and another will learn its fate Monday.

Mission Hills (12-1) was invited to play host to the Central Section champion Bakersfield Drillers (11-2) Saturday night, Dec. 14, in Division I.

Christian, which defeated San Marcos, 19-7, for the San Diego Section III title, filed suit to be considered as a D-IV entry in the state playoffs.

A hearing is scheduled in  San Diego Superior Court Monday.

The  winner  of Mission Hills-Bakersfield will take on either the Central Coast’s San Mateo Serra (11-2) or the Sac-Joaquin’s Loomis Del Oro (12-2), which play in the North Regional.

The Grizzlies solidified their standing as the San Diego Section’s best team with a 36-14 win over Oceanside in the Open Division final.  Bakersfield defeated Clovis North, 60-21, for the Central Section I title.

Bakersfield’s two losses were early in the season to Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 51-50, and Long Beach Poly, 27-7.  Mission Hills was beaten, 13-10, in overtime by San Marcos.


Coach Matt Oliver has presided over four San Diego Section championship teams and had two others advance to the finals in his 15 seasons at Christian,  but no title was more satisfying than this.

The Patriots (12-1), enrollment less than 400, defeated San Marcos (9-5), enrollment more than 2,200, by a score of 19-7 in the D-III championship at Mesa College.

Paris Miller drove  the Patriots’ offense with 217 yards in 28 carries and a 12-yard touchdown run.  Sebastian Swift led the defense with 10 tackles, a quarterback sack, two interceptions (one returned 45 yards for a touchdown), and recovered a fumble.


Sweetwater (9-4), which lost four of its first five games, won its eighth in a row, longest streak for the school since 1986, and its first championship since 1984, scoring late to defeat  Monte Vista (7-6), 7-0, for the D-IV title.

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1950: As Powell Goes, So Go Cavers

This team may have been the best of all teams  coached by Duane Maley at San Diego High, but the Cavemen lost two of their best players and five reserves as practice started and their best player at the most important time of the season.

They came up short in the Southern California playoffs.

Starting halfback Darnes Johnson and tackle Ed Wallace were gone before the first scrimmage.

Johnson was the team’s leading ball carrier and a :09.9 100-yard sprinter who anchored the Hillers’ rapid 880-yard relay team in the spring. Wallace was an experienced lineman who saw  playing time in 1949.


Halfbacks Richard Reel, Paul Brooks and Mickey Hall, end Howard Simpson, and guard Calvin Rayford joined Johnson and Wallace, also literally hauled out of school and ordered to report to National Guard units at Fort Rosecrans on the Point Loma peninsula.

The Korean War erupted on June 25, 1950, when the North Korean army invaded South Korea. American ground troops aided the South Korean cause.

The seven National Guard Cavers were called to duty to help take the place of those deployed.

Maley soon learned there would be no “education deferments.” The only  games the players would be playing were war games.

The players had joined the National Guard in high school partly because each earned as much as $10 for every meeting attended, a handy sum for teenagers of the era. Active duty was expected to be in the future, after graduation.

Deep and fast, San Diego overcame the personnel losses and stormed through the new City Prep League to finish the regular season with an 8-0 record.

But disaster struck in game 7.

Powell was best of best.

Powell was best of best.

End Charlie Powell, who would be named Southern California player of the year, sustained a bruised kidney after taking a knee in his back during a 58-12 romp over Kearny, the poorest team on the schedule.

Of all the games to lose the star player in Southern California and arguably the best in the country! San Diego went into the Kearny game with an overall 29-pound weight advantage, 184-155. The Cavers led 27-0 after one quarter and 58-0 after three.

Powell did not play the following week against La Jolla, the original  thinking that he would be available for the opening round of the playoffs. Medical reports indicated a more serious injury.

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 225-pounder, a marvelous player who excelled in 4 sports (the only athlete in school history to earn 12 varsity letters in three years) , including track and field (he held the school shot put record of 57 feet, 9 1/4 inches, for 31 years) and baseball in the spring, was declared out several days before the first-round game at Fullerton.

No mystery. No intrigue. No wait for a game-time decision. Powell not only missed the game but also almost half of the basketball season.

San Diego Police detective Bert Ritchey, star of 1925 and 1926 teams. chats up Charlie Powell, star of 1950 Cavers.

Two all-time San Diego High athletes:  Bert Ritchey (left), star of 1925-26 teams, and Charlie Powell.


Without Powell San Diego still was favored by a touchdown over the 7-1-1 Fullerton Indians.

Without “Ness” Johnson the Cavemen still had explosion.

Frank Johnson and Harold Espy combined for 20 touchdowns. Chuck McDairmant was completing 57 per cent of his passes and had thrown for more than 800 yards.

McDairmant’s play at quarterback was a final, important ingredient. Completing his second season as starter, McDairmant’s eight-game total was 47 completions in 83 attempts for 810 yards and 12 touchdowns.

At one point during the season McDairmant was averaging 10.27 yards per pass. Evening Tribune  writer Jerry Brucker was moved to compare the Hillers’ signal caller to the Los Angeles’ Rams’ Norm Van Brocklin, the NFL leader at 9.28 yards per pass.

McDairmant had been a relatively anonymous end on the Hillers’ 1948 sophomore team, but Maley moved him to quarterback the following spring and the junior-to-be won the job.

McDairmant (27) and Hillers teammates missed  big Powell.

McDairmant (27 in first row) and Hillers teammates missed big Powell.

McDairmant also had some “cred”, although that term did not become a part of the social lexicon until years later. The Horace Mann Junior High team of McDairmant, Terry Heselius and Bruce Dietrick had won the three-man City touch football championship by defeating the Memorial triumvirate of Powell, Espy, and Darnes Johnson.


The loss of Powell was just one of Maley’s concerns. The coach was uneasy before the 8 p.m. Friday kickoff at Fullerton High. A dense fog was rolling in, blanketing much of Orange County.

Players on both teams were ghost-like figures in a surreal pregame warmup, rhythmically appearing and disappearing. “I couldn’t see the holder or the kicker I was snapping the ball to,” remembered center Fred Thompson, looking back 60 years later on one of his most disappointing experiences.

Famed cartoonist Willard Mullin cotributed cover to 1950 carnival program.

Famed cartoonist Willard Mullin contributed cover to 1950 City Schools’ carnival program.

To Maley’s almost disbelief, the stadium public address announcer declared a weather postponement, the first in CIF Southern Section playoff history, after the national anthem.

The Cavers were forced to spend the night in Fullerton.

“It was crazy, the way the coaches worked it out,” said Thompson. “There must have been forty-five or fifty players who made the trip.  They had us spread out all over Fullerton. I spent the night with 5 or 6 other players in the fire station. I slept on a cot. We were awakened every time there was any activity by the firemen.”


A long morning wait on Saturday preceded the 2 p.m. kickoff. Forces seem to be working against the Cavemen.

And why, with an 8-0 record, was Maley’s  squad the visiting team? Against an opponent that had a loss (19-0 to South Pasadena) and a tie (0-0 with Whittier) before winning six in a row?

With an oddly timed coin toss nine days before the game to determine where the teams would meet, especially since Fullerton still had a regular season game on its schedule?

Conspiracy theorists cited another example of perceived CIF Southern Section bias. The Southern Section numbered almost 200 schools, the great percentage of which were at least 100 miles north of San Diego, the so-called “Border Town”.

Fullerton proved a tough, worthy opponent.

Expected to grind it out and try to maintain ball-control, the Indians struck twice with touchdown passes in the third quarter after a 6-6 deadlock in the first half. San Diego answered with touchdowns each time but a missed extra point in the fourth quarter left the Cavers short. Final score, 20-19.


Had the Hillers made the conversion and the game ended 20-20, San Diego would have advanced to the semifinals of the 10-team bracket, having more first downs than Fullerton. That CIF rule would come into play again in 1955, when the Cavers met Anaheim in an epic semifinal playoff.

The last indignity came late in the game. An apparent 15-yard touchdown run by Frank Johnson that would have put the San Diego in front, 25-20, was erased because of a rarely called rule infraction.

A San Diego lineman was penalized because his foot was lined up inside the foot of the lineman next to him.

“We had scored and I had my hand up to signal for the huddle (for the extra point),” Thompson recalled. “Then I heard the referee scream, ‘Illegal formation!’ I had no idea what was going on. I saw the referee go over to the sideline to explain the penalty. Maley was beside himself.”


Front sports page of newspaper said it all.

Front sports page of newspaper said it all as growing city consolidated school teams.

Hoover principal Floyd Johnson, the San Diego representative on the CIF Southern Section executive committee, was in Los Angeles in February, 1950, for a weekend meeting at which the new San Diego City Prep League was formed and the Metropolitan League was realigned.

The City League would consist of San Diego, Hoover, and Grossmont, holdovers from the Coast League; and La Jolla, Point Loma, and Kearny, former Metropolitan League entries.

Metro membership went to Sweetwater, Chula Vista, Coronado, Oceanside, Escondido and Mar Vista, which became the 22nd County school, opening its doors with a temporary campus near the Brown Field air station.

The Southern Prep presented the same lineup as in 1949. Mountain Empire, in distant Campo, was given a “passive” membership. Its representatives would attend league meetings and the Redskins would abide by SPL rules, but they played a limited league schedule.

Brown Military also remained in the SPL but would not play San Dieguito. St. Augustine, as usual, was not a factor, wearily traipsing to and from schools in the far-flung, Los Angeles-dominated Southland Catholic League.

The Saints would mount a strong campaign for admittance to a San Diego league later in decade. And what a decade it would be! From 1950-59 San Diego High was 85-15, the best record of any school in California. More significant, 10 new schools were welcomed as San Diego County nudged toward a divorce from the Southern Section.


San Dieguito was more fortunate in the Minor Division playoffs. Riding the heavyweight thrusts of Bud Reid, who finished the season with 16 touchdowns, the Mustangs defeated Metropolitan League co-champ Escondido, 13-0, then followed with wins at Brawley, 33-20, and over Palm Springs, 12-0.

Bud Reid was San Dieguito's touchdown man.

Bud Reid, outrunning Escondido defenders, was San Dieguito’s touchdown man.

Mustangs supporters were only slightly assuaged. They continued to be miffed at what they saw as disrespect for the school’s athletic program and lack of consideration when the re-leaguing of the 21 San Diego County schools took place earlier in the year.

San Dieguito wanted to sit at the big table, in the Metropolitan League, but was consigned to the weaker Southern Prep League.

Mar Vista, located in the supposedly more geographically suited South Bay and opening in September, 1950, would give the Metropolitan League its desired six teams, although Mariners games wouldn’t count in the league standings the first year.

San Dieguito, in the North San Diego County Encinitas community, claimed its second straight SPL title with a 4-0 record and outscored league rivals Army-Navy, Ramona, Fallbrook, and Vista, 142-19.


It’s no surprise Charlie Powell was the Southland player of the year despite playing only 6 1/2 games and,  with Powell healthy, the Cavers arguably were one of the top teams in the state.

Powell played running back, pass-catching end, and defensive end and could turn a game either way.

The tall, graceful Powell astounded the crowd of more than 8,000 in Bakersfield by running down and making an open field tackle on halfback Hal Morgan, a 49-seconds quarter-miler and one of the fastest athletes in the San Joaquin Valley.

Morgan, who gained 40 yards on the play and reached the Cavers’ 10-yard line,  was injured on the tackle and did not return. Powell also ran for a first down with a bad snap from punt formation.

Powell was all over the field in win against San Joaquin Valley power.

Powell was all over the field in win against San Joaquin Valley power.

The Cavers had brought the game to the 6-0 Bakersfield Drillers, scourges of the CIF Central Section, after a five-hour bus ride.

Hal Espy scored on the first play of the game with a 72-yard dash.  San Diego held leading rusher Bill Fanning to 19 yards and the Cavers eased to a 19-7 victory over coach Homer Beatty’s club, which was  averaging 32.3 points and wreaking havoc from Fresno to the Grapevine on U.S. Highway 99.

As Bakersfield Californian writer Eddie Lopez noted, “Never before in all six of their previous games have the Drillers faced such dazzling speed, beefy forwards, and devil-may-care gambling  as illustrated by the visiting Cavers.”


Local observers generally were pleased with the alignment of the new San Diego leagues, with some reservations. Evening Tribune sports editor George T. Herrick did not like the idea that league games were scheduled by draw, coordinated by school principals.

Herrick suggested coaches would have done a better job. The schedule “pitted traditional teams against each other too early in the year,” said Herrick, who pointed out that every city school except La Jolla claimed its lowest attendance in several years at home games.

Particularly galling, said Herrick, was the scheduling of San Diego and Hoover in the league opener at Aztec Bowl as a Hoover home game.  The game drew 10,000 in the 11,500-seat stadium at San Diego State, not far from the Hoover campus. Attendance was half that of the 1949 game at Balboa.

City League officials, when announcing the schedule, indicated they wanted to minimize traditional rivalries. Point Loma and La Jolla, old antagonists from the Metro League, also were paired in a City League opener.

Evening Tribune  writer Jerry Brucker reported that CPL bosses felt the San Diego-Hoover game had gotten “too big” and needed to be deemphasized.

Tradition also took a back seat when San Diego High’s acclaimed Sergeanettes did not perform. A new rule prohibited the band and drill teams of visiting schools from participating in pregame or halftime ceremonies.


The pageantry and precision of ancillary groups was appreciated by the official crowd of 20,526 persons which turned out for the 12th annual City Schools football carnival.

The West of San Diego, Point Loma, and La Jolla, defeated the East of Kearny, Hoover, and Grossmont, 18-8 in a perfect, East-West geographical alignment of three, 15-minute quarters.

Point Loma’s Marshall (Scooter) Malcolm returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown against Grossmont and La Jolla’s Oscar Ruiz scored two touchdowns against Kearny. San Diego and Hoover were scoreless.


Hoover at last introduced its new lighting system as 4,500 showed to watch the Cardinals tie San Bernardino, 14-14.

New lights had been purchased in time for the 1949 campaign but were late arriving and the Cardinals played the ’49 schedule on the road.

La Jolla installed new lights at Scripps Field on campus. Point Loma erected concrete bleachers, and Kearny acquired land to enlarge its athletic plant.


The Breitbard Athletic Foundation announced that a “San Diego Board of Football” had been formed. Writers Gene Earl and John McDonald of The Union;  Jerry Brucker and Tom Stansberry of the Tribune, and F.W. (Bill) Whitney of the Breitbard Foundation would select the all-City and all-Metropolitan League teams.

Coaches would be asked only to fill out ratings cards on opponent players the Monday following games The writers would analyze and make choices, supposedly removing selection politics and coaching agendas.


Head coach Gerry Spitler summed up the first season at Mar Vista:

“A few weeks ago we were greeted by thirty-five boys, five of whom lettered in junior varsity football at Chula Vista; a practice field full of rocks, and a coaching staff (Bob Ganger, baseball, and Don Smith, basketball) new to the game.”

Players walked the field before the first practice, picking up rocks and using their helmets as buckets. A student contest resulted in the naming of the school and its teams (Mariners) and colors (green and gold).

Mar Vista students attended classes at the abandoned Naval Air Base at Brown Field near the U.S-Mexico border while the new school was being constructed.

Sweating through an opening-game, 26-0 loss at Corona,  Spitler declared, “The first quarter was the longest in my life!” Mariners players committed numerous penalties resulting in a 49-minute opening period.


The summer’s second annual College Prep game, matching all-Los Angeles against all-Southern California, was won by the L.A. City team, 27-7, before 15,000 in Balboa Stadium.

Several days later game founder Bob Breitbard announced that there would not be a third game between recent high school graduates.   The popular contest had been a financial loser, said Breitbard.

La Jolla’s Sid Davis scored the losers’ only touchdown with an 88-yard kickoff return in the last minute.


Harvey, flanked by Omer Ruiz (left) and Ted Christiansen became head coach at La Jolla in 1950.

Walt Harvey, flanked by Omar Ruiz (left) and Ted Christiansen became head coach at La Jolla.

Compton defeated Fullerton 26-14 for the SCIF championship… San Diego won its opening game 14-2 over Long Beach Poly before 9,000 at Long Beach Veterans’ Memorial Stadium in  a renewal of a  preeminent Southern California rivalry…the Cavers and Jackrabbits met 30 times between 1910 and ’41 but they had not played since 1944…La Jolla, under new coach Walt Harvey, and Point Loma, led by the veteran Don Giddings, proved to be able replacements for teams from the Coast League…Point Loma beat Hoover and hung in against San Diego… Hoover played Glendale, Arizona, and San Diego played Glendale, California… the Cavers averaged almost 11 yards a carry and hammered Glendale with 323 yards on the ground… Frank Johnson had 151 yards in 9 carries, Eddie Duncan 79 in 8, and Hal Espy 88 in 6…Powell ran 63 yards on an end-around for a touchdown and scored on pass plays of 27 and 69 yards in the 33-21 victory over Point Loma…the Kearny Komets scored only 21 points and were 0-5 in the City League, prompting criticism of their inclusion in the new lineup… Hoover had two players named Bill Reed, one a guard, the other a fullback, no relation…head coach Hal Smith was a one-man staff…he did not have an assistant coach…with two touchdown passes to Hal Espy against Fullerton, San Diego’s Chuck McDairmant finished with 14 in nine games…St. Anthony forfeited to St. Augustine after discovery that the Long Beach school had scheduled Newport Harbor on the same night… fiery Hoover coach Bob Kirchhoff promoted several sophomores to the varsity and slashed the number of players dressing for home games after successive losses to San Diego and Grossmont… part of the Cardinals’ problem was a season-ending shoulder injury to halfback Don Bonatus, one of the area’s best… led by fullback Jim Frankson, Sweetwater outgained Escondido 390 yards to 90 and lost, 12-6…Lee Bogle’s team at Grossmont was known as Bogle’s Boogiemen…Harry Sykes of Coronado scored a touchdown in the final game against Montebello and finished with 100 points, seventh highest total in County history….    

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2013: Season May Not Be Over

Is a state bowl game series game  in the offing for a San Diego Section team?

Cal-Hi Sports is suggesting that Mission Hills could meet the winner of  tonight’s Southern Section, Vista Murrieta-Corona Centennial Division I championship contest.  Such a game would take place on  the weekend of Dec. 13-14 and be a Southern California playoff prelude to a state championship game.

St. Augustine, Cathedral, and Holtville also are in the mix.  Any  of the 5 Section champions are eligible, but most will be on the outside looking in. 

The Saints have not turned in their equipment and will be watching to see who wins the Southern Section Division II matchup between Gardena Serra and West Hills Chaminade.

Holtville, which won D-V, is an 11-1 possibility in D-IV. There is no D-V playoff.

Cathedral is a D-1 longshot but administered the only loss in 13 games for Vista Murrieta.

A caveat to much of this is which Southern Section winners will go into the Open Division and which will be in D-I. 

Meanwhile, Christian has taken legal action to  place the Patriots in a D-IV bowl series game.  Christian has less than 500 students and, according to state CIF bylaws, that automatically means Christian is D-IV.

Playoff pairings throughout the state this year were determined by “past success” and not by enrollment.  Christian thus is in the San Diego Section D-III title game tomorrow night against San Marcos, which has a student body of more than 2,200.

San Marcos is favored and a Christian loss could make a D-IV state playoff berth and the law suit agajnst the San Diego Section and State CIF somewhat academic.

Christian is represented by attorney Bob Ottilie, who has won previous battles against the high school federations.

The games are tonight. The politics will follow soon after.


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2013: Cathedral & San Pasqual Both Winners

So shocked were San Pasqual defenders they just watched.

Cathedral’s Jack Onstott ran 98 yards with an intercepted pass and brought a stunning conclusion to the Division I, San Diego Section championship game.

It was the most thrilling finish since…since Auburn beat Alabama with a 99-yard field goal return a week ago.

But Cathedral’s three-overtime, 37-31 victory over the school from Southeast Escondido was just as sudden and more final and maybe a little more emotional.Cathedral

Onstott, just a junior, has next season to look forward to.

But the Dons’ linebacker ended this season and the careers of many players on the field at Qualcomm Stadium, seniors on both sides of the ball who most likely strapped on a helmet for the last time.

Scoreboard be damned, both teams were winners.

Remember it, guys, and take the experience with you through life.


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2013: Championship Predictions…er, Guesses

Imperial’s dream run and Crawford’s miracle run each came to an end…with a thud.                                                                                                                                                   

The Tigers of the Imperial Valley were no match for St. Augustine in the San Diego Section Division II semifinals, losing 56-12, despite a good performance by Royce Freeman.

Crawford, which had stepped down a division and rekindled success of years past, was ambushed 42-6 in the D-V championship by Holtville, a team the Colts had beaten 21-14 in the regular season.

Such is life in the postseason.

Five championships will be determined this week, three tomorrow at Qualcomm Stadium. Two more are scheduled Saturday at Mesa College.


Is there a possible California bowl series bid in the offing for either Oceanside (10-2) or Mission Hills (11-1)? 

Probably not, but hopefully.

The Grizzlies whacked Oceanside 30-6 during the regular season, but most pundits, including me, have sided with the Pirates.

As we see it:  Oceanside, 34-24.


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2013: Warren Vinton, 89, Led Helix in ‘Sixties

Warren Vinton, who helped Helix establish itself as an athletic force as San Diego schools moved to form their own CIF section, passed away in Murrieta in Riverside County recently at age 89.

Vinton  posted a 25-9-1 record as the Highlanders’ head coach from 1964-67, winning two Grossmont League championships and taking his team to the San Diego Section title game in 1966.

The University of California at Santa Barbara graduate joined the coaching staff at Helix in 1956, when coach Tom Welbaum guided the Highlanders to an 8-1 record and a berth in the Southern Section playoffs.

Vinton (cnter) was joined at a 1967 practice with assistants Tom Feeser (left) and Bill White.

Vinton (center) was joined at  1967 practice by assistants Tom Feeser (left) and Bill White.

When Welbaum relocated to start the new Mount Miguel program in 1957, Vinton remained as college teammate Dick Gorrie became head coach.

After posting a 39-21-2 record in seven seasons, Gorrie was named head coach at Santa Ana Junior College and was succeeded by Vinton.

Vinton stepped down after the 1967 season but remained on the Highlanders’ faculty until his retirement in 1989.

A  La Mesa resident for 56 years, Vinton was remembered by Helix graduate and San Diego Evening Tribune sportswriter Roger Conlee, who covered the Highlanders during one of the most successful eras in school history.

“Warren was a contrast, more cerebral, less rah-rah than the charismatic Gorrie,” said Conlee.   “He had a droll sense of humor and a keen knowledge of football, especially the defensive side of the game.”

Vinton was tall, Gorrie much shorter.  Both handsome, they crafted an image of Helix football that was hip and almost glamorous compared to their Grossmont League brethren.

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2013: Open Semifinals & III, IV, and V Quarterfinals

Ailing John Carroll, still not fully back from a late-season health scare,  wasn’t about to go hyperbolic.

After all, Carroll has won 233 games  in  25 seasons at Oceanside.

U-T San Diego writer Don Norcross wanted to know if the Pirates’ rally from 23 points behind at the half to a 33-30 Open Division playoff victory over Eastlake was the greatest..

“No, thank God, we’ve done it before,” said Carroll, “but (it was) the best this year.  Fantastic!”

Recovering Carroll stayed cool.

Carroll”s 247th career victory was result of Oceanside’s return from 30-7 halftime deficit.

History and tradition must mean something.


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2013: D-I & II Quarterfinals: No. 8 Beats No. 1

Props to the Open Division, which delivered the games the CIF hoped for in a terrific week of San Diego Section playoffs.

But Oceanside’s stunning comeback, which ousted Eastlake, 33-30, and Mission Hills’ grinding, 24-21 win over Helix were just part of  competitive, late November action.

And at most venues there was the accompaniment of a calendar visitor,  rain and chill.

It started Thursday night with  Divisions I and II quarterfinals.


–Mission Bay, now 11-1 but the No. 8 seed in D-II, rallied in the last three minutes, then weathered a last-second field goal attempt to knock out Madison, the No. 1 seed and the state’s defending D-III champion.

Matson and Buccaneers advanced to D-II semifinals.

Matson (in earlier game) and Buccaneers advanced to D-II semifinals.

The 21-18 victory, coming on Andre Petties-Wilson’s 12-yard touchdown  catch of Nicholas Plum’s pass with 2:50 remaining, was the 161st in coach Willie  Matson’s 24-season career as a head coach.

Matson, a Kearny graduate, was head coach at Mission Bay from 1984-85 (5-15), then served from 1987-93 at Kearny (49-32-1) and logged  logged six seasons, 1996-2001,  at Hoover (38-28-2).

His  last nine years have been Mission Bay redux (69-35-3)  and few, if any, of the coach’s 161 victories (including one San Diego Section title), were more dramatic or satisfying.

Only six weeks before the Buccaneers were on the short end of a 42-7 score against Madison in the teams’ Western League opener.


–El Capitan  took its 10-1 record and 44-point scoring average over the mountains to the Imperial Valley and became Imperial’s 11th straight victim, 49-42.

The Tigers’ Royce Freeman rushed for 218 yards in 36 carries and scored three touchdowns to raise his season total to 43.

Imperial, undefeated and with an average winning margin of 46-14, was behind 35-21 at halftime.

Freeman finally put the Tigers ahead for the first time with a 13-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-three with 5:52 remaining in the game.

The Tigers, the 3 seed, now take on No. 2 St. Augustine in the semifinals at Mesa College next Wednesday.


–It took awhile for people to start taking notice of Rancho Buena Vista, which was 4-35-1 from 2007-11.

The Longhorns, seeded fifth in D-II, showed some unexpected muscle in blowing out 4 seed Mount Miguel, an 8-2 team, 50-10, and this followed a regular-season, 38-36 win RBVcrestover San Pasqual, top seed in D-I.

The Vista school’s comeback began when Paul Gomes, who was 59-37-7 in nine years at Escondido, took over the program in 2012 and immediately improved the Longhorns from 0-10 to 6-6.

Gomes had left Escondido after the 2009 campaign to take a job on the staff of Rancho Santa Margarita’s Harry Welch.

Note: results and pairings for next week’s games can be accessed by going  to the  “Scores” link on the home page, then visiting the drop-down menu “by year”.


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2013, Week 12: Favorites Ease Through Round 1

The seeding panel of mostly former coaches did its job.

There were almost no upsets in any of the six rounds on the opening Friday of the San Diego Section playoffs.

None, except in the ubiquitous and maligned Division IV, where 11 seed El Centro Southwest (3-7) defeated six seed Montgomery (4-6), 10-7, and 10 seed Clairemont (4-6) upset 7 seed La Jolla Country Day (5-5), 28-14.


Seventeen losing teams and eight with .500 records comprised 25 of the 64, opening-round qualifiers.

There are  six losing teams and three .500 teams remaining as  quarterfinals take place in D-II, III, and IV, and semifinals in the Open and V divisions on Nov. 21-22.  Seven with non-winning records still are alive in  D-IV.

The Open Division semifinals are just what the CIF San Diego Section hoped for:  two big matchups, Helix at Mission Hills and Oceanside at Eastlake.

Division I is yet to shake out, but Carlsbad (4)-Grossmont (5) and Ramona (2)-Mt. Carmel (7) could be interesting.


Continue reading

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2013: Is Eastlake Underrated?

Cal-Hi Sports honcho Mark Tennis continues to build a case for Eastlake as the San Diego Section’s No. 1 team, although the 31 members of the U-T San Diego voting panel have re-installed Oceanside as No. 1, followed by Mission Hills.

Eastlake is third.

Answers should be forthcoming in the Open Division playoffs, which begin tonight.  Eastlake and Oceanside could meet in next week’s semifinals.

Eastlake is ranked 12th in Cal-Hi Sports’ latest poll, followed by Mission Hills, which rose from 20th to 14th, and Oceanside, back in the poll at 25th.

“Bubble” teams included Helix and Madison.  Cathedral did not get a call, its loss to St. Augustine three weeks ago a collective kick in the pelvic region.

“Based on our assessment of their record and the who beat who, a young Eastlake is our top dog until someone from the CIFSDS beats them,” wrote Tennis.

Tennis then made a more interesting observation.  “If the boys from Chula Vista were the top seed in the San Diego Union-Tribune (sic) poll, they would most likely be a Top 10 team (in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings).

Eastlake’s only loss in a 9-1 season was to Chandler Hamilton 28-17, in the season’s opening game.  Hamilton is a Top 10 team in Arizona.


Eastlake is sixth in the newsletter’s South Division I ratings  for State Bowl consideration. Madison is fifth and St. Augustine seventh in D-II.  Francis Parker and Christian are 1-2 in D-IV.


Cal-Hi Sports is not particularly impressed with San Diego Section basketball teams.  Not one was in its preseason Top 10.  La Costa Canyon is 22nd, El Camino (with standout guard Jason Watson transferring from Army-Navy) 26th, and St. Augustine 35th.

Foothills Christian and Hoover are on the bubble.

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2013, Week 12: Oceanside, Mission Hills Deadlock

Oceanside and Mission Hills reached the end of the 10-game regular-season race in a flatfooted tie, each earning a first-place rating after they deadlocked with 276 points in the UT-San Diego poll of sportswriters and sportscasters.

Coach Chris Hauser’s Grizzlies, who shocked Oceanside, 30-6, in the regular season, are the top-seeded team in the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs, created this year to place teams not by enrollment but by records and past success.

The criteria also is in place for Divisions I-V and means that teams will be moved up and down in future playoff seedings.  As an example, Crawford, 10-0 and favored in D-V this season, could automatically move up a division in 2014.

Mission Hills takes on No. 8 Steele Canyon (3-7) in the first round.  Second-seeded Eastlake, which finished third in the poll, meets No. 7 Poway (4-6).  Oceanside, seeded third, gets No. 6 Torrey Pines (6-4)  and fourth-seeded Helix takes on No. 5 La Costa Canyon (7-3).

If seeding goes to form, a blockbuster semifinal looms, Mission Hills meeting Helix and Eastlake battling Oceanside.

The playoff seeding meeting was anchored by a group of mostly retired coaches.  The coaches (seeding) and media (poll), not surprisingly, didn’t agree on Open Division placements, although they were in step regarding top seeds in D-I and  II.

As the  games begin the U-T‘s group will be on hiatus, with a final poll conducted after the playoffs.


Team (1st)



Last Week


Oceanside (13)





Mission Hills (12)





Eastlake (5)





San Pasqual (1)















St. Augustine










Cathedral Catholic





Mount Miguel




*Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Others receiving votes: Carlsbad, 6; El Capitan, 4; Imperial, 3; Grossmont,  2; Mission Bay, Hoover, 1 each.

Thirty-one sportswriters, sportscasters and administrators vote each week, including:  John Maffei, Craig Malveaux, Dennis Lin, Don Norcross, Lisa Lane, and Andrew Burer, U-T-San Diego; Steve Brand, Terry Monahan, Bill Dickens, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, U-T-San Diego correspondents; Nick Pellegrino, East County Sports.com; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (107.9 FM The Mountain); Jeff Kurtz, playonsports.com; Ernie Martinez, XTRA Sports 1360; John Kentera, Jack Cronin, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak, Jordan Carruth, Bobby Wooldridge, Mark Chiebowski (The Mighty 1090;  Rick Willis, Brandon tone, Jake Fadden, KUSI-TV; Craig Elsten, 619sports.net; Rick Smith, Partletonsports.com; Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta, CIF San Diego Section, and Bruce Ward, San Diego Unified School District.
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2013, Week 12: Playoffs Begin In 6 Divisions

We must be in an era of entitlement.

How else can you explain that 64 of 97 San Diego Section teams were invited to participate in the playoffs?

And 25 don’t even have winning records.

Seventeen losing teams and eight with .500 records are in.

They’ll vie for 6 divisional championships.

Sixty of 96 teams, including seven with losing records, made the five-division postseason in 2012.

Division IV this year includes one winning team out of 12, Sweetwater’s 6-4 Red Devils.

La Jolla, with a 4-6 record, gets a first-round bye.

El Cajon, 2-8 with a record of 0-4 and a negative point differential of 191-7 in the Grossmont Valley League, is in the IV playoffs!


The CIF created an Open Division this year in hopes of getting the elite teams competing in one bracket.  “Only” two losing teams, 3-7 Steele Canyon and 4-6 Poway are in the Open Division.

The top seeds are Mission Hills (9-1), Open; San Pasqual, 9-1, D-I; Madison, 9-1, D-II; Francis Parker, 10-0.  D-III; Monte Vista, 5-5, D-IV, and Crawford, 10-0, D-V.


Best first-round matchups:

Open–La Costa Canyon (5) at Helix (4).


DII—Brawley (9)  versus Mission Bay (8) at site to be determined. Scripps Ranch (10) at West Hills (7).

DIII—The Bishop’s (7) at Morse (10).


DV—Army-Navy (5) at Blythe Palo Verde (4-6).

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2013, Week 11: How Mighty Have Fallen

San Diego High’s football program has bottomed out.

The Cavers forfeited to Hoover on the Monday before the Friday game this week.  The reason given was that they had less than 20 players and unable to field a full squad.

There was a time when that many running backs turned out for football at San Diego High.

San Diego’s fall from the heady decade of the 1950s, when the Cavers’ 85-15 record was the best in California and their 1955 team was acclaimed national champion, followed  the retirement of Duane Maley after the 1959 season.

San Diego experienced its first winless season in 53 years just two seasons later, going 0-6-2 in 1961 (they were 0-5-1 in 1908, 0-10 in 1984 and 1997, and 0-9 in 2013).

The Cavers have had some successful records since Maley’s retirement and were 7-4 as recently as 2011 but the decline has been steady, with only 16 winning seasons in the last 54, compared with 49 in the first 66.


“It feels like a five-thousand pound elephant has been lifted from our shoulders,” Cody Roelof told U-T San Diego reporter Kevin Farmer.

“Our kids have been so close the last four years,” said Roelof, who guided the Hilltop Lancers to their second-ever league championship and first since Stan Canaris coached the Lancers to a 9-1 record and the Metropolitan League title in 1979.

Hilltop edged Mar Vista for the Metro South Bay title, 18-15, on a play suggested by Roelof’s players.

Eschewing a field goal, which could have tied the game and necessitated overtime, the Lancers took their chances on fourth down at the five-yard line with four seconds remaining.

Hilltop quarterback Daniel Sanchez pitched a handoff to Drake Madarang, who followed lead blocker Luis Hernandez into the end zone for the winning score.


Grossmont’s Anthony Lawrence set records for career passing yardage (8,502) and pass completions (652) and is two short of the career record for touchdowns (91) .

The Foothillers will be in the playoffs after an 8-2 regular season.


Mt. Carmel could have won its first league title since 1994 but lost to Del Norte, 35-28, and shared the  Valley League gonfalon with Del Norte and San Marcos…after beating Torrey Pines, 27-0, in the “Beach Bowl,” La Costa Canyon running back Kevin Mann was moved to declare to U-T San Diego reporter Kirk Kenney, “This is the biggest rivalry, I think, in sports.”…after digesting the profoundness of Mann’s pronouncement, Kenney anointed the La Costa concession department with the rare five belches on his five-belch scale…2013 state shot put and discus qualifier Dotsun Ogundeji returned a fumble 58 yards for a Madison touchdown in its 28-7 win over Point Loma…”We kept our eyes up and our heads on a swivel,” said Warhawks defender Sam Vermillion, describing Madison’s approach to Point Loma’s “fly sweep” offense…Helix’s 14-13 victory over Steele Canyon marked Troy Starr’s 200th career win…Starr  is 61-12-1 since 2008 with the Highlanders….



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1948: High School Football is No. 1!

A small item in The San Diego Union revealed that the Coliseum Arena in San Diego would be dark on Sept. 24.

A scheduled boxing card  was called off, because the promoter didn’t want to compete for gate receipts with the annual City Schools’ football carnival.

The carnival, kickoff to the high school season, was so popular with the city’s sports fans that even events as unrelated as professional boxing matches deferred to the preps.

It was the way we were in 1948.

Kearny band members give cheerleader Beverly ull a lift (left), while Marilym Harness of San Diego High leads a cheer at ninth annual City schools' football carnival.

Kearny band members give cheerleader Beverly Dull a lift (left), while Marilyn Harness of San Diego High leads a cheer at 10th annual City schools’ football carnival.

Television had arrived but had yet to change American  entertainment habits. The NFL’s popularity was in the formative stage, and major league baseball was a game played at least two time zones and 1,800 miles to the East.


Football attendance in San Diego, beginning with the Carnival, still was at levels that would be considered unattainable just 10 years into the future.

The pomp, pageantry, and action of the carnival drew an estimated overflow crowd of 27,000, about as much as attended the 1947 Hoover-San Diego game, but less than the all-time record of 30,000 at the 1946 carnival.

San Diego outscored Hoover, 21-0, in its 15-minute debut and the Hillers and West compatriots La Jolla and Point Loma defeated the East contingent of Grossmont, Hoover, and Kearny, 28-2.

San Diego High had the largest home attendance, but Grossmont, ousted from the Metropolitan League because of increasing enrollment, proved to have a strong following as the third local member of the Coast League, joining San Diego and Hoover.

The Foothillers and Cavers played before 11,500 in their Coast League game at Balboa Stadium, and the Foothillers and winless Hoover drew 6,000 to Aztec Bowl.

Hoover, with no chance to win, helped San Diego draw 15,000 to Balboa Stadium for the annual renewal of the city rivalry, and 6,000 overflowed the Hoover stadium (before a stands-destroying fire) for a game with San Bernardino.

There was an overflow crowd of 5,000 at La Jolla for the Vikings’ Metropolitan League showdown with Coronado, and a jam-packed crowd of 3,000 saw host Vista win its Southern Prep title-deciding encounter with San Dieguito.

Eight-thousand were on hand at Ramsaur Stadium in Compton for San Diego’s big Coast League contest with Compton.

The numbers were up everywhere.


The Spanish word is correctly pronounced with  an “e” emphasis, but no one in the distant North County community was interested in  linguistics.

Not the way the local football team was playing.

The Panthers outscored four Southern Prep League opponents, 148-0, and defeated San Dieguito, 20-0, for the league championship on the Nov. 11 Armistice Day, later named Veterans’ Day.

Jack Goddard and Vista's ground attack reined in San Dieguito Mustangs.

Jack Goddard and Vista’s ground attack reined in San Dieguito Mustangs.

The Panthers met Tustin in a one-game, Southern Section Minor Division Southern Group playoff.

The Tillers trailed the host Panthers, 13-7, at the half but rallied to win the title 20-13.

But Vista’s 294 points in nine games,  the most scored by a County team since the 1945 San Diego team of coach Bill Bailey had 385 points in nine games, made the Panthers more popular than their bigger North County neighbors, Oceanside and Escondido.


San Diego High had a new coach.  Bill Bailey resigned to become head coach at the neighboring Junior College and was replaced by Duane Maley.

Maley was a 1939 graduate of San Diego and played collegiately at USC.

Maley’ first team was 7-0-1 in the regular season, and then felt the pain of  the first of several disappointments in the Southern California playoffs.


The Cavers were beaten by Long Beach St. Anthony, or rather fullback Johnny Olszewski, 20-12, in a first-round game at Long Beach Wilson.

The 185-pound Olszewski, destined for an All-America career at California and a 10- season stint in the NFL, battered the Cavemen with pile-driving rushes, inside and outside, averaging 7.8 yards, gaining 187 yards in 24 attempts, and scoring two touchdowns.

St. Anthony led 20-6 in the waning moments when the Cavers’ Neal Henderson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown.

Olszewski eliminated Ontario Chaffey the following week with touchdown runs of 80, 65, 41, and 22 yards, but was injured in the first quarter and out of the championship game versus Santa Barbara.

St. Anthony and Santa Barbara tied, 7-7, but the Saints were awarded the championship trophy with a 16-12 advantage in first downs.


There would be a Labor Day weekend holiday for the rest of the citizenry, but no rest for new coaches Duane Maley of San Diego or Bob Kirchhoff of Hoover.

On Saturday Maley was in the school gymnasium issuing equipment from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Six miles away in East San Diego, Kirchhoff was doing to same thing, but pulled the plug at 3 p.m.


Hoover principal Floyd Johnson disclosed that San Diego may have its own league of city schools by 1950.

Officials from Coast, Metropolitan, and Imperial Valley schools discussed the possibility at a meeting Johnson chaired.  A City Prep League would include San Diego, Hoover, La Jolla, Point Loma, and Kearny.

Cavemen advertised with schedule poster.

Cavemen advertised with schedule poster.

A sixth school, the projected Southeast High, would join the others.  That school turned out to be Lincoln, which opened as a junior high, grades 7-9, in September, 1949.

The Presidents, as they were first known, became the Hornets and fielded a varsity team for the first time in 1954.


The penalty gods wouldn’t cut a break for the Sweetwater Red Devils.

Lloyd Bishop’s National City squad appeared to have snapped a 0-5 streak, leading 7-6 and intercepting a desperate Coronado pass as the final gun sounded.

Sweetwater, however, was off side.  The infraction put the ball on the Red Devils’ 12-yard line. From there the Islanders’ Jim Voit swept end for a touchdown.

Kurt Storch kicked the point after and C