There was no Week 6 blog, with the attendant rankings from The San Diego Union, because we were celebrating my beautiful bride’s birthday on a seven-day cruise south, along the Mexican Riviera. I had a fat attack, unable to resist the relentless, daily, gastronomic temptations.
There are several interesting games this week, two in particular: San Diego and Kearny, each 6-0, meet on Kearny’s almost-new, lighted field, with the winner taking a big step toward a Central League championship, although Crawford would have to be heard from, and El Centro Southwest (6-0) plays host to Brawley (4-2) for Imperial Valley bragging rights.
Kearny has pulled ahead, 19-16, in a series that dates to 1950, when San Diego defeated the undermanned Komets, 58-12, but lost star player Charlie Powell for the rest of the season and half of basketball when Powell took a knee to the kidneys in the third quarter, when the Cavers led, 58-0.
Three seasons later the confident, 7-0 Komets played San Diego for the City Prep League championship but were dismissed, 27-0. Birt Slater was in his first season as an assistant coach to Duane Maley at San Diego.
Coincidentally the unveiling of a plaque this week that will recognize the Kearny gridiron as “Birt Slater Field” salutes the man who left San Diego, made Kearny a dominant program in the ‘sixties and ‘seventies, and changed things with the Cavers.
Kearny had lost its first nine games against San Diego and faced a good Cavers team in the final regular-season game in 1963. The Larry Shepard-led Slater team shocked the Cavers, 52-14, sending the Komets flying into the playoffs and to their first San Diego Section championship.
Slater didn’t like talking about it but that breakthrough for Kearny may have represented the most satisfying victory of the 134 he amassed from 1959-76.
Slater had been in line for the San Diego job as early as the winter of 1956-57, but his appointment would be contingent on when Maley retired, but Maley didn’t step down until after the 1959 season.
Birt had moved on.
The Cavers are off to their best start since Maley’s 1958 club won its first six games. The level of competition isn’t the same and San Diego shouldn’t be confused with those great Cavers teams of the ‘forties and ‘fifties, but winning has gotten alumni buzzing and students finding a reason to go to games.
Comparative scores seem to indicate a tossup. Coach Will Gray’s Komets beat Francis Parker, 40-3, and San Diego Southwest, 59-28. San Diego, under former University City mentor Charles James, defeated Parker, 54-7, and Southwest, 28-7.
Brawley and El Centro Southwest joined the San Diego Section in 2000 and Brawley, in keeping with its seniority, has ruled the Eagles’ roost.
The Wildcats are 17-1 against Southwest since 2000. The average score of the 18 games is 38-8, including 72-8 and 63-0 indignities. Brawley has won 10 Imperial Valley League titles since the millennium and finished no lower than second in all other seasons.
Coach John Self has picked up the mantel handed down by John Bishop, known as the Desert King during his many years in the Valley, and Bishop had followed the tradition of Bob Farrell, whose ‘fifties Brawley teams were formidable Southern Section small-school operatives.
Southwest’s one victory in the series, 32-27 in 2010, marked the only season the Eagles have won the league championship.
But the school near Interstate 8, at South 23rd Street and Ocatillo Drive, has won 24 of its last 30 games since 2015 under coach John Mitosinka, while Brawley is 18-10 over the same period.
CALIFORNIA TOP 50
Mission Hills is 16th, Madison 23rd, Helix 30th, and La Costa Canyon 43rd in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports statewide rankings.
San Marcos, 45th last week, dropped out after a quasi-surprising, 38-21 loss to Torrey Pines. Ramona, 6-0 for the first time since 2013, attained “bubble” status.
The Union-Tribune Week 7 poll :
|1.||Mission Hills (23)||6-0||275||1|
|4.||La Costa Canyon||6-0||191||5|
Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
NR: Not Ranked.
Others receiving votes: El Camino (3-3, 15 points), El Centro Southwest (6-0, 5), Eastlake (4-2, 4), Valley Center (5-1, 4), St. Augustine (3-3, 2), Christian (5-1, 1), Grossmont (4-2, 1), Mira Mesa (5-1, 1).
Voters (28 sportswriters, sportscasters, officials): John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI Chl. 51; Adam Paul, East County Preps.com; Ramon Scott, East County Sports.com; Bodie DeSilva, San Diego Preps.com; Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions; Troy Hirsch, Fox 5 San Diego; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Jerry Schniepp, John LaBeta, Carlton Hoggard, CIF San Diego; Raymond Brown, sdfootball.net; Montell Allen, MBASports-SDFNL Magazine; Bob Petinak, 1360AM; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9FM; Jim Arnaiz, Mike Dolan, John Carroll, CIF Football Tournament Directors.