1928: Eligibility Showdown for Saints and Hilltoppers

The rivalry between San Diego High and St. Augustine, only a year old in football, had heated up.

At least six graduates of the high school continued to play on the prep level, for St. Augustine.

This was not uncommon throughout the CIF in the 1920s, but it was a good explanation for the 30-year struggle the Saints endured while trying to gain respect and a league membership with San Diego schools.

The Saints were not trusted, had no district boundaries, and were not believed when they claimed to abide by the same CIF rules as other schools.

Athletic director John Perry had given the Saints, coached by the hard-charging Herb Corriere, a game in 1927 and another this year.

The Hilltoppers’ 6-2 victory marked the last season the teams would play again until 1946 and that was followed by another hiatus until 1957, when the Saints finally gained membership in the City Prep League.

Alfred Ritchey (white jersey) is surrounded by gang of St. Augustine players in Cavemen's 6-02 victory.

Alfred Ritchey (white jersey) is surrounded by gang of St. Augustine players in Cavemen’s 6-2 victory.

In the workup to this season’s contest, administrators from both schools denied an impending break in athletic relations.

A joint statement was issued by San Diego principal John Aseltine and Father O’Meara of St. Augustine.

“Athletic relations between the schools will continue in the future as they have been previously—in good harmony.  Differences concerning the reported ineligibility of certain St. Augustine players have been ironed out.”

Ex-Cavers playing for the Saints included Kendall (Bobo) Arnett,  Ashley Joerndt, Vic Limon, Frenchy MacLachlan, Blas Torres, and Bob Limon.

Rumors of the above being ineligible for the opening game in City Stadium were spiked by the school authorities after St. Augustine agreed to the following terms:

–No player 21 years or over will be allowed to play.

–A transfer player from San Diego High School must have a recommendation from principal John Aseltine.

–Athletes must be passed in their subjects to compete in any sport.

San Diego and the  Saints continued to meet occasionally in basketball and the schools’ first baseball game was in 1937.

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