Chet DeVore was thinking of an earlier, distant journey and a notion called the “Spin T”.
“We expect a tough game from an aggressive, well-coached team,” DeVore said of coach Gus Headington’s 10-1 El Centro Central squad and its uniquely designated offensive formation, “but we took one, long ride home with a beaten team this year and we don‘t plan to do it again.”
The Chula Vista Spartans had dropped their opening game, 13-6, at Torrance.
Now the blue-and-white-clad Spartans would meet the blue and white Spartans of “The High,” the locals’ designation of Imperial Valley’s oldest school.
At stake: championship of the CIF Southern Section Southern division (small schools). Chula Vista was trying to repeat after a 12-6 victory over Brawley in the 1953 finals.
DeVore was prescient.
Although they trailed 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, the visitors rolled to a 34-12, fourth-quarter advantage and cruised to a 34-19 victory.
Spin T or no Spin T.
Defensive end Larry Armbrust kept constant pressure on Central quarterback Larry Shaw, interrupting Shaw’s timing in the formation, which called for the quarterback to take the ball under center, then wheel and effect a spinning move before giving the ball to a predetermined ball carrier.
Shaw faced further grief from Chula Vista defenders Larry Erwin, Wayne Cassity, Carroll Clowers, and Bob Erwin.
The victory was Chula Vista’s 11th in a row since the opener.
Defeats were becoming few and far between at Chula Vista.
The Spartans’ record since the last two games of DeVore’s first season in 1951 was 33-2. They had not lost since the 1952 playoffs.
I DARE YOU
Teams throughout the country had been leaving the single and double wings and installing various T formations in the last few years. Chula Vista ran the ground-chewing Split T favored by college powerhouse Oklahoma and others.
Grossmont coach Phil Morell was so sure Chula Vista would not pass that the Foothillers’ mentor sent his team out with a nine-man defensive line before a crowd of 4,650 at Helix that included a large group of Spartans’ supporters.
Chula Vista’s running game did not suffer.
Jim McLean ran 61 yards for a touchdown on the Spartans’ third play and 91 yards for a score on Chula Vista’s next possession.
McLean’s 180 yards in 7 carries averaged 25.7 per attempt. Jim Damron added 35- and 59-yard touchdowns runs and Don Schmautz raced 58 yards for a score.
Chula Vista ran off with its third straight Metropolitan League championship with a 31-14 victory.
SPARTANS OWN THIS AWARD
Larry Armbrust and Larry Erwin were named linemen of the week and fullback Don Schmautz and halfback David Erwin were backs of the week in the Metropolitan League after the Spartans dismissed Sweetwater 41-7 in the final-regular season game.
No surprise there.
Spartans Vernon Sanna, Carroll Clowers, and Bob Lusky had been previous linemen of the week and Dave Erwin, player-of-the-year Bob Franklin, and Jim McLean had won back-of-the-week awards chosen by The San Diego Union.
“We like to think we have eleven good players, not just one or two great ones,” said DeVore.
CAN’T SHAKE THEM
Oceanside couldn’t beat Chula Vista when the Pirates had the great C.R. Roberts and were in the Metropolitan League with their rivals 50 miles down U.S. 101.
Roberts was gone this year, but so was Oceanside. What goes around doesn’t always come around.
The Pirates moved into the new Avocado League this season but were forced to play Chula Vista in a first-round playoff.
Chula Vista eliminated John Simcox’s team 32-7.
JACK AND THE ARGONAUTS
A semifinal game with Garden Grove proved a pesky challenge, for awhile.
The usual overflow crowd of 5,000 at the Spartans stadium sat through 125 yards in penalties, six fumbles and five pass interceptions by both teams.
The Argonauts’ Jack Hart, who played left halfback in a Split T formation, moved to tailback when the visitors went to a spread formation.
Hart was a nettlesome presence when he ran and passed the Orange County squad to a 6-0 lead in the second quarter. The Spartans solved Hart’s code thereafter, intercepting four of his passes.
Chula Vista was leading 19-6 in the third quarter when the visitors’ Jim Dunivin executed a hidden ball play. Dunivin appeared to fake a handoff to Don Hosmun then roll and seemingly look for a pass receiver.
Hosmun kept the ball and ran 50 yards for a score as Spartans defenders pursued Dunivin.
With two straight championships the Spartans would look for a bigger challenge in 1955. They would be moving into the playoffs major division.