1960-2012 Who Had the Best Defense?

A reader submitted that a Torrey Pines team coached by Ed Burke should be considered as having the all-time best defense among San Diego Section championship teams.

Burke’s 2003 Falcons posted a 12-1 record, defeated Fallbrook, 7-3, in the Division I finals, scored 369 points, and allowed their 13 opponents only 69 points, an average of 5.3 points a game.

We researched the points allowed of  more than 160 San Diego Section champions in all 11-man divisions since the section was formed in 1960. By our calculation Torrey Pines ranks ninth.

However, we eliminated the 1978 Christian team that allowed only 1.7 points in 10 games; number 6 Coronado, and number 8 Julian.  Those teams played on a level much lower than Torrey Pines’.

The revised list, showing only five teams above the Falcons:

1–Herb Meyer’s 1984 El Camino Wildcats, who were 13-0, outscored opponents 401-48, and allowed  3.7 points a game.

2—Walt Harvey’s 1961 Crawford team that was 8-0-2, and outscored opponents 182-40 for a 4.0 defensive average.

3—Vic Player’s  Marcus Allen-led 1977 Lincoln Hornets, who were 12-0-1 and had a 373-54 scoring advantage, their opponents averaging 4.2.

4—Gene Alim’s 1983 Sweetwater squad that was 13-0 with a 354-64 scoring edge and a 4.9 defensive average.

5—The 1984 Sweetwater Red Devils, who allowed 5.0 points while posting a 13-0 record with a scoring difference of 448-65.

However, Torrey Pines’ 2003 squad still looks pretty good.

High school offenses  have continued to evolve  each year as teams have passed more often and offenses have spread the field, putting increased pressure on defenses.

From 1985 through 2012 no other championship team had a defensive scoring average  of better than 6.0.  Morse was 14-0 in 1992 and gave up 84 points, a 6.0 average.


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13 Responses to 1960-2012 Who Had the Best Defense?

  1. Scott falls says:

    I played on the Chula Vista teams that played against 3 of 5 of those teams and scored 38 points and won a CIF championship and a runner-up I would say that one have the best teams in San Diego.

    • Rick says:

      Are you referring to the 1983 and ’84 teams coached by George Ohnessorgen? I would agree that those Spartan clubs were among the best in that decade.

  2. Taum Iuli says:

    I’m not sure where Oceansides (75 or 76, not sure) CIF Champs rank,
    but they sure did shut out lot of teams. Nicknamed the Fort Knox Defense.

    • Rick says:

      The 1975 team had six shutouts, was 12-1 overall (only loss, 14-6 to Escondido) and defeated Granite Hills, 25-14, in the championship. Coach Herb Meyer took many of the players from that team and won a championship in 1976 at the new El Camino High.

  3. mike allen says:

    I played on 69 Kearny team 10 games 47 points 5 shutouts and 2 more games only giving up 6 points

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for writing, Mike. You came along at a great point in Kearny history. Birt Slater’s legend lives. I presented John Shaw at the Kearny Hall of Fame event in the school gym a couple months back. There wwere lots of Komets from your generation on hand.

  4. Bob Dexter says:


    Regarding your article on the best defenses of all time the 1971 Patrick Henry season should be listed 4th. We went 11-1 that year outscoring the opposition 267-53 an average of 4.42 points per game. We had 5 shutouts and never allowed more than 8 points in any game. Sadly, we lost to Grossmont 8-7 in the championship game, but it was a great season.

    Bob Dexter

    PS – I became aware of your great website from Henrik.

  5. Stephen Grooms says:

    No complaint’s, these things are so hard to put together. EJ is considered the finest player ever to play at La Jolla. I have to say you got it right for the 99.999 or perfect. I missed the championship part of the best defense. Thanks

  6. The 1973 Kearny team also gave up 69 points over 13 games, 1969 gave up 50 points for the season. I would think point differential would be a good measure. Giving up under 100 points in a season and is wonderful. Love the site, just splendid, you have touched so many lives Rick and we are grateful for it.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for the comments, Stephen. We deserved criticism for players such as Watson who were left off, but I think the players chosen all deserved to be on one of the three squads. Maybe we should have had additional teams, but I think there would have been just as many complaints.

      Regarding your note about the 1969 Komets, our records show that Kearny gave up 78 points in 13 games, while scoring 345. We didn’t mention the 1970 team and its 50-point total on defense, because the reader’s question took into account only teams that won San Diego Section championships. Maybe it could be answered more clearly.

  7. Scott says:

    Who holds the team record for least points allowed in a San Diego CIF football season? I believe the 2003 Torrey Pines Falcons should recieve some much needed props for going 12-1, winning the championship at the Q, while holding opponents to 69 total points over 13 games. Thats 5.3 points/game. That has to be a record right? Thats unheard of!

    • Rick says:

      Scott: Good question. I’m researching it right now, going back and checking all of the San Diego-CIF champions records. i know that Torrey Pines will rank at the top or very high.

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