1980: Rematches and Redemption

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu all over again.

A competitive, topsy-turvy season concluded with an unusual doubleheader, Helix in a rematch with Mount Miguel for the AAA championship and Lincoln in a rematch with La Jolla for the AA title.

In an “up” year in San Diego Section football, 16 teams won at least seven games, compared with 11 in 1979.

The second year of 3A and 2A playoffs featured at least one great game and strong clubs in the Grossmont, Western, Metropolitan, and Palomar leagues.

Future UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell was Helix standout.

After beating Mount Miguel 35-13 in the regular season Helix won the rematch, 13-0. Lincoln overturned an earlier, 23-20 loss to La Jolla with a 39-22 victory.

Helix’ victory reversed the “loss” it sustained to Morse in 1979, when the Highlanders and Morse tied 21-21, but Morse, in the last year of the old tie-breaker rule, won on yards gained in the overtime.


The “California Tiebreaker”, installed by the ruling California Interscholastic Federation in October, favored Helix in its playoff opener against Torrey Pines. The teams deadlocked 7-7 in regulation but Helix won 21-14 in an overtime.

For official records, the game is a tie, a silly rule that deprived Helix of an undefeated, untied season of 12-0, with probably the best team in the long and successful career of head coach Jim Arnaiz.

Helix’s 11-0-1 record represented  the first ever undefeated season in the 21-season history of the Grossmont League and the Highlanders’ first in their 30 seasons.

Helix sophomore Scott Webb broke the 1977 record of Sweetwater’s Albert Calderon with his 25th consecutive point after touchdown.

Webb made 25 in a row on the JV in 1979 and converted 31 in a row for a two-season total of 56 before missing one in the Section championship.

Helix victory in league play against Mount Moiguel was a showcase for the Durden family.

Allan Durden, the third son of Chargers coach Earnel Durden, caught 6 passes for 149 yards,  and touchdowns of 4, 43, 23, and 5 yards from quarterback Jim Plum.

Middle son Kevin scored on a 37-yard run in the Highlanders’ victory.

Allan and Kevin followed older brother Mike, who went to an outstanding career at UCLA.In what The San Diego Union writer Steve Brand declared was “magnificent football”, La Jolla went back and forth with Castle Park before holding off the Trojans in the final two minutes to win 33-28 in the first round of the AA eliminations.

With a 1-5 record, the Hilltop Lancers still were listed in Union‘s Top 10. They were that good.

They would end up 7-2 on the field, fired offensively by brothers Mark (quarterback) and Blake (wideout) Armbrust and running back Tom Hinzo, a future major league baseball outfielder.

Forfeits ruined outstanding year for Hinzo, Hilltop Lancers.

The trio helped Hilltop set a  school record of 29 points a game. But the Lancers were 3-6 legislatively after forfeiting four victories from early in the season.

San Diego Section commissioner Kendall (Spider) Webb ruled that an ad-hoc committee of Metropolitan League honchos had overstepped its bounds when the group decided not to punish the Lancers because of “extenuating circumstances.”

Marian complained to the league that one of its players transferred to Hilltop without proper paper work  (principals from both schools had not signed off on a residential change).

Webb referred to the CIF Green Book: “The league may not determine the penalty. That’s not their decision to make. That is written in the Green Book.”

Lest he be perceived as callous, Webb noted what may have been an “innocent oversight” or “honest mistake”, aware the player and team would be the ones suffering the most.

The forfeits knocked out a fine Hilltop team that battled Castle Park (9-2), Bonita Vista (8-2), and Sweetwater (7-2 with forfeit win) in a competitive Metropolitan League.

Hilltop’s hit reminded of the 1976 forfeitures that rendered Chula Vista’s 9-0 season to 5-4.

The Imperial Tigers, champions of the Southern Section’s Chaparral League in 1979, were in the vanguard of four schools joining the San Diego Section.

Coached by St. Augustine alumnus Dave Gross, the Tigers were accompanied by desert neighbors Calipatria, Holtville, and Winterhaven San Pasqual.

Those four teams from the  Imperial Valley formed the Southern Conference’s Mountain-Desert League with Mountain Empire, which moved over from the original Southern League.

Julian, Borrego Springs, Santa Fe Christian, and Army-Navy of the original Southern became part of the Southern Conference Coastal League.

Imperial defeated Santa Fe Christian 12-10 for the A championship.

The four newcomers brought to 50 the total of AAA, AA, and A schools playing football. There were several other 8-man teams. Winterhaven would return to the Southern Section after the 1984-85 school year.


Southwest coach Bob Arciaga had 36 reasons to celebrate.

Thirty-six was the number of losses the school had endured since opening in 1976…with one victory on the field  (another victory came as a result of Chula Vista’s forfeiting a 76-0 win over the Raiders in 1976).

Southwest mentor was happy camper.

So when the Raiders defeated Coronado 8-7 in Week 2, Arciaga couldn’t be restrained.

“It was the first time we beat Coronado,” said the coach, just getting warmed up. “It was the first time we swept (the JV won 24-0), the first time we ever blocked a punt, the first time we ever made a two-point conversion, and the first time we’ve ever been 1-1.”

The blocked punt and winning two-point conversion all came in the final three minutes.

Jesus Villa scooped up the block and ran 47 yards for a touchdown. Going for the win, Arciaga called a play in which James Taylor slammed into the line, bounced off a tackler, and caromed into the end zone for the decisive point.

From 1-36 the Raiders jumped to 4-5 this year.

Blue Chip Report, a national publication, listed 7 San Diego Section players as major college prospects.

Five of the seven were rated in the Top 10 of their positions: Quarterbacks Sean Salisbury (Orange Glen) and Sean McKee (Patrick Henry); wide receiver Glen Kozlowski (Carlsbad); tackle Keith Kartz (San Dieguito), and linebacker Joey Tavita (Castle Park).

Also cited were Vista running back Joe Faraimo and Oceanside defensive back Nathan King.

Salisbury, Kozlowski, and Kartz made NFL rosters after college. Lincoln free safety Lew Barnes, Helix linebacker Leon White, and El Camino defender Jayice Pearson also played in the NFL. Lincoln quarterback Damon Allen played 23 seasons in the Canadian League.

San Pasqual’s Hog Squad of the 1970s spun off to the Big Mac Attack this year. Linebackers Barry (Mac) McKeever, Brian McFadden, and Jeff McCoy were coached by Bill McAllister.

McKeever is the son of Mike McKeever, who starred with twin brother Marlin at USC before an auto accident ended his life.


Russ Leslie, athletic director and former head coach at Patrick Henry, made a call in the spring to Dick Disney, ex-coach and athletic director at Orange Glen.

“Let’s play,” said Leslie. “Sounds good to me,” said Disney, or words to that effect, the idea being to showcase each team’s star quarterback, Sean Salisbury for Glen and Sean McKee for Henry.

College scouts were in abundance but the most significant moment was left to an unknown kicker, Mehrdad Nabizadeh, who kicked a 27-yard field goal with 15 seconds left for a 10-7, Henry victory.

McKee completed 8 of 28 passes for 91 yards, three interceptions, and 1 fumble.Salisbury completed 10 of 26 for 181 yards, and two interceptions, but was 3 of 5 for 62 yards during the winning drive.

Torrey Pines and Ramona played into Johnny Carson’s time slot…fog prevented the JV undercard from getting started until minutes past 8 p.m… Torrey won the delayed varsity main event, 35-7… ‘Mona coach Jack Menotti said he would step down if the Bulldogs didn’t have a winning season…after a 2-0 start and 2-7 finish, Menotti stayed on…27 of the 50 AAA, AA, and A teams playing football had attempted 35 field goals in the season’s first four weeks…by way of comparison, not a single field goal was attempted between 1951 and ’56, years before soccer style kickers came on the scene… largest running back in the section? Probably Cortez Greer of Sweetwater, 240 pounds… unlike the finals, semifinal playoff opponents were almost complete strangers… Helix played Poway; Mount Miguel met Vista; Lincoln took on Bonita Vista, and La Jolla lined up against San Pasqual… Vista defeated Mount Miguel 40-13 for the A championship in 1960 in their only meeting… the others had never met… Castle Park’s Walter Holmes scored 15 touchdowns in the first 6 games and ended the season with 21 TD’s in 10 games and led the County with 128 points… Oceanside clinched a victory in the game’s first 12 seconds when Dale Walton ran 91 yards for a TD on the opening kickoff of a 7-6 win over San Pasqual… the “Shoe,” a bronze trophy that had been awarded every year since 1926, except for 1972-76, was back at La Jolla after Casey Brown ran for 153 yards and the Vikings beat Point Loma, 13-7, their first victory over the Pointers since 1972… he never got on the field because of injury but Castle Park linebacker Matt Johnson was a fifth-round draft out of USC by the San Diego Chargers in 1984…



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