1986: Junior Seau, Wide Receiver?

There were no sonic booms and reveille still sounded at the usual time on  the nearby Camp Pendleton military reservation when Roy Scaffidi announced he was moving senior quarterback Junior Seau to wide receiver.

That Seau also played a fine game at linebacker also did not register with a service rating the top players in the San Diego Section.

Under The San Diego Union headline  “San Diego Preps Have ‘Skill’  Galore”, writer Steve Brand pointed out the quality and depth at such positions as quarterback, wide receiver, and running back.

Seau was not mentioned in any of those position assessments, nor did he receive a call at linebacker, where 15 players were cited.

What happened?

Seau happened.

Oceanside improved its record from 3-7 to 10-3 and reached the AA playoff finals under first-year coach Scaffidi.  Seau caught almost 60 passes, scored 11 touchdowns, and was all over the field on defense.


The rangy, 6-foot, 5-inch, 215-pounder also was the CIF San Diego Section defensive player of the year,  CIF basketball player of the year, and one of the leading shot putters in the County with a 56-foot throw during the spring track-and-field season.

Seau was headed for greatness.

Seau was icon in Oceanside and throughout sports world.

A star had been born, one that shone brightly for the next three decades:

–All-America at University of Southern California.

–No. 1 draft choice and fifth player in 1990 NFL draft by his hometown San Diego Chargers.

–NFL All-Pro 10 seasons; 13 Pro Bowls, 268 games in 19 seasons.

–Fifty-seven quarterback sacks, 18 pass interceptions, 21 deflected passes, 11 forced fumbles, 18 recovered fumbles.

A certain, future Hall of Famer, Junior would not see the Chargers retire his jersey number 55.   He took his own life at age 43 in 2012.


A favored matchup would have had Lincoln and Vista squaring off in an AA-AAA final.

Fallbrook happened.

Losers to Vista 48-21 in the regular season, the Section’s most Northern entry smashed the Panthers, 28-14, to win the championship, knocking Vista from a No. 15 national ranking in USA Today, and ending the Panthers’ 25-game winning streak.

After starting 2-2-1, coach Tom Pack’s pass-minded Warriors rolled.

The Madison Warhawks, their first-round playoff opponent, were among those who did not know what hit them, which was a predominantly run-and-shoot passing attack.

“Really, we’re going to defend them just like we’ve defended everyone else,” said Madison coach Steve Miner, who was miffed that the Eastern League co-champion Warhawks had to travel to the home of the Palomar League’s third-place team.

“I just think we match up well,” Miner told Steve Brand. “I think we have more speed than Fallbrook.   We have good quickness and we have five shutouts in 10 games.  Why change?

Final score, Fallbrook, 55-6.


The seventh-seeded Warriors beat Sweetwater for first time in three playoff tries with 24 second-half points in a 31-23 quarterfinals victory.

The Sweetwater victory was followed by a 34-27, semifinals win on a muddy field over Mount Miguel, Warriors quarterback Scott Barrick gutting it out despite battling affects of the flu.

Vista almost was a piece of cake.

Fallbrook led 28-7 when the Panthers’ Tommy Booker broke a 69-yard touchdown run in the final minute.

Barrick passed for 348 yards and two touchdowns in championship thumping of Vista.

Barrick passed for 348 yards and two touchdowns in championship thumping of Vista.

Barrick smashed Jim Plum’s passing records with 32 touchdowns and 3,496 yards and his wide receiver, Bill Dunckel, was a scoring machine, with 91 catches, 1,328 yards, and 18 receiving touchdowns.

Including points after touchdowns and field goals, Dunckel scored a stunning 166 points.

Dunckel usually was on receiving end.

Dunckel usually was on receiving end.

Barrick scorched Vista with 27 completions in 33 passing attempts for 345 yards and two touchdowns.

Barrick’s total passing yards set a state record that lasted for one season.


Jack Neumeyer once coached John Elway in high school at Granada Hills in Los Angeles, then retired and built a home in Fallbrook.

Fallbrook coach Tom Pack was able to get Neumeyer to join his staff, after completion of the retirement house, in 1981.

Neumeier helped devise a version of a run-and-shoot offense.

Fallbrook called it the “run and gun”, lining up with five receivers on every play, 3 wideouts on one side, another wideout on the opposite side, and one in the backfield.

After a record of 8-15-2 in Pack’s first three seasons, the Warriors beginning in 1981 made the playoffs the next six seasons and were 47-18-3 during that period.

Fallbrook did have a running game.  It was named Ty Barksdale.  In one game Barksdale’s 21 attempts represented all the running plays Fallbrook called.


Vista High opened in 1937.  Fallbrook began classes in 1893 but did not field a football team until 1936.

The neighboring communities are only 14 miles apart.  Their teams have been rolling in the dirt almost every year, with Vista holding a 32-13-2 advantage going into the title  game.

This series record included the years 1942 and ’43 when Fallbrook did not field a team and  1960, when the Warriors opted not to join the new, CIF San Diego Section in football and remained in the Southern Section.

Fallbrook actually played the Panthers before Vista High opened.  That was in 1936.  Vista Junior High topped the Warriors 33-0.


As members of the Metropolitan League (1963-72), Coast League (1973-75), and Metropolitan League (1976-84) the Coronado Islanders could always change unwelcome conversation about football and point to their representative teams in water polo, swimming, tennis, and other sports.

Outscored 242-6 in nine games, the Islanders forfeited their final game of the 1984 season to Chula Vista and announced they’d had enough.  Their league record over the 22 seasons beginning in 1963 was 34-107-4, a percentage of .330, i.e., at least two losses in every three games.

The Islanders demanded to be let out of the AA Metro. The school principal said he would campaign for a new 1-A league or petition the 1-A Mountain-Desert circuit for membership.


It was a matter of survival and the Islanders survived, becoming the largest school in the farflung Mountain-Desert, with trips as short as 31 miles (Santa Fe Christian in Encinitas) and as long as 128 (Holtville) and 145 (Calipatria).

Who’s complaining about long bus rides?

The Islanders  won the league with a 6-4 overall record in ’85 and ran off with a 10-1 record this season, routing Imperial, 30-0, for the 1A championship and ranking ninth in that division by Cal-Hi Sports.


Had Coronado found a home or was it just renting? Talk already had begun about an upgrade back to 2A.

“It’s not like all of a sudden Coronado football started getting big numbers out for football,” said coach Dave Tupek.  “I still feel we’re a relatively small football team. We are considered a big 1-A school.  I don’t consider us that big.”

A meeting was held at Mountain Empire the day after the season. Speculation centered on the Islanders’ joining Marian (1-8 in the Metropolitan’s AA South Bay League) and forming a small-schools AA league.  Others mentioned were Ramona, St. Augustine, El Cajon Valley, and Christian.

Such decisions could not be made on the league level, but there were no tears from Imperial and the Islanders’ other rivals in the Mountain Desert when the Section board of managers  put Coronado back in the Metropolitan’s AA alignment.

But for how long? Coronado was becoming a football gypsy.


Lincoln was on its third coach in three seasons. Ray Hooper was suddenly dismissed prior to the 1985 season.  Orlando (Skip) Coons, an assistant under John Shacklett at Morse, stepped into the void and won the AA championship.

Coons had not obtained a fulltime teaching credential, so he had to step aside at Lincoln and become an assistant to…welcome back, Player!

Ensconced in football coaching retirement since 1982, Vic Player returned to the Hornets’ sideline.

Player’s timing was great, as it was in 1960, when he was a two-way player and all-Eastern League at St. Augustine.

Lincoln was closing out a 14-12 victory over the Saints with seconds to play.  Hornets coach Shan Deniston dialed a risky play, a wide pitchout to halfback Adam Cato.  Player, flying from his position as a roving defensive back, scooped up what became a backward pass on one bounce and raced 60 yards for a touchdown and 18-14 victory.


Player inherited perhaps the best team in Lincoln’s studded history, better than the 1977 squad that featured future Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen and was 12-0-1 with a championship.

Player’s first game back was a 71-0 victory over San Francisco Wilson.  Lincoln averaged almost 44 points a game and scored a record 554 points in a 12-1 season that culminated with a 41-7 rout of Oceanside for its seventh AA title and fifth in the last 10 seasons.

An unlikely and stunning, 21-20 upset by Hoover in the middle of the season was the only blotch on the Hornets’ record.


Rowe scored 18 touchdowns, later was drafted in second round by Cleveland Browns.

Rowe scored 18 touchdowns for Lincoln, later was drafted in second round by NFL Cleveland Browns.

“Maybe now I can get some respect from the people out there who thought I was blowing smoke (about the ’86 club being better than the ’77 team),” said Player.  “I knew these kids were that good from the first contact drills.”

Lincoln had the fourth, sixth, and seventh highest scorers in the Section.

Fullback Kevin Key (138), wide receiver Patrick Rowe (110), and running back Marcus Hopkins (108) combined to score 59 touchdowns.  Heady quarterback Keith Mitchell went on to play four seasons of major league baseball.

Player coached seven more seasons.  He was 73-22-2 in his first nine and 58-37 in the second stint.  Player’s overall coaching record of 131-59-2 (.688) stands out among the elite.


Kearny forfeited on-field victories over Mission Bay and University City, the result causing a three-way tie for the championship between U. City, La Jolla, and University. The three benefactors advanced to the playoffs.


Vista’s Tommy Booker bettered a record that was set before the CIF San Diego Section was formed. Booker’s 2,124 yards rushing in 13 games bettered the 1,903 amassed by Oceanside’s C.R. Roberts in nine games in 1953. But Roberts’ game average of 211.4 yards topped Booker’s 163.3.


Gasoline at some San Diego pumps fell below 80 cents a gallon for the first time since the Iranian revolution in 1979.  Jet Discount at Ingraham and Grand in Pacific Beach led the way with regular at 64.9 cents.

Chief Bill Kolender promised to address complaints and news accounts that revealed the dismissal of traffic tickets issued to prominent members of the community, city employees, and friends and relatives of high-ranking police officials.


Chula Vista’s 15-14 victory over Sweetwater was its first over the Red Devils since 1976…Vista’s Tommy Booker returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and ran 93 yards for a touchdown on  the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage in a 27-21, semifinals playoff win over Granite Hills… Booker and David Strojny combined for 342 rushing yards against Granite… Booker returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdowns to key a 44-21 win over Madison… Coronado played 10 games for the first time since 1983 and played outside San Diego County for the first time since 1974, when it flew to north of the Napa wine country to play Upper Lake, the only team to beat the Islanders…ominous sign for the Vista program:  a new high school, Rancho Buena Vista, which would cut into the Panthers’ prime enrollment area, was scheduled to open in 1987…Francis Parker led visiting Borrego Springs 28-15 in the fourth quarter, then held on for a 28-27 victory in the 8-Man championship game… Pierre Jones was Sweetwater’s Mr. October, averaging 7.9 yards a carry,  and scored 8 touchdowns and passed for two…Jones was second to Fallbrook’s Bill Dunckel with 158 points for the season….

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