1992: Leave it to The Bennie

They could have asked Bennie Edens.

Writers and prep experts comprising the selection panel for The San Diego Union weekly Top 10 may well have consulted the Point Loma coach.

No one could have offered more expert testimony.

The peninsula pigskin sage coached his 38th team at the Chatsworth Boulevard enclave and lost to the No’s. 1, 2, 3, and 7 teams this season.

Add another defeat to University City, which was 9-1 and didn’t make the Top 10, and the Pointers were beaten by five clubs with a combined record of 47 wins and three losses.

There’s more.

Poway, which eliminated the Pointers, 14-10, in the first round of the playoffs, finished with a 10-4 record.

Six teams at a combined 57-7!

The final Union regular-season poll:

1. Morse 10-0 39
2. Helix 10-0 36
3. El Camino 9-1 32
4. El Capitan 9-1 28
5. Mt. Carmel 8-1-1 21
6. San Pasqual 9-1 20
7. Kearny 9-1 13
8. Orange Glen 7-3 11
9. Torrey Pines 8-2 7
10. Castle Park 8-2 5

  St. Augustine was another 9-1 team looking up at the Top 10, as was Poway, 7-3 in the regular season.


John Shacklett’s tiger had different spots this season but still claimed its second AAA title in three seasons in its fifth trip to the finals in the last six.

The Tigers of Morse were ranked fourth in the country by USA Today in 1990 when they outscored 14 opponents by an average of 46-13.

Conan Smith was three-year leader of Morse Tigers.

Conan Smith was three-year leader of Morse Tigers.

Shacklett’s 1992 squad wasn’t as explosive, averaging 29 points in another 14-0 season but allowing only an average of 6.

Crushing defense and tough, slashing running by Archie Amerson (675 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in one three-game stretch and AAA offensive player of year) and three-year veteran Conan Smith (defensive player of the year)  were staples of Shacklett’s  squad, which won a fourth  championship in six tries.


El Camino was looking for its fourth straight AA title but its 15-game playoff winning streak was broken, and convincingly, 38-13, by Torrey Pines.

The Falcons survived a season in which their quarterback, Ryan Lynch, was involved in a one-game suspension controversy and was lost with an injury in the middle of the 27-21, semifinal victory over San Pasqual.


Falcon Brian Batson spoke of coach Ed Burke:

“I can’t say enough about him and what he’s done for this football program.  It used to be all we’d think about on Friday nights was where the party was after the game.”

Burke, who coached the Falcons from 1980-84, returned this season and inherited a 4-6-1 team.

“I’m still in a state of shock,” said Burke, who led a program that until four weeks before  never had won a playoff game.

“This is El Camino,” Burke said to writer Ed Graney.  “This is no run-of-the-mill program.  These are people we’ve admired for a long time. To win is great.  To win this convincingly is overwhelming.”


One victory in 15 seasons against a neighborhood rival that is your essential progeny can lead to indigestion.

Two  fourth-quarter touchdowns that led to a 14-11 loss to Helix stirred acid reflux in Grossmont coach Judd Hulburt, whose postmortem included a sour observation:

“I like to refer to them as the East County All-Stars,” said Hulburt.

“They have players from (Canyon Country) Canyon, Mount Miguel, and other areas.  It’s hard to recruit speed and they certainly have it.”

Teneil Ethridge, a transfer from Mount Miguel, rushed for 74 yards in 16 carries and scored the Highlanders’ first touchdown on an eight-yard run. Quarterback Jeremy Gottlieb and Marc Baskin teamed on a 25-yard scoring pass for the winner.


“Well,” Hulburt said to writer Jim Trotter two days later, “if I’m going to be on the record, I’m going to be very careful about what I say.

“I’m just saying it looks really strange that Helix gets good athletes in its program year after year.”

Hulburt denied accusing the Helix coaching staff of recruiting but said something about Helix parents and boosters proselytizing off-the-books.


Highlanders reaped dividends by transfer of Chuck Cecil.

Highlanders reaped dividends by transfer of Chuck Cecil.

Highlanders coach Jim Arnaiz was nonplussed.

“I just don’t know where he’s coming from,” said the 20-season mentor of the Highlanders.  “I know what I’ve done, what our staff has done, and I know how we handle our program.  We have nothing to be embarrassed about.

“We have been known statewide as a good athletic school as well as a good academic school,” Arnaiz added.  “Yes, we’ve had some good fortune of having great players show up on our doorstep, wanting to be part of a winning tradition.”

As an example, Arnaiz noted that when Chuck Cecil’s dad was job transferred from Hanford in the San Joaquin Valley to San Diego “he researched East County.  That’s how Chuck ended up at Helix in 1982.”

Cecil’s fierce play as a linebacker and safety led the Highlanders to the AAA championship in 1982.  He went on to play and coach in the NFL.

Arnaiz had amassed 147 victories and was 12-6-2 against the Foothillers from the time of his appointment as the Scots’ coach in 1973 and 12-2-2 since 1977.


The San Diego Section coordinating council unanimously voted, in the middle of the season, to return to a 16-team playoff bracket after the Section board of managers voted to reduce the number of playoff teams to 12 for this year.

The board’s decision met with criticism, partly because several concerned groups, including the coordinating council, had no opportunity to discuss the proposed reduction.


The board of managers wanted to unify playoff brackets and eliminate the first-round blowouts associated with 16-team playoffs, i.e., the top seed playing the lowest seed.


An obscure but telling statistic to come out of the AA playoffs involved El Camino and its 24-14 victory over Kearny in  the quarterfinals.

The win was the Wildcats 12th in a row over a Western League squad in the playoffs, dating their 39-28 win over Kearny for the AA title in 1976, the year El Camino opened after splitting from Oceanside.

“I know (Western League) coaches get tired of hearing this, but we play tough football in the (Avocado League),  said Wildcats coach Herb Meyer.


Chula Vista means beautiful view, but the Spartans’ view was anything but on this Friday night after a galling, 22-19 loss to San Diego Southwest.

–They surrendered the Metropolitan League championship after four consecutive titles.

–This, after their 36-game, league unbeaten streak came to an end the previous week in a loss to Castle Park.

–The Spartans were beaten by Southwest for the first time in seven years.


Chula Vista coach George Ohnessorgen saw a fumble; the officials saw a completed pass.

Southwest faced a fourth-and-five midway in the fourth quarter at the Chula Vista 10-yard line. Raiders quarterback O’Brien Woods passed to Tony Diaz, who caught the pass at the three and was hit by J.J. Rosier. The ball came loose.  Southwest’s Danny Lim recovered.

Chula Vista celebrated, thinking the pass was incomplete. Game officials ruled that Diaz caught the ball and that his feet hit the ground before Diaz fumbled, making the pass a completion.

Southwest scored on the next play.

“I’m sorry for the kids that the game had to be taken away on a bad play,” Ohnessorgen said to writer Tom Shanahan, “but we made some critical mistakes and Southwest did a good job of coming back (from deficits of 13-0 and 19-14).”

Raiders coach Alan Kaylor didn’t exactly have a straight face when he told Shanahan, “It was a catch.  We’ll have to look at the films.”

San Pasqual's Mike Dolan could be experiencing thrill of victory...or agony of defeat.

San Pasqual’s Mike Dolan could be experiencing thrill of victory…or agony of defeat.


“Sometimes I have no idea,” said Ed Burke.  “Unfortunately for me, I’m one of the weirdos who chooses to do this.”

The legendary Torrey Pines coach was addressing the question posed by Ed Graney of The San Diego Union.

Long hours, myriad logistics, and problems with players and parents are only part of a high school coach’s job.

“It gets to a point where you are validating your lifestyle around how determined 16- and 17-year-old kids are at winning football games,” said Vic Player of Lincoln.

“We sat down once, figured out how many hours we spent during the season, and the pay (actually a stipend) came out to something like 12 cents per hour,” said San Pasqual’s Mike Dolan.

The three coaches may at times have had a love-hate relationship with their profession, but they couldn’t resist the lure.

Together the three won more than 500 games in their careers.

Before he coached, Player (left) starred in 1960 St. Augustine backfield with Tom Procopio, Mike Moses, and quarterback Oliver Walker.

Before he coached, Player (left) starred in 1960 St. Augustine backfield with Tom Procopio, Mike Moses, and quarterback Oliver Walker.


Four of the County’s most renowned coaches got together in the spring and came up with the idea for a season-opening doubleheader. Vista was the venue, with Herb Meyer’s preseason No. 1 El Camino squad meeting No. 2 Point Loma and John Shacklett’s No. 6 Morse Tigers taking on Craig Bell’s No. 4 Rancho Buena Vista Broncos.

An added fillip was Meyer, the County’s winningest coach (243) against Edens, No. 2 (211).

The buildup was greater.   El Camino stifled Point Loma, 20-0, and Morse ran away from RBV, 45-29.


Morse actually began the season 2,600 miles away several days earlier in Hawaii, marking its eighth consecutive lid-lifter in the islands.

The Tigers were joined by three other San Diego Section teams that took part in a 10-team carnival at Aloha Stadium.

The surfeit of games honored Shawn Akina, a 19-year-old Honolulu Punahou graduate who died of a heart ailment at the University of Utah, where he was going to play football.

The Tigers defeated Kamehameha, 22-15, in the third and final game on a Friday evening card that ended well after midnight.

Kickoff for the first game was at 6:30 p.m., Kaneohe Castle defeating Monte Vista, 6-2.

Orange Glen’s 22-20 victory over Punahou began at 9 p.m., followed by Morse at 11:30.

Lincoln fell behind, 21-0, and came up short, losing 34-24 to Kahuku the next evening.  Mountain View of Mesa, Arizona Honolulu St. Louis appeared in the final contest.


Someone was snoozing.

San Pasqual’s 34-20, quarterfinals playoff win over Santana was notable for a  very slow- developing touchdown.

The Eagles’ David Villa intercepted a pass by Santana’s Doug Schultz five yards deep in San Pasqual’s end zone. Villa tucked the pigskin under his arm and began moseying off the field to give the ball to an equipment man for safekeeping.

“I was thinking about keeping the ball as a memento,” said Villa.  “But then everyone started yelling at me to run with it.”

Run Villa did, 105 yards for a touchdown and a 19-10 Eagles lead at halftime.


Addie Jacobs, a second-team, all-San Diego Section choice in girls’ soccer last year, kicked an extra point for Madison in the Warhawks’ 14-7 loss to Patrick Henry. Jacobs is believed to be the second young lady to appear and score for a local squad, joining San Diego’s Mia Lebowitz, who kicked a field goal as San Diego defeated St. Augustine, 3-0, in 1988.

Jacobs isn’t the only female on the Madison squad.  Dawn Collins also kicks for the Warhawks, as does Sheila Walsh for Clairemont.


El Camino’s Bryant Westbrook was one of three players to get all 10 Pacific 10 head coaches’ votes for the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s annual “Best in the West” team.

Westbrook, who also was the San Diego Section AA defensive player of the year, was joined by running back Lawrence Phillips of Baldwin Park and quarterback Pat Barnes of Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills.

El Camino's Westbrook was one of nation's best.

El Camino’s Westbrook was one of nation’s best.

The coaches may have viewed game film of El Camino’s 14-0 victory over Carlsbad.

A  205-pound defensive back, Westbrook intercepted a pass, returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown, forced a fumble, and caught a touchdown pass against the Lancers.

Westbrook was known as a big-hitting cornerback at the University of Texas and was the fifth selection in the first round by the Detroit Lions in the 1997 NFL draft. He played seven seasons.

Westbrook was the latest future NFL standout that Herb Meyer coached at Oceanside and El Camino.

The list also included Willie Buchanon, Dokie Williams, Darron Norris, and Jayice Pearson.


Holtville, 44-7-1 since 1987, won its fourth straight A championship in its fifth title game in a row.  Anthony Iten passed for three touchdowns as coach Sam Faulk’s Vikings topped Mountain Empire 41-6.


San Diego’s star was quarterback-defensive back Jacque Jones, who went on to play 10 seasons in the major leagues with 165 home runs and a  career .277 average…Tommy Casper, the son of legendary golfer and former U.S. Open winner Billy Casper, was a starting tackle for Bonita Vista and also a member of the Barons’ golf team…Grossmont’s six wins in  its 6-5 season were against teams collectively 13-39, none with a winning record…San Pasqual defeated Lincoln, 28-22, for a 4-1 postseason record against the Hornets after the teams met  for the fifth time in six postseasons…Julian whipped Francis Parker, 37-20, in the final regular-season game, then turned around the next week to defeat the Lancers, 34-14, for the 8-Man championship…San Diego High athletic director Allan (Scotty) Harris touted safety Marlin McWilson as the first Caver in 18 years to bid for a college Division I scholarship…McWilson went on to play at California…Cavers Michael Hayes (USC) and Frankie Wilson (UCLA) won schollies after the 1974 season…a preseason publication rated Lincoln’s Akili Smith among  the top 13 quarterbacks in the nation…Linebacker Tom Stehly was the seventh brother to play football at Orange Glen…one more was coming, sophomore Pat, who was on the junior varsity…the 34 career field goals by Rancho Bernardo’s Nate Tandberg stood as a state record until 2010, when a kicker from Upland completed his career with 39…attendance for the championships at Jack Murphy Stadium was 8,182…

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