Warren Vinton, who helped Helix establish itself as an athletic force as San Diego schools moved to form their own CIF section, passed away in Murrieta in Riverside County recently at age 89.
Vinton posted a 25-9-1 record as the Highlanders’ head coach from 1964-67, winning two Grossmont League championships and taking his team to the San Diego Section title game in 1966.
The University of California at Santa Barbara graduate joined the coaching staff at Helix in 1956, when coach Tom Welbaum guided the Highlanders to an 8-1 record and a berth in the Southern Section playoffs.
When Welbaum relocated to start the new Mount Miguel program in 1957, Vinton remained as college teammate Dick Gorrie became head coach.
After posting a 39-21-2 record in seven seasons, Gorrie was named head coach at Santa Ana Junior College and was succeeded by Vinton.
Vinton stepped down after the 1967 season but remained on the Highlanders’ faculty until his retirement in 1989.
A La Mesa resident for 56 years, Vinton was remembered by Helix graduate and San Diego Evening Tribune sportswriter Roger Conlee, who covered the Highlanders during one of the most successful eras in school history.
“Warren was a contrast, more cerebral, less rah-rah than the charismatic Gorrie,” said Conlee. “He had a droll sense of humor and a keen knowledge of football, especially the defensive side of the game.”
Vinton was tall, Gorrie much shorter. Both handsome, they crafted an image of Helix football that was hip and almost glamorous compared to their Grossmont League brethren.