Attendance for afternoon games involving city teams was noted weekly in newspaper stories, probably for the first time in years. Prep writers had gotten out of the habit.
An edict that forced city schools to play home games in the afternoon resulted in some actual figures, as in counting the house, one by one.
A total of 326 were on hand for Hoover’s game with San Diego. There were 192 spectators at Lincoln and Las Vegas Chaparral, plus another 117 players, coaches, game officials, security people, and ticket takers.
Highly regarded Patrick Henry and host University drew only 1,200 at Madison High, probably 3,500 less than if the game had been at night.
Violence at night games in 1973 prompted city bosses to announce before the season that their schools would not play any home games after dark.
One school official stretched credibility when he noted there also was a “desire to aid in the energy crisis by reducing night lighting.”
The U.S. energy crisis started in 1973 when Mideast oil-producers were mad at the U.S. and others for aiding Israel in a dustup with Israel’s sworn enemies in the region. The result was long lines and waits at gas pumps and a shortage of fuel throughout the country.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) lifted the ban on exports in March, 1974, six months before the football season.
City bosses essentially ran from the problem of night-games rowdyism and violence, rather than taking steps to better secure venues.
VISTA AND FOG ROLL IN
When a night playoff game that involved a city school was played there were 18,162 on hand but few people saw the game, Vista’s 32-0 victory over Patrick Henry for the San Diego Section championship.
Fog descended and the crowd saw mostly ghost-like figures or sometimes only heard the action.
LARGEST CROWD EVER?
Reporters were saying the estimated 22,000 persons who attended the University-St. Augustine charity game represented the largest turnout ever for a high school game in San Diego.
Discounting larger, estimated crowds at the annual city football carnivals in the 1940s and early 1950s, the Saints-Uni game still did not bring the highest number.
The record is the estimated 27,000 at the 1947 San Diego-Hoover contest in sold out Balboa Stadium. The game featured one of Hoover’s all-time best teams, led by end Bill McColl, tackle Volney Peters, and halfback Bob Miller, and San Diego’s Southern California playoff finals squad.
St. Augustine, University, the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, and Rosary High benefited from the 41,000 tickets sold. Bob Hope entertained and it was announced, later amended, that the schools realized about $15,000 apiece.
In actuality, each school realized a profit of about $6,000.
Through a mix-up, Bob Hope’s $25,000 fee was donated to Hope’s favorite charity and not the schools’.
San Diego floundered after the era of coach Duane Maley, the Cavers posting a 56-61-2 record since the first year of the San Diego Section in 1960.
They would be eliminated from the postseason this season by legislative fiat, despite a 6-3 record and a three-way tie for first in the Western League.
But running back Michael Hayes evoked memories of the past.
A typical performance came in the season opener at Mesa College against Hoover. The USC-bound running back scored on a 46-yard punt return and 55-yard pass play as the Cavers topped the Cardinals 27-0 in the teams’ 42nd meeting.
Hayes also had a 55-yard punt return nullified by penalty, ran 39 yards for another penalty-killing touchdown, and ran sideline to sideline on a 47-yard punt return.
Hayes’ returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, caught a 39-yard scoring pass, ran 31 yards for a touchdown and kicked an extra point, all in the second quarter of a 25-7 victory over Crawford.
Hayes, who was the County’s leading rusher in 1973, had 342 all-purpose yards in another game.
“He’ll do a little of everything for us,” said San Diego coach Shan Deniston. “He’d drive the bus if we asked him.”
Patrick Henry’s Russ Leslie saw his top-ranked team (7-0) almost upset by unheralded, 4-3 Crawford, 22-14.
“I could tell our team was flat on the bus coming over here and in the pregame warm-ups,” said Leslie, who finally got around to congratulating coach Bill Hall’s Colts. “But that’s not to take anything away from Crawford. They played a fine game; they’re a fine team.”
Nor was Leslie a happy camper after the Patriots had defeated Grossmont, 24-20: “Our passing was ‘way off and their runners made our defense look like a sieve. We played good enough to win. That’s all.”
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
As Henry Wesch of The Union wrote, a conflict was inevitable between Larry Schimpf and his son, Kerry. The elder Schimpf’s Monte Vista squad was playing Granite Hills, for which Kerry was a starting defensive back and wide receiver.
“There are some funny things being said around the house,” said Larry. “The one who’s really in the middle is my wife. She doesn’t know who to root for.”
Score one for Larry. Monte Vista defeated Granite Hills, 21-0, but Kerry caught 4 passes and shadowed Monte Vista receiver Mitch Bonilla.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, LIKE FORMER AIDE
Crawford was quarterbacked by Dave Engle, whose father, Roy, was the longtime Hoover coach and for whom Russ Leslie served as an assistant before Leslie started the Patrick Henry program in 1968.
The younger Engle and his brother Roger cavorted during games on the same Hoover sideline when Roy and Russ were guiding the Cardinals.
KOMETS QB CHOOSES LETTERS
Kearny quarterback Don Norcross called the plays and wrote up the game accounts. Norcross declared he hadn’t made up his mind on college but wanted “a writing career with a newspaper.”
The Komets’ quarterback, whose two-year varsity record as starter was 20-3-2, became a writer for UT-San Diego.
BIGGEST IN HISTORY?
An 8-7 victory by 1-6 Carlsbad over 7-0 Oceanside was described as the biggest upset in North County history by some observers.
Oceanside coach Herb Meyer was not given to hyperbole: “We had people counting our chickens and looking toward Vista. If it happens to adults, I’m sure it happens to young people.”
Vista struck for 16 points in the fourth quarter and drove 66 yards for a touchdown in the final three-and-a-half minutes to defeat Oceanside, 22-14, before 8,000 persons at Vista.
Antony PaoPao, who gained 120 yards in 26 carries, had put the Pirates in front 14-6 on the final play of the third quarter.
Panthers quarterback Rob Preston figured in all 22 points, scoring two touchdowns, passing for another and running for two, two-point conversions.
Paopao edged San Diego’s Michael Hayes for the regular-season rushing title with 1,306 yards and an 8.3-yard average to Hayes’ 1,200 yards and 5.8 average.
PaoPao said he did not have personal goals, but he took some things personally:
”I have a personal grudge against San Dieguito and a personal grudge against Carlsbad, because they beat us last year. And I’ve got a personal grudge against Vista, because I’ve got some cousins who play there.”
In what was a personal battle, PaoPao’s 246 yards in 35 carries—another 100 were called back by penalties– resulted in three touchdowns in a 27-18 win over San Marcos and the Knights’ County scoring leader, Allan Clark.
Clark, a future NFL running back, kept San Marcos in the hunt with three touchdowns.
TEACHERS, OFFICIALS: PAY US
The 106 members of the San Diego County Football Officials’ Association voted to boycott the season’s first week of games after talks stalled with the San Diego Section board of managers.
Within 24 hours a compromise was reached.
The San Diego Section board of managers agreed to a $1 increase for all officials for all games worked. The board also promised continued discussion related to “mutual concerns”.
A week earlier a crisis was averted when City Schools teachers reached agreement on several issues with the superintendent and board of education. The teachers were scheduled for a strike vote.
Football coaches were caught in an administrative crossfire, their contracts, simply put, stating that if they didn’t teach during the day they couldn’t coach after school.
Coaches weren’t happy.
“I was in a position to walk out with the other teachers if they vote to strike,” said Crawford’s Bill Hall. “Then I got word from my principal that if I didn’t teach during the day I wouldn’t be able to coach either.”
“Most coaches would continue to coach no matter what the vote is, because you can’t build up to a season and then walk out,” said Kearny’s Birt Slater. “Let’s face it, they’re trying to put pressure directly on us. I’m really tired of all the threats and pressure tactics.”
Oceanside’s Herb Meyer took exception to a nationally televised program that was critical of high school football and the number of injuries inherent to the game.
“If they really want some revealing statistics why don’t they check into the number of injuries associated with kids riding motorcycles,” Meyer said to writer Steve Brand. “I’d rather see my kids on the field than dodging cars on a motorcycle.”
Five days later standout Clairemont defensive end-wide receiver Mike Ketteringham was riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle when it collided with an automobile.
Ketteringham died 24 hours later. Clairemont went through with a game against Madison, winning 8-4. “They wanted to go ahead and play the game for him,” said Chiefs’ coach Art Anderson.
NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT THREE!
Kirk Feldman intercepted three passes in the second half as Patrick Henry broke from a 13-13 deadlock at halftime and cruised to a 34-13 victory over St. Augustine in an Eastern League showdown..
The modest son of longtime NFL coach Rudy Feldman explained that the Patriots were able to cover County leading receiver Tim Smith, who had 33 catches going into the game.
“We played a zone except for Smith and I just happened to be there,” Feldman told writer Steve Brand.
THREE MORE SCHOOLS
Torrey Pines, Valhalla, and Mt. Carmel opened their doors for the first time, bringing the total to 55 of football-playing schools in the San Diego Section.
Mt. Carmel, coached by Bill Levy, and Valhalla, with Russ Boehmke as head coach, played essentially junior varsity schedules. The Sun Devils defeated the Julian varsity 13-7 and Valhalla lost to the La Jolla varsity 20-15.
In what would be considered a varsity matchup, the Norsemen defeated Mt. Carmel 14-12 in the schools’ first game.
Torrey Pines, coached by former San Diego State linebacker Cliff Kinney, immediately got into the mix in the Coast League and posted a 3-6 record.
Mt. Carmel would go into the Coast League in 1975 and Valhalla was ticketed for the Grossmont League.
Torrey Pines students attended classes at San Dieguito while the Falcons’ campus in Del Mar was under construction.
A young Torrey Pines footballer was John Kentera, later to be known as “Coach” on San Diego radio and television. Kentera was involved in the Falcons’ first-ever touchdown, kicking the point after.
San Dieguito students lorded it over Falcons students after the Mustangs defeated Torrey, 41-20, in the schools’ first meeting.
Torrey Pines came from 21 points behind to shock unbeaten Mission Bay, 26-21.
TAKE IT ON THE ROAD
St. Augustine quarterback Mike Kennedy and wide receiver Tim Smith were a such success in San Diego that they took their show to Nebraska and played for coach Tom Osborne’s Cornhuskers.
Kennedy was the San Diego Section leader with 1,835 yards and 21 touchdowns and Smith was the leader with 53 catches and 10 receiving touchdowns.
Smith was a third-round draft choice of the Houston Oilers in 1980 and played seven seasons in the NFL. He caught 83 passes in 1983.
HEADY COMPAN Y
Jan Chapman took over a Bonita Vista program that languished with a 16-36-1 combined record after the school opened in 1967.
Following a 1-6-2 start in 1973, Chapman, former University of San Diego quarterback who spent decades as chief press box statistician at Chargers games, elevated the Barons into the upper strata of the Metropolitan League, i.e., to turf annually reserved for Castle Park and Sweetwater.
The Barons rolled all the way to 7-0 before losing 21-6 to Castle Park, which advanced to 8-0 and clinched the league title. Bonita recovered to defeat the 6-2 Sweetwater Red Devils, 28-7, then finished with a 24-0 loss to Crawford in the first round of the playoffs.
ONE OF HIS FAVORITE YEARS
Longtime prep observer and expert Greg (Stats) Durrant offered several reasons in 2012 why the season of 1974 was special: “Only one playoff division, no 0-10 teams in the playoffs, and large crowds at games. Also, no first-round byes!”
Walter Barnett, who played on Grossmont’s 1927 championship team, retired at the end of the school year…Barnett taught 12 years at Grossmont and then was principal for the last 17…at halftime of the Army-Navy game, Julian coach Bill Nolan told his 18 players, “Lie down and go to sleep; you’re doing a great job”…the Eagles won, 21-13, and won a rematch later for the 1-A championship, 18-0…El Cajon Valley, behind quarterback and future No. 1 NFL draft choice (Pittsburgh Steelers out of Arizona State) Mark Malone, and running back LeRoy McGee (Michigan State) posted an 8-1-1 record, best in school history, and won its first Grossmont League championship since 1965…Malone ran 79 and 91 yards for touchdowns and McGee scored from 91 yards as the Braves beat neighbor Granite Hills 31-17…Kearny had won 15 in a row and had an unbeaten streak of 16 games when it couldn’t score in the second half of a 14-6 loss to Morse… said Morse coach John Shacklett: “We simply played good football against a good team”…”We fumbled on their seven and 12-yard lines,” said Komets coach Birt Slater, summing up the Linda Vista view of the game… St. Augustine’s Mike Kennedy passed for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns and Tim Smith caught 9 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the Saints’ 48-20 victory over Lincoln…Oceanside was minus the injured Anthony PaoPao and dropped a 37-7 decision to Patrick Henry in the playoff quarterfinals…Clairemont, under first-year coach Art Anderson, the Chiefs’ former track mentor, improved from 1-8 in 1973 to 8-1 and battled Kearny before losing 14-12 in the Eastern League title game.