1991: Vista Returns to Prominence

Successive records of 4-7, 0-10, and 6-6, had turned whispers into shouts at Vista. Had Dick Haines, borrowing baseball parlance, lost the hop on his fastball?

Two state No. 1 rankings, three San Diego Section titles, and 11 league championships were a distant memory until the Panthers shot down Morse, 21-7, in the season’s third week, erasing 57-14 and 48-14 losses to the Tigers in 1990.

Morse came into the game No. 1 in San Diego County, No. 2 in Southern California, No. 3 in California, and No. 20 in the country.

From that redeeming moment the rebuilt Panthers went all the way to 13-0 before losing to Point Loma, 14-0, in the Section AAA title game.

It may have been Haines’s finest hour.

Haines overcame obstacles and returned Vista to championship level.

Haines overcame obstacles and returned Vista to championship level.

Vista’s retreat in the late ‘eighties was traced to the school district’s arbitrary and perceived gerrymandering of enrollment boundaries that favored newbie Rancho Buena Vista.

The fledgling Longhorns won section titles in two of their first three seasons, corresponding with Vista’s decline.

Cries of political wheeling and dealing were heard.

REVENGE BY HIGHER-UPS?

Haines, often feisty and confrontational, wasn’t the most popular employee in the Vista School District.

“Dick felt very slighted after the split, “said Morse coach John Shacklett.  “Maybe if someone was doing something just to get him, I don’t know.”

Shacklett, speaking with Ed Graney of The San Diego Union, was a fan of his coaching rival.

“No matter what kind of talent he has been dealt, he always gets the most out of his kids,” said Shacklett.   “He loves to win, but is gracious in defeat.  He certainly has been a force.”

Haines’ son, Rik, a head coach at Redmond in Washington State and former Torrey Pines head coach, may have put it best to Graney: “Really, he’s about as steady as rain in Seattle.”

MORE OR LESS FOR MORSE?
Morse was 3-0 with 17 consecutive victories after a 30-18 win over Carson, an L.A. City Section power that was ranked fifth in the state.

Gary Taylor, who was the state’s Junior Player of the Year, in 1990, rushed for 153 yards, gained 253 all-purpose yards, and scored three touchdowns.

The Tigers appeared positioned to make a second straight championship run, but they fell to Vista the next week, stumbled in Week 5 against Lincoln, 34-28, were shocked by Mira Mesa, 31-13, in Week 8, and shut out by Point Loma, 16-0, in Week 10.

The Tigers still were explosive, averaging 33.2 points and scoring 398 points in 12 games, but their season came to an end in the San Diego Section quarterfinals.

Vista did it a second time, eliminating Morse, 17-10.

IRON GLOVE(R)

La’Roi Glover was destined to play at Point Loma High, almost from the first day he boarded a bus in the Skyline District that took him to his kindergarten class at Silvergate Elementary on the  peninsula.

The youngster graduated to Collier Junior High near Ocean Beach and arrived as a freshman at Point Loma, at 14 too young to play varsity but  teamed on the defensive line with his older brother, Darcel, as a sophomore.

AWARDS AND TITLES

Glover, holding sway as standout San Diego State defender. had outstanding prep, collegiate, and professional career.

Glover, holding sway as standout San Diego State defender. had outstanding prep, collegiate, and professional career.

Glover’s career at Point Loma included two San Diego Section co-player-of-the-year awards  and it was Glover’s presence in the middle of the Pointers’ defensive line that propelled coach Bennie Edens to his third championship in six tries.

The 13-1 Pointers allowed only 88 points, an average of a touchdown a game.  No team scored more than 14.

Glover also lettered in wrestling and track and field and his football accomplishments were such that Glover’s jersey number 76 was retired at Point Loma, joined only by Marcel Brown’s 22 and Eric Allen’s 25.

The 6-foot-2, 290-pounder was a fifth-round draft choice of the Oakland Raiders out of San  Diego State and went on to play 13 NFL seasons, mostly with New Orleans, Dallas, and the St. Louis Rams.

Glover earned six Pro Bowl invitations and was the NFL’s 2000 defensive player of the year.  He had 84.5 career sacks after posting 44.5 tackles for loss in four seasons at San Diego State.

LANCERS WILL MISS THEM

Hilltop wistfully waved good bye when Jorge Munoz, Bobby Lugo, and the seniors on the 8-3 squad moved on.

Hilltop rolled with Munoz.

Hilltop rolled with Munoz.

Although beaten by Morse, 44-22, in the first round of the playoffs, the Lancers’ record was their best since the Stan Canaris-coached squads were 8-2 and 9-1 in 1978 and ’79.

If they’d known what the future held there might have been a move afoot to change some birthdates and grant additional eligibility for Munoz and pals.

Just kidding, but there would be no replacing Munoz, who finished runner-up to Helix’ Jim Plum in career passing with 5,712 yards.

Munoz threw for 298 yards and 3 touchdowns in the loss to Morse and finished a great senior season with 25 touchdown passes and 2,543 yards.

Lugo took in 9 of Munoz’ aerial darts for 226 yards and three touchdowns against Morse and led the San Diego section with 64 catches, 1,295 yards, and 12 touchdowns.

The Lancers began a 11-42 funk in 1992 that lasted until  1995, and then fell off the grid with a 47-99 stretch from 1997-2010.

DIRTY TRICK?

Castle Park won a contentious Metropolitan League game at Sweetwater, 25-20.

Cue a strong substance hitting the fan.

Leading, 19-14, early in the third quarter, Castle faced a fourth and five at its 45-yard line.

Scott Whitman, in punt formation, took a snap from center but did not launch a kick, instead passing toward the Trojans’ sideline, where receiver Dujuan Franklin stood, 20 yards from the nearest Red Devils defender.

Franklin caught Whitman’s spiral and hustled 55 yards for a touchdown and 25-14 lead.

Sweetwater coach Gene Alim was outraged.

Alim claimed that Franklin came off the sideline onto the field of play, undetected by game officials and the Sweetwater defense.

“You have to be within 15 yards of the huddle,” said Alim.  “It’s a heckuva way to lose a game.”

COACH CONTRADICTED

“He came from the huddle,” retorted Castle Park coach Alan Duke, denying subterfuge.

But Daniel Bean, The San Diego Union correspondent, spoke with Franklin, who didn’t identify Duke or a particular member of Duke’s staff,  but said,  “The coach told me to step off the sidelines.  I never went into the huddle.”

HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL

Davis was accurate, record-breaking passer, even under pressure.

Davis was accurate, record-breaking passer, even under pressure.

Such could have been said of Chad Davis, who brought an accurate passing arm to Mira Mesa, his third high school in four years.  Davis previously was at Palm Springs and Torrey Pines.

Marauders coach Brad Griffith hired Chad’s father, Bob Davis, as offensive coordinator. Bob Davis had been head coach at Torrey Pines in 1989-90.

Davis an outstanding passer with a strong supporting cast paced by future NFL running back Mike Pittman, led Mira Mesa to the AAA semifinals and a 9-4 finish.  Included was a 31-13 upset at Morse.

Davis kept Morse off balance  with rollouts and pinpoint passing, completing 12 of 19 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.  The Marauders’ defense almost shut down Gary Taylor, who was held to 60 in 17 carries.

Davis eventually bettered the national career passing  record of 9,182 yards, set by Capistrano Valley’s Todd Marinovich, although controversy seem to follow the youngster and his coach father.

The elder Davis periodically was accused of calling plays that allowed Chad to pad his statistics.

ANOTHER GOOF BY OFFICIALS

Davis was involved as a defensive player in the most pivotal moment of Mira Mesa’s 15-14, quarterfinals playoff  win over Orange Glen.

Patriots quarterback Omar Navarro, after a 48-yard Hail Mary pass was tipped by Davis and caught by Orange  Glen’s Chris Buddin, had his team on the Marauders’ 12-yard line with less than a minute to play.

As Mira Mesa coaches attempted to call timeout, Davis noticed that there were 12 Marauders on the field.

Davis backed up, through the end zone and off the field, a clear violation. Players must exit the field to their sideline.  No flag was thrown.

Navarro was intercepted on the ensuing play.  Game over.

Orange Glen had no complaint in 6-0 win over Escondido, as official signals agreement with Jason Mahaffey, who scored game's only touchdown.

Orange Glen had no complaint in 7-0 win over Rancho Buena Vista, as official signals agreement with Jason Mahaffey, who scored game’s only touchdown.

“Everyone in the stadium saw it,”  Orange Glen coach Rob Gilster  explained later to Steve Brand of  the Union.  “The Mira Mesa coaches will tell you the same thing,  It’s right there in the films.”

Gilster said he tried to get an explanation from the game officials.  “I asked them afterward and they just ran away.  It’s very frustrating, but I’d never protest something like that.”

Mira Mesa’s run ended the next week in a 21-14 loss to Vista.  Davis’s stats were the poorest of his four prep seasons, 2  completions in 7 attempts for 17 yards.  He scored both of his team’s touchdowns on runs of 6 and 1 yard.

MOVING AGAIN                                                                          

Chad and Bob Davis returned to their roots in Oklahoma after the stay at Mira Mesa. Chad enrolled at Oklahoma University for one year before transferring to Washington State.

Davis was the Cougars’ starting quarterback for most of two seasons, until replaced by Ryan Leaf.

TOP THIS ONE

Pressed into service as a return man, University City’s Deranzol  Sheppard returned a punt 96 yards for a touchdown with 36 seconds left in the game, then passed to Ed Miller for a two-point conversion to give the Centurions an 8-6 victory over Madison.

TOP THIS, TOO

Seemingly destined to tie Clairemont, 7-7, Coronado had the ball on its 16-yard line with three seconds remaining in the game.

The snap from shotgun formation by Islanders center John Files eluded quarterback Chris Bright, who scrambled and kicked the ball out of the end zone.

Safety, two points and a 9-7 win for Clairemont.

AND THIS ONE

Grossmont quarterback Tom  Karlo scored a touchdown with 13 seconds left to tie Santana, 13-13.

But the point after kick was blocked and Grossmont’s undefeated season now included a tie at 7-0-1.

CAN’T TOP THIS

Writer Ed Graney said it best:  “It was arguably the greatest single-game, high school performance that nobody saw.”

Watson was hardly elementary against San Pasqual.

Watson was hardly elementary against San Pasqual.

Fog blanketed the field at Torrey Pines High, but that didn’t stop (or maybe helped) La Jolla’s E.J. Watson, whose team held on for a 50-49, semifinal AA playoff victory over San Pasqual.

Watson rushed for an 11-man record of 369 yards in 22 carries, surprassing the 366 by Rancho Buena Vista’s Scott Garcia in 1988.

Watson tied a record with seven touchdowns on runs of 2, 15, 39, 48, 72, and 75 yards, and on a 92-yard kickoff return.  He also scored on a two point conversion, had a pass interception and a fumble recovery.

Watson’s 44 points broke the single-game high of 38 by Chula Vista’s Jim Baldwin in 1965.

What would Western League champions be without Watson, who lived in the Madison district but chose to attend the seaside school?

“At home turning in their gear and we’d be playing this week,” said San Pasqual coach Mike Dolan.

The Eagles had a chance to win the game after scoring a touchdown with 27 seconds left, but failed to convert a two-point conversion attempt.

La Jolla, coached by Dick Huddleston, a standout on Escondido’s 1960 championship squad, was beaten in the AA final, 29-7, by El Camino.

SEEDINGS UPROAR

The refrain is similar each year at playoff time when seedings are announced.

–“We got shafted; we really got shafted,” St. Augustine coach Joe Medina told writer Steve Brand.

The Saints, 6-3-1 winners of the Harbor League, drew 9-1 Western League runner-up University in the first round of the AA tournament.

“It would have e been better to lose the league,” said Medina.  “How else can you explain Santana (4-5-1) playing Escondido (5-5)?”

“Yes, the Harbor League is weak,” admitted Medina, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one good team in the whole league.”

University, a 28-0 winner over its Catholic rival in Week 4, eased into the second round with a 31-14 victory.

–Dick Haines was okay with his top-seeded and 10-0 Vista drawing 4-6 Sweetwater in the first round. But Haines didn’t like being in the half of a bracket in which the Panthers could meet Morse (6-4) or Hilltop (8-2) in the quarterfinals.

“I don’t know what happened,  but I was supposed to  be on that committee…the league voted me in ,” said Haines of the playoff selectors, who met for more than two hours to fill the AAA and AA, 16-team brackets.

“I know this,” Haines told Brand, “the team we beat last night (Torrey Pines) has a better seed than we do.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

One season Haines didn’t show for the meeting and his team was not chosen.  The committee indicated that Haines, by his absence,  didn’t care if his team was invited.

Haines hollered that he didn’t think it was necessary to attend.

–When 6-3-1 Christian was left out despite having a better record than seven invited teams, the Patriots’ coach, Dale Peterson, threatened to “start a new 1-A league,” so that Christian would be treated with more respect.

8-MAN SHOWDOWN

La Jolla Country Day had the records–Rashaan Salaam’s 105 career touchdowns, 4,965 yards rushing, Eric Abrams’ 265 career points–but Santa Fe Christian had the 8-Man championship.

The Torres defeated the Eagles, 38-34, in a Coastal League regular-season title showdown game two weeks before, although they had to play much of the second quarter and the entire second half as Salaam was on the sidelines with a knee strain.

Abrams, who also would set a national record with 177 career points after touchdown, stepped up with field goals of 53, 34, and 30 yards.

Salaam  could not play in the championship game and Santa Fe Christian, behind quarterback Mark Loeffler’s 326 yards passing and five touchdowns, overcame an early, 14-0 deficit to win, 49-36.

COPS & COPPER

Police were looking for a thief or thieves who stole electrical copper cables that created a lighting problem at Montgomery.

A least 1 ½ of six light banks did not work, because someone had broken a bolted electrical ground box and hauled off 200 feet of copper cable, valued at $2,000.

Buster Olney of The San Diego Union reported that the heist meant the Northeast section of the field would be in darkness by the fourth quarter or earlier of games.

Cable for all six light banks had been ripped off several months earlier, meaning a loss of about $27,000 to the Sweetwater Union School District.

“It’s not that bad; we have enough lights to play,” said Aztecs coach Steve Summers on the eve of a game with Moreno Valley Canyon Springs.

Canyon Springs saw the light, rolling over Monty, 40-0, as David Dotson scored five touchdowns and rushed for, count ‘em, 396 yards.

Five weeks later, the days and visits of sunlight much shorter, the Aztecs switched their league game with San Diego Southwest to the Raiders’ field.  Montgomery won, 20-0.

NORSEMEN FIGHT AGAIN

Valhalla was banned from the playoffs and forfeited a victory over Las Vegas Cimarron for starting full contact drills a day early and being in pads two days early.

Section commissioner Kendall (Spider) Webb backed conference officials who dropped the hammer on the Norsemen, but Valhalla principal Robert Avant appealed to a three-person committee put in place by the CIF.

The committee, chaired by Escondido superintendent Jane Gawronski, let the forfeit stand but erased playoff penalties and made the Norsemen give up two days of practice this season and start two days later than other schools in 1992.

Valhalla, 3-4 at the time of the legislation, did not make the playoffs, finishing with a 3-7 record.  A new head coach would be in place in 1992.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Fouts rallied Falcons.

Fouts rallied Falcons.

Mike Fouts, nephew of the Chargers’ Hall of Fame quarterback, tossed a couple touchdown passes in Torrey Pines’ 18-13 win over Fallbrook after replacing the injured Tom Luginbill, son of the San Diego State coach.

John Allred caught one of the touchdown passes for the winner with 1:08 left in the game.

Allred’s dad played at the Univerity of Arizona and was a Santa Barbara High teammate of  longtime NFL coach Ernie Zampese.

John Allred later played at USC and was drafted in the second round by the NFL’s Chicago Bears.                                        QUICK KICKS

Francis Parker’s Scott Schneider passed for a San Diego Section 8-man record of 504 yards and 8 touchdowns in a 67-21 victory over The Bishop’s… the game was called with four minutes to play…Bryn Spradling of Parker tied a CIF record with 4 touchdown receptions…Point Loma blanked Morse, 16-0, to clinch the Eastern League title and deal the Tigers their first shutout since 1986, a span of 59 games…El Camino quarterback Noel Prefontaine went on  to a legendary kicking career in the Canadian Football League…

 

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8 Responses to 1991: Vista Returns to Prominence

  1. Bryan Loyce says:

    During the 1990 & 1991 seasons we played and beat Helix 3 times & each game was a hard fought battle. Although we won 21-0 in the 1991 CIF quarterfinals, the score was not indicative of the battle that was waged. It felt like Helix was in our huddle as they shut us down offensively. Our team reinforced the notion that Defense wins championships, had two interception returns for TDs and outscored our offense. That win was just as challenging if not more so than our wins that followed in the semi-finals & the CIF 3A Championship. We had a lot of respect for Helix and worked hard for our victories. I played college ball with Eddie Messina and we spoke a few times about our battles in High school.

    Bryan Loyce #84

    • Rick says:

      That was Bennie’s last championship. He was at Point through most of the ‘nineties but the championship days had passed. Bennie has a great legacy.

  2. John Avalos says:

    U guys were tough, both games. We studied film on wknds players only. We knew exactly what plays u were going to run (that Saturday morning ), out of each formation. I was #55. We knew that it was helix or pt.loma to make run to the 3a title. Our Qb had other plans.

  3. John Avalos says:

    That 1991 cif playoff game,helix vs. Pt.loma, at pt. Lomas was tough game. Though the score doesn’t reflect that. Looks like all out beat down. Howver, pt. Lomas had 160yrd total offense. With 60 yds on the ground. Point loma won, bcuz our starting OB threw 2 int ran back for tds. Only rush td was off miscue by our center and QB. La roi recovered it on 5 yd line. Other that that our defense held them rest of the game. I have that game film. La roi was grt player and tough to block. From what I was told, was one grt and tough games played by two rivals.

  4. Bryan Loyce says:

    Thank you. It was an awesome experience to be on the ’91 team and the fact that we were Bennie Edens’ & PL’s last CIF Championship Football team, makes it all the more important. Bennie also won 5 titles (1962, 1966, 1982, 1987, 1991). He was a master motivator and teacher. Thank you.

    Bryan Loyce
    1991 PLHS POINTERS CIF 3A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS

    • Rick says:

      Point Loma was 7-1 in 1962, but was shut out by Clairemont, 19-0, finishing second in the Western League, and out of the playoffs. I think the Pointers would have been favored in the postseason despite the loss to Clairemont. Behind quarterback Bill Casey, the Chieftains made it to the finals before losing to Escondido, 28-14. Point Loma shut out Escondido, 35-0, in the season opener that year. Bennie’s 1982 team tied El Camino, 6-6, for the championship.

  5. Bryan Loyce says:

    In regard to the 1991 Point Loma CIF Championship Football team, on which I was a starter, our record was 13-1, not 12-1-1. We lost our first game to El Camino and went on to win 13 in a row, culminating in a 14-0 victory over previously undefeated Vista. Also, La Roi Glover started at PLHS in our freshman year, but was too young to play on Varsity (could not be 14 and play Varsity), so he was on junior varsity with the rest of us Freshmen, who as Seniors won the CIF 3A title. Thank you.

    • Rick says:

      Bryan, right you are. I don’t know why but I had the Pointers tying Rancho Buena Vista, 7-7, and they didn’t even play RBV. The score of that week’s game actually was Point Loma 22, Lincoln 7. I’ll change the won-loss record to 13-1, adjust Bennie Edens’ career record, giving him 240 victories, and I noted the forgotten stat that Glover was too young to play varsity when he got to Point Loma in ninth grade. Congratulations on the championship season and thanks for writing.

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