2017: Dave Grayson, Legendary Caver, Hornet

David Grayson, who retired before the 1971 NFL season as one of the pro game’s all-time defensive backs, passed away recently at age 78.

Grayson intercepted 48 passes from 1961-70 in the American Football League and NFL as a member of the Dallas Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders.

The 5-foot, 10-inch, 187-pounder with sprinter speed  was named to the all-time all-AFL team, the high point of a great career that began in the San Diego City Prep League.

Grayson was a starting defensive back and played fullback on the 11-0-1, 1955 San Diego High team that won the Southern California championship and was acclaimed the national high school team of the year.

Grayson (30) was co-captain of the 1960 Oregon Ducks. Teammate Len Burnett is  82 in second row, Cleveland Jones is 25 in second row, and Roscoe Cook is 98 in fourth row.  All played at San Diego High or Lincoln.

Grayson and teammate Luther Hayes transferred to Lincoln after their junior football seasons at San Diego and they put the fledgling program of coach Walt Harvey’s on the map the following year.

Lincoln posted a 5-2-1 record in 1956 and came within a few feet of tying San Diego and Hoover for first place in the City Prep League.

Grayson’s  45-yard pass interception return set up one touchdown in the season-ending, 26-19 loss to San Diego and his 36-yard option pass to a diving Leonard Burnett put the Hornets on San Diego’s eight-yard line with time running out in the fourth quarter.

Hayes gained five yards but then was stopped short of the goal line  as the game ended.

“I should have given the ball to Grayson,” Harvey said of the last play years later.

The coach’s reasoning was that the quicker Grayson, shorter and more compact than the lanky Hayes, would have been able to find space in the Cavers’ defensive line and get the Hornets into position to tie the favored Cavemen.

The 170-pound Grayson made the all-City League team on offense and was one of the premier sprinters in the County during the spring track season with a best time of 10 seconds in the 100-yard dash.

Grayson and Lincoln also posted a time of 1:29.2 in the 880-yard relay and qualified for the CIF Southern Section finals.

Grayson was a member of San Diego Junior College’s 1957 Metropolitan Conference football championship squad and teamed with Roscoe Cook, Bobby Staten, and Fred Lucas as the Knights set a national JC record of 1:25.6 in the 880-yard relay in 1958 at the West Coast Relays in Fresno.

Grayson won 100-yard dash in :10.1 in Lincoln’s dual track meet with Hoover on March 21, 1957. Others (from left) are Hoover’s Bill Stephenson and Arnold Tripp, Lincoln’s Russ Boehmke, Hoover’s Larry Fischer, and Lincoln’s Bill McCready.

Grayson then moved onto to the University of Oregon, competed in football and track, and was co-captain of the Ducks’ 1960 football squad.


Waibel was a passing quarterback for the 1943 Oceanside Pirates, who were unbeaten with a 6-0 record in the World War II-shortened Southern Prep League campaign.

Waibel was head coach at Fallbrook from 1959-64.

The often undermanned Warriors did not join the newly formed San Diego Section in 1960 and competed in the Riverside County De Anza League, winning the league title and posting as 6-3 record.


The most-valuable player in the 1955 Lions Club Baseball Tournament was lefthanded pitcher Vince Kilpela of the emerging Lincoln High program.

Kilpela signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and led the Sooner State League with 272 strikeouts in 1956.

Kilpela posted a 14-9 record for Ardmore, Oklahoma, pitching a whopping 231 innings and completing 25 starting assignments.

He also pitched at Fresno, Winston-Salem, and Billings, but a sore arm ended Kilpela’s career in 1957.



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8 Responses to 2017: Dave Grayson, Legendary Caver, Hornet

  1. Don Jones says:

    When I student taught at Serra HS in 1982, Murray’s son Glen was one of the physical education instructors along with Thom Hunt’s mom, Paula Halverson.

  2. Don Jones says:

    Crawford was a tremendous track team in the mid 1970’s when I competed. Dennis Lottermoiser was the coach and the Colts had Elijah Jefferson (sprints) and Kirk Pfeffer (distances). I ran with Pfeffer at Grossmont College 1975-75. He ended up being one of the top marathoners in the world.

    • Rick says:

      Lottermoser left Crawford to go to Mira Mesa. My two nephews graduated from Crawford, Brian in ’73 and Skip in ’75. Skipper (Doug Smith) ran under 4:30 for Bobby Smith at City College. He was a buddy of Pfeffer’s.

  3. Bob "Hubba Jubba" Moss says:

    What a great trifecta of recent posts. What a tremendous thrill it was to reminisces memories of the basketball happenings during my junior and senior high school years. First off, little did you know I was the first ebony-hued person to coach a major high school sport in San Diego? I was named the varsity basket coach at Mission Bay HS during the 1967-68 season. We were one of the victims of the Mt. Miguel steamroller during the November University HS tournament. Also, for the record, Payton Cook claims distinction for being the first African American to coach a local prep sport, when he served as the tennis coach at San Diego HS prior to my assignment.
    Perhaps my most memorable sports season of all, was 1955-56, when I was brought up form the Lincoln HS J.V. during the Lions Tournament, as the bullpen catcher and warmed up Vince Kilpela prior to the pitching stints earning him selection as the Tourney MVP. We were runner-ups to Hoover, and the next Monday, Coach George Pearson visited the classrooms of each player and presented them with their trophies. He came to my class to give me a trophy and announce I would be on the varsity for the remainder of the season. During that summer, I played on the Lincoln/Helix American Legion baseball team that won the local and regional championships. Also during the summer of ’55, I was a reserve on the Lincoln HS basketball championship team winning the very first Pepsi Summer League Championship. At the end of the ’55 varsity football season, I was honored as the team’s most improved player. Finally, in the 1955-56 basketball season I was 7th man on the basketball team finishing second place to Hoover in the San Diego City League. After winning a first round playoff game with Grosmont HS, our season ended with a good whipping at Long Beach Poly HS! While I experienced many other highlight moments in sports playing football and baseball at San Diego State and with the San Diego Marines, I want you to know your recent posts of 1955-56 events put goose-bumps on my goose-bumps.
    What a beautiful job you did on the obit for our dear friend and classmate David Grayson. Oh what a man and super athlete was he. And here is one other “believe it or not moment.” … Dave’s service will be on the Saturday we are in San Diego later this month.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for the nice words, Bob. I plan to also write more about the 1956-57 school year, concentrating on baseball and track.

  4. Don Jones says:

    In the sprint photo, the same Russ Boemke that coached football at Valhalla? Great shot, dirt track, hand timers… ahhh the good old days!

    • Rick says:

      Same Russ. While I watch my grandson’s swim lessons at Murray Callan Swim Club in Pacific Beach, Russ is there watching his great grandson learn to swim. The Hoover sprinter Arnold Tripp lived in an optional district and chose to transfer when Crawford High opened the following school year. Hoover track coach Raleigh Holt visited Tripp’s parents in an attempt to convince Arnold to stay. Tripp became one of the County’s all-time sprinter-broad jumpers at Crawford.

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