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 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 then moved onto to the University of Oregon, competed in football and track, and was co-captain of the Ducks’ 1960 football squad.
AL WAIBEL, 91
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.
VINCE KILPELA, 80, EARLY HORNETS STAR
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.