They were cast in the 6-foot, 11-inch shadow of Bill Walton and Helix’ 33-0 team of 1969-70.
History has overlooked the Mount Miguel clubs that dominated the Grossmont League and San Diego Section in the late 1960s.
The Matadors were 25-6 in 1966-67 and 32-0 this season.
But coach Dick Ridgway’s squad did not embrace an intersectional schedule.
The Matadors won a couple December tournaments of local import and ran roughshod over area teams, eight times scoring more than 100 points.
Walton and Helix “went national”.
The Highlanders dominated the prestigious Covina Tournament, winning by 42 points in the finals against Pasadena and, in an earlier round, routing eventual Southern Section champion Long Beach Millikan by 24 points.
Walton was featured in Faces in the Crowd, a weekly feature of Sports Illustrated.
Ridgway, who played for coach John Wooden at UCLA in the early ‘fifties, employed a pressing zone defense that Wooden’s teams had perfected to domination on the collegiate level.
Junior varsity graduate Ken Barstow, a 6-foot, 7-inch center, joined 6-5 forward Mike Ela and two split-second guards, Blake Mathews, and Ken Greenman, who formed the offensive and defensive attack along with forward Dave Lower.
Bill Center of The San Diego Union covered the Matadors and Walton’s Helix squads.
Which was better?
”Very close,” said Center. “Walton was such a great athlete that I think Helix would win.”
But Center reserved a special place in his hoops hierarchy for the Spring Valley entry.
“Mount Miguel played so well together,” said Center. “It was the most fun team to watch that I covered. It was so unselfish and Mathews and Greenman were the perfect players to run his (Ridgway’s) press.”
The Matadors outscored their 32 opponents by an average score of 85.1-46.6 and set a County single-game scoring record in a 121-64 victory over Santana. They beat Point Loma, 118-54, and scored 92 points in the last three quarters in a 111-62 win over El Cajon Valley.
Ela scored 685 points and averaged 21.4. Greenman scored 594 and averaged 18.5. Mathews scored 467 and averaged 14.6.
Helix, a year away from beginning its great run, was 0-4 against its neighboring rival. The Matadors prevailed, 80-62, 86-57, and 67-56 in the regular season, and 69-55 in the CIF finals.
Oceanside got closer than anyone, bowing, 58-47, in the playoff quarterfinals after trailing, 31-28, at the half. The Pirates, led by big Jim McCargo, Steve Waddell, and Willie Buchanon, had won 14 straight.
Point Loma coach Don Buechler tossed cold water on the idea that Mount Miguel could beat the best team in the Southern Section.
Buechler would know. His team dropped a 118-54 decision to the Matadors and also played a powerful Northern squad.
Point Loma scheduled an unusual, late-season, nonleague home game against the 27-0 Compton Tarbabes, who would conclude a 32-0 season with the Southern Section championship a couple weeks later.
Compton easily raced past the 14-11 Pointers, 106-43, and Buechler was asked to compare the Matadors and the Northern powerhouse.
“They’re the best team I’ve seen in many a season,” Buechler said of Compton. “There is no team in our area that can match them man-for-man, rebounding, shooting, and individual defense.
“Everyone takes turns killing you.”
Mount Miguel won the Unlimited Division, 83-50, over Eastern League power Morse. The Matadors topped Granite Hills in an earlier game, 103-38, but fell short of the record 104 by Newhall Hart against Oceanside in 1954.
Castle Park claimed the Limited Division championship, 63-56, over Chula Vista and Vista topped Fallbrook, 55-54, in overtime to win the newly created Classified Division.
Top seed Mount Miguel defeated No. 2 Lincoln, another Eastern League big shot, 69-52, after scoring 107 in one tournament game and 118 in another.
Chula Vista, which had been playing in this post-December event almost from the time the school opened in 1947, swept to four straight victories including a 73-56 decision over Santa Clarita Simi Valley in the championship game.
SAN BERNARDINO KIWANIS
A free throw with 1:30 remaining in the game was what separated Long Beach Poly from San Diego in the Jackrabbits’ 63-62 championship game victory. Cavers Steve Clifford and Orie McLemore were all-tournament.
San Dieguito won its own tournament, 48-47, over Coronado. The Mustangs posted a 4-0 record in the round-robin event, followed by Coronado (3-1), San Marcos (2-2), Poway (1-3), and Bonita Vista (0-4).
EL CENTRO ELKS
Six-foot, 10 1/2-inch Ron Dahms scored 25 points to lead Madison to a 62-47 win over Orange Glen, which was making its second straight appearance in the finals.
Several other San Diego teams were involved. Brawley edged Crawford, 56-55, for third place, the Colts missing Rodney Boone, who sustained a back injury the day before.
El Centro Central topped Morse, playing without Monroe Nash, home in bed with the flu, 50-46, for fifth place. La Jolla defeated Holtville, 54-43, for the consolation title.
Despite protests from Metropolitan League coaches that their top teams, Chula Vista, Castle Park, and Hilltop, were dissed in the 16-team pairings, the postseason playoff committee approved its original seedings.
No. 1 Mount Miguel ousted 24-5 Castle Park, 64-44, in the first round and 17-8 University upset 26-3 Chula Vista, 52-50. Hilltop upheld South Bay pride by bouncing 15-10 Clairemont, 69-51.
Hilltop (23-9) reached the semifinals before bowing to 21-10 Helix, 69-57. Mount Miguel thumped Madison, 67-46.
The 27-5 Warhawks defeated Hilltop, 73-54, for third place.
Steve Bajo scored 29 points as Marian (21-6) was a 91-44 winner over 11-5 La Jolla Country Day in the Class A final.
Santana defeated El Cajon Valley, 90-76, by converting 50 of 70 fouls shots.
Game officials called 72 infractions, an average of more than two a minute, including 45 against the Braves.
Seven El Cajon Valley players and three Sultans were whistled to the bench with five personals each.
The Braves converted 22 of 36 free throw attempts and would have won, 54-40, if only field goals counted.
Bizarre finish in a Western League game between University and Clairemont.
The score was tied at 62 with the Chiefs in possession when the Dons’ Kevin Madden was called for a personal foul with four seconds remaining.
Madden complained, apparently too loudly, and was additionally assessed a technical.
Clairemont’s Pat Casey missed the first free-throw in the one-and-one for the personal.
But Clairemont remained in possession as the Chiefs still had a free throw coming for the technical.
Chiefs coach Russ Cravens opted for his best player and scorer, Frank Petersen, to attempt the T free throw.
Petersen found the bottom of the net, giving Clairemont a 63-62 lead.
Four seconds still remained and the Chiefs retained possession at midcourt.
Clairemont stunningly was called for a rules violation with one second remaining.
The Chiefs, according to student correspondent Homer Williams, were called for “a violation of the rule which requires the team ahead move the ball into an attacking area.”
Clairemont coach Cravens was outraged, lashing out at the official, who promptly slapped Cravens with a technical.
All’s well that ended well. University’s Dennis Kramer, who was 4 for 4 from the foul line, missed the technical freebie.
“SCORING” THE BASKETBALL
It’s a trite term overused in the modern game, but scoring was what San Diego preps did best this season.
Ten players averaged at least 20 points a game and 10 teams scored at least 63.3 points a game. Figures unheard of as recently as 10 years before.
Madison’s Ron Dahms scored 706 points, third to the 737 that Crawford’s Larry Blum scored in 1962-63 and to the 736 by St. Augustine’s Tom Shaules in 1957-58.
Morse’s Monroe Nash won the scoring championship with a 24.3 average, with 608 points in 25 games. Dahms averaged 22.06 and was edged by sophomore Paul Halupa of Bonita Vista, who scored 574 points in 26 games for an average of 22.08.
Halupa’s total represented the most ever by a 10th grade player.
HEAVENS! MR. HAVENS
Hoover’s John Havens broke two school records.
Havens’ 38 points in a 91-69 win over Granite Hills in consolation play of the Kiwanis Tournament bettered the 36 by Dick Barnes in 1944-45.
Havens, who averaged 18.4 points as the Cardinals struggled to a 9-17 record, had a season total of 478, bettering the 446 by Norris Greenwood in 1957-58.
NEEDED: ONE COPY EDITOR
San Diego coach Bill Standly did not take kindly to what he considered editorial impudence by the staff of The Russ, as noted by Don King in Caver Conquest.
Standly was not amused after reading a headline in the school newspaper that described a “Bush Sports Calendar.”
After all, the coach had put together a strong nonleague and intersectional schedule as his team was defending its 1966-67 San Diego Section championship.
Standly was mollified somewhat when a Russ editor apologized and explained that the headline was a typographical error and should have read “Busy Sports Calendar.”
Helix outscored Hilltop, 24-12, in nine minutes of the second and third quarters in their 69-57, CIF semifinal playoff victory before 3,573 persons at Peterson Gym, “with sophomore center Bill Walton and forward Paul Drozd leading the way.”
Writer Bill Center elaborated:
“Walton, a spindly, 6-6 center who was brought up from the junior varsity for the playoffs, took charge around the basket, batting down two shots and grabbing three defensive rebounds, which set up Highlander scores.”
Walton also scored eight points in this first, brief appearance on the big stage, which he would command for the next several years, at Helix, UCLA, and in the NBA.
IT’S A CRAZY GAME
–Mar Vista led visiting Coronado, 43-22, at halftime and lost, 65-64, as the Islanders took their only lead in the game on Jim Haught’s looper with 21 seconds remaining.
–Lincoln’s Jerry Powell scored 20 points, including 10 in a row and 12 in the final seven minutes, as the Hornets topped Crawford, 64-56.
–St. Augustine, 2-12, beat 12-5 Lincoln, 69-66. Hoover, 6-12, beat 14-6 Morse, 51-48. Crawford, 8-12, defeated 15-5 Lincoln, 56-53.
–Monroe Nash, despite 4 personal fouls, scored 19 points in the final 11 minutes as Morse beat San Diego, 72-70, in two overtimes.
–Madison jumped to 34-16 lead over Point Loma, but then was outscored, 50-32, and the teams deadlocked at 66, forcing overtime, which Madison dominated and won, 70-67.
–James (Bouncy) Moore broke free for a layup with two seconds to go in the second overtime as San Diego defeated Crawford, 75-73, after the teams deadlocked at 62 in regulation play and 66 in the first overtime.
–Helix trailed Monte Vista, 29-12, and then led, 56-39, before finally moving past Monte Vista, 68-65. Bob Kellison and Bill’s brother, Bruce Walton, led the Scots with 13 points each.
Although eliminated in the playoffs’ first round, it was a banner year for the Chula Vista Spartans, who won their third Metropolitan League championship in five seasons under coach Larry Armbrust and tied the school record for most wins…Bob Olson scored 35 points in a 77-59 win over Coronado and broke the school record of 33 set by Koichi Yamamoto in 1956-57 and equaled by Eric Mortenson in ’65-’66…Clairemont’s Frank Petersen was the season’s single-game scoring leader with 48 points in an 85-51 win over first-year Bonita Vista…the 21st annual December Kiwanis Tournament expanded to three divisions…there now were 16 Unlimited entries, 16 Limited, and 8 Classified…the Oscar Foster era had ended at San Diego, but the Cavers still posted a 20-8 record with one returning starter (Orie McLemore) and four junior varsity graduates…Hilltop joined Mount Miguel in 100-point club with a 104-46 win over Bonita Vista as forward John Tschogl set a school record with 41 points…Tschogl played at the University of California at Santa Barbara and for two seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Philadelphia 76ers…3,075 persons attended the Saturday night playoff finals at Peterson Gym, bringing two-night attendance to almost 7,000….
Dan Berry passed recently at age 72, leaving a historic legacy at La Jolla High and of significant achievements at San Diego City College and the University of California at Berkeley.
When La Jolla met San Diego High at Scripps Field in 1961, the Vikings had not beaten the Cavemen since 1951 and were reeling from 57-0 and 59-0 knockouts in the two most recent meetings.
Berry, an all-San Diego Section first-team selection, rushed for 153 yards in 20 carries, scored a touchdown and passed for two, and charged a three-touchdown, fourth-quarter rally as the Vikings, trailing, 19-7, defeated the Cavers, 27-19.
The seaside team’s victory should have created some sports world buzz, but the game was played on Thursday night, a day earlier than usual.
Friday night was when the media spotlight was on the high schools.
The Evening Tribune did not send a reporter to the game and The San Diego Union‘s coverage of the contest was consigned to back pages of the sports section.
La Jollans were outraged.
Many of the beach community’s residents flooded the nearby office of publisher James Copley with telephone calls expressing anger that Copley’s newspapers had given their team short shrift.
Copley got the message.
An order soon came down from the fourth floor at the Union-Tribune building on Second Avenue in downtown San Diego.
Henceforth the Tribune would carry a full page of prep photo coverage plus a full page of stories and reports each Saturday on games throughout the County.
KNIGHTS THRIVE WITH DAN
Dan Berry and the Vikings had a lot to do with that emphasis on the exploits of the area’s prepsters.
Berry later led San Diego City College to a best-ever 9-1 record and come-from-behind, 28-24 victory over Orange Coast College in the 1964 San Bernardino Elks Bowl.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, 200-pounder was described by Orange Coast coach Dick Tucker as “the best junior college player in Southern California.”
Berry went on to letter at quarterback and running back for two seasons at Berkeley, and was a fifth round draft selection of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles in 1967. His career was short-circuited by injuries.
Berry’s wife, Kathy, said that on Feb. 18 a celebration of Dan’s life will be held at the family residence.
Services for San Diego High legend Cleveland (Smiley) Jones will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at El Camino Memorial Park, 5600 Carroll Road, San Diego, 92123.
Viewings are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13. and from 9-10 a.m. Saturday. A Repast will follow the funeral.
Jones, 77, a resident of Rancho Alamitos in Orange County, had been ill for several months.
JIM GILCHRIST, WILLIE McCLOUD
Two of Cleveland Jones’s San Diego High teammates also passed recently.
Gilchrist, 78, was all-City Prep League in basketball and baseball in 1955-56 and teamed with Art Powell and others on the 1954-55 basketball team that reached the Southern California playoffs semifinals and finished fourth overall.
McCloud, 76, was a three-year starter and made all-City and all-Southern California second team as a .352-hitting centerfielder on the 25-4 San Diego baseball team in 1959.
Next month, on Feb. 14, will mark the seventh year since we undertook a challenge.
I wanted to write the history of San Diego County high school football.
That’s where my career started and where it will end.
Well, I didn’t write the history (that is almost infinite), but I gave it a shot.
I attempted to write a narrative about each season. More than 100.
I just counted.
The number includes all seasons from 1914 forward. I combined the years 1891 to 1913.
Almost all of the narratives are broken into short subjects, vignettes and photographs (pictures from rustic and ragged microfilm at several Southern California sources).
Some years, like 1955, include multiple entries and, starting in 2013, football was covered on a week-to-week basis.
Most seasons usually required an average of about 2,000 words, although there are some with less and many with more.
My superstar writing friend Dave Kindred told me, “It wouldn’t sell and it would be too long,” when I suggested to David that maybe I’d write a book about this parochial subject.
He was right on both counts. But thanks to Henrik Jonson, my cyber guru, we put together a web site: Partletonsports.com.
Partleton was the name on my father’s birth certificate when he was born in Barbados, “Little England” as it was known.
Dad changed his last name to Smith after he entered the United States following service in the Canadian army in World War I.
I asked him often why he hadn’t been more inventive. He could have changed his name to Jones.
I’m going to continue looking for nuggets of information in basketball, track field, and probably baseball.
It’s a labor of love and in retirement you have to have interests. I’ve got season tickets to San Diego State basketball and I catch a prep football or basketball game every week.
That and trying to keep Susie happy and watching our 4 grandsons grow up.
Football, it’s a wrap.
Cathedral finished fifth in Cal-Hi Sports‘ state top 25, Helix was 14th, and Madison 19th in an outstanding San Diego Section season.
Coach Sean Doyle’s Cathedral Dons, wearing the letter “U” on their helmets in the state championship in honor of Cathedral’s previous University of San Diego High designation (and Doyle’s alma-mater), ran the table in a 15-0 season.
The closest any teams have come to this Cathedral club were the 14-0, Tyler Gaffney-led Dons of 2008, and the 14-0 Morse Tigers of Teddy Lawrence and Company in 1990.
I agreed with John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune when the prep writer called this year’s Dons squad the best in the 56-year history of the San Diego Section.
My reasoning was that no one had ever won for 15 consecutive weeks and Cathedral, unlike its ’08 predecessor or John Shacklett’s ’90 Morse, played a heavy intersectional schedule.
The Dons played five teams from out of the section, including three early in the season. They defeated L.A. City power Narbonne, 35-28, in the Southern California 1-AA final, and Stockton St. Mary’s in overtime, 38-35, for the state title in a repeat of a 37-34 victory over St. Mary’s in ’08.
Cathedral outscored its 15 opponents by an average score of 40-15. The ’08 team scored a record 671 points and had a winning margin of 48-17. The ’90 Morse team had held the section scoring record of 649 points with an average advantage of 46-13.
Neither ’08 Cathedral or ’90 Morse played the type of schedule of this year’s Dons.
After a 56-15 win over Honolulu Punahou, one of the strongest teams in Hawaii, the Tigers’ schedule featured only San Diego Section squads.
The situation was almost the same with Cathedral in ’08. The Dons had a 63-7 victory over weak Chino early in the season and then did not meet an intersectional foe again until the final versus St. Mary’s.
WARHAWKS’ ROUSING FINISHES
Rick Jackson’s Madison Warhawks (13-2) became one of the most popular teams in the state with some incredible play in the San Diego Section D-I championship and in the Southern California final.
The Warhawks overcame a 31-7, St. Augustine halftime lead to defeat the Saints, 35-31, for the section D-I crown and then overcame a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit to top Calabasas, 60-53, in overtime. They won the state II-AA title, 23-17 over San Jose Valley Christian.
Helix (11-3) had an opening game loss to Timpview, Utah, which posted a 9-3 record and went to its state finals. The Highlanders also defeated strong Northern entry Concord Clayton Valley and played two tough losses with Cathedral, including the section Open final.
VERDELL LEADS SCORERS
Mater Dei’s Oregon-bound C.J. Verdell scored 40 touchdowns and added a 2-point conversion for a section-leading 242 points. Tyler Saikhon of El Centro Southwest was second with 188.
Verdell’s is the 10th highest, one-season total in San Diego County history. Verdell scored 204 points in 2015, second only to the 210 of Helix’ Nate Stinson.
Not all teams submitted team and individual stats, which were compiled by Max Preps.
For a complete list of San Diego Section scoring leaders link to “Football” and “Individual Performances” in the drop down menu.
Mickey Flynn became known as the “Ghost of La Palma”.
Because of the 1950-55 success of Clare Van Hoorebeke’s Anaheim Colonists program, the Anaheim parks department had agreed to expand the La Palma Avenue baseball park to include 7,500 grandstand seats in the outfield.
The first football game drew an overflow crowd of 9,000 persons in 1956 and Flynn scored the only touchdown with a 71-yard run in the fourth quarter that defeated Redlands, 6-0.
Flynn’s exploits soon gave way to his being compared to an invisible figure.
Sid Ziff, the sports editor of the Los Angeles Mirror, was credited with the origin, but longtime patrons of La Palma Stadium suggested that Flynn became known as the Ghost for another reason.
“The lighting on the field was not the best back then,” wrote Steve Kresal of the Los Angeles Times in 1989. “Flynn could disappear into the shadows, then reappear downfield on his way to a big gain.”
Flynn, who averaged almost 14 yards a carry in the varsity seasons of 1954-56 and who was the individual star of the 1955 Anaheim-San Diego playoff, was the first athlete inducted into the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.
By the grace of a 17-14 Advantage in first downs, San Diego High survived a 20-20 standoff with Anaheim in the CIF playoff semifinals before 10,271 persons at Long Beach Veterans’ Memorial Stadium.
A heart-thumping conclusion represented the final shot in a frenetic battle of undefeated teams that bought an end to a week of intrigue and one-upmanship.
Anaheim had defeated Glendale 27-13 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, and San Diego ushered out Bellflower in Balboa Stadium, 26-6, in the quarterfinals round, setting up what many figured would be a “semifinal for the championship”.
MONDAY, DEC. 5
San Diego assistant coach Birt Slater met with Anaheim athletic director Dick Glover and CIF commissioner Ken Fagans in Los Angeles.
Anaheim won a coin flip to determine the home team, according to the Anaheim Bulletin, but the Colonists did not have a home field, although they played in the low-capacity La Palma Avenue Park.
A grandstand to be built at nearby La Palma Park wouldn’t be ready until the 1956 season, but there were several stadium possibilities in the region.
Glover wanted the new, 7,500-seat Orange Coast College facility in Costa Mesa.
Slater, speaking for head coach Duane Maley and the San Diego administration, argued for the 13,000-seat Long Beach Veterans’ Stadium.
Slater said Orange Coast would not be large enough for an expected huge crowd that would follow the Hillers from San Diego.
Glover, citing observers’ reports, asserted that San Diego attendance was only about 2,000 out of the 3,500 that watched the Bellflower game.
Glover also claimed that Colonists followers outnumbered San Diego’s in Balboa Stadium in 1953, when Anaheim won, 21-7.
TUESDAY, DEC. 6
Anaheim, perhaps with some prodding from Fagans and with a promise of a huge visiting crowd from San Diego, agreed to move the game to the larger, financially more rewarding Veterans’ Stadium.
“A football field is still 100 yards long no matter where it’s located,” Anaheim coach Clare Van Hoorebeke cryptically replied to a question concerning his opinion about the contest’s being moved from the “originally-planned” Orange Coast venue.
San Diego seemed to be making mountains out of mole hills.
The Cavers also wanted to wear their powder blue jerseys, which were introduced this year and were a popular departure from San Diego’s traditional Columbia blue.
Anaheim had the choice of color and opted for its home blue tops. “San Diego will play in their ‘Sunday School’ whites,” according to the Bulletin.
“The ‘Border Bandits’, declared the newspaper, “acted like true scoundrels when they tried to force the game to be moved to San Diego and then insisted on their choice of jersey color.”
San Diego had another reason for wanting the game moved from the Costa Mesa campus. Anaheim was familiar with the layout and had won two games there this season.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7
Dick Glover responded to Orange County fans who felt the Colonists let them down by agreeing to play at Long Beach Vets.
If not Orange Coast, why not the equally familiar Santa Ana Bowl, capacity 9,000?
Glover had several reasons:
- “Long Beach charges 10 per cent of the gross, Santa Ana 10 per cent of the first thousand (dollars) and 15 per cent after that.
- “Veterans Stadium is in the back yard of Cypress and Los Alamitos (communities) and we have an obligation to our own school.”
- Glover also pointed out that the clay soil of Orange Coast’s parking would cause problems in the event of rain.
- Orange Coast College was 18.1 miles from Anaheim High. Santa Ana Bowl was 8.2 miles and Long Beach Veterans Stadium 14.8 miles.
THURSDAY, DEC. 8
How good was Mickey Flynn, the 160-pound junior who, with “pony “backfield mates Joe Avitia (155), Don Penfield (145), and George Dena (145), had led Colonists on a 27-game winning streak in the Sunset League?
- Anaheim scored a touchdown on its first or second play in nine of 11 games.
- Flynn was averaging 68 yards on his 19 touchdowns and had scored on his first carry in eight games.
- Gary Land, who sustained a broken ankle in a practice two weeks before, had been ably replaced at right guard in the Cavers’ line by junior Gary Becker. Ron Collins, who had sustained an elbow injury earlier, was ready to go at center.
FRIDAY, DEC. 9
John De La Vega of the Los Angeles Times described the game as a “hair-raiser.”
Since winning it all in 1922, San Diego High had made unsuccessful playoff attempts in 1925, ’33, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’48, ’50, ’53, and ’54, and they were positioned again to make another run at a Southern Section championship.
Coach Duane Maley whistled the start of September drills with all hands on deck, except one.
Starting quarterback Pete Gumina was absent, away fishing on his father’s bait fishing vessel, approximately 150 miles Southwest of where the Cavemen were exercising on the upper practice field.
Gumina’s summer job was to help his dad bring home enough fish to support the family and put food on dining room table.
When Gumina turned out for practice a few days later the senior signals caller was surprised and puzzled that he was running behind No. 2 quarterback Edward Heard.
Apparently Maley thought Gumina had been ducking those hot, late-summer drills.
Pete waited a few years, about 30 actually, before finally asking Maley why he had been temporarily demoted.
“Duane laughed,” remembered the quarterback. “He told me that he thought I was out sports fishing and enjoying myself.”
A first-generation American who grew up near the Italian enclave on India Street, Gumina was Maley’s steady hand at the wheel, leading this talented, multi-cultural group to the mountain top.
Pete had lots of help, from all-America end-linebacker-punter Deron Johnson; from Willie West, a brilliant runner who played several years in the American Football League; from David Grayson, a member of the 10-year, all-time AFL squad;
From Alden Kimbrough, Ron Collins, Cleveland (Smiley) Jones, Eldridge Cooks, Steve Allen, Jerry Ybarra, Ollie Osborne, Mike Rustich, Gary Becker, Luther Hayes, Don Bransford, and a flock of others.
SEPT. 23, FOOTBALL CARNIVAL
Willie West pulled it out for the West.
The squads from San Diego, Point Loma, and La Jolla defeated Hoover, Lincoln, and Kearny, 13-12, before 16,000 Balboa Stadium fans who waited in anticipation on a slow-starting San Diego team in the game’s fourth and final, 15-minute exhibition (Point Loma played two quarters).
West fumbled on San Diego’s 34-yard line, but Hoover gave up the ball on the Cavers’ 15. Three plays later a Gumina interception allowed Hoover another chance. The Cardinals surrendered the ball again on the Hillers’ 25.
Steve Allen ran 5 yards to the 30.
Lightning struck on the next play.
West, according to Jim Trinkle in The San Diego Union, “bolted over right guard, found himself unopposed by the time he was at the 50, and easily outdistanced the defenders.”
West’s 70-yard touchdown was followed by Gumina’s PAT and the West’s winning points.
SEPT. 30, SAN DIEGO 18, LYNWOOD 6
COMPTON—The host Knights had a 13-4 advantage in first downs at Ramsaur Stadium on the Compton High campus but didn’t get past San Diego’s 20 after taking a 6-0, first-quarter lead.
Pete Gumina passed 25 yards to Deron Johnson, who covered the final 15 for a 40-yard touchdown play that made for a 6-6 halftime score.
Johnson intercepted a pass by Stanford-bound Dick Norman and ran 25 yards for another touchdown.
With time running out, a Lynwood drive expired on the Cavers’ 28 and Steve Allen closed out the scoring with a 72-yard run on the next play.
OCT. 6, SAN DIEGO 19, LINCOLN 0
Lincoln, in its second varsity season, featuring backfield speed equal to San Diego’s and boasting a sharp passer in Bob Mendoza, was expected to contend.
The Hornets kept it close for three quarters, but finished the night with minus 10 yards rushing and 54 passing.
San Diego rushed for 242 yards and had a 15-3 advantage in first downs as West and David Grayson scored on short plunges and Deron Johnson returned an intercepted pass 48 yards for another score.
Although contested in Balboa Stadium, Lincoln was the “home” team.
OCT. 14, SAN DIEGO 42, POINT LOMA 0
The Hillers, as they also were known, began to separate from the pack.
Pete Gumina completed 13 of 17 passes for 189 yards and 4 touchdowns, kicked 6 points after, and led a 423-yard attack that reduced Point Loma to rubble.
Deron Johnson was on the receiving end of two of Gumina’s scoring passes, Steve Allen, and Luther Hayes, one each.
The Pointers had 61 yards in total offense and never advanced beyond San Diego’s 46-yard line.
OCT. 21, SAN DIEGO 42, KEARNY 0
The Cavers seemingly let Kearny do as it pleased, between the 20-yard lines.
The Komets, playing hosts at Hoover, had an edge in first downs, 13-12, but the game wasn’t close, highlighted by a 51-yard touchdown pass play from Pete Gumina to Alden Kimbrough to Deron Johnson.
Kimbrough accepted Gumina’s six-yard aerial, then slipped the ball into the trailing Johnson’s stomach and took off, Komets defenders in pursuit of Kimbrough. Johnson raced the remaining 45 yards untouched.
OCT. 28, SAN DIEGO 27, HOOVER 6
A Deron Johnson punt traveled 76 yards and the big end caught two of Pete Gumina’s three touchdown passes.
Hoover was the first City Prep League team to score on San Diego and a Cardinals assailant actually bit Johnson amid a pile of bodies near the line of scrimmage.
NOV. 4, SAN DIEGO 53, MISSION BAY 0
Don King wrote in Caver Conquest that an assistant Mission Bay coach signaled from the sideline when the Buccaneers should put the ball in play on offense.
The coach was equipped with a stopwatch to avoid delay-of-game penalties.
The tactic by Mission Bay coach Harry Anderson was supposed to help the Bucs keep the score down.
NOV. 11, SAN DIEGO 27, SANTA BARBARA 13
PEABODY STADIUM—The Cavers hadn’t been to this venue since a 27-0 victory over the Dons in the semifinals of the 1933 playoffs.
Santa Barbara High was one of the few schools in California older than San Diego High, having opened in 1875 to their younger rival’s 1882.
The Hillers led, 21-0, after three quarters and gave up a touchdown on a 30-yard fumble return and 35-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The Dons could boast that their 13 points were more than the 12 managed by San Diego’s first six opponents.
The Cavers got on the board in second quarter, when Pete Gumina passed 30 yards to Alden Kimbrough and Don Bransford ran 18 yards for a 14-0 halftime lead.
NOV. 18, SAN DIEGO 57, LA JOLLA 0.
San Diego closed the regular season having outscored CPL opponents, 250-6 en route to a 6-0 league record.
Willie West and Cleveland Jones scored two touchdowns each. Deron Johnson and Gumina hooked up on a 47-yard touchdown pass play, and four other Cavers scored.
NOV. 25, SAN DIEGO 26, CHULA VISTA 0
San Diego marched 80 and 98 yards to touchdowns on its first two possessions, led, 19-0, at the half and finished the scoring with a touchdown on the first series of the third quarter.
Chula Vista lost for the first time in 20 games in coach Chet DeVore’s final game. Cleveland Jones helped expedite DeVore’s departure with a brilliant, 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The first-round playoff victory at Aztec Bowl moved the Cavers into the quarterfinals.
DEC. 2, SAN DIEGO 26, BELLFLOWER 6.
There was no coin flip to determine the playing site. Bellflower was not unhappy with a rare nonleague travel date to Balboa Stadium.
The San Gabriel League, of which the Buccaneers were members, had a quirky rule against travel during the regular season.
Bellflower, an 8-1 team with a single-wing offense, took a first-quarter, 6-0 lead and San Diego did not score until 2:40 remained in the second quarter.
Willie West rushed for 106 yards, received for 57 yards, returned two intercepted passes 44 yards, and scored two touchdowns.
Gumina passed for three touchdowns and Kimbrough and Johnson collaborated again.
On fourth down from the 10-yard line, Gumina lobbed a short pass to Johnson over the middle. Johnson lateraled to his teammate at the 5 and Kimbrough crossed the goal.
Fourteen seconds remained after Gumina’s PAT.
The Cavers were in the semifinals for the first time since 1947.
Dec. 9, SAN DIEGO 20, ANAHEIM 20
(Link to 1955: Cavers in Epic Struggle
Dec. 16, SAN DIEGO 26, ALHAMBRA 14
The game came down to one play.
San Diego, leading, 19-7, in the fourth quarter, gave up an Alhambra touchdown and then found itself in a fourth-and-23 situation on its 34- yard line with less than 5 minutes remaining.
Momentum had swung to the visitors in Aztec Bowl, where 8,500 largely San Diego patrons stirred nervously in their seats.
Back to punt, Deron Johnson fielded a high snap and was forced to retreat to his 20. As he scrambled toward the Moors’ side of the field, Johnson shouted, “Kimbrough!”
Johnson could be heard high above the field in the press box and Alden Kimbrough, running downfield to cover the punt, turned and caught Johnson’s 33-yard pass at the Moors’ 45.
Kimbrough was brought down on the Alhambra 39 for an official gain of 27 yards and game-saving first down. The play actually covered 39 yards.
The Hillers’ Eldridge Cooks punched in the clinching touchdown from the 2. San Diego, led by Willie West’s 148 yards in 27 carries, dominated with 424 yards to Alhambra’s 229.
Cleveland Jones abetted West with 42 yards in eight carries. Eldridge Cooks added 34 in 4, Steve Allen 30 in eight, Don Bransford 29 in 3, and David Grayson 18 in 3.
The Cavers’ defense held the Moors to three first downs and 15 yards rushing, but Alhambra scored on a 76- and 6-yard pass plays from Jerry Cooper to Duane Allen.
WHERE AND WHEN?
The week started with contretemps similar to the cat-and-mouse game between San Diego and Anaheim the previous week.
CIF commissioner Ken Fagans on Tuesday morning honored a San Diego request to play the game Friday night at San Diego State’s Aztec Bowl.
A Saturday afternoon game in Balboa Stadium was not possible, because the fourth-annual Poinsettia Bowl military game had been booked earlier at that site.
Alhambra principal Gilbert Strother did not like playing Friday evening.
“We are not trying to pull a fast one, but all championship games except one in my memory have been played on Saturday afternoons,” said Strother.
“We would have sent four, five-thousand down for a Saturday game. I predict we won’t have more than 600 there on Friday night.”
101 BAD ROAD
Strother contended that many parents would not let their children make the trip “because that highway is too dangerous.”
The principal argued the risk of high school students driving on the Coast Highway at “one or two o’clock” in the morning with possible fog.
U.S. 101 had long stretches of precarious, three-lane pavement between Oceanside and San Clemente.
The 8,500 attendance was low and the CIF announced before the game that the San Diego venue would serve as “a test”. In most cases future championship games would be in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
The title game returned to Aztec Bowl two years later, when San Diego met Downey.
The Alhambra-San Diego contest also competed against the County-wide Kiwanis basketball tournament.
Rick Jackson, who guided the Madison Warhawks to a 12-2 record, two classic postseason victories, plus a third almost as riveting, has the leading won-loss record among San Diego County coaches with at least 100 career victories.
Jackson is 120-36-4 in 12 seasons at Madison for a .768 percentage, including state championships in 2012 and 2016.
Madison earned a Division II-AA title this year with a remarkable postseason.
–The Warhawks overcame a 31-7 halftime deficit and defeated St. Augustine, 35-31, for the San Diego Section D-I championship.
–They fought back after lagging by 19 points in the fourth quarter and knocked off Calabasas, 60-53, in overtime in the Southern California regional.
–Then the team from northeast Clairemont won a taut, 21-17 struggle against San Jose Valley Christian for state honors.
Oceanside’s John Carroll, who retired after the 2014 campaign, is second to Jackson with a 26-season career record of 248-75-6 for a .763 percentage.
Chula Vista’s Chet DeVore and San Diego’s Duane Maley have the highest all-time records for coaches with a minimum 50 games. DeVore was 44-7-1 (.856) from 1951-55, Maley 97-19-3 (.828) from 1948-59.
Monte Vista’s Ron Hamamoto and Valley Center’s Rob Gilster are the leading active coaches in victories, Hamamoto with 210, Gilster with 207.
Herb Meyer of Oceanside and El Camino is the all-time leader with 339 games won from 1959-2003. Carroll is second with 248 from 1989 -2014.
Poway’s Damian Gonzalez (107) this season became the 42nd coach in County history to reach 100 wins.
Other active coaches with at least 100 victories are Mission Bay’s Willie Matson (184), Cathedral’s Sean Doyle (177), Christian’s Matt Oliver (148), Mission Hills’ Chris Hauser (142), Mira Mesa’s Gary Blevins (140), Point Loma’s Mike Hastings (133), and El Camino’s Jerry Ralph (126).
The see the entire list, go to Coach 100 Club in the drop down menu of the “Football” link.
A twist in the CIF Southern Section playoffs this year resulted in the Coronado principal twisting in the wind.
Escondido and Coronado had tied for second place in the Avocado League. making either school eligible for the league’s runner-up berth in the Southern Division (small schools) postseason.
So far, so good.
But Escondido coach Walt West was confused.
The Cougars were on the CIF’s playoff schedule as opposing Tustin, winner of the Orange League.
West thought the Cougars’ season was over and had asked for team uniforms to be turned in immediately following a final, regular-season game loss to league champ Oceanside.
“I had assumed that inasmuch as Coronado had beaten us (19-7) they would be in the playoff,” said West.
After speaking with Escondido principal Bill Radne, who also believed Coronado would represent the league, writer Dave Gallup of The San Diego Union contacted Coronado principal Wilfrid Seaman for comment.
CORONADO WANTS OUT
Seaman told Gallup that he had “talked the matter over” with his coaches and they had agreed that further play was undesirable for Coronado.
“After all we’re in need of getting our basketball under way and we’re just not big enough to support both sports at once,” said Seaman.
Seaman apparently had notified the CIF but din’t tell Escondido.
Seaman’s position changed, quickly, when the Islanders’ boss learned that he had been hung in effigy by a segment of the student body, backed by peevish citizens, according to Gallup.
The Islanders’ honcho asked for a league meeting, with Coronado now being considered a playoff participant.
All league members, except champion Oceanside, attended a session at Fallbrook, where a coin flip determined the Avocado’s second playoff representative.
Conveniently, Escondido won the toss, played, and lost to visiting Tustin, 26-20.
THE REAL REASON
Why were Seaman and his coaches so eager to dump on football and get on with basketball?
Three important players on coach John Kovac’s Islanders squad that had gone to the Southern Section small schools finals in 1954-55 were footballers Willie Dickey, Charlie Love, and Herman Wright.
The Coronado brass felt it was essential to get the trio off the gridiron (Coronado was 4-3 under first-year coach Roger Rigdon) and onto the court as soon as possible.
The Islanders would mount a run to the small school’s title this season, posting a 27-1 record, and scoring a 60-54 win over superstar Billy Kilmer and Azusa Citrus, the team that that beaten them in the finals the previous year.
WE WANT IN
For many years, the Southern Section selected 8-10 league champions to its Major Division postseason. The Section passed a bylaw in 1952 that led to increased participation.
An extra team was added in 1953 and 16 teams, guaranteeing a full, four-week tournament with no byes, were invited in 1954.
The larger grouping, which would become the model for decades, included inclusion of some second-place teams, from selected leagues.
In addition to 12 league champions in the Central Group (large schools), the CIF this year said bids would go to runners-up from the Citrus Belt, Coast, and Pacific Leagues, and independent Santa Monica.
CIF TO BORDER TEAMS: DROP DEAD!
The two major San Diego leagues were eighty-sixed.
Their only chance of getting in was if a runner-up from one of the anointed leagues lost its final regular-season game, but there were no guarantees.
That the announcement was made before most circuits, including the San Diego City and Metropolitan, had completed their seasons was received with a surly lack of enthusiasm.
“I think my kids were fired up, looking forward to a possible playoff game. Now the edge is off,” said Hoover coach Roy Engle.
“What was the hurry announcing the brackets?” Engle wondered. “The logical time would have been Sunday or Monday, after the season.”
CARDINALS STINK IT UP
Hoover mailed in a flat performance as Point Loma defeated the Cardinals, 26-0, and claimed second place in the CPL.
San Diego, which had lost coin flips for the CPL’s lone playoff berth in 1951 and ’52, was a shoo-in this year, but Chula Vista, favored to be the Metropolitan League entry, had not clinched its league title and was facing a showdown with Helix.
Chula Vista coach Chet DeVore was thinking what if.
“Should we get beat, losing the playoff berth, and the SCIF decides to pick a second team from the city (as it did with Hoover in 1954), then I’d be hot,” said the generally mild-mannered DeVore.
SAINTS NOT MARCHING IN
The 6-foot, 5-inch, 250-pound principal at St. Augustine weighed in.
“Early this season we got a letter from the SCIF commissioner’s office,” said Fr. John Aherne. “It said St. Augustine would be eligible for the playoffs if we lost no more than two games.”
Aherne pointed out that the Saints lost to Metro powers Helix and Chula Vista and were tied by Lincoln. “What I have to think of the selections is not very nice,” said the vicar.
ANOTHER POSSIBLE ISSUE
Could a glee club instructor or a wood shop teacher decide when Chula Vista was to meet San Diego in the first round?
Left halfback Dave Morrison, the Spartans’ best runner’; right half Ross Provence, guard Bill Stephens, and tackle Jeff Langston were listed as doubtful by coach Chet DeVore.
DeVore hoped the players could get as much recovery time as possible. He wanted to play on Friday.
But there would be a faculty vote, the coach cautioned.
“The Thanksgiving holiday starts Thursday and everyone may prefer to hold the game as soon as possible,” DeVore told Phil Collier of The Union. “If they want us to play Thursday that’s what we’ll do.”
With a presumed friendly nudge from principal Joe Rindone, the faculty voted to play San Diego on Friday.
Oceanside teachers and administrators were able to get an early start on the Thanksgiving holiday…the Pirates dropped a 6-0 decision to visiting Brea-Olinda on Wednesday…undefeated Ramona, exited after a 14-7 loss to Banning of Riverside County and San Diego eliminated Chula Vista, 26-0….