Football Blog

2015: San Diegans in State Track Top 10 (4)

Rick : May 24, 2015 9:57 am : Football, Track & Field

If the state track meet were  tomorrow, instead of in two weeks, San Diego Section girls would have a chance to win possibly three events.  The boys, none.

In one of the most disappointing seasons in several years, San Diego girls are represented in seven of the 16 events in the state’s top 10 and the boys in five.

It’s been a woman’s world this year.

Suzie Acolatse of Mission Hills is a contender in the 100 and 200 meters and Cathedral’s Hana Labrie-Smith has run as fast in the 300 hurdles as the season’s state leader.

Acolatse’s wind-aided :11.46 100 and legal :23.69 rank third in the state.  Her 200 is sixth in the nation and fourth all-time in San Diego.  She negotiated the 200 time in Saturday’s San Diego Section trials at Mt. Carmel, where Acolatse also logged a legal :11.53 to move to No. 4 all time in San Diego.

Labrie-Smith is fourth in the state at :42.62 in the long hurdles, but ran :41.97 in 2014 which matches the 2015-leading performance by Jasmyne Graham of Corona Eleanor Roosevelt.

Several other girls also could contend for medals, including Cathedral’s Dani Johnson, who set a San Diego Section record of :14.12 in the 100 hurdles in the section trials but ran :13.81 and :13.99 with wind in her two state meet races in 2014.

The allowable wind limit is 2.04 meters, or, in old parlance, 4.447 miles an hour.


Most impressive among the boys has been Oceanside junior Charles Lenford, third in the state shot put at 61 feet, 8 inches, and ninth in the discus at 180-10.  The  shot put will be loaded, headed by the 71-11 1/2 of Bellflower St. John Bosco’s Matt Katnik, but Ledford seeming has not hit his ceiling.

Lenford teached 50 feet as a sophomore and qualified for the state finals with a 166-4 effort in the trials discus and was 12th in the finals at 155-7.

Lenford started this  season with a 54-10 3/4 effort in an indoor state meet in Clovis and has gradually gone up the ladder.  His 61-8 is 16th all-time in San Diego.


How will Oceanside fare with coach John Carroll taking retirement?

It’s a long way to the fall, but the Pirates did not fare well in the recent San Juan Hills “Gunslinger” passing tournament against top Northern squads.

Oceanside was outscored by St. John Bosco, 52-6, Huntington Beach Edison, 42-2, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 30-12, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 48-6, and San Juan Hills, 12-6.

Teams play 7 players against 7 players, with only passing plays.

San Diegans in state Top 10  as of Sunday, May 24:


100 Acolatse (3) Mission Hills :11.46w :11.38w Williams Westlake Village Oaks Christian
200 Acolatse (3) Mission Hills :23.69 :22.68w Williams
800 Akins (9) Rancho Bernardo 2:11.1 2:08.44 Smith Clovis North
300H Labrie-Smith (4) Cathedral :42.62 :41.97 Graham Corona Roosevelt
Molter (8) Valhalla :42.91
4×400 Relay Cathedral Catholic (9) 3:51.55 3:46.24 Corona Roosevelt
Shot Put Laulauga Tausaga (5) Mount Miguel 46-1 50-2 1/4 Bruckner San Jose Valley
Discus Tausaga (3) 156-7 182-8 Bruckner

Shot Put Lenford (3) Oceanside 61-8 71-11 1/2 Katnik Bellflower St. John Bosco
Discus Lenford (9) 180-10 194-8 McMorris Santa Ana Mater Dei
Long Jump Tanner Battikha (5) St. Augustine 23-8 3/4 24-10 1/2 Vann Oxnard Rio Mesa
Triple Jump Miller (7) Oceanside 47-7 3/4 49-3 Smith Moraga St. Mary's College High
Pole Vault Zawadski (7T) Patrick Henry 15-7 16-3 1/4 Lauf El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge

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2015: Morrison, Dobson Also Step Down

Rick : May 10, 2015 9:30 am : Football

John Carroll’s retirement from Oceanside earlier this year has been followed by the departure of two other, successful, veteran San Diego Section coaches.

John Morrison, who took his 18 Francis Parker teams to 18 playoff berths, and Bill Dobson, whose 2011 team tied a Mountain Empire record for most wins in a season, also are leaving.

Other changes so far, according to John Maffei of UT-San Diego, include University City’s Charles James moving to San Diego, Patrick Coleman taking over at Del Norte, Will Gray at Kearny, and Rone Torres at Calvary Christian San Diego in Chula Vista.

Additional appointments have Roger Engle and Mikel Moran serving as co-coaches at Scripps Ranch and former Scripps Ranch coach Sergio Diaz becoming the new boss at Serra, where Brian Basteyns exited after 11 seasons.  Nehemiah Brunson is new at Army-Navy.

Morrison ranks 15th among San Diego Section coaches with 146 victories and his .686 winning percentage, is 16th among those with at least 100 victories (see link on website home page).


Morrison took over at Parker in 1997 and built the program into one of the finest among California’s smaller schools (500 or less enrollment).

The Lancers won five league titles, 3 San Diego Section championships and made eight San Diego Section championship game appearances.

Parker lost an epic battle, 44-40, to Modesto Christian in the state small schools title game in 2009.

Dobson was 29-16 (.644) in five seasons at Mountain Empire.  The Redhawks were 9-2 in 2011, tying a school record for victories set by the 1983 squad.

The Pine Valley school, which opened in 1925 in Campo, earned one Manzanita League co-championship and was 5-0 in the “Battle for the Nest”.

A perpetual trophy goes to the winner of the annual Laguna Mountains bragging rights game between the Redhawks and Julian Eagles.

Diaz was 41-47-1 from 2002-09 at Scripps Ranch, but had a 34-25 record in his last five seasons.


Joe Cardona, a long snapper at Navy who attended Granite Hills, was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Cardona was the only player chosen from the San Diego Section.


Brian Basteyns’ record at Serra from 2005-14 was 49-67-1 but included four league championships and a 9-3 record in 2012…D.J. Walcott has been serving as interim coach at Francis Parker…Dave Rodriguez, a former Oceanside player and assistant coach, replaced Carroll, who retired with 248 victories, second most in the San Diego Section to Herb Meyer’s 339…Charles James was 11-12 in two seasons at University City…Engle was Scripps Ranch’s first baseball coach and is the son of Roy Engle, who starred as a player at Hoover in the 1930s and was the Cardinals’ head coach from 1955-77…Calvary Christian Vista is said to be closing….

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1964: Bull Durham…er, Trometter!

Rick : May 8, 2015 4:27 pm : Football

Retired after an honored career in the Marine Corps, Robert E. (Bull) Trometter took a high school job.

Trometter could employ a figurative steel fist in the Marines (head coach at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot in 1947-48, at Camp Pendleton in 1949, and at MCRD from 1953-59, his teams posted a combined 87-7 record),  but Trometter also would need a velvet glove  at University of San Diego High.

The man used both, with aplomb.

Trometter took over the second year school with no tradition and less-than-adequate facilities in 1960 and went to playoffs, finishing 3-4.  He was 4-3 in 1961, then 5-2-1, and 6-2-1 in succeeding seasons.

Year 5 started badly against the strongest schedule in school history.

Trometter (left) was lead blocker for MCRD Devildogs and ball carrier Don Gibson (rear) in 1937.

Trometter (left) was lead blocker for MCRD Devildogs and ball carrier Don Gibson (rear) in 1937.

The Linda Vista school dropped a 19-13, opening game to Lincoln and then was run off the field in a 39-0 rout by Morse.

“If you’re going to play football, you might as well play good teams,” Trometter told Harlon Bartlett of the Evening Tribune.  “I don’t know how much harm or good it’s done; it remains to be seen.”


Trometter then got to the meat of his message.  “I know one thing, this is the first time a team has quit on me.

“I don’t think my kids know how to tackle.  We started knocking heads yesterday and we’ll keep at it all week until I find out who wants to play.  If we’ve got enough players left, we’ll play.  If not, we’ll forfeit.”

Uni lost its next game, 14-12, to Madison, then won its last seven, including a 40-0 destruction of Carlsbad in the Class A finals.

Trometter explained the Dons’ success after an Avocado League-clinching, 34-0 win over Vista. “We put in a boom series,” said Trometter.  “The Boom Series is when you block people.”

Trometter also begged off a trip to the showers from his exulting players.  “I have only one  suit,” he pleaded.

Uni’s success would have an impact in the future.  The Dons would move from Class A to AA in 1965.


How difficult is this?

About  60 teams annually make the San Diego Section playoffs in the 21st century, selected and seeded efficiently (if not agreeably) almost as soon  as the final whistle is heard in the regular season.

Granted, computers ensure a fast, handy set of brackets.

But go back to this year  and to a cantankerous Eastern League as it tried to determine one playoff spot out of a field of two.

That’s two, as in this should be easy.

San Diego and Lincoln tied for first place in the Eastern League, each with a 4-1 record.  Lincoln lost to Crawford, 25-7, while San Diego defeated Crawford, 21-19.

However, Lincoln  edged San Diego, 14-12.

Solution seems fairly simple.

Lincoln won the head-to-head, so it was the logical choice.

But the Hornets’ selection wasn’t made until the next evening, 24 hours later, after a 13-0 victory over St. Augustine had clinched a share with San Diego of Lincoln’s first title since it began playing in 1954.

Trometter and Dons starters John Silva, Bob Beckman, Roger Leonard, Stan Stress, Rick Costigan, and Charlie Duke (from left) were ready for Carlsbad.


By comparison, the Grossmont League resolved its playoff question less than two hours after Helix and Granite Hills came to the finish line with 4-1-1 records and in a tie for first.

Bob Divine, Monte Vista’s vice principal and retired Helix basketball coach, conducted a telephonic poll among the six other league representatives and got the issue settled in Helix’ favor.

But the Eastern League was slow to respond.

No reason was given for the delay, but that circuit long had a quasi fratricidal history, dating to 1950, when city schools broke from the Coast League and formed the City Prep.

There was no love lost.

News accounts seemed more attuned to the quick and professional response by the Grossmont group.


Lincoln eventually would be aligned in the AA  first (semifinals) round against Kearny, the Western League champion and defending San Diego Section titlist.

Helix got Castle Park, a second-year Metropolitan League school that had improved from 1-7-1 to 6-2-1.

San Diego High was unhappy, believing it was the league’s strongest entry.

The Cavemen closed strongly with 4 straight wins and their 7-2 record was the best since 1959.

San Diego suggested that open voting in lieu of a telephonic poll would eliminate politics and perceived bias.


Kearny coach Birt Slater got involved.

“I’m unhappy with the whole situation,” said Slater.  “You’d think there’d be a better way to run an election.  I called fifteen people Sunday morning and couldn’t find anyone who knew anything.”

Slater was miffed because he had summoned assistant coaches to his residence in Lemon Grove to plot a game plan.

Instead, the Kearny staff was forced to game plan for two teams, said Slater, wasting valuable time.

“Most of the schools were represented at the Lincoln-Saints game; they could have voted then,” the Kearny coach scoffed.  The head coach, however, sprung for the cold cuts, chips, and sodas.

A parting shot by Slater and echoed by most interested others was why would the CIF have a first round pairing of city versus city and country versus county?  Why not the other way around?

The CIF generally was tone deaf to anything other than the establishment of rules and the prosecution of violations.


Kearny (11-0) actually improved on the 10-1 record of the powerful 1963 club, defeating Castle Park, 34-19 in the finals and extending its winning streak to 21 games.

Kearny returned just 2 starters, all-Western League lineman Dan Fulkerson, end Frank Oberreuter, and only seven lettermen.

“I knew this would be a good team some day, but at the start of the season I thought it was a year away,” said Slater.


The Komets thrived on a rushing attack that was unrelenting and varied.

Fullback Jim Townsend (he became known as Jamie Townsend in college at San Jose State) had 801 yards, averaged 6.7 yards, and scored 80 points.

Junior Bobby Johnson, leadoff man on the Komets’ 880-yard relay team that ran 1:27.5 and was third in the 1964 state meet, averaged 7.2 yards for 102 carries and scored 50 points.

Quarterback Bolden and fullback Townsend represented two-thirds of Kerarny's ground-chewing backfield.

Quarterback Bolden and fullback Townsend represented two-thirds of Kearny’s ground-chewing backfield.

The apple of Slater’s eye was junior quarterback Billy Bolden, who averaged 5.1 yards for 99 attempts and had a 52 per cent completion average and 738 yards passing. Bolden’s emergence was such that he was  San Diego Section player of the year.

Lincoln had no chance, bowing 26-7, as Townsend rushed for 89 yards in 18 carries, Johnson 70 in 14, and Bolden 39 in 8 as all three scored touchdowns before a crowd of 7,000 in Balboa Stadium.

Kearny was outgained, 316-298, and outdowned, 19-11, by Castle Park,  but Bolden and Johnson scored 5 touchdowns between them and the Komets raced to leads of 20-6, 26-12, and 34-13.


Johnson, scoring on runs of 83 and 51 yards, and Bolden accounted for all but 66 of Kearny’s total yardage.

Castle Park was the most surprising team in the County, riding out of the South Bay on the passing arm of 5-foot, 7-inch, Billy Miller, who was intercepted three times by Kearny but was a tough and fearless leader of the emerging Trojans.

Castle Park shocked Helix, 26-20, in the first round as Miller threw for touchdowns of 71, 45, 37, and 52 yards after winning the Metropolitan League in a showdown with Sweetwater before an overflow crowd of 5,000 at the Red Devils’ Hudgins Field.

Three points after touchdown were the difference in the Trojans’ 21-19 victory at Sweetwater.  The winning conversions came on a seven-yard halfback pass from Doug Grace to Art Gawf after a penalty, on a Gawf plunge, and on an another pass, Grace to Tommy Bullis.

Grace also passed for 25 yards and a touchdown to Gawf.


Point Loma manfully battled Kearny to a 13-13 tie entering the fourth quarter, despite losing its best player, fullback Greg Slough, controversially ejected for fighting in the first half.

Slough took long road to NFL.

Slough took long road to NFL.

Two Kearny touchdowns, the last a 38-yard scramble by Bolden with 34 seconds left, delivered a 26-13 victory.

This was not the last heard from Slough.

After playing at San Diego City College, Slough enlisted in the Army and did battle in Viet Nam, then returned to school, started at linebacker at USC and was drafted in the sixth round in 1971 by the Oakland Raiders of the NFL.

Slough left football after a third season with the L.A. Rams and one with the World Football League Hawaiians.


San Miguel School coach Mervin Houston declined a small schools playoff bid against Carlsbad after the Knights had posted a 6-3 record that included a 12-7 win over a Mountain Empire team that qualified for the Southern Section small schools playoffs.

“We are just too small to compete with Carlsbad,” said Houston, who also cited a litany of bumps and bruises to his squad of 15 players. “We could probably stay with Carlsbad for 10 minutes.


The 16th annual College Prep All-star game now featured San Diego City vs. San Diego County.

From 1949-55, the game matched Southern California all-stars versus all-Los Angeles City. The contest was all-Los Angeles vs. all-San Diego from 1956-63.

Before the game, which the City won, 20-0 before 11,218 persons in Aztec Bowl, a moment of silence was observed for F.W. (Bill) Whitney, the executive director of the sponsoring Breitbard Athletic Foundation since its inception in 1946.

Whitney, who served as game managing director since 1949, passed three weeks before this year’s game.

The San Diego businessman, who was a volunteer foundation employee (he received a token payment of  $100 a month), also served for many years as San Diego’s only voting representative on the Helms Athletic Foundation all-Southern California selection committee.

The Southern California squad had a record of 5-2 against the L.A. City entries.  All-Los Angeles held a 5-3 edge on all-San Diego.


Olander was a big name for a decade in the East County foothills.

Grossmont’s Roger Olander was one of the leading pole vaulters in the nation in 1958,  with a career best of 13 feet, 5 ¾ inches, before the revolution of technology in the pole vault.

Olander was the County's fastest, in football in the fall, and in track in the spring.

Olander, running against Castle Park in playoffs,  was the County’s fastest, in football and track.

Rick Olander cleared 14 feet, 7 inches, 10 years later at Helix.

In between Roger and Rick was Byron, who set records at Helix with a :09.6 100-yard dash and :21.4 220 in 1965.

Byron also was a standout on  coach Warren Vinton’s 6-2-1 football Highlanders, who were  surprised in the playoff semifinals, 26-20, by Castle Park.

Olander scored 12 touchdowns, had a 10-yard rushing average and was the most dangerous open-field runner in the County.


Don Henson, 25-37-6 in six seasons at Kearny and Clairemont, stepped down as head coach.

“I guess the nervousness and tension caught up with me,” said Henson, a former University of Arizona player who was an assistant at Hoover, 1953-55, head coach at Kearny, 1956-58, and started the Clairemont program in 1959.

The Chieftains were 6-4 in Henson’s only winning season in 1962, led by the Western League’s player of the year, Bill Casey, who quarterbacked the Chiefs into the San Diego Section finals before they bowed to Escondido, 28-14.

Madison's Brandt Crocker gets ride from teammates after kicking field goal to defeat San diego.

Madison’s Brandt Crocker gets ride from teammates after kicking field goal to defeat San diego.


Madison players rushed the field after Brandt Crocker’s 20-yard field goal with six seconds seemingly clinched a 3-0 victory over San Diego.

But the Warhawks then  unconventionally tried an onside kick and San Diego took over on  its 40-yard line with time for one play.

Quarterback Michael Marrs dropped back to pass, but was cornered.  Marr pitched to halfback Dennis Maley, who drilled a spiral downfield to Alex Dantzler.

Dantzler had two blockers in front of him when he caught the ball, but one  was an ineligible receiver.  Penalty, game over.


Sweetwater’s Jim Finnerty  jogged the memories of longtime National Citians.

Finnerty’s father, Ralph, was a standout athlete and member of  the 1930 Sweetwater squad. Jim’s twin uncles, Lyle and Leon, starred on the 6-1-1 team of 1934 and Lyle was the County’s leading scorer with 73 points.

Jim more than honored the Finnerty name.  He set a school record with his 15th touchdown pass and was a standout in basketball and baseball.


El Cajon Valley won the Grossmont League junior varsity title with a 20-19 win over Helix in the final game…the loss snapped a Highlanders JV winning streak at 47 games…Crawford sophomore Bob Petretta ran 20 yards for a touchdown on his first career carry…Coronado improved its all-time series record to 26-16-4 with a 41-20 victory over Escondido and snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Cougars, dating to 1955…the Islanders first played Escondido in 1914….Hoover and Kearny had to move their season opener to Hoover from Westgate Park, because the baseball Padres were in the Pacific Coast League playoffs…Mountain Empire’s 6-1 regular season record was the best in school history, but the Redskins made an early exit from the Southern Section small schools playoffs, ushered out by Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World, 48-12….

College prep game County head coach Chick Embrey of Escondido was flanked by Oceanside's Herb Meyer (left) and Bill Green of Escondido.

College prep game County head coach Chick Embrey of Escondido was flanked by Oceanside’s Herb Meyer (left) and Bill Green of Escondido.


1932: “I Want to Play Football at San Diego High”

Rick : April 22, 2015 5:37 pm : Football

Coach Hobbs Adams was in his office a couple years before, finishing some paper work during the quiet of the Christmas vacation break.

A strapping youngster walked into the school’s recently constructed gymnasium and found Adams at his desk.

The visitor told Adams he was from Texas and wanted to play football at San Diego High.

Adams thought he had youngster convinced.

Adams thought he had youngster convinced.

Adams was curious.  Who was this guy?

The coach and the boy spoke for almost an hour.

At length Adams convinced the young man that he should return home to his parents.

Adams went so far as to helping purchase a train ticket that would take the youngster north to Los Angeles and then east.

The train stopped in Santa Ana.  The youth got no further.

Earle (Tex) Harris made another visit, to coach Gerald (Tex) Oliver at Santa Ana High, enrolled in school, and became an all-Coast League end in 1931.

Adams related the moment to Charles Byrne of The San Diego Union as the Cavemen were getting ready for their annual battle with the Saints.

Word had reached Adams that Harris had been declared ineligible at Santa Ana through enforcement of the “nine-semester” rule.

Harris, it was learned, had played football three years before at a Texas military school.  He had attended high school for at least eight semesters, exhausting his athletic eligibility.

Harris’ and Santa Ana’s loss was not the Cavemen’s gain.

In the midst of a 24-game unbeaten streak, the Saints defeated San Diego, 6-0, and advanced to the Southern Section championship game before losing to Inglewood, 14-0.


San Diego’s starting 11 players averaged only 151 pounds, making for its lightest team in years.

“We won’t get to first base unless we block,” Adams said, frowning but unaware that he was mixing his metaphors.


San Diego was out of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, denied by some tough Coast League rivals.

Hoover won the four-team City Prep League and coach John Perry and principal Floyd Johnson petitioned the CIF for inclusion in the major division playoffs.

Hoover was granted the step up, but Coronado, undefeated and champion of the Southern Prep League, was denied a similar request.  The Islanders then prepared for a playoff against Wildomar Elsinore.


Hoover surprised, winning its first-ever playoff, 7-6,  at Los Angeles Loyola, which had won its league with a 7-0 record.

Hoover emerged with strong performances by Jack Beal (above) and Brad Chaffin.

Hoover emerged with strong performances by Jack Beal (above) and Brad Chaffin.

Hoover coach John Perry “laughed” when he learned that Loyola employed an unheard of four-man defensive line, as most teams deployed six linemen.

Perry said the way to defeat the 4-man line, which did not become popular until the 1950s in the NFL, was with straight ahead, power running.

The Cardinals didn’t win with offense.

Hoover’s Jack Beal launched a punt that traveled 70 yards to Loyola’s two-yard line. Possession was akin to holding a hot potato.  Loyola immediately punted back on first down.

Beal received the punt on Loyola’s 30-yard line and raced to Hoover’s lone touchdown and kicked the winning point after.

The Cardinals then prepared to take on the winner of Brea-Olinda-Anaheim in the quarterfinals.

Not so fast.


CIF commissioner Seth Van Patten, after returning from an Amateur Athletic Union meeting in New York, apparently did not like the pairing.

Van Patten assigned the Cardinals to a game at City Stadium  against Santa Ana.

Santa Ana had beaten Hoover, 13-0, earlier in the season. The Saints made their third trip South and, after a sluggish first half, scored 26 points after intermission and won, 33-0.

Jimmy Blaisdell was a fourth-year star for Coronado Islanders.

Jimmy Blaisdell led Coronado’s undefeated squad and Southern League champion.

The Elsinore game did not materialize for Coronado, which then awaited the champion of the Imperial Valley League.

George Herrick of the Evening Tribune a few days later wrote that Coronado was “unable to get a booking from the CIF or schedule a practice game.”  The Islanders turned in their gear, secure with a 5-0-1 record.


Escondido, which tied Coronado, 6-6, in the regular season and was runner-up to the Islanders in league play, dropped a 7-6 decision to Orange in its final game.

Season over? Not quite.

Ed Goddard was Escondido's triple threat.

Ed Goddard was Escondido’s triple threat.

Cougars principal Martin Perry announced that coach Harry Wexler’s squad, would go to Brawley to play the Imperial Valley League champion for the Southern Section Southern Group title for small schools.

The Cougars would be appearing in their second finals in the last three seasons, having lost to El Centro Central, 20-6, in 1930.

Brawley won, 27-13, and created an unhappy end for Cougars halfback Ed Goddard, who completed an outstanding, four-season career.

Goddard earned an astounding 14 letters, four each in football, baseball, and track and field, and two in basketball.  A fast, breakaway runner, Goddard was equally renowned as a punter, adept at “coffin corner” kicks and many which were said to travel from 50-80 yards.

Goddard  continued on to Washington State, where he won all-America honors and was the second selection by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1937 NFL draft.


Football was making progress regarding, to use a modern expression, “in-stadium entertainment.”

The San Diego Union and Evening Tribune again announced that they would sponsor a public address system at City Stadium for San Diego High and San Diego State games.

Local personality Hal Brucker would give the fans a play-by-play report on downs, distances, penalties, etc. Former Hilltop gridder Ed Ruffa was behind the mike when a P.A. was believed to have been installed for the first time in 1931.

Oceanside also employed a public address for its big Southern League game against Grossmont.


Cavemen all-Coast League selections, clockwise from lower left, were Mushy Pollock, Walt Beerle, Ed Knapp, and Don Callison.

Cavemen all-Coast League selections, clockwise from lower left, were Mushy Pollock, Walt Beerle, Ed Knapp, and Don Callison.

San Diego quarterback Morris (Mushy) Pollock, all of 132 pounds, was named to the first all-Southern California team. Pollock was the only local player on the four squads.

Six writers, representing teams in their newspapers’ respective circulation districts, voted for Pollock and lineman Walt Beerle for the first all-Coast squad. Ed Knapp and Don Collison were on the second team.


Lawrence Carr replaced Clair Seeley at La Jolla and Seeley moved to Point Loma to teach in the classroom and assist head coach Lawrence Purdy.

Purdy returned from a one-year hiatus at Point Loma, succeeding Algy Lambert, who took over for Purdy in 1931.  Lambert  moved to Pacific Beach Junior High and eventually coached Kearny in 1945.

Yuma, Arizona, which dropped a 25-7 decision to Hoover under a heavy nighttime fog at Navy Field, was coached by former University of Arizona athlete Marvin Clark, who became coach at La Jolla in 1937 and later the principal.


The CIF added the football throw to the state track meet and discussed recognition of horse shoes as an interscholastic sport.

The CIF also made starting blocks mandatory in track and held the first cross-country championship.  Thigh guard pads were required in football and a pay ceiling of $10 was established for game officials.

Commissioner Seth Van Patten’s office was embroiled in its first legal challenge when Covina High sued over an issue of playoff receipts.

San Diegans had no sympathy for Covina, which cheated with the use of ineligible players in its 1925 title win over the Hilltoppers.


Artist’s concept below is of an auto racetrack that was to be built fronting Barnett Avenue and the “Causeway” and would be across the street from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and the former Ryan Airport.

That's San Diego Bay in distance and Pacific Highway in foreground.

That’s San Diego Bay in distance and Pacific Highway in foreground.

The 5/8th mile dirt course would be similar to the Ascot course in  the Los Angeles area, said the local promoter.


Harvey Fall, 70, of San Diego hurled a crude bomb over a transom into the offices of a stock brokerage located on  Third Avenue at Plaza Street about 5 a.m.

The disgruntled investor told Police Captain Harry Kelly that “I wish I could have done this on Wall Street.”

No one was hurt but the explosion rocked the downtown area and caused about $10,000 damage to the building.

Fall said the fuse had been activated when he held the explosive. “It I had held it a minute longer I would have been killed,” he said.

Newspaper pulled all stops with story that broke on afternoon publication's news cycle.

Newspaper pulled out all stops with story that broke during afternoon publication’s news cycle.


Southern League schools played a round-robin schedule of 10 games.  Six concluded with scores of 7-0 or less and another was 9-0.

Mountain Empire’s games did not count in the standings, as the Redskins played only when one of the other four had a bye.


The lead paragraph in The San Diego Union following the season’s opening game:

“In one of the most spectacular climaxes ever witnessed in a high school football game in San Diego County, Oceanside defeated Garden Grove of Orange County on the Pirates’  field yesterday, 15-12….”

The score actually was 13-12, but no less exciting.

Thompson of Oceanside intercepted an Argonauts pass on his 16-yard line with 1:40 remaining in the game and Thompson’s squad trailing, 12-7.

“Following a series of off-tackle smashes and with less than five seconds to play, Stevenson fought his way over right tackle for a touchdown to tie the score,” the Union report continued.

“Thompson, fullback, then proceeded to put the game on ice by smashing over right tackle for the extra point.”

The game actually turned after a third quarter touchdown put Garden Grove ahead, 12-7.  The Argonauts converted but the point was canceled by an offside penalty.


Writer George Herrick wrote that the Santa Ana-San Diego game “has all the earmarks of a pocket-sized Notre Dame-Southern California battle”.

Santa Ana used the Knute Rockne Notre Dame Box system and the Hilltoppers employed the “mystery” shift of Howard Jones’s Trojans.


Approximately 75 per cent of San Diego State’s freshmen team was declared ineligible, costing a game San Diego High had scheduled against the Frosh.

The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rule stated that “ineligible men are not to be used in any games, whether they are conference or not.”

Aztec coach Morris Gross then scheduled a scrimmage with his remaining players against Hobbs Adams’ Cavemen.


Sweetwater officials made a media request often repeated: “Call us Red Devils, not Sweeties”…student body president Dean Gardner had announced the previous December that the school officially was adopting Red Devils,  but newspaper habits were hard to break…future politicians Lionel Van Deerlin (U.S. Congress) and Ivor DeKirby (State Assembly) were on the rosters of Oceanside and San Diego, respectively……San Diego’s 30-6 win at Phoenix before more than 4,000 persons was the Coyotes’ worst loss in a decade…coach Hobbs Adams took the Cavemen to Arizona by bus and had them work out behind locked gates in the evening…Adams wanted his team to get used to lights…an otherwise uneventful San Diego season ended when the Cavemen were stopped inside the one-yard line as the game ended at Long Beach with Poly a 7-6 winner…a handful of Grossmont athletes defeated Mountain Empire, 26-0, and then those Foothillers who didn’t get into the game, topped Hoover’s Reserves, 20-0, in the nightcap of the afternoon doubleheader…a intersectional match between Brawley and St. Augustine was canceled because of a “misunderstanding of schedules”…Escondido’s Ed Goddard raced 105 yards with a Sweetwater interception to highlight a 28-13 victory….

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2015: Art Powell, Member of Legendary Family

Rick : April 17, 2015 10:24 am : Football

Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al Davis spoke in 2006 about Art Powell, whom Davis signed out of the Canadian Football League years before.

“I wish I could take you back to 1963,” said Davis, “because I had one of the greatest receivers who have ever played this game.  His first year for me, he carried us.”

Powell caught 73 passes and scored 16 touchdowns as the Raiders, under first-year coach Davis, improved their record from 2-12 to 10-4.

Powell played one season in Canada and 10 seasons in the AFL and NFL and was a member of the all-American Football League team for the decade of the league’a existence, 1960-69.

Powell was one of the Southland's best players in 1954.

Powell was one of the Southland’s best players in 1954.

Powell recently passed away at age 78 in Aliso Viejo in Orange County, where he and his family had resided many years.

A 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pound receiver as a professional, Powell was the third in arguably the most gifted family of athletes in San Diego history.

His older brother Charlie earned an unequaled 12 varsity letters at San Diego High.  Ellsworth Powell was a standout basketball player at San Diego, and younger brother Jerry was the San Diego Section football player of the year at Lincoln in 1967.

Art Powell caught 479 passes in his NFL-AFL career.  His 81 touchdowns represented one touchdown for every 5.9 catches.

Powell was all-Southern California in 1954 at San Diego and was the City League player of the year in basketball in 1954-55.

A proud and principled man, Powell stood up when others sat.

Powell was one of the first to balk when black players were not allowed to stay in white hotels with the rest of their teammates in the days when pro athletes experienced segregation and discrimination.

Powell was on the verge of quitting at San Diego High in 1954, upset at head coach Duane Maley, who had elevated Powell from the junior varsity in 1953 but then played Powell sparingly.

It was Powell’s teammate; quarterback Pete Gumina, who prevailed on the youngster to stick it out.  Powell responded with an outstanding season.

As a sportswriter for the San Diego Evening Tribune, I interviewed Powell after the Raiders had beaten the Chargers, 34-33, in Balboa Stadium in 1963.

When I asked Powell who had been the most significant person in his athletic development, I expected him to identify Maley or basketball coach Merrill Douglas.

But Powell pointed to Augie Escamilla, a coach at the Boys’ Club on Marcy Avenue, not far from the youngster’s home in Logan Heights.

Art had gotten his inspiration from the energetic and encouraging Escamilla, who coached all of the Boys’ Club teams and all of the great athletes who would graduate from those playing fields known as the 40 acres.


James (Jimmy) Gunn, a star on Lincoln’s San Diego Section championship team and a member of 3 USC Rose Bowl teams and the “Wild Bunch” defensive line, was 66 when he passed in Los Angeles this month.

Lincoln posted a 10-1 record and defeated Point Loma, 21-14, for the Division 1-A title in 1965.

Gunn was member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976.

Gunn was member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976.

The 200-pound Gunn also was talked into going out for track in his senior season by coach Bobby Smith, became a 50-second quartermiler, and ran on some of Lincoln’s fast sprint relay squads.

As a starting defensive end and all-America in 1969, Gunn starred on a USC unit that was named after the title of a popular shoot-‘em-up movie of the day, “The Wild Bunch”.

Gunn was selected in the 12th round of the 1970 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears and played seven seasons in the NFL.


1931: San Diego High Plays for Charity

Rick : March 31, 2015 3:55 pm : Football

The Star Spangled Banner became our national anthem, Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion, the Empire State Building rose in Manhattan, the small community of Las Vegas voted to legalize gambling.

And 8 million Americans, at least 16 per cent of the work force, were on the street, out of work, and soon to be joined by millions of others.

That’s the way it was in 1931.

Football in San Diego survived but was not untouched by the deepening Great Depression.

San Diego High was preparing for the regular-season finale against Long Beach Poly, when coach Hobbs Adams was told to extend the season and have his gridders help in “the nationwide call to charity.”

Sherman Institute Bucky Jamieson (left) yuks it up with San Diego mentor Hobbs Adams.

Sherman Institute coach Bucky Jamieson (left) yuks it up with San Diego mentor Hobbs Adams.

City Schools superintendent Walter Hepner announced at a press conference that the Cavemen would play a postseason game against the Riverside Sherman Indian Institute.

There were approximately 30,000 elementary, junior, and senior high students in the city.  Many of their parents were affected by the mounting despair of a failing economy and vanishing jobs.

Proceeds from the game would be apportioned to the Parent-Teachers’ Association for student nutrition support and to the City Schools’ Student Aid department, said Hepner.

The superintendent pointed out that students in elementary school were being found to be undernourished as their parents struggled to make ends meet and put food on the table.

Student Aid hopefully would help older boys and girls remain in school. Many were being forced to go out in search of work.

Also attending the event were Bud Kearns, superintendent of city playgrounds who would be the game manager, and Adams and his boss, John Aseltine, San Diego High principal.

About 2,500 persons (Kearns was quoted as predicting a turnout of 8,000) attended the Cavemen’s 24-0 victory over the Sherman Institute.

City Schools’ bands and ROTC units provided halftime entertainment and more than $1,200 was raised, a small but useful sum in a period of growing desperation and unemployment.


Hobbs Adams hoped he had found a “new Cotton Warburton” in Morris (Mushy) Pollock, a diminutive junior halfback who weighed 132 pounds and made the all-Southern California second team.

Pollock, who would cover 100 yards in :09.8, was fastest man in school.

Pollock, who would cover 100 yards in :09.8, was fastest man in school.

Pollock, who lived in Coronado but had come to the Hilltoppers from Memorial Junior High, lived up to expectations but Adams, impatient if not impetuous, often was on the warpath.

The coach benched 3 regulars after a 32-13 victory over San Bernardino and jerked three more regulars following a 25-7 win over Redondo Beach Redondo.

Headline  in The San Diego Sun:  “Adams Declares Hillmen Asleep on Feet”.

The coach was especially peevish when the Cavemen dropped an 18-14 Coast League decision at Alhambra on Armistice Day.  San Diego led, 14-0, at the end of three quarters.

Adams never was totally comfortable with his 7-2-1 team, but the season was a success after the Hillers had laid the wood to Long Beach Poly, 26-0.


Amos Schaefer’s Coronado Islanders tied with Grossmont and Escondido for the Southern League championship and were the league’s nominee for the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

The teams had tied for first in 1930 and Coronado was chosen after a meeting of coaches Schaefer, Harry Wexler of Escondido, and Jack Mashin of Grossmont.

Escondido principal Martin Perry made the announcement at a 1931-season-ending meeting of the San Diego County Football Officials’ Association.

Perry said the decision came after a three-way telephone conference involving Perry, Coronado principal J. Leslie Cutler, and Grossmont honcho Carl Birdsall.

Perry declined to address the question of whether there was a vote, but it was apparent the schools would ignore, for the second year in a row, the Southern Section rule that championship ties require playoffs.

“There will be no playoff to determine the Southern League’s representative,” said Perry.

The Islanders stopped Hoover, 18-9, in a first-round game at City Stadium, but were shut out at El Centro Central, 14-0, the next week.

Coronado’s chances of victory in the Imperial Valley were doomed when star quarterback Jimmy Blaisdell was announced out of the game minutes before kickoff. Press reports did not give a reason, but Blaisdell had played hurt in several games.


Escondido hid end Red Broerman on the sideline before Ed Goddard completed a long pass to set up a touchdown and Goddard scored on a hidden ball play as the Cougars defeated visiting Norwalk Excelsior, 27-13.

Goddard was the County’s leading scorer with 94 points (Blaisdell was runner-up with 79) and  made the all-Southern California third team.

Escondido finished the season with a 10-1 record, best in school history.  The 10 victories would be equaled by Cougars teams in 1969, 1978, and 2008.


Mountain Empire High in Campo opened in 1925 but took its first, hesitant step in football.

The Emperors, as they were known, did not find the game to their liking.

Coronado pulled its regulars with five minutes left in the first quarter and still handed principal-coach James Martin’s team a 74-0 loss.

The Emperors played their schedule on the road, forfeited twice, and finished with a 0-5 record in the Southern Prep League.

A game with the Oceanside varsity was not played.  Instead, the Emperors dropped a 47-6 decision to a team representing the Oceanside varsity…the Oceanside B’s.

Future football at Mountain Empire would be on a Class B or junior varsity level.


After San Diego struggled in a 13-2 victory over Pasadena, Eddie West, writer for the Santa Ana Register, challenged the hometown Saints.

“Coach Oliver’s team has the best chance since 1927 of waxing the Hilltoppers as Santa Ana has so longed yearned to wax ’em,” wrote West.

“The Saints now know they are meeting no ‘wonder team,’” said West, “and know, too, they have a better-than-even chance of winning—if they don’t choke up as other Santa Ana teams have against San Diego.”

Gerald (Tex) Oliver, who coached Hilltoppers B teams in the mid-‘twenties, guided the Saints to a 14-2 victory, their first over San Diego since 1921.

Santa Ana went to defeat Covina, 34-0, for the Southern Section title and interrupted a Coast League run in which San Diego or Long Beach Poly usually finished on top.

Poly had won five championships and San Diego two since the league, in its present alignment, was formed in 1923.

Wynne was versatile asset for Hilltoppers.

Wynne was versatile asset for Hilltoppers.


After becoming one of the top players in the Imperial Valley at El Centro Central in 1930, Dave Wynne moved to San Diego and was an offensive standout first at quarterback, then at halfback, when Hobbs Adams shifted junior Mushy Pollock to quarterback.

Wynn scored 8 touchdowns and drop-kicked 12 point after touchdowns.  He was the third leading scorer in the County with 60 points.

Quarterback George Albin rushed for six touchdowns as Hoover qualified for the playoffs in  its second season, a year after Albin played at St. Augustine.


Federal “dry” officers raided a ranch two miles north of Escondido and arrested Tony Norris, 40, for the second time in two months for violating the national prohibition act.

Norris was in County jail, charged with being the “maintainer” of 5,000 gallons of wine and brandy.


Mary Elizabeth Shourds sued for divorce from Richard Shourds.

Mrs. Shourds told a San Diego Superior Court magistrate that her husband threw hair brushes at her during spousal tiffs.


From The San Diego Union of Oct. 20, 1931:Cottontom

“As elected guardians of a public-owned auditorium, members of the board of education last night spent 45 disturbed minutes discussing ethics, morals, policies of the board and religions before they decided to not cancel a contract which the San Diego citizens’ committee has made for the Russ auditorium, where in two weeks former Senator James T. Heflin of Alabama will speak.”

A redneck, white supremacist, Heflin was known as “Cotton Tom.”


Oceanside High football player Henry Langford, 17,  was killed when the car in which he was riding overturned on the beach in the North County community.

Elwood Phillips, the driver, was uninjured.  The accident occurred when the front wheels of the vehicle locked in the sand.


Phoenix Union, arrived a day early on the Arizona and California Railway for its intersectional tussle with San Diego.

Billboarded as the “Southwestern Champions of 1930” after beating teams from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, the Coyotes and Hilltoppers were allowed to play the only intersectional game of the season in Southern California.

In time the Southern Section would pass a rule prohibiting inter-state games but okayed this year’s contest because it was the second in a series of home-and-home games.

Phoenix defeated San Diego, 22-20, in 1930 in the Arizona city.

The Hilltoppers had 16 first downs to 1 and defeated the Coyotes, 9-6, after trailing, 6-0, at the half.


Hoover’s Burnell Paddock kicked a 40-yard field goal in an 18-9, playoff loss to Coronado…Paddock”s placement from the Islanders’ 30-yard line is believed to be the second longest in County history behind a 44-yard dropkick field goal by San Diego’s Bill Garber in a 1916 playoff versus Ontario Chaffey…City League teams were limited by rule to a total of seven regular-season games, including  three league games…Coronado’s opening game victory over Hoover was not all because of Jimmy Blaisdell, who scored both touchdowns in the 12-0 win…Kent Bush’s 45-yard punting average kept the favored Cardinals backing up…businesses and stores closed for the afternoon when Escondido and Oceanside met in their annual North County battle at Oceanside…San Diego’s varsity players were invited to the Spreckels theater to see “The Spirit of Notre Dame” motion picture, which was a tribute to the late coach, Knute Rockne, killed in a plane crash in Kansas earlier in the year…Hobbs Adams took 20 Hilltoppers to the USC-Stanford game on Saturday, returned home, and then traveled to Alhambra for a Tuesday Armistice Day game…John Perry of Hoover chartered a bus for his Hoover team’s trip to Yuma, Arizona, but some players traveled in private cars…after defeating the Criminals, 6-0, the Cardinals’ were guests at a postgame dance and returned on Sunday to San Diego…El Monte defeated Oceanside, 34-0, for the Southern California Class B title…Russ Saunders, a star on San Diego’s 1925-26 teams and all-America at USC, played for the champion Green Bay Packers this season and was the second San Diego athlete in the NFL.. Brick Muller played and coached for the Los Angeles Buccaneers in 1925-26, but the Buccaneers were based in Chicago, did not play a game in Los Angeles, and all of their contests were on the road….

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1924: Hilltoppers’ Star Saved in Swimming Pool

Rick : March 18, 2015 3:42 pm : Football

San Diego High avoided a tragic event when star sophomore fullback Bert Ritchey almost drowned before the Hilltoppers’ “bowl game” at Phoenix Union.

After  a 12-hour ride on the San Diego & Arizona railroad, the Cavemen worked out at Phoenix’s Riverside Park late Friday afternoon.  That evening many in the squad took advantage of a nearby swimming pool.

Ritchey got into trouble but was not noticed until Werner Peterson saw his teammate lying at the bottom of the pool.

Peterson quickly dived, embraced Ritchey, and got his teammate to the surface, according to the report in The San  Diego Union.   

Ritchey was shaken but okay after a few minutes.

Coach John Perry declared the youngster out of the game, but Ritchey played about 10 minutes the next day, according to various reports, and scored a touchdown in the 14-13 victory.

Perry had scheduled the game late in the season as a reward for the team after the Hilltoppers had clinched the Coast League championship.

Following the Saturday afternoon contest, the Hilltoppers boarded a railroad car for another 12-hour trip back to San Diego, arriving Sunday morning.


Big Ritchey, a 180-pounder, was born in Kansas and came to San Diego at an young age in 1910.  His was one of the earliest African-American families to settle here.

Sophomore Bert Ritchey was star for Hilltoppers.

Sophomore Bert Ritchey was star for Hilltoppers.

Bert’s younger brother, Johnny, was the first black player in baseball’s Pacific Coast League when he joined the San Diego Padres in 1948.

Ted Ritchey, the star of San Diego High’s 1947 Southern California finalist, was a nephew of Bert, who also had athletic brothers Alfred and Earl.


According to The San Diego Union’s Allen McGrew, the Cavemen wasted five scoring opportunities in their 0-0 tie at Orange.

“The game might be a moral victory for Orange,” wrote McGrew.  “Their ability to hold San Diego at times appeared uncanny.”

McGrew, who had been particularly critical of Perry in 1923, took a shot.  “San Diego either lacked good plays or good judgment in their many attempts to score.”

Orange scored more than a moral victory in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.  The Panthers took a 17-0 lead and returned intercepted passes 35 and 60 yards for touchdowns in a 29-20 victory.

According to historian Don King’s “Caver Conquest,” San Diego stunningly outgained Orange, 559 yards to 98, and held a 33-1 advantage in first downs.

Who was keeping the stats?

The  yardage anomaly was reason enough for coach John Perry to seek a third game.  He challenged Orange to a Christmas Day showdown in San Diego.


“I am confident that our team is better than Orange,” said Perry.  “They did not score on their own plays but on our fumbles.”

The challenge was in play only if Orange did not win the Southern California championship.  Orange wasn’t interested after playing five postseason contests and being eliminated in the semifinals.


One had to follow closely to understand the postseason.

Orange  defeated Redlands, 39-0, in the first round.

Orange defeated San Diego in the second round.

San Diego had a first-round bye and Sweetwater had first-round and a second-round byes (not an unusual procedure for that era since travel and who was available came into play).

Orange defeated Sweetwater, 14-0, the following week in the quarterfinals.

Glendale and Compton deadlocked, 0-0, in the semifinals and, by rule,  played again the following week, Glendale winning, 7-0.

The Dynamiters then defeated Compton, 24-0, for the championship as star lineman Marion Morrison played his final game before moving on to USC.

Morrison later was successful  in the motion picture industry under the name of John Wayne.


Having first played Santa Ana in 1905, the Saints were the Cavemen’s oldest intersectional rival and this year’s game, a physical, 13-0 San Diego victory, showed how much coach John Perry team liked to run the ball.

Individual game statistics for high school games were rarely published, but someone kept a record in this game.

Bert Ritchey gained 76 yards in 25 carries and scored 1 touchdown.  Phil Winnek had 50 yards in 12 attempts and scored once.  In all, the Hilltoppers rushed 58 times for 171 yards.


San Diego B coach Gerald (Tex) Oliver greeted 60 candidates, all reportedly fewer than 140 pounds and averaging 132 (Sweetwater had 62 B prospects, with about 30 that weighed no more than 110) and Oliver was hard pressed to outfit all.

The San Diego board of education denied an appropriation for the Hilltoppers’ B squad, so Oliver planned benefits.

The “Infants,” as Oliver’s club was known, charged 15 cents for a game with La Jolla.


Usually fast and experienced, most B players had participated in junior high or interclass competition.

Pasadena appeared to have a 12th defender, the game umpire, as it attempted to stop San Diego fullback Bert Ritchey.

Pasadena appeared to have a 12th defender, the game umpire, as it attempted to stop San Diego fullback Bert Ritchey.

With eligibility based on “exponents”–height, weight, and age–B teams, similar to junior varsity squads, were an integral part of Southern California football programs for many years.

Many players would start with the B team but advance to the varsity and return to the B’s in the same season.

The San Diego varsity generally practiced at 2 p.m. in City Stadium, followed by the B’s at 4.


Sweetwater’s student executive committee voted for the Red Devils to give up a possible home-field advantage and play San Diego in the City Stadium.

The committee rubber-stamped the request of athletic manager Cheeney Moe and head coach Herb Hoskins, who wanted the gate receipts from a larger turnout in the stadium to go to improving the school’s football facilities.


Hoskins, whose teams were in the Southern California playoffs four out of five seasons in the 1920s, didn’t flinch when asked his team’s chances against San Diego in the season opener.

Writer Alan McGrew of The San Diego Union asserted that the Sweeties had lately “taken some of San Diego’s thunder”.

“We’ll win,” said Hoskins.  “We never figure on losing when we enter a game.  I am confident we’ll win.”

The Cavemen defeated the Red Devils, 33-0, as  Ritchey made his debut with four touchdowns.


Stanford and California announced they were suspending relations with the University of Southern California at the end of the season.

Things had soured between the Pacific Coast powerhouses, with the Northern schools, original conference members since 1915, accusing the Trojans, who joined in 1922, of paying players and not enforcing admittedly vague conference academic standards.

USC promptly announced it was a canceling a home game that week with Stanford, saying that the Northern schools had challenged USC’s “honor”, had a “anti-Southern California feeling” and that the Trojans had always played by the rules.

The USC action affected that week’s San Diego-Long Beach Poly battle for the Coast League title.

Originally scheduled Saturday, Poly boss Harry Moore announced a switch to Friday, not wanting to go against USC-Stanford.

Kemp long punts were vital.

Kemp’s long punts were vital.

When USC bailed on Stanford, Moore switched again, back to Saturday, saying that his school would “lose too much money” and a probable big San Diego crowd by playing on Friday.

San Diego clinched a tie for the Coast League championship with a 6-3 victory over Poly in a taut defensive struggle.  The Hilltoppers’ Rocky Kemp kept the Jackrabbits backing up with booming punts, one traveling 80 yards.


Northern schools in the Coast League also were angry with one of their brethren.

San Diego High vice principal Edgar Anderson was called to Los Angeles for a meeting in which the Hilltoppers were forced to defend themselves against possible expulsion.

Fullerton’s principal charged the Hilltoppers with “rough tactics” in San Diego’s 33-7 victory weeks before.

One Indians player “even had a black eye”, said the school administrator.

Fullerton coach Shorty Smith complained to officials at the end of the game that the Cavemen were “holding” and “coached to play dirty.”


Pasadena also pointed out that San Diego was penalized twice for roughing.

The Union’s McGrew dismissed the charge by noting that the locals only “kept on playing after the whistle”, which apparently was okay with the writer.

The meaningless vote, which needed the CIF’s approval, was 3-2, with Pasadena backing Fullerton.

Whittier, Santa Ana and Long Beach Poly sided with their Border City rivals.


Fullerton also claimed that Hilltopper Alden Johnson, son of the San Diego City Schools superintendent, was not on the eligibility list when the teams met.

The San Diego official stated that Johnson indeed was eligible but was on the “Seconds” Squad and didn’t play.

Anderson then stuck it to Fullerton by producing an eligibility document sent by Fullerton during the previous track season.

The Orange County club list had only a scarce number of athletes cited, not nearly enough for a track meet.  Instead of being on the Coast League’s official form the information “was on a piece of scratch paper,” said Anderson.


The Cavemen did not have clean hands.

“San Diego High was in hot water during this time period, because of not following CIF rules. There were delays in making reports (forwarding game receipts, etc) ,” said CIF Southern Section historian John Dahlem.

Similar complaints of travel were voiced many times over the years.


Army-Navy also drew the wrath of the Southern Section.

The Cadets’ starting backfield and three linemen were declared ineligible thirty minutes before kickoff against El Centro Central.

Thirty players in all were banished from football, according to coach Ed Tarr.

Alan McGrew wrote that “most of the ineligibility was caused by students transferring from other schools after being out a semester.”

McGrew was emotional.

The scribe declared that “the murder of Caesar was nothing compared to the ‘crime’ the Southern California Interscholastic Federation, boss of prep sports in this section, has committed.”

Minutes from a Southern Section executive committee meeting 10 days before did not shed much light, only that games played by Army-Navy “are not to count towards a championship in any way.”

The CIF was uneasy about the Pacific Beach military boarding school, whose perceived unfair housing advantage raised questions of residence and eligibility.


The Army-Navy coach announced that he would have to dismantle the “Seconds” team and that he was debating whether to field an “Ineligible” squad.

Tarr thought his ineligibles could meet the San Diego Lightning squad.

The Lightning also was comprised of  ineligible players and was coached by Rupert Costo, a 200-pound Native American lineman who was expected to be a starter on the Hilltoppers’ varsity.

Costo had gotten the rubber key from school officials after it was discovered that he had exhausted all of his eligibility when it was discovered that Costo had attended “several other high schools.”


Artist concept of the new San Diego sports emporium.

Artist’s concept of the new San Diego sports emporium.

The new Coliseum Athletic Club was being constructed at 15th and E Streets.  “Every possible modern convenience” was to be included in the 4,500-seat stucco and tile structure.


Carlsbad celebrated its second annual “Avocado Days”.  Some 2,000 guests enjoyed Avocado soup, Avocado sandwiches, and Avocado ice cream.

A dance concluded the event, at which a local Avocado honcho said the fruit had made the North Coast of San Diego County famous.


Low bid of $247,000 was submitted by contractor William C. Reed for construction of Woodrow Wilson Memorial Junior High at 37th Street and El Cajon Blvd., in East San Diego.

Wilson would open in 1926 and be the primary feeder for a high school that was to be built later in the decade.  That school was to be named after President Herbert Hoover.

New construction was everywhere, including Normal Heights, where the Adams Avenue Garage was rose at 36th Street.

New construction was everywhere, including Normal Heights, where the Adams Avenue Garage rose at the corner of 36th Street.


The last quarter of Coronado’s 38-12 victory at Army-Navy was played with the aid of automobile lights.

Many scoring plays and penalties meant a longer game and late October’s dwindling sunlight contributed to the need for artificial illumination.


Pay dues at Memorial or Roosevelt, the city’s two junior highs, which opened in in 1922 and ’24, respectively, and be promoted to the high school.

Future San Diego coaches Dewey (Mike) Morrow and George Hobbs were on the Memorial staff.

Francis Parker in Mission Hills announced Sept. 4 it would field a high school football team this year, under the guidance of Lloyd Prante, former Nebraska player.

The school, which opened in Mission Hills in 1911, would move to Linda Vista in the late 1960s and begin playing football again in 1969.


The County (Southern) League, inclusive of all schools other than San Diego, entered its eighth season of operation with a double, round-robin schedule and welcomed newcomer La Jolla Junior-Senior High.

Other football-playing members were Grossmont, Sweetwater, Escondido, and Coronado.


Twenty-one Grossmont players and coach Ladimir (Jack) Mashin engaged in a one-week camp at Pine Hills YMCA (later known as Camp Marston) in Julian.

“Most of the boys have been on ranches all summer with little time for recreation,” explained principal Carl Quicksall.

The group was accompanied by a chef.  Goal posts were added to the athletic field, and a swimming pool was available.


Blocking back Saunders was on first-team all-Southern California.

Blocking back Saunders was first-team all-Southern California.

San Diego had one player on the all-Southern California team, blocking back Russ Saunders…Glenn Rozelle, the uncle of future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, also was a first-team choice, from Compton…San Diego players didn’t practice on the first day of school, instead watching a slow-motion film on fundamentals, instructed by USC coach Gus Henderson and Notre Dame boss Knute Rockne…Grossmont defeated Brawley, 6-0, in the first ever game between San Diego and Imperial County clubs…the Pasadena Star newspaper ordered a phone line for the City Stadium press box so its correspondent could provide a running, play-by-play of the Bulldogs’ game against San Diego…San Diego and the Pomona College freshmen almost evenly split 25 punts and Pomona missed four field goals…”Blackboard” practice was a precursor to modern-day game film…coaches diagrammed plays on a chalkboard and tested the players…

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1956: “Smiley” is San Diego High Legend

Rick : February 26, 2015 11:55 am : Football

San Diego coach Duane Maley said it best:  “He can run sideways faster than most backs can forward.”

Maley spoke of a favored player,  5-foot, 4-inch, 145-pound halfback Cleveland (Smiley) Jones, who literally carried the 1956 Cavemen.

Jones was the City Prep League player of the year despite missing almost all of two games and parts of others.

San Diego was 6-0 when Jones was healthy, 1-2 when he was sidelined.


In what was supposed to be a major rebuilding season after Jones and teammates won the 1955 Southern California championship and were declared national prep champions, the Cavers won their first three games in impression fashion.

Jones was hurt in the first quarter of the fourth, an upset, 20-12 loss to Hoover.  He played sparingly the following week, a 54-13 win over Mission Bay, and missed much of the 35-21 loss to Downey in the first round of the playoffs.


Jones, scoring second touchdown against Lincoln, went on to star at University of Oregon..

Jones, scoring second touchdown against Lincoln, went on to star at University of Oregon..

In between, Jones scored 96 points, with 12 touchdowns and kicked 24 points after.  He also played defense, but was  player of the year because of a 10.8-yard rushing average, 17-yard pass-receiving average, and a stunning 45-yard average on punt returns.

“Jones is a great broken field runner, the greatest I’ve ever coached,” said Maley, who was not given to hyperbole.

Of Jones’s many long runs, the most memorable came in the showdown with Lincoln, playoff berth and tie for the CPL title on the line.

Lincoln scored first to take a 7-0 lead on a short run by quarterback Russ Boehmke.

Jones juggled the ensuing kickoff and the ball  bounced back to the one-yard line.  The diminutive Caver almost lost his balance, but recovered, and ran 99 yards for a tying touchdown.

Lincoln's Russ Boehmke (14) takes aim at Cleveland Jones as Boehmke escorts Curtis Tucker, who gained 42 yards on busted play in first half.

Lincoln’s Russ Boehmke (14) takes aim at Cleveland Jones as Boehmke escorts Curtis Tucker, who gained 42 yards on broken play in first half.

Jones scored one other touchdown as San Diego won a thrill-packed game, 26-19, earning a first-round playoff date with Downey at Long Beach Veterans’ Stadium, site of San Diego’s  epic 1955 semifinal  victory over  Anaheim.


Jones was hurt in the loss to Downey, the eventual, 13-13 tie co-champion with Anaheim.

The Cavers’ 14-point loss, with Jones out much of the game,  compared well to the Vikings  41-point victory over Beverly Hills and 33-point win over Lancaster Antelope Valley in other playoff games.

Comparatively, Downey defeated Long Beach Wilson, 13-7.  San Diego defeated the Bruins, 21-7, and had three touchdowns called back.

This wasn’t a championship Cavers team, but it might have been had Jones not been sidelined with some untimely injuries.


Jones was on a conference championship team at San Diego Junior College in 1957, was a two-year star at Oregon,  a late roster cut of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, and then starred for the powerful San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot team.

Jones still was playing semipro football at age 38.  Compared to 21st century NFL players, he most closely resembled Darren Sproles, who thrilled San Diego Chargers fans a couple generations later.

Jones went on to a long career as an officer in the Orange County Probation Department.

He was known as “Smiley” because his facial bones were such that his countenance is a perpetual pleasant expression or smile.

Cleveland brought a lot of smiles to those who watched him and played with him.


1956: Then and Now for Hoover’s Engle

Rick : February 24, 2015 3:25 pm : Football

A stunning, 20-12 victory over archrival San Diego High brought back a flood of memories to Hoover coach Roy Engle.

–That hazy afternoon in Balboa Stadium in 1935 when Engle drove the Cardinals to a fourth-quarter, 7-6 victory over San Diego.

–Engle, the senior ball carrier, gaining the final 25 yards in three carries in the 80-yard drive to the game-tying touchdown.

–The first victory and first points ever scored by Hoover against the big, downtown school.

Hoover coach Roy Engle plotted season with quarterbacks Dick Verdon, Gary Bailey, and Dave Kusan (from left).

Hoover coach Roy Engle plotted season with quarterbacks Dick Verdon, Gary Bailey, and Dave Kusan (from left).

Engle and his teammates shared a glorious moment in the young school’s history, but Hoover victories in the city rivalry became few and far between.


San Diego held an 18-5 advantage in the series, had not lost to Hoover since 1949, and was a decided favorite in this renewal, played on the Hoover gridiron for the first time.

But the  Cardinals were confident and determined.

The squad met at the home of fullback Denny Berg the night before the game and vowed to reverse years of disappointment.


Engle was late getting to the Cardinals gym. He had gotten caught in  El Cajon Blvd., traffic after leaving his college area residence.

The coach couldn’t help but look twice when he entered the football locker room.

“Every player was dressed and taped,” Engle recalled to Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union.

No stragglers. And kickoff still was more than an hour away.

“It’s dangerous to see a team so high, so early,” Engle said.  “I tried to think of a joke.”

The game began with the joke on the Cardinals.


San Diego scored twice in the first 9:03 of the game on plays that began with Hoover in possession.

Bobby Staten picked up an errant Hoover pitchout and raced 20 yards for a touchdown two minutes after kickoff.

Hoover offensive hero Bob Williams went both ways and stopped San Diego's Ezell Singleton.

Hoover offensive hero Bob Williams went both ways and stopped San Diego’s Ezell Singleton.

Ollie Osborne recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.  San Diego suddenly was ahead, 12-0, and seemingly off to the races.

But the Cavemen’s No. 1 threat, halfback Cleveland Jones, sustained a hamstring pull in the first period, returned briefly, but left for good with 19 yards in 4 carries.

Hoover, running its Split-T offense and quarterback options to perfection, began to peck away.

The Cardinals pulled in front, 13-12, near the end of the half on Bailey’s 9-yard run and 17-yard pass to Bob Williams.

Without Jones, the Cavers had only 59 yards total offense.  Berg’s 3-yard run in the fourth quarter clinched the victory, the first by a local team over the Cavers since 1952.

“We had about 2,800, including players and fans, who were all pulling together,” said Engle. “I’ve never seen a group of players put out like our guys did.”

Engle was moved to say the game offered a reason as to why “men go into coaching.”


The 2,800 represented the size of the Hoover student body, one of the largest in Southern California.

Virtually all, along with a crowd that reached more than 7,000 persons, jammed the Hoover Stadium, spectators filling both sides of the field and temporary bleachers in each end zone.

Hoover and San Diego each entered the game with a 3-0 record, but San Diego had beaten Long Beach Wilson, 21-7, Point Loma, 40-0, and Arizona power Phoenix Union, 33-6.

The Cardinals had one impressive win, 14-6, at Redlands and victories of 9-6 over Grossmont and 27-12 over Mission Bay.

“Hoover played much better than it had before,” said San Diego coach Duane Maley.   “When a team can have 12 points scored against them as quickly as we scored and can come back, they deserve a lot of credit.”


“We figure to be real green, but we’ll come along.  We’ve got speed.”—San Diego coach Duane Maley.

(The Cavers, after having 28 players graduate and starters Luther Hayes and David Grayson transferring to Lincoln, leaving only one offensive starter, center Ron Collins, finished 7-2).

Art Buchanan, scoring against Long Beach Wilson, and Cleveland Jones (right) represented San Diego High swiftness.

Art Buchanan, scoring against Long Beach Wilson, and Cleveland Jones (right) represented the swift side of Cavers.

“If George gets hurt, we unpack our tent, put it on the camel and head for the hills”–La Jolla coach Shan Deniston on the prospect of losing halfback George Graham.

(Graham was the second leading scorer in the city with 12 touchdowns, including 6 in the final game).

 “Things have looked bleaker.  We just don’t remember when.  I hope we can beat someone”–St. Augustine coach Tom Carter.

(The Saints won some, lost some, and tied some, for a 2-4-2 record).

“This could be the closest race we’ve ever had.  Anyone of five teams could finish from first to fifth”—Point Loma coach Bennie Edens.

(Point Loma was a well-beaten, tied-for-fourth with Mission Bay with a 1-3 league record and 2-6 overall).

“We’re the youngest, most inexperienced, and the losingest, but we think we’ll have a chance in every game we play.  We’re in the league and we’re not afraid of anybody.”—Mission Bay coach Harry Anderson.

The writer's first daily newspaper byline. One of many prep correspondents, I was paid $5 to call in results of games. Actual writing was done by Union staffers.

The writer’s first daily newspaper byline. One of many prep correspondents, I was paid $5 to call in results of games. Actual writing was done by Union staffers.

(The Buccaneers beat Point Loma to finish fourth in the City League and were 2-6 overall).

The whole league will be better balanced, because most teams will be improved, and I don’t think San Diego High will be so strong”—Hoover coach Roy Engle.

(The haves, Hoover and San Diego, still held sway over the have nots).


Seven Mission Bay area gasoline stations formed an alliance with the school booster club.

Two cents of every gallon of gas poured on a weekend during football season went to the school fund, benefitting the Reserve Officers Training Corps, school choir, and athletic department.


After La Jolla played Mar Vista at Scripps Field in the afternoon, Mission Bay took on El Centro Central later in the evening at the same site.

El Centro defeated the Buccaneers, 20-13, and made another trip to La Jolla later in the season, winning, 25-14.


Susannah Lee, a 16-year-old Ramona High senior, was the only female high school correspondent for The San Diego Union.

Susannah explained  the secret of understanding football to writer Jerry Magee: Study the plays, watch the ball, and take a boy friend along who can explain the game.

“Get a boyfriend who knows football and can sit with you and tell you what they’re doing,” she said.  “I’ve used that system a few games.”

Susannah also is the Ramona High school newspaper social reporter: “In society you have to go and see what people are doing, who is going with whom, etc.  The students don’t turn in the news.”

Ramona coach Glenn Forsythe holds forth with reporter Susannah Lee.

Ramona coach Glenn Forsythe holds forth with reporter Susannah Lee.

Covering football, Susannah contended, is “easy.”

Miss Lee, who lived on a chicken ranch near Ramona, did not aspire to a career in sports writing and planned to attend Woodbury College in Los Angeles and take a secretarial course.


Gary Dunn, passing, and Ron Palermo, catching, teamed on a 46-yard scoring play for the only touchdown in Helix’ 6-0 victory over Chula Vista.


Three plays earlier the Spartans were shocked when the head linesman, in charge of downs and markers, signaled a change of possession, ball to Helix.

The switch occurred after Chula Vista’s Jerry Glad was thrown for a 12-yard loss on third down.

Chula Vista was robbed of a fourth down play, although it needed 14 yards for a first down.

Further frustration for Bob Geyer’s South Bay squad: it recovered five Helix fumbles and blocked a punt.


Helix’ Bill Earnest ran 100 yards in :09.7 and was one of fastest in Southern California.

Helix didn’t fool around in the Metropolitan League rematch (some teams played each other twice in a round-robin schedule that featured Helix and El Cajon playing seven league games and Grossmont, El Cajon, and Sweetwater playing six). The Highlanders won, 52-6, with their third 50-point outburst of the regular season.

The Scots  also defeated Blythe Palo Verde, 54-0, and rushed for an astounding 407 yards in another 52-6 victory over Grossmont, with scoring plays of 24,8, 85 (Palermo), 32 , 28 (Dunn), 48 (Danny Spinazzola), and 78 (Bill Ernest).


Helix had 21 touchdown plays of at least 20 yards, 11 of at least 40, averaged 34 points a game in an 8-0 regular season, and was a rare County favorite over Hoover in a first-round playoff that drew about 11,000 to Aztec Bowl.

But as San Diego and Lincoln learned, you can’t score if you don’t have the ball.

With Gary Bailey marshaling the Cardinals’ grinding, split-T attack and showing more flair as an option quarterback, the Cardinals ran 60 plays to the Highlanders’ 31 and built a fourth-quarter lead of 21-7.

Helix was playing catch up with Hoover all night, as Cardinals' Bobby Ball gained 15 yards before tackle by Highlanders' Wayne Voight. Hoover's 64 is Doug Dunnam.

Helix played catch up with Hoover all night, as Cardinals’ Bobby Ball gained 15 yards before tackle by Highlanders’ Wayne Voight. Hoover’s 64 is Doug Dunnam.

Hoover’s 21-13 victory sent the Cardinals to La Palma Stadium in Anaheim and the Redbirds’ ball control worked again, for awhile.

The Cardinals scored first, ran more plays, and led Anaheim at the half, 7-6, but the Colonists with Mickey Flynn leading the way, ran away to a 34-7, quarterfinals playoff victory.

Hoover did not compare offensively to Anaheim.

The Cardinals’ Bobby Ball had rushed for 437 yards in 93 carries for a 4.6-yard average and Denny Berg averaged 4.1 and gained 393 on 84 carries.

Anaheim’s Joe Avitia had 874 yards and a 5.7 average and Mickey Flynn, used sparingly, had scored 17 touchdowns and was averaging 10 yards a carry.

Hoover had scored 170 points in nine games, Anaheim 347 in 10.


With 5:50 to play in the first quarter of a 21-0 win over Sweetwater, Helix’ Ron Palermo ran 6 yards to a touchdown.

With 5:50 remaining in the second quarter, Helix quarterback Bob Schultz passed 45 yards to Bill Earnest for a touchdown.


St. Augustine’s long battle to find a home in one of San Diego County’s prep leagues was coming to an end.

Saints coach Tom Carter had reason to see through his gloomy season forecast and point to the Saints' future in City Prep League with center Dick Hammes (left) and quarterback Tom Valverde.

Saints coach Tom Carter had reason to see through his gloomy season forecast and point to the Saints’ future in City Prep League with center Dick Hammes (left) and quarterback Tom Valverde.

They would have a league in the 1957-58 school year but not before clearing a few more hurdles.

  • Southern Section bosses in September approved the Saints for membership in the Metropolitan League beginning in ’57-58.
  • The Saints and La Jolla had applied for Metro membership in 1955, after La Jolla and Kearny announced they would bail in football for two years from the City League.
  • Metro big shots rejected the Saints and Vikings and had opted for this year’s unbalanced, 5-team loop in which some squads would play league rivals twice, with the champion being decided on won-loss percentage.
  • City Prep League principals, who annually blocked St. Augustine’s bid for membership, made a U-Turn and extended an invitation for 1957-58.
  • Principals of the 21  County schools attended a meeting in November at the Civic Center, where the Saints’ invitation was the only decision resolved during a four-hour session on releaguing.
  • City Prep League coaches disagreed with their releaguing bosses and voted against the Saints, pointing out that La Jolla and Kearny, whose games did not count this year, would be joining the circuit with Crawford in ’57, making for nine members, an unwieldy number.
  • The Southern Section releaguing committee, virtually rubber stamped the vote by the San Diego principals, voting unanimously to place St. Augustine in the City Prep League and removing the Saints from Metro League consideration.
  • The Saints still would need the approval of the Southern Section’s executive council, but commissioner Ken Fagans said the releaguing group’s vote was “tantamount to approval.”
  • Fagans noted that Crawford would not be playing a varsity schedule in football in 1957 and that “releaguing is on a year-to-year basis. If further changes are needed later on, we’ll make them.”
  • The Saints officially were placed in the City League by the Southern Section executive committee at its final meeting in December.


San Diego vice principal Bill Bailey, who coached the Cavemen to a 34-7 record from 1943-47, had a dilemma.

Bailey’s son, Gary, was Hoover’s quarterback.

Six-year-old Gary Bailey observes as his father, San Diego coach Bill Bailey, reads a 1945 telegram which stated that the Cavers were the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Eleven years later the Baileys were on different sides.

Six-year-old Gary Bailey observes as his father, San Diego coach Bill Bailey, reads a  telegram in 1945 which stated that the Cavers were the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Eleven years later the Baileys were on different sides.

Bailey and his wife deferred questions about who they were supporting, but it’s suspected they wanted Gary to have a terrific game and that maybe the teams could tie.

Mrs. Bailey would not commit to which side from which she would watch and Bill said only that he wished for a spot on the 50-yard line, “right in the middle of the field.”


Mount Miguel in Spring Valley was scheduled to open in 1957, as was Crawford in East San Diego.  El Capitan would open in Lakeside and Hilltop in Chula Vista in 1959.

The City Schools also announced plans for a second new high school when a 44-acre plot was purchased for $92,000 in Clairemont.

By 1959, Clairemont would greet students at its campus one block west of Clairemont Blvd., on Ute Street.  The school mascot appropriately would be named Chieftains.

San Diego’s Ron Collins (left) and Hoover’s Doug Dunham had the attention of UCLA coach Red Sanders at annual North Park Kiwanis Club dinner at Imig Manor hotel on El Cajon Boulevard.


Shan Deniston, who took over as La Jolla coach after seven seasons as an assistant coach at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, had been a catcher for the Portland Beavers in the Pacific Coast League.

An arm injury ended the St. Louis Browns farmhand’s career, but Deniston managed Browns farm teams at Mayfield, Kentucky; Belleville, Illinois; Pittsburg, Kansas, and Olean, New York.


The annual Breitbard Athletic Foundation College Prep All-Star game changed format.

From 1949-55, the game matched the Los Angeles City Section all-stars against an all-Southern California team.

The opponents this year were Los Angeles and a San Diego County squad.

The Los Angeles team scored a 19-0 victory before a crowd of about 10,000 at Aztec Bowl.


Escondido dressed 41 players compared to 21 for Vista when the undefeated teams met in an important Avocado League game.

“We respect them in spite of their numbers,” said Cougars coach Chuck Embrey.

Embrey wasn’t blowing smoke.

Escondido finally put the Panthers away, 16-13, on Chuck Wood’s field goal from the 20-yard line with 2:22 remaining.

Baranski (55) kicks point after against Point Loma and made rare field goal in game against Grossmont.

Baranski (55) kicks point after against Point Loma and made rare field goal in game against Grossmont.


Wood’s placement was the second of the season by an area kicker.  Hoover’s Walt Baranski toed a field goal from the nine-yard line to beat Grossmont, 9-6, earlier in the year.

Baranski’s field goal was the first in the County since 1952.

Field goals were so infrequent that newspaper correspondents often confused the distance, reporting the attempt from the line of scrimmage and not from point of the kick.


56graham0224150001La Jolla’s George Graham scored six touchdowns, ran for an extra point, and passed for another point after in his final game, a 37-0 victory over Fallbrook.

Graham’s 37 points were the most since San Dieguito’s Ralph Swaim scored 6 touchdowns and 36 points in a 1944 game.


Helix tackle Roy Bottini was a first team, all-Southern California selection and San Diego center Ron Collins made the second team…Anaheim and Downey played to a 13-13 tie in the Southern Section finals before a record crowd of 41,383…San Diego had 3 touchdowns called back in a 21-7 victory over L.B. Wilson, which scored with 10 seconds left in the game, when the Cavers had only 10 men on the field…La Jolla, 16 players strong , defeated Mar Vista, 13-7, to end a 15-game losing streak… the Vikings’ last victory was 7-0 over Rosemead in the 1954 season opener…Coronado coach Roger Rigdon declared that of the 200 boys enrolled in school, 100 reported for football…a City Schools carnival crowd of 16,000 saw the West team of Lincoln, San Diego, and Kearny defeat an East contingent of Hoover, Point Loma, Mission Bay, and La Jolla, 32-6…Lincoln beat Mission Bay, 14-6, and tied Hoover, 0-0, in two quarters of play…San Diego slapped Point Loma, 12-0…the Metro Carnival was an 8-6 win for Helix, El Cajon, and Sweetwater over Chula Vista, Mar Vista, and Grossmont….

Center Ron Collins, with quarterback Dave Conger, was only returning offensive starter for San Diego Cavemen.

Center Ron Collins, with quarterback Dave Conger, was only returning offensive starter for San Diego Cavemen.

Bennie Edens coached the handoff better than he demonstrated for quarterbacks Doug Minton, Roger Soares, and Ray Hermans (kneeling, from left) and Jerry Booth.

Bennie Edens demonstrated the handoff for quarterbacks Doug Minton, Roger Soares, and Ray Hermans (from left), and Jerry Booth (standing).

Sweetwater center Joe Wolf could snap ball to George McElvain, Larry Martin, and Jimmy King (from left).

Sweetwater center Joe Wolf could snap ball to George McElvain, Larry Martin, and Jimmy King (from left).


2015: Ron Dargo, Ace of Crawford Staff

Rick : February 21, 2015 1:57 pm : Football

Ron Dargo, 69, who pitched Crawford High to the 1962 San Diego Section baseball championship, passed away recently at his home in Spring Valley.

Dargo, a lefthander, and  John Allison, who pitched from the right side, led a late-season Colts playoff push after they finished second to San Diego in the Eastern League race.

The Colts, who finished with a 19-6 record, defeated lefty Dave Varvel and El Capitan, 9-0, as Dargo completed a seven-inning shutout in the championship game at Westgate Park, home of the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres.

Dargo hurled one of Crawford’s two other postseason victories.  He  surrendered three runs in the first inning in the first playoff against Helix but pitched shutout, two-hit ball the rest of the way and beat the Highlanders and their ace, George Sherrod, 4-3.

Dargo went on to pitch for coach Ed Sanclemente at San Diego City College and Mesa College and for Lyle Olsen at San Diego State. He led the Aztecs with 95 innings pitched, 12 starts, and 8 victories in 1967.

“Ron had a good fastball and curve, was a very good hitter, and  a great teammate, remembered Tom Whelan, who was Dargo’s  catcher at Crawford and at San Diego State.

Following college, Dargo embarked on a long military career.  He retired as a U.S. Navy Commander and became active in the local sports fishing industry.


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36 Responses to Football Blog

  1. John Carter says:

    I just read about this website from this morning’s paper in Nick’s column, what a great find! I played on Kearny’s 1973 undefeated CIF Champioship team, and our 1973-74 basketball team was undefeated and CIF champions as well. I’ve always wondered if there has ever been a year where both football and basketball teams were undefeated and champions in San Diego County history? Thank you for all your work with high school sports history over the years!

    • Rick says:

      I thanked Nick. And I thank you. I don’t think there have been undefeated football and basketball teams at the same school.
      It’s just too tough a double. Undefeated football teams are more common. I’ll do some research.

  2. Buzz Ponce says:

    Interesting overview on St. Augustine for this upcoming season. Frank Buncom IV, however, is a cornerback, not a linebacker. His grandfather, as I know you are aware, was the original number 55 for the San Diego Chargers and is in the team’s Hall of Fame. Very interestingly, the other iconic number 55 for the Chargers — Junior Seau — has a nephew on St. Augustine’s team that also plays linebacker. Quinn Seau and Buncom IV have roots that parallel the greats in Chargers history. You can read a chapter on Buncom IV and Quinn Seau’s similarities in my book, “Finding Frank: Full Circle in a Life Cut Short.”

    • Rick says:

      I missed on Buncom IV’s position, but I don’t think he’s a cornerback. He’s more of a “monster” in that he’s all over the field, almost a strong safety. I’ve heard of your book. I also interviewed Frank Buncom, Jr., after Chargers games when I was a sports writer at the Evening Tribune. Nice man. Tragic ending.

  3. holly bryant says:

    1978 — Dan Henson was the coach at Christian
    2007 — Grossmont was 2-1 for 2nd place (West Hills was 3-0)

    • Rick says:

      Thank you for the info on Christian’s coach in 1978.. I could not find coaching listings for some schools in late seventies, as the CIF San Diego office does not have directories for those years. I also corrected the Grossmont-West Hills standings. For some reason the 5 teams in the Grossmont North played only three league games instead of four, so there’s no round-robin format.

  4. Absolutely awesome site. I just discovered it by accident right now. Love it. I am 2nd generation born, raised, played and coached in the South Bay of San Diego. I have always loved the CIF-SDS history. I’ll be spending a lot of time (I already have spent a lot) surfing this site.
    Thank you,

    Justin J. Schaeffer
    Resource Teacher
    Head Football Coach
    Murrieta Mesa High School
    (951) 677-0568 ext. 6421

    GO RAMS!!!!!
    Character, integrity and hard work breed opportunity.
    see us at

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for the very kind words, coach, and for subscribing. We have an article going today on three San Diego Section championship games yesterday.

  5. Bob Dexter says:

    I thought it might have been a misprint. Thanks, Rick for checking -still an impressive offensive show by La Jolla.

    • Rick says:

      Impressive indeed, Bob. The 63 points is a La Jolla record for one game, surpassing a romp in which it whacked Kearny, 61-20, in 2002. Last week’s win also ties a 57-0 rout of Coronado in 1990 for largest point differential. Adding to that, back in the heyday of Dan Berry and Butch Taylor the Vikings beat San Dieguito, 57-7 in 1961,. Those are the three highest scores in school history. La Jolla has been punishing U. City for years, including 56-7 in 2012.

  6. Bob Dexter says:

    I saw a score from last Friday. There were no details just the line score. At the end of 3 quarters La Jolla and University City were tied 0-0. The final was La Jolla 63, University City 6. High school quarters I believe are 12 minutes. How did La Jolla score 9 touchdowns in 12 minutes? (9 one play drives?) Does anyone have details on this game?

    • Rick says:

      I wondered about that, too, but a check with Jesse Kearney at UT-San Diego revealed that the actual score by quarters was La Jolla, 19-20-10-14–63 and U. City, 6-0-0-0–6. Sixty-three points in one quarter? That’s 9 touchdowns and 9 PAT attempts and 3 PAT in 12 minutes I suppose anything’s possible. Perhaps it’s happened in 8-man or 6-man. Thanks for writing, Bob.

  7. Jasen Boyens says:

    Orange Glen has gone the way of Sweetwater, Morse, Lincoln; victims of changing demographics over time. For OG it all started to fall apart when Valley Center HS opened, and the Patriots lost all those corn-fed farm boys! So many good players came out of VC, as evidenced by Rob Gilster’s sustained success with the Jaguars. Orange Glen was also victimized by the Escondido School District, whose board members were largely Escondido HS alums – implementation of a free-for-all transfer policy within the district, intended to bolster the Cougars’ fortunes. Despite the courageous Early family’s laudable decision to keep Andy and Austin home at OG, in hopes of bolstering Patriot fortunes, the football program remains decrepit. Dick Disney was a great man whose impact on many lives, including my own, continues through the decades.

    • Rick says:

      Jasen, very interesting comments. You could add several other city schools to that mix. Orange Glen did have it going. I think there have been 3 or 4 NFL players, Salisbury, Lenny McGill, I think, and maybe a couple others.

  8. BoyensJC says:


    Thought you might find this photo [ed: of the OG QB club] interesting;

    We had some pretty good quarterbacks come through Orange Glen for a spell there in the late 70’s through the early 1990’s. Lead by Salisbury, of course, but Doug Disney (and his older brother, Rick), Jon Mitchell, and Cree Morris were all San Diego CIF.

    • Rick says:

      What’s happened with Orange Glen football? Patriots had it going back then. I remember Dick Dinesy as an all-star at Point Loma, then later as an assistant for Chick Embrey at Escondido before he opened O.G. Last I heard Sean Salkisbury was in radio in Chicago. Thanks for writing.

      • Buzz Ponce says:

        Dick Disney also was the first varsity football coach at San Marcos High School when it opened in 1961, following his stint at Escondido HS with Chick Embrey. He was at San Marcos (which was then in the Escondido Union HS District) until Orange Glen launched in 1962-63. He was an incredible coach, and an incredible person. After his retirement at OG, he was elected to the Escondido Union HS District Board of Trustees where he served until his death in 1997.
        RIP, Coach Disney.

      • Rick says:

        I met Disney when he assisted Chick with the 1960 team that won the first San Diego section championship. I always wondered how he got to Escondido, considering he was a big name in high school in the city at Point Loma. thanks for writing, Buzz.

  9. Bob Dexter says:

    Rick, Thank you for the kind comments. Coach Leslie was definitely the right man to get our program going. That 1971 season was a lot of fun!

  10. Bob Dexter says:


    Regarding your article on the best defenses in history, the 1971 Patrick Henry Patriots went 11-1 outscoring the opposition 267-53 an average of 4.4 points. We had 5 shutouts and never allowed more than 8 points in any one game. We lost to Grossmont 8-7 in the championship game but it was a great season.

    I became aware of your great website from Henrik.

    • Rick says:

      Bob: The writer posed a question involving only “championship” teams. I researched from that angle but should have taken it further and included all teams. A one-point loss to Grossmont doesn’t dim the luster of that 1971 Patrick Henry club. Coach Russ Leslie got the new school up and running very quickly. The Patriots reached the San Diego Section finals in their third varsity season and were in the finals three times from 1971-74.

  11. malcolm pusey says:

    Great info. But I would like read tidbits for every season. How about a list of the greatest players (by position), teams and coaches of all time?
    I am just trying to help.

    • Rick says:

      Malcolm, great idea. I have been thinking somewhat along those lines. I guess I would start with Charlie Powell at one of the ends although he played fullback one year at San Diego High. Jack Mashin and Duane Maley would be near the top of my coaches’ list, but I’m first concentrating on the yearly reviews and the yearly scoring leaders. Are you related to Duane Pusey, 13-foot pole vaulter at Grossmont in 1949?

  12. Rick says:

    Mark: I’m not familiar with Jimmy Anderson. Ernie Zampese’s son, Ken, is on the Bengals staff and graduated from University High. I think Dante Scarnecchia played at Cal Western, later USIU.
    I see Lenny arevalo at breakfast every Thursday, so tell me his story and I’ll surprise him. Were you with Shacklett and Mendoza at Morse?

    • Mark Monroe says:

      Len’s story is set in 1973 the first year Jimmy Anderson was hired to teach at Morse and coach the defensive line for Shack. While the two of them were out for a jog around the neighborhood Jim asked Len “where do you see yourself in 10 years” Len replied “here @ Morse, I like what I am doing, why where are you gonna be?” Jim says ” I am going to be coaching in the NFL” and he still is as one of the longest tenured assistant coaches in the NFL. Coach Anderson is the innovative mind behind the warm up Morse would do before and after games known as “Tiger Jays” A tradition that has lasted from 1974 to 2011. Len can tell you the story about Dante. Bob, Len and I recently had lunch with Coach Anderson and Len told that story. Yes I had the pleasure of working with Coach Shack, Mendoza and Arevalo at Morse for 24 years. It was kind of weird working there since I graduated in 1971 and knew them as my idols. Thanks for the reply, Coach Monroe.

  13. Mark Monroe says:

    Wow great job! I worked at Morse for 24 years and have a story Len Arevalo likes to tell about Cincinnati running back coach Jimmy Anderson and New England line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Interested?

  14. Todd Tobias says:

    Great stuff, Rick! I will be reading daily. I bet I’ll find some good crossover stuff for potential AFL stories!

  15. John Walker says:

    Will you be adding a section for All-CIF and All-League players. The reason I’m asking is because I was a 2nd team All Eastern League linebacker for Patrick Henry in 1984 and I lost the newspaper clipping.

    • Rick says:

      John: I’m trying to get these narratives written for each year, plus finding scoring leaders for every year. In time I hope to get to the “all” teams. Thanks for writing.

  16. Albert Oliver says:

    Hi Rick. I played in the 1961 Lincoln/ Saints game losing 13 to 6 to Lincoln.
    Your parents Doug & Jane knew mine Al & Virginia Oliver ( Both Dads in the fishing industry).
    Just wanted to say hi.
    Still live in San Diego..( El Cajon).
    Al Oliver…12/07/2012

    • Rick says:

      Al: Good to hear from you. I see Ron Cota and John Nettles often. I think that was the game in which John made a one-handed catch. Willie Shaw and Vernus Ragsdale combined for about 225 yards rushing in that game.

  17. Richard Houk says:

    Just discovered your wonderful site (thanks to Don Norcross). It is wonderful to see a comprehensive listing of San Diego County’s proud history. I was a part of the 1965 San Dieguito Mustangs and noticed that you may have the wrong score entered for the San Dieguito/Poway game. I believe San Dieguito won, 19-14. It is entered correctly on San Dieguito’s record but not Poway’s. Thank you for putting all of this together!

    • Rick says:

      Richard: The score has been corrected. Game played Sept. 24, 1965. I’ll come up with the scoring summary and send. Thanks for commenting.

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