Football Blog

1955:  The Winningest Era

Rick : December 20, 2016 2:18 pm : Football

Chet DeVore was taken aback, if not incredulous.

“I’m a basketball coach,” he told his boss. “I don’t have enough experience to coach football.”

That was DeVore’s reaction in 1951 when Chula Vista High principal Joe Rindone, asked DeVore to head the Spartans’ football program.

Few administrators have been so far-sighted.

Forty-four wins, seven losses, and one tie later, DeVore, like many before and after him who trained to be educators, forsook the sideline and went into the halls of administration.

Few coaches have left such a legacy.

DeVore was 42-3 in his last four plus seasons.

That the Spartan leader’s coaching career ended with a 26-0 loss to eventual Southern California and national champion San Diego did not dim the luster.

DeVore conducted on-field chalk talk with quarterbacks Terry Weatherford, Pete Kettela, and Jerry Glad (from left). Kettela was No. 1 signal caller and went on to long career as scout in NFL.


DeVore played all of the sports at Chaffey High in Ontario but, as a skinny 120-pounder at graduation, he decided that football may not be his calling and concentrated on basketball in college.

DeVore was a member of the San Diego State team that won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship in Kansas City in 1941.

A desire to move on and coach basketball was put on hold after graduation in 1942, when DeVore enlisted in the Marine Corps and fought in the Pacific theater in World War II.


DeVore was awarded the bronze star at Okinawa and Purple Heart at Bougainville.

According to the Bronze Star citation, in part, “Capt. DeVore, as intelligence officer for the (Sixth Infantry) battalion, displayed exceptional ability and courageous conduct during the entire Okinawa campaign.

“On 27 April 1945 he personally trailed a large number of enemy troops in the dense, weeded country north of Tiara so efficiently that on 28 April 1945 he was able to lead the battalion to their (enemy’s) position.

“(DeVore’s) initiative and brave actions in this instance were responsible for the successful attack on the enemy in which approximately one-hundred and fifty of them were killed and the battalion suffered only minor casualties.

“On Oroku Peninsula and again on the Southern end of Okinawa (DeVore) efficiently established forward observation posts from which much valuable information was obtained, although (DeVore and his men) often were under heavy enemy fire.”

DeVore was awarded purple heart and bronze star in World War II. DeVore family photograph.

Discharged from the Marine Corps in 1946, DeVore began teaching at Southwest Junior High in Nestor and a year later was appointed varsity basketball coach by Rindone at the new Chula Vista High.

The hoops mentor was 67-58 in six seasons, including two Metropolitan        League championships, one tie for first, and a Southern California small schools title in 1950-51, the program’s third season.


Chula Vista was a combined 13-23-1 in its first four football seasons under Gordon Cox and Morris Shepard.  When Shepard left to pursue advanced education at San Diego State, Rindone turned to DeVore.

DeVore told Jim Trinkle of The San Diego Union that he wasn’t underestimating his qualifications for the job when Rindone called.

“We won four, lost four, and tied one that first year and that was the best showing a Chula Vista team had made since the school opened in 1947.

“I can see now though that we might have won the championship that year if I had known some of the things I learned later.”

DeVore pointed out that “Anybody can tell you it’s suicide to change formations after the start of the season, but we did it in ‘fifty-one.

“We started out with the double wing, lost our first two games and then switched to the T.  We finally got going late in the season and won our last three straight (editor’s note: sandwiched around a 6-0 loss to 8-2 Coronado).”


The Spartans program was rolling.

Chula Vista won its first Metropolitan League title in 1952, dropped a first-round playoff to Laguna Beach, and then won consecutive Southern California Southern Division (of three CIF small schools groups) championships.

Graduations claimed most of DeVore’s 1954 squad but Chula Vista had gotten into the habit of reloading instead of rebuilding.

Ross Pence scored one of Chula Vista’s many touchdowns in 40-0 rout of La Jolla.

The Spartans also were moving up in class.

They outscored eight straight opponents, 247-34, and were aligned in the 16-team Central Group (large schools) playoffs.

San Diego High was too much for the Spartans, but DeVore’s .856 winning percentage set a record for San Diego County coaches (minimum of 50 games).

The record still was intact well into the 21st century.


Floyd Johnson, principal at Hoover since it opened in 1930, was retiring at the end of the school year.

Johnson, whose animus toward San Diego High was increasingly evident over the years, many of which included lopsided football losses, apparently tried to torpedo the Hillers’ chances in the playoffs.

Floyd Johnson took a parting shot at San Diego High.

Midway through the season defensive halfback David Grayson and end Luther Hayes moved with their families from the San Diego enrollment area to Lincoln’s.

Johnson, long  a regarded figure among Southern Section administrators,  complained that Grayson and Hayes should be immediately ineligible at San Diego, now that they lived near Lincoln. City Schools officials did not penalize the Cavers.  The players stayed eligible.

Hayes played football and basketball for Lincoln in the 1954-55 school year, transferred to San Diego for track in ’55, and was back on the basketball floor at Lincoln for the ’55-56 campaign.

The story of the Hoover principal’s dislike for the Hillers was related to me by the late Walt Harvey, who played football at Hoover.  Harvey also was Lincoln’s first coach.


Residents of the mountain community east of San Diego didn’t expect much when Glenn Forsythe arrived in 1954.

The Bulldogs, mired with a sluggish history that included an all-time, 42-60-7 record since 1938, were about to experience stunning success.

Before he left for a journalism teaching position at Reedley Junior College in Central California in 1959, Forsythe was able to get local boys to ditch, or at least postpone, their farming chores and turn Ramona into a “football school.”

Ramona rolled with Forsythe.

Fifty-four of the 96 boys enrolled turned out for football.

The Bulldogs won their first 15 games under Forsythe, 7-0 in 1954, and 8-0 this season.  Their unbeaten run ended in a 14-7 loss to Banning in the Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.

Fullback Ernie Trumper was the Bulldogs’ main contributor with 15 touchdowns and 6 PAT.

Trumper was a small schools rarity, invited to play in the Breitbard College Prep All-Star game in 1956.

Forsythe’s Bulldogs became a juggernaut, posting an overall, 42-4 through 1959.

The coach had previously served as an assistant coach for four seasons at Fallbrook and before that had a 44-10 record as  head coach at six schools in Iowa.


Lincoln, behind quarterback Bob Mendoza, backs Joe (Grinder) Vinson and Leonard Elston and budding stars Bob Moss, Brad Griffith, Marvin Hudkins, and Leonard Burnett, was touted as a challenger for the City Prep League championship in preseason accounts.

Reality was another factor.  The 49th Street team, in its second varsity season, finished 3-4-1.

Mendoza was Lincoln’s first star, a standout in three sports and CPL basketball player of the year.

San Diego reduced Lincoln’s rushing attack to minus 10 yards in a 19-0 victory and Hoover overcame the fog and a 20-14 halftime deficit to defeat the Hornets, 34-20.

Most galling defeat was at Point Loma.  Lincoln was struck with a 15-yard penalty that put the ball on its one-yard line in the final seconds.

Point Loma scored a tying touchdown on the next play as the game ended, and kicked the PAT for a 7-6 victory.

The Hornets earlier took a 6-0 lead  but were penalized when one of their linemen was flagged for moving before the PAT kick.

Lincoln’s vice principal, George Parry, hurdled a sideline fence when the game ended and charged referee Bill Raaka in the middle of the field.

No blows, but strong words were exchanged.


Fog made its annual late-November appearance and dominated Chula Vista’s 13-6, Metropolitan League title-clinching victory at Helix.

“We have learned that Chula Vista has scored but missed goal and now leads, 6-0,” was the announcement by Helix stadium public address Bob Divine, who doubled as the Highlanders’ basketball coach.

The Spartans had scored their touchdown several minutes before Divine’s pronouncement.

“I’ve never felt more helpless in my life,” said Chula Vista boss Chet DeVore.

”When the ball was on the Helix side of the field, I couldn’t tell you how many men we had out there, what down it was, or anything that was happening.”

DeVore was virtually clueless.

“In the first quarter, one of the kids I had taken out of the game told me we were down on the four-yard line.  That was the only way I had of knowing what was going on.”


La Jolla and Kearny announced they would leave the City Prep League for at least two years in football, because of declining enrollment and (not said), whippings.

The rise of Mission Bay robbed La Jolla of a talent base in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach that was instrumental in the Vikings’ reaching the Southern California finals in baseball in 1953 and the semifinals in football in 1952.

La Jolla’s Buster Mico, one of the 13 players in this photo, tackled Point Loma’s Chuck Moses. who fumbled. Moses’ teammate, Roy Kennedy (right), recovered.

Kearny also felt a pinch from Mission Bay and Federal housing population in Linda Vista was in decline. The large, residential Serra Mesa community to the East was in its infancy.  Kearny had played for the City League football championship as recently as 1953.


With La Jolla and Kearny bailing, St. Augustine made a formal application for admittance into the City Prep League.

“We have seven hundred male students in the top three grades,” said Fr. John Aherne, school principal.  “I feel certain we can field a representative team.”

The Saints had tried to find league representation several times over the years and they were getting closer.  They would join the CPL in 1957.

St. Augustine’s last affiliation was with the Los Angeles-area Southland Catholic League from 1945-50.


St. Augustine and La Jolla had made overtures to the Metropolitan League, but the Metro turned them down and announced that it would go to a round-robin league schedule in 1956 that promised to drastically curtail nonleague opposition.

Some teams would play six league games and others seven.  The winner would be determined by won-loss percentage.

Chula Vista’s Jerry West is tackled for loss by San Diego’s Willie West.

The five-team Metro would grow to six with the addition of Mount Miguel in 1957.


Of the 65  players who turned out for football there was not a single letterman on hand at El Cajon Valley, the third school to open in the East County, siphoning off more than 1,000 students from enrollment-bulging Grossmont.

There were a couple unique players, senior center Don McGoffin and his junior tackle brother Dick.

The Magoffins left school after practice each day and returned home 20 miles distant to milk cows, feed chickens, and perform other duties on the ranch they share with their parent.

“They don’t mind,”said Braves coach Glenn Otterson. “I talked it over with their parents, who said it was okay for them to play football, as long they got their chores done.”


The all-Southern California squad defeated the Los Angeles City team, 23-0, before 6,500 in Balboa Stadium in the Breitbard College Prep game in August…Hoover’s John Adams was one of the winners’ most productive with 84 yards in 10 carries…Bellflower was coached by Walt Hackett, a San Diego Chargers assistant coach from 1962-66…Point Loma’s rookie head coach, Bennie Edens, had been on the coaching staff of Don Giddings’ since 1949 and was the  Pointers’ baseball coach from 1951-54…Tom Carter, new mentor at St. Augustine, played football at Los Angeles Cathedral, was a quarterback at Notre Dame, and coached at Cincinnati’s Bishop Elder and at Santa Ana Mater Dei…La Jolla coach Frank Smith said his squad had only six players who weighed at least 150 pounds…Evening Tribune writer Jerry Brucker noted that La Jolla had brothers Clyde and Doug Crockett, but probably also could use Davey…

Helix’ Gary Dunn is flanked by his father, Coy (left) and  coach Tom Welbaum.

Gary Dunn, Helix’ triple threat halfback, is the son of Coy Dunn, one of the backfield stars of San Diego’s 1933 Southern California finalists…The Metropolitan League carnival drew an overflow crowd of about 7,500 to Helix, where Chula Vista’s Dave Morrison ran 5 and 67 yards for fourth-quarter touchdowns against Grossmont to pull out a 14-14 tie for the West, which included guest Mar Vista, Sweetwater and guest St. Augustine against the Foothillers, El Cajon Valley, and Helix…four, 20-minute quarters was on the menu in the Avocado League carnival at Escondido, where the host Cougars topped Oceanside, 6-0, for the only score in the “Inlanders” victory over “Coast”…Coronado, Fallbrook, Vista, Mar Vista,  San Dieguito, and guest Army-Navy also participated….





2016 Week 16:  Country Day Plays NFL Schedule

Rick : December 16, 2016 3:40 pm : Football

La Jolla Country Day will set a San Diego Section record tomorrow evening when it plays visiting Oakland McClymonds in the State Division V-A finals at 6 p.m.

The championship will mark the 16th game, the length of a regular NFL season, for the Torreys since the since the start of the season.

Madison and Santa Fe Christian were the first teams to play 15 games in 2013.

‘Day, unlike previous state finalists, did not have a bye in the first round of the San Diego Section playoffs, having to play 4 games instead of 3.

The Torreys (12-3) were seeded fifth in their division in San Diego after finishing third in the Coastal League and on the short end of decisive losses to The Bishop’s, 37-21, and Santa Fe Christian, 49-21.

Cal-Hi Sports, which uses the eye test to rate teams and make predictions, and, which is computer generated, see strength in the San Diego Section’s four entries this weekend.


Cal-Hi Sports, which is located in Stockton, the same city as St. Mary’s High, goes with its local team over Cathedral.

Cal-Hi predicted a 35-28 victory for St. Mary’s.  CalPreps chose Cathedral by a score of 34-33.

Despite favoring the Dons, CalPreps’ computer gives St. Mary’s a 73.0 rating to Cathedral’s 68.2.

Cathedral’s rating is the highest of any local team in one of the upper divisions since San Diego Section teams began competing in 2007.

The Tyler Gaffney-led Cathedral team of 2008 defeated St. Mary’s, 37-34, in D-III and had a CalPreps rating of 55.2 to 43.2.


Both experts pick 12-2 Madison (57.2) over 13-1 San Jose Valley Christian of the Central Coast Section (55.4), 29-21 by Cal-Hi and 27-21 by CalPreps.


Cal-Hi picks 13-2 Oakdale (44.9) of the Sac-Joaquin Section, 28-21, over 14-0 The Bishop’s (48.5).  CalPreps picks The Bishop’s, 28-27.  Oakdale, near Stockton, travels 430 miles to meet the Knights at La Jolla High.


McClymonds, the school that turned out basketball icon Bill Russell and baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, among many others, will bus 482 miles to meet La Jolla Country Day on the Torreys’ home field.

12-3 ‘Day (27.0) is picked to defeat 12-1 Mack (29.9) by a 55-48 score by Cal-Hi.  CalPreps selected the Warriors, 35-28.

Cathedral now is fifth in the state Top 25.  Madison finally got off the bubble and now is 23rd after its 60-53, overtime win over Calabasas in the Southern California final last week. Rancho Bernardo (11-1) is on the bubble.


There were no state playoffs from 1927-2007…San Diego High dropped a 17-6 decision to Bakersfield in Balboa Stadium in a state semifinal game in 1922…Oceanside’s 2007 state D-II champion had a 57.8 rating and 57.9 in D-I in 2009…Helix calculated at 64.8 when it topped Loomis del Oro, 35-24, in D-II in 2009…Oceanside had a 62.9 rating when it lost to Folsom, 68-7, in D-I in 2014…Madison’s D-III champion in  2013 had a grad of 43.7…the principal at Stlockton St. Mary’s is Pete Morelli, longtime NFL game referee….


1958:  Cinderella Was a Red Devil

Rick : December 6, 2016 9:43 am : Football

An apparently routine CIF playoff loss by another San Diego-area team loomed when Sweetwater took possession after an Anaheim punt late in the third quarter, trailing in a first-round game, 7-0.

What followed was legend.

What Red Devils quarterback Wayne Sevier remembered, before he passed away in 1999, was “twenty-four plays, eighty-three yards, seven first downs, six measurements and a flea flicker on fourth and twenty-four.”

What halfback Gilbert Warren remembered years later was the pregame warm-up: “We were on the field when they came out. The line of players never stopped coming.  They must have dressed eighty guys.”

Coach Tom Parker sized up1958 season with Albert Belmontez, Leslie Pearson, and Wayne Sevier (from left).

Coach Tom Parker sized up1958 season with Albert Belmontez, Leslie Pearson, and Wayne Sevier (from left).

What Sweetwater coach Tom Parker told Phil Collier of The San Diego Union after the game: “Anaheim tried to wear us down by platooning. We only have 5 capable substitutes. The amazing thing about the touchdown drive is that the kids didn’t panic.”

What was obvious was the Red Devils were outnumbered and severely lacking in pedigree. Anaheim annually was one of the outstanding teams in Southern California.

The Colonists’ innovative coach, Clare Van Hoorbeke (190-49-10 from 1950-72), may indeed have outfitted more than his varsity team.

Maybe Van Hoorbeke was hoping to invoke some intimidation before an expected victory by the Sunset League power which was 2-0-1 in the postseason against San Diego teams since 1953.


Warren (second from left) was among essential players with Leslie Pearson, Jerry Hotham, and Art Graham (from left).

Warren (second from left) was among essential players with Leslie Pearson, Jerry Hotham, and Art Graham (from left).

Sweetwater had been to the playoffs in the medieval CIF period of 1923 and ‘26, and then waited 34 years before the 1957 club qualified again and made a quick exit in a 31-7, first-round loss to San Diego.

Anaheim was making its sixth appearance in the eight years since Van Hoorbeke became coach.

But the Red Devils, with pluck and grit, advanced to the next round after a 7-7 tie.

Sweetwater won on a CIF rules tie breaker, having a 14-8 advantage in first downs, similar to 1955, when San Diego moved on after a 20-20 tie with Anaheim.

By Parker’s count, Sweetwater ran 69 plays to Anaheim’s 32, but it played from behind after Rick Sheffler roused the 8,000 La Palma Stadium patrons with a 78-yard touchdown run near the end of the first half.

Some game notes from The San Diego Union, Anaheim Bulletin, and San Diego Evening Tribune:

  • The score remained 7-0 until Warren pierced Anaheim’s eight-man line for nine yards to Sweetwater’s 29 on the last play of the third quarter.
  • As Phil Collier described, Sweetwater stayed on the ground and advanced to Anaheim’s 45-yard line, where Sevier passed 15 yards to Mike Fogelsong.
  • The Red Devils went back to their running game, moving to Anaheim’s 15, but a holding penalty pushed the visitors back to the 30.
  • At this point, with about five minutes remaining, “The National City club unloaded their secret weapon,” reported the Anaheim Bulletin.
  • On fourth down and 23 Sevier handed off to Fogelsong and took off downfield.
  • The 180-pound Fogelsong was known as the “’Frisco Freight”. An administrative mixup forced Fogelsong to sit out the 1957 season after he transferred from a school in San Francisco.
  • Fogelsong rolled to his right and then threw a pass across the field to Sevier, who made a leaping catch at the Colonists’ six-yard line.
  • Game officials signaled for the down marker and chain. The Red Devils made a first down, by inches.
  • Warren ran three yards to the three, but on the next play Sweetwater was penalized for off-side (false start) and sent back the 8.
  • Sevier threw incomplete and on third down passed again to Leslie Pearson in the end zone.
  • Another incompletion  but Anaheim’s Glen Herbel was cited for pass interference.
  • First down, Sweetwater.
  • Jerry Hotham wedged into the end zone from the one on the next play for a touchdown with about two minutes remaining in the game. Warren held for the point after and Sevier booted the conversion for a tie at 7-7.
  • Sweetwater held the ball for at least 10 minutes, negotiated 79 yards in an unheard of 24 plays, made at least six first downs, with officials’ measurements on almost every one.
  • Wayne Sevier’s recollection wasn’t exact, but as Gil Warren said of his old friend, “Wayne’s memory was great. He even remembered a pass I dropped.”
  • Sweetwater was not out of the woods.
  • Anaheim threatened by advancing from its 34 to Sweetwater’s 28 but quarterback Dennis Vollom’s fourth down pass to the end zone was incomplete.
  • Ball game.


Sweetwater won a coin flip and was awarded a home game for the quarterfinals against the San Luis Obispo League champion Santa Maria Saints, 10-1, with only a 26-14 loss to Bakersfield in their opening game.

Sweetwater principal Allen Campbell correctly called tails in a three-way telephonic hookup with the principal from Santa Maria and CIF commissioner Ken Fagans at Fagans’ office in Los Angeles.

Santa Maria, which had surprised Santa Barbara, 35-19, in the first round and which boasted 144-point scorer Manuel Jones, was a slight favorite and took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

The slow-starting Red Devils stormed back to win, 27-7, as Warren gained 71 yards in 11 carries, caught 4 passes for 51 yards, intercepted a pass, and punted three times for a 33-yard average.  Fogelsong gained 70 yards in 10 carries.


Sweetwater was given another home game for the semifinals against 10-0-1 Santa Monica, a tradition-laden powerhouse that had been the home team for its first two postseason victories.

The Red Devils now were hailed as the Cinderella team of the playoffs, a surprising survivor to the Round of 4, especially in light of San Diego’s early departure in a 26-18 loss to Long Beach Poly.

Principal  Campbell ordered temporary bleachers at Hudgins Field and almost 7,000 persons jammed the National City campus.

Santa Monica quickly moved to put an end to Sweetwater’s fairy tale hopes.

Santa Monica finally halted Fogelsong and Red Devils on foggy night.

Santa Monica finally halted Fogelsong and Red Devils on foggy night.

The Vikings raced to a 28-7 halftime lead and were ahead, 34-7, in the third quarter as writer Phil Collier described a “grass-level fog” that enveloped the field.

The beach city squad kept the Red Devils at a distance, winning, 34-20, amid the echoes of the Vikings’ cheering squad.

“Push ‘em back!  Push ‘em back!  Push ‘em back to TJ, to TJ!” exhorted the Santa Monica yell leaders.

Tijuana, in Baja California, Mexico, was about 14 miles south of the Sweetwater campus.


Sweetwater’s drive to the Metropolitan League championship went through Escondido, where the host Cougars had won 22 straight regular-season games and shown no falloff after exiting the weaker Avocado League.

Ralph Inzunza’s fourth-quarter pass interception and five-yard return at 7:15 and with his team trailing, 14-9, positioned Sweetwater for a six-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that overcame the Cougars, 16-14, before an overflow crowd of 5,500 persons.

Gilbert Warren led the Red Devils with 70 yards in 13 carries, caught 4 passes for 81 yards, punted four times for a 31.5 average, and returned an intercepted pass 51 yards with 3:04 left in the game to preserve the victory.


Wayne Sevier and Gil Warren and Red Devils teammate Joe Meeker played on coach Don Coryell’s first San Diego State teams in 1961-62 and each was bent on a coaching career.

Warren concluded remarkable coaching career at Eastlake in 2012.

Warren concluded remarkable coaching career at Eastlake in 2012.

Sevier was head coach at Sweetwater in 1965-66 and a special teams coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chargers, Redskins, and Los Angeles Rams in a 25-year NFL career.

Warren coached 28 seasons at high schools in the South Bay, winning championships in 1968, ’94, and ’96 at Castle Park.  Warren’s 216 career victories rank fifth all-time in San Diego County.


Sweetwater had 14 first downs to Santa Monica’s 13 and outgained Vikings, 290-218, although the visitors had 206 yards rushing to the hosts’ 96…Mike Fogelsong gained 71 yards in 15 carries against Anaheim…the stats were as close as the score…the  Red Devils rushed for 162 yards and passed for 50…Anaheim had 186 yards rushing and 25 passing, Sweetwater holding a 212-211 advantage…Tom Parker was 38-24-4 as head coach from 1954-60…”Tommie” Parker was a halfback at Hoover in 1942, played at San Diego State, and also served as trainer for the annual summer College Prep All-Star game in San Diego…Sweetwater’s 21-7 victory was Claremont’s first regular-season loss in four years…the Red Devils voted to work out Thanksgiving Day instead of taking a holiday before the Anaheim game…Parker was almost prescient before the Colonist contest:  “We have a chance against this club, a good chance, if we play to our maximum potential.  Anything less than that won’t be good enough”….Wayne Sevier, Mike Fogelsong, Gil Warren, Joe Meeker, Max Freetley, Leslie Pearson, Ron Grimes, David Hoffman, Larry LeGrand, Jim Arnout, and Albert Belmontez  were Sweetwater’s starters…the “capable” replacements  Art Graham, Richard Clifton, David Nenow, Ralph Inzunza, and Jim Feeler, rounded out the Red Devils’ essential 16-man playing roster…

Unsung Red Devils included Richard Clifton, Art Graham, Dave Hoffman, and Ralph Inzunza.

Unsung Red Devils included Richard Clifton, Art Graham, Dave Hoffman, and Ralph Inzunza (from left) when not  cracking the books.


2016 Week 15: Cathedral Unanimous in Final Grid Poll

Rick : December 5, 2016 3:20 pm : Football

Cathedral, Madison, Mater Dei, and The Bishop’s comprise four of the final Top 10 selections in the weekly Union-Tribune poll and will begin quests for state championships this week.

Cathedral was a unanimous choice as No. 1, earning first-place votes from all 27 panelists.

La Jolla Country Day, which finished out of the Top 10 but received points in the poll, and Horizon also are in the state playoffs.

It’s great that San Diego Section teams can continue on after the local championships, but it’s a stretch that Horizon, which gave up  75, 63, and 66 points on three successive weeks in the regular season, is part of the possible elite.

That Horizon revived itself and won its last four games and won the San Diego Division V with a 7-6 record is testimony to the Panthers’ ability to regroup.

Horizon climbed to the top of its San Diego Section division despite the distraction caused by the school’s losing its lease at the old Hale Junior High site in Clairemont and will be relocating next school year.

First-place votes in parenthesis.

Points on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. more »

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1958: Jackrabbit Fever Strikes Mighty Cavemen

Rick : December 3, 2016 12:02 pm : Football


San Diego High fell with a resounding thud in quarterfinals of the Southern Section playoffs.

A 26-18 loss to old nemesis Long Beach Poly in Balboa Stadium was surprising in its decisiveness, devastating in its finality.

Especially for coach Duane Maley, who announced his intention to retire from coaching and go into administration at the end of the school year. This team was supposed to be the best since Maley was named head coach after the 1947 season.

How could the Cavemen lose, having outscored their first 10 opponents by an average score of 44-3?   With a half-dozen runners who punctuated the trademark, long-distance San Diego running game? And led by perhaps the outstanding prep quarterback in the country?


An observation by Point Loma coach Bennie Edens would ring true down the road:

“San Diego has a more dangerous backfield than last year, but a weaker line, both offensively and defensively,” said Edens.

Part of the San Diego High defense that allowed 6 points in eight regular-season games: Oliver McKinney, Roy Pharis, Robert Fowler, from left in front, anchored line, backed up by, among others from left, Thurman Pringle, Charlie Dykstra, Robert Felix, H.D. Murphy, and Sam Edwards.

Part of the San Diego High defense that allowed 6 points in eight regular-season games: Oliver McKinney, Roy Pharis, and Robert Fowler, from left, backed up by, among others from left, Thurman Pringle, Charlie Dykstra, Robert Felix, H.D. Murphy, and Sam Edwards.

Edens spoke after his team had dropped a 40-0 decision to the Cavers in Week 3.

Hillers loyalists scoffed.  Sour grapes, they said.

After all, Edens had been outscored a combined 143-13  by Maley’s squads since Bennie became the Pointers’ mentor in 1955.


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2016: Week 14: Top Rated Teams Meet in Finals

Rick : November 30, 2016 1:42 pm : Basketball, Football

The CIF power ratings are holding up fairly well as the final round of San Diego Section play takes place Friday and Saturday at Southwestern College.

The two highest power rated clubs will meet in the Open Division and in D-1 and D-3.

Winning teams will progress to a variety of divisions in a Southern California round of 4, with the ultimate winners meeting teams from Northern California in the state championship.


No. 1 Cathedral (12-0) versus No. 2 Helix (10-2) Saturday at 7 p.m.

Cathedral overcame a 21-7, Helix halftime lead to defeat the Highlanders, 35-28, in Week 4.

Helix eliminated the Dons in the semifinals in 2014 and 2015.

Cathedral is making its eighth championship appearance since  2006 and Helix its 11th since 1999.

Are the Dons as good as the Tyler Gaffney-led squad that was 14-0 and the state D-III champion in 2008?

As we see it:  Cathedral 34, Helix 21.


No. 2 St. Augustine (10-2)  versus No. 1 and 10-2 Madison Friday at 7 p.m. more »

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2016: Kennedy, Galindo, Cunningham Pass

Rick : November 28, 2016 2:15 pm : Football

First athletes and then coaches, each experience leaving a lifetime of memories.


The San Diego State graduate was  head baseball coach at Chula Vista from 1957-82, his teams winning six Metropolitan League titles, earning 19 playoff appearances, and compiling an overall record of 329-266.

Kennedy also was a championship softball player, almost to the end, participating all the way to age 89 and along the way teaming with several other locals of his generation to win 10  national association “World Series.”

Kennedy hit a three-run home run on his last time at bat.

You could look it up, as Casey Stengel would say.

Bobby, who passed days before his 94th birthday, grew up in the San Bernardino area and played two seasons in the Philadelphia Athletics’ system.

Kennedy’s San Diego State jersey No. 12 was retired.  He also was a basketball game official for 25 years and president of the local association.

Kennedy was one of a group of coaches and ex-players, mostly from baseball who met for coffee each week for years  at the Lake Murray Café.  Bobby remained active up the end, attending the annual Coaching Legends event at the Scottish Rite Temple in October.

Pitcher Ron (Flame) Tompkins, a member of the Kennedy’s 1962 squad, toiled for the Kansas City Royals in 1965 and California Angels in 1971.


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2016 Week 13: Ratings Show Some Power

Rick : November 21, 2016 2:28 pm : Football

Power ratings honcho John LaBeta can look at the semifinals pairings in this week’s San Diego Section playoffs and feel pretty good, if not vindicated, about the controversial seedings process.

History has not recorded a season in which all teams and coaches involved were happy with the results, be they computer generated or by the human eye test.

But LaBeta and his I-pad have been right on 86 per cent of the selections this far into the postseason.

Of the 22 clubs still alive in Divisions Open and I-V, 19 represent seeds 1 through 4.

The top four will compete in the semifinals in D-I and D-3.  Horizon (4) and Tri-City Christian (3) will play for the D-V title this week.

Bonita Vista (11) crashed the party with a 5-7 record in D-II. Mission Hills (5) and La Jolla Country Day (5) are still in the mix in the Open and D-IV, respectively.

Upsets Friday night could paint a different picture going into next week’s finals, but the power ratings have gained some credibility, even if those 5 and 11 seeds should create some shock waves.


Ron Hamamoto of Monte Vista and Rob Gilster of Valley Center are among nine who have won at least 200 games as coaches of San Diego County teams.  Both will be on the sidelines this week.

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1918: Global Health Crisis Hits Home

Rick : November 10, 2016 12:59 pm : Football

A sneeze at a military facility near Junction City, Kansas, turned into a cold that led to a fever that led to a death that led to a global pandemic.

The so-called “Spanish Flu”, which is said to have first struck World War I soldiers processing in and out of Camp Funston on the Fort Riley army reservation in March, reached almost every corner of the earth.

Including the growing city on the California-Mexico border.

San Diego and the surrounding communities didn’t feel the virus’ effect for months. Not until September, after school opened and football practice started.

Student Army Training Corps cadets took precautions at San Diego High.

Student Army Training Corps cadets took precautions at San Diego High.

Four months later, when the bug finally was arrested, the flu had hit with force: A reported 5,040 cases and 366 deaths locally, according to an article by Peter Rowe of The San Diego Union in 2009.

The number of documented illnesses represented about 7 per cent of the city’s approximately 75,000 citizens.  Taken today, 7 per cent would be almost 100,000 of San Diego’s 1.3 million inhabitants.

Probably 100 million persons around the world were incapacitated or died.  The death toll has been variously estimated at from 50 to 70 million, the latter figure at least 3 per cent of the earth’s 1.8 billion population.


School began on August 26 at San Diego High and new coach Clint Evans, fresh from Pomona High, was in a quandary.

Evans was unsure about which veteran players from the 1917 squad would be returning to school, as some had “left for the colors,” with others expected to follow.

The 1918 schedule had not been formulated.  No team manager had been hired, as Gustave Harding, appointed last year, had left for the military.

Evans planned to book one or two northern squads and fill the rest of the schedule with service teams, of which there were many in the area.

The coach hoped to start practice on Aug. 28, but there would be no practice until an arrangement was made with the Balboa Park board to use the City Stadium field.

Seventy-five candidates turned out for the first practice, held on the girls’ indoor baseball field.


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2016 Week 12: Not All Happy With Playoff Picture

Rick : November 7, 2016 3:38 pm : Football

The sportswriters and broadcasters and CIF power ratings maven John LaBeta have spoken and there is some agreement.

Cathedral, Rancho Bernardo, and Helix, 1-2-3 in The San Diego Union final regular-season poll, are the top three seeds in the Open Division playoffs, which begin Nov. 18 with quarterfinals play.

But there were some surprises and shock waves in other divisions, with teams having higher  finishes and better won-loss records being left out (see 2016 scores in the Football drop down menu).

LaBeta is unique.

He is  one of the 27 persons on the panel that vote each week to determine the Union top 10 and he’s also the guy who  coordinates the power ratings, which eventually determine who gets into the playoffs, in which division, and with which seeding.

How does LaBeta’s vote in the Union‘s poll compare with the power ratings, which essentially are determined by Labeta’s informational input in a computer generated system that compares what teams do over a season against what their scheduled opponents do?

No answer there.  LaBeta wasn’t able to participate in the vote this week.

He was  busy aligning the 68 teams in the five postseason divisions plus the eight-man tournament and probably fielding questions (and complaints) about the power ratings.

Many in the media and some of the coaches did not understand why St. Augustine and Madison, powerful Western League clubs with 8-2 records, did not make the Open Division.

Maybe the Saints and Warhawks will be better served as Division I participants.

Rancho Bernardo was a twice-beaten and not particularly well-regarded team in 2015. The Broncos were slotted in Division I and won out, going 13-2, and claiming a state championship.

An overall winner will be named in a  final Union poll that will be conducted at the end of the season.  Cathedral remains No. 7 in Cal-Hi Sports‘ state top 25.  Helix moved from 16th to 14th and Rancho Bernardo is 25th.  Madison is on the bubble.

First-place votes in parenthesis.

Points on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. more »

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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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