Football Blog

2014: Coaching Legend Walt Harvey, 95

Rick : February 10, 2014 4:46 pm : Football

Walt Harvey, whose firm and folksy touch resonated with generations of San Diego-area athletes and future coaches, passed away Feb. 7 at age 95.

A memorial will be held at noon Saturday, Feb. 22, at La Vida Real, where Harvey resided the last several years.

La Vida Real is located at 11588 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon Ca., 92019.

Samuel Walter Harvey was born in San Diego and attended John Adams elementary, Wilson Junior High, and graduated from Hoover in 1936.

Harvey, third from left in top row, was memb er of Hoover's outstanding team in 1935.

Harvey, third from left in top row, next to Roy Engle, was member of Hoover’s outstanding team in 1935.

“He never forgot a name, a face, or a particular play in a game,” said Tom Whelan, quarterback of Crawford’s 1961 championship team .  “He was amazing.  Even when he developed health issues we got to see him and it was a special time.”

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1916-2013: Did Hilltoppers forfeit to Drillers?

Rick : February 8, 2014 3:29 pm : Football

It was a moot point for 97 years.

But when Bakersfield defeated Loomis Del Oro, 56-26, in the State Division I championship in 2013 an old dispute surfaced.

Officially the title was Bakersfield’s seventh, along with years of 1920, ’21, ’22, ’23, ’25, and ’27. State championships were not played from 1928-2005.

Bakersfield historians claim the win over Del Oro was the Drillers’ eighth championship, because San Diego High refused to play then-named Kern County Union in 1916.

But did the Hilltoppers’ default, or worse, forfeit?

San Diego coach Clarence (Nibs) Price apparently never agreed to or intended to play the unscheduled game.

Twelve games were enough for Price.

Twelve games were enough for Price.

Student manager Ralph Noisat is reported to have offered Bakersfield a $300 guarantee days before the Southern California final against Los Angeles Manual Arts.

Noisat, probably acting at the behest of the school’s executive committee, apparently issued a challenge, the Hilltoppers to meet Kern County Union in San Diego on New Year’s Day.

Price said no, not now. He would think about it and decide after the Southern California championship game.

Hours after the 9-0 win over Manual Arts Price said his team was “fatigued” and that the Hilltoppers would call it a day, their season complete.

The coach made plans to take advantage of the school Christmas vacation and headed for Catalina. Many players visited friends or relatives in the Los Angeles area before eventually making their way back home.

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1916: San Diego Hilltoppers Are National Champions

Rick : February 7, 2014 5:52 pm : Football

Follow the 12-0 San Diego High team, which won the Southern California title and was declared No. 1 in the U.S. by the National Sports News Service, as covered by Jack Darroch, “beat writer” for The San Diego Union.

Darroch’s view took in the inner workings of the country’s outstanding high school program and was witness to some surprising (in 21st century football dynamics) and interesting intramural politics that were part of the Hilltoppers’ memorable season.

Darroch saw it all and wrote about most of it.

Virtually forgotten but noted here were the  five other  football-playing squads in the County: Escondido, National City (Sweetwater), Coronado, Army-Navy, and the  San Diego High reserves, known as the “Seconds.”

Fallbrook, Ramona, and Julian did not field teams.

Aug. 28—On the first day of school and of practice (San Diego High opened two to three weeks ahead of other highs in Southern California) Hilltoppers coach Clarence (Nibs) Price revealed that he would “probably play in the style used by Harvard University” in 1915.

“Harvard’s offense began with the kicking formation, which forced the defense to draw back in preparation for the kick and that opened possibilities for the end run or forward pass,” Darroch wrote.

The 26-year-old Price built a winner at San Diego and went with the Harvard offense.

Price utilized Harvard offense.

Price finished the initial workout by sending the team on a short run around the City Stadium field and then through a session of “falling on the ball”.  The runways and landing pits for track and field were full of sawdust and useful for this exercise.

The team will be much lighter than last year, but faster, said manager Ralph Noisat, a student at the school.

Sept. 4—Awaiting purchase of a tackling dummy, Price planned to work the team in “signal practice, calling of the plays, and falling on the ball.”

Sept. 5—With graduates helping, five coaches were assisting Price.

Manager Noisat was awaiting approval by the school executive committee to purchase a blocking dummy and bucking machine.

Sept. 6—Additional candidates brought the number at practice to 48.  Perhaps the increase in numbers was due to a rally in the auditorium yesterday.

Sept. 7—Coronado’s Ed Suggett averaged about 35 yards a carry in an intrasquad scrimmage at the Coronado Polo Grounds, home field for the Islanders.

“The boys are showing more enthusiasm than in former years, “said captain and kicker Albert (Dabs) Madden, who predicted the Islanders would field a “crack team.”

San Diego was attempting to sign rival Santa Ana for a Thanksgiving Day game, but the Saints said they wouldn’t come unless they received a percentage of the gate receipts, plus a guarantee.

Sept. 9—The executive committee turned down an offer from East High in Salt Lake City.  The Utah school wanted San Diego to foot all travel expenses.

Turnout at San Diego jumped to 68 boys, with others turned away because of lack of uniforms.  No more than 38 had reported in 1915.

Sept. 12—Lincoln High of Portland proposed a Thanksgiving Day game in San Diego but projected expenses of $800 made the game unlikely.

Manager Ralph Noisat reported that he worked all weekend constructing a bucking machine and installed a rubdown table in the gym.

Sept. 13—Finally, a game.  Los Angeles Manual Arts agreed to a $50 guarantee and 10 per cent of the gate receipts to play  in the new City Stadium.

Admission was set at 10 cents and a game with Coronado also was scheduled.

Sept. 20—William Buck sustained a broken nose in an intrasquad scrimmage.

The executive committee allowed yell leader Bert Picketts $4 to purchase a blue and white sweater so he would be “all dolled up” for the opening game with Coronado.

Sept. 21—A game with the USC freshman was scheduled.  The Hilltoppers covered travel expenses but would keep  gate receipts.

Sept. 22–San Diego High spent today on ”blackboard practice”, following a tough Thursday practice that was its last before the Coronado game.

Discontent was reported to be “rampant” on campus.

A game with Santa Ana was agreed to without the consent of coach Price. It was not until two days after  final arrangements were made that Price was informed of the game and then only indirectly.

Santa Ana played only for expenses in 1915.  “Weaker” thus year, the Saints wrangled a 20 per cent take of the gate, a sum of about $300.

When the 1916 game was proposed it was accepted by the executive committee with one dissenting vote.

End Brick Muller, a sophomore student representative on the committee, was among those who voted for the game.

Football star Bryan (Pesky) Sprott was elected captain of the swimming team.  Sprott also played basketball and would be the player-manager of the baseball team.

Sept. 23—San Diego’s starting lineup averaged 153 pounds to Coronado’s 142, but the Hilltoppers were without Brick Muller who injured his nose in practice.

Coronado advanced to San Diego’s 1 and 4-yard lines but couldn’t score as the Hilltoppers won, 19-0, in the City Stadium.

Sept. 25—Officials from the County Conference met to discuss a constitution and set up a schedule.  Teams were Army-Navy, National City, Coronado, Escondido, and the San Diego “Seconds”.

Most of the essential players posed for photo on steps leading to a campus building. Coach Price is rear, left. Sprott is third from right in front row.

Most of the essential players posed for photo on steps leading to a campus building, with four others in the insets. Coach Price is rear, left. Sprott is third from right in front row.

Sept. 29—Price gave each player a rule book and said he would  periodically quiz them on the different rules and plays.

Every play to be used tomorrow against Manual Arts will be diagrammed on the blackboard this afternoon.

Word from Los Angeles was that Manual Arts players had not been attending class, but were “living” at school and taking all of their meals there.

The Toilers toiled from 6 to 8 each morning and from 4-6 in the afternoon.

The executive committee  voted $15 for Noisat and Price to tour northern schools in  an attempt to schedule more games.

Sept. 30—A squad of 17 Manual Arts players arrived and were met by a delegation of Hilltoppers rooters.

Price put his players through a “mental drill and worked out every play in theory.”

Oct. 1–San Diego scored a 6-3 victory over the team from Los Angeles.

Oct. 3—Price announced he would work more with the Seconds team in preparation for its County Conference opener with Coronado and called off practice because of rain.

Noisat traveled North by “machine” with Frank Rudolph, manager of the Los Angeles High team.  Rudolph had visited the Hilltop in hopes of finalizing a game contract.

The Hilltoppers turned down a game with the University of Redlands since they had scheduled the USC Frosh.

The “Midgets” team  played to a scoreless tie with a squad from University Heights playground.

Oct. 6—Noisat signed a two-year, home-and-home contract with Long Beach. A  game at Pasadena also would be scheduled if the Bullpups would provide a minimum guarantee.

Oct. 7—County Conference play began with Coronado beating the Seconds, 27-0, and Escondido topping National City, 6-0, on Barr’s eight-yard run.

Oct. 9—Price kept the team practicing until darkness in preparation for the recently signed Orange squad, reputed to be the largest in Southern California and averaging 164 pounds.

Elmer Weitekamp and Werner Shurr, members of the Seconds, were promoted to the varsity, meaning they no longer could play in County Conference games.

Bob Frick, back in school, was declared academically ineligible by the faculty and would miss at least two weeks.

Oct. 10–Noisat wired $90 to Orange for expenses.  The Panthers were to arrive Friday evening.

Officers of the junior class announced that a Saturday postgame dance would be held in honor of the visitors.

Oct. 12—The Hilltoppers scrimmaged a team representing the Mission Hills community.

Oct. 13–A ticket, in the color of and shaped like an orange, was produced by the graphic arts department and was used for admission.

Walter (Dutch) Eells scored touchdown in championship game against Manual Arts.

Walter (Dutch) Eels scored touchdown in championship game against Manual Arts.

San Diego students did the traditional pregame, serpentine dance down city streets before arriving back at campus.

Noisat was allowed to spend $6 to replace the worn and  recently purchased tackling dummy.

Oct. 14—The question was, how good are the Hilltoppers, now 3-0 after an 84-6 rout of Orange?

Pesky Sprott scored 5 of the 13 touchdowns.  Bill Garber scored a touchdown and drop-kicked a field goal.

Oct. 17—A final account showed that San Diego barely made expenses for the Orange contest.  An estimated crowd of only 300 was on hand, including just 4 of the 96-member faculty.

A turnout of at least 580 persons was necessary for the school to cover the expected $145 in travel and advertising expense for the game with the USC Frosh.

Hilltoppers principal Arthur Gould switched the USC contest from Saturday to Friday so that many students, who claimed to having to work on Saturday, could attend the game.

Oct. 21—The Hilltoppers were outweighed, 170 pounds to 155 per man, but defeated the first-year collegians, 10-7, as Lincoln (Abe) Frick scored their only touchdown with a 24-yard pass interception return.

Coronado smashed Army-Navy, 87-0, before a “hilarious crowd that capered along the sidelines” at the Polo Grounds.

Ed Suggett scored 7 touchdowns.

Oct. 23–Frick was officially declared ineligible for the season.  Frick had given “insufficient statements” as to why he previously dropped out of school.

Oct. 24—Coronado coach George Perry was looking for a new quarterback.  His starter, Lyons, quit school yesterday to go to work in a local bank.

Oct. 28—Principal  Gould heard that many students were preparing to “ditch” school and take a special railroad car to Pasadena on Nov. 3.

Gould declared that any student going to the game would be required to remain in school after hours and double the time lost.

The principal then  switched gears after receiving permission from his Pasadena counterpart to play the game a day later on Saturday.

Some students reportedly “pouted” and were upset that Gould didn’t “consult” student manager Noisat about a change in the game’s date.

Oct. 28—San Diego Junior College, also coached by Price and located on the high school campus, defeated Fullerton JC, 7-6, in the first intercollegiate game ever played in San Diego.

Backup halfback Preston Perrenot, who also wrote about the team in the San Diego Sun, scored Hilltoppers touchdown against Whittier State School.

Preston Perrenot (left), who also wrote about the team in the San Diego Sun, scored a touchdown against Whittier.

On the same day San Diego High whipped Fullerton, 40-0, before an announced attendance of 800.

Bryan (Pesky) Sprott returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown for the Hilltoppers, who lost Karl Deeds during the game.

Deeds and Fullerton’s Johnson were ejected, Deeds for holding Johnson and Johnson  for punching Deeds.

Oct. 31—Two “female members” of the faculty voted against the eligibility of Jackson Draine, who transferred from a school in Chicago and had to repeat a class at San Diego.

Students repeating classes were not to receive credit, but school administrators determined that San Diego High came under a rule affecting all  California schools.

The rule was that a student had to pass only nine units of credit to play.

Nov. 3–Seventeen players, coach Price, manager Noisat, a writer from each of San Diego’s three daily newspapers, and a group of boosters rode on the “High School Special” to Pasadena.

Price entertained, playing ragtime tunes on his ukelele.

Passing through Oceanside the squad led out a yell for Les Gould, a “seaside Hilltop booster”, who waved as the train went by.

The train stopped in Santa Ana and team members awakened the city with a war whoop. The travelers then made their way to an overnight stop in Los Angeles.

Nov. 4—The Hilltoppers rolled past Pasadena, considered the strongest team in Southern California, 26-0, as Karl Deeds set the victory in motion with a 55-yard touchdown return of an intercepted pass.

Price’s team now was 6-0 and had outscored its opponents, 185-16.

Coronado  followed up its rout of Army-Navy with a 74-0 victory over National City. Ed Suggett’s scoring totals were not included in the game summary in the city’s three newspapers.

Nov. 11—Attendance was picking up.  About 1,000 were on hand in City Stadium as Sprott scored three touchdowns and Garber and Deeds 2 each in a 62-0 victory over Long Beach.

Nov. 14—Ralph Noisat was ousted as team manager for scholastic deficiencies.  Renwick Thompson, 1915 manager, took over.

Ed Suggett scored 4 touchdowns and ran for five points after in Coronado’s 53-0 win over the 21st Infantry team, which was part of an Army Regiment that protected the borders of California and Arizona and was stationed in San Diego.

Nov. 15—Noisat was reinstated.  Principal Gould cited an error by the committee on eligibility.

Nov. 18—Noisat was part of the game officiating crew, serving as head linesman as San Diego defeated the Whittier State School, 47-10.  State was a correctional facility for boys.

Nov. 28—Plans for the Thanksgiving Day game with Los Angeles Poly included marching in serpentine formation around the stadium and through  city streets, followed by a bonfire.

Students were seen bringing boxes to schools instead of textbooks.

San Diego's Pesky Sprott scores first touchdown in 41-0 victory over L.A. Poly. Players were issued jersey numbers for first time.

Pesky Sprott scored first touchdown in 41-0 victory over L.A. Poly. Players were issued jersey numbers for first time.

Nov. 30—The Hilltoppers’ 41-0 victory over L.A. Poly, before a Thanksgiving Day gathering of almost 6,000 persons at City Stadium guaranteed that Ontario Chaffey would be their opponent in quarterfinals of the Southern California playoffs.

Other quarterfinals matchups paired Manual Arts against Pasadena and Fullerton against Glendora Citrus.  The six teams led their respective “leagues”, which actually were districts based on geography.

Dec. 4—Price announced that the team would scrimmage only once a week through the end of the season.

Dec. 7—Price had a painted, white football for practice and kept the team on the field until “long after the moon rose over the hills.”

The executive committee voted to pay yell leader Bert Pickett’s expenses to Los Angeles for the Chaffey game, which would be played at the neutral Manual Arts field.

If at least 100 students go, Santa Fe Railways agreed to provide a special coach.

Dec. 8—Price installed an 8 p.m. curfew at the well-appointed, two-year-old Clark Hotel, located at 4th and Hill streets in downtown L.A.

San Diego High and Manual Arts players were on Jack Darroch's All-Southern California 11. Clockwise from lower left: Guard Cortis Majors, left halfback Bryan (Pesky) Sprott, right end Brick Muller, and quarterback Karl Deeds of San Diego. Fullback Jim Blewett and left tackle Brockman of Manual Arts.

San Diego High and Manual Arts players were on Otto Frisch’s Spalding Sporting Goods Company All-Southern California 11. Clockwise from lower left: Guard Cortis Majors, left halfback Bryan (Pesky) Sprott, right end Brick Muller, and quarterback Karl Deeds of San Diego. Fullback Jim Blewett and left tackle Brockman of Manual Arts.

“The boys are in fine shape,” said Price.  “They are hard and trained to the minute and have plenty of confidence.”

Dec. 9—Playing what writer Darroch described as its best game of the year, San Diego defeated Chaffey, 21-7, before a crowd generously estimated at 7,000.

Pesky Sprott caught two touchdown passes from Brick Muller and Bill Garber drop-kicked a 44-yard field goal.

Telephone operators at The San Diego Union estimated they received at least, 1,500 calls from fans wanting the game score after the result was received in the Union newsroom at 5 p.m.

Dec. 12—Calexico was offered $200 in expenses, a larger-than-usual sum, to come to San Diego for a semifinals playoff.

Price wanted no part of a game in the Imperial Valley.  San Diego would have to leave two days later for a championship game in Los Angeles. The coach said it took a week to recover from a road game.

Sprott sustained  a sore neck against Chaffey and would not play against the Bulldogs.

Money was taken from the football budget to pay for a Los Angeles physician, who was on duty at the Chaffey game.

Allan Sampson kept Manual Arts off scoreboard.

Allan Sampson kept Manual Arts off scoreboard.

Dec. 15—Calexico was averaging 25 points a game and was undefeated, but had played only four games.

Dec. 16—San Diego “easily outclassed the ‘desert rats,’” Darroch wrote of the 55-0 victory.

The Hilltoppers advanced to play Manual Arts, 47-7 winner over Pasadena and 52-0 conqueror of Fullerton,  in a Wednesday championship game at Washington Park, home of the baseball Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

Dec. 18—Sprott, idled about 10 days with a sore neck, retired for the day after an end run in practice, coming down with a bruised foot.

Manual Arts’ star player, Jim Blewett, was slowed by what was described as torn ligaments in his knee.

Dec. 19—Twenty-two Hilltoppers arrived on the noon train in Los Angeles and worked out on the turf, Washington Park field.  Sprott may play but would not start, said Price.

Blewett was said to be out of a hospital and would play with a brace on his leg.

Price established a 9 p.m. curfew for the team, which again was quartered at the Clark Hotel.

Local San Diego sportsman Mouney Pfeffercorn wrote an op-ed piece in the Union that was critical of the Hilltoppers’ football administration.

“San Diego already has beaten Manual Arts and should not have to play the game in Los Angeles,” said Pfeffercorn.

“The high school needs a graduate manager trained in different tricks of arranging games and selecting officials, etc.”

In closing, Pfeffercorn seemed to exonerate Ralph Noisat.

“Unfortunately, they had too many managers (on) the ‘High’ grounds this season and had they left Noisat alone he would have done his best to come out ahead of the game.”

Manual Arts quarterback Harold Galloway looks for receiver as San Diego defenders battle it out with Manual Arts in championship game.

Quarterback Harold Galloway looks for receiver as San Diego defenders battle  Manual Arts in championship game.

Dec. 20—Sprott did not make an appearance until the third quarter, with the score deadlocked at 0-0.

When Sprott took the field “the band of rooters (approximately 300 made the trip) accompanying the team from the Southern City let forth a battle yell,” wrote Darroch. “The din could have been heard from La Jolla to Dulzura.”

Sprott’s arrival “acted like an electric charge on the tired San Diego players,” wrote Howard Angus of the Los Angeles Times.

Sprott gained 23 yards in six carries, positioning Garber’s 25-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead after a drive that started at Manual’s 37-yard line.

Walter (Dutch) Eels’ 36-yard run in the fourth quarter sealed the Hilltoppers’ 9-0 victory before about 5,000 persons.

Sprott played enough to gain 53 yards in 12 carries.

Blewett was 3-for-3 for 26 yards passing, which gave the Toilers a first down on the Hilltoppers’ 13, where a field goal attempt was blocked on fourth down in the first quarter by San Diego’s Allan Sampson.

Blewett took a shot in the second quarter and did not reenter the game until the fourth quarter and, after a sack of six yards, was carried off the field.

Price nixed Noisat’s challenge to Kern County Union (Bakersfield) to play a state championship game on New Year’s Day and the Hilltoppers returned home and turned in their uniforms.



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2009: They Became Booming Sooners

Rick : January 19, 2014 1:04 pm : Football

The University of Oklahoma was quick to notice that Randall, Baxter, and Seale weren’t the only San Diego Section football stars with exclamation points next to their names.

Running back Brennan Clay (Scripps Ranch), wide receiver Kenny Stills, Jr. (La Costa Canyon), and free safety Tony Jefferson (Eastlake) all took their diplomas and moved to where the wind comes rolling down the plains.

With apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein and their musical creation, “Oklahoma!”

Each San Diegan was  a productive Sooner for coach Bob Stoops, whose teams don’t always recruit players west of the Rio Grande River.

Clay  is eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.  Stills was selected in the fifth round and was the 144th taken in the 2013.  Jefferson surprisingly was undrafted but signed with Arizona.


Clay loomed large at Scripps Ranch.

Brennan loomed large at Scripps Ranch.

Rushed for 2,026 yards and scored 27 touchdowns in 13 games as senior after catching 70 passes, rushing for 1,453 yards, and scoring 20 touchdowns as  junior…led Sooners with 957 rushing yards and a 5.5-yard rushing average and scored 6 touchdowns in 2013…caught 16 passes…gained 44 yards in 17 carries and shook off tacklers that earned critical first down which led to  fourth-quarter touchdown in Oklahoma’s 45-31 upset  victory over Alabama in 2014 Sugar Bowl…a later, 12-yard run   forced Alabama into early use of  its timeouts….


Eastlake opponents faced Jefferson's stern countenance.

Eastlake opponents faced Tony’s stern countenance.

Fierce, two-way player…led Eastlake to 2009 D-1 championship with 88 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, two fumbles forced, and recovered two fumbles…averaged 8.9 yards for 223 attempts and rushed for 1,995 yards and 27 touchdowns as senior…projected as middle-round draft choice in 2013 but was bypassed and signed as rookie free agent with Arizona Cardinals…earned roster spot after intercepting two passes and making five tackles in second preseason game against Dallas…got into all 16 games  and started two at free safety…made 19 total tackles…entered NFL draft after junior season….


Kenny Stills, Jr., kicks it with his dad, Kenny, Sr.

Kenny Stills, Jr., kicks it with his dad, Kenny, Sr.

Caught 45 passes for 914 yards and 20.3 average and scored 10 touchdowns in last season for La Costa Canyon Mavericks… had 204 pass receptions for 12.7-yard average and scored 24 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons…made himself available for NFL draft after 2012 campaign…caught 32 passes for 20-yard average and 5 touchdowns in rookie season with Saints…son of Kenny Stills, Sr., who played at El Camino High and University of Wisconsin, was eighth-round draft choice of Green Bay in 1985,  stayed 6 seasons in NFL and got into 77 games for Packers and Minnesota Vikings as defensive back….

A fourth San Diego player was Mira Mesa running back Damien Williams, who was recruited by the Sooners out of Arizona Western Junior College in Yuma.  Williams left the team in 2013 after the ninth game.

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2009: No Neon in This Deon

Rick : January 18, 2014 11:00 am : Football

Deon Randall, his jersey in tatters and his high school career at an end, walked off the Carson Home Depot Field.

“It’s a great parallel,” Randall said, “a great analogy, a great symbol to how the game went…it was a rough game.”

Randall did it all at Francis Parker...

Randall did it all for Francis Parker…

Randall was a warrior in the State Small Schools Bowl.  He rushed for 276 yards in 36 carries and scored three touchdowns, but Modesto Central Catholic hung on for a 44-40 victory


The Francis Parker quarterback pointed to the middle of his jersey (“It was my call”) when asked about the play that brought an end to Parker’s season.

Randall said it was his decision to check from a run to a pass on fourth down with 1:43 left in the game and Parker on the Crusaders’ two-yard line.

The receiver, Dalante Dunklin, caught the pass, but was smothered at the five-yard line.  Game over.

So was Randall’s brilliant career at the little school on Linda Vista Road.

Writer Steve Brand sought out Parker coach John Morrison.

“I would never second-guess him,” said Morrison of his signal caller, who scored 70 touchdowns in his final two seasons.

“I wanted him to make those decisions,” the coach added.  “If that’s what he decided, it was the right call.  He’s not just a great athlete but he’s very smart—heady.  I’d never question his call, never.”


A year before Randall scored 40 touchdowns and rushed and passed for more than 3,000 yards in a 12-1 season.

It wasn’t enough.

Parker was bypassed for the State Bowl Series when Capistrano St. Margaret, undefeated at 13-0 and riding a 42-game winning streak, was selected.

Parker had averaged 52 points a game and was convinced it could beat any Division V team.


To get to a state bowl game this season  the Lancers would have to defeat St. Margaret, either in the eyes of the selectors or in head-to-head competition.

Parker and St. Margaret agreed to play the second week of the season in a quaint stadium with an all-weather field and a view of the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

The game wasn’t that close.  Parker opened a 28-13 lead and won convincingly, 28-20.  Randall raced 86 yards for one touchdown and passed 29 yards to Roland Jackson for another.

“I thought we did a great job on Randall except for two or three plays, but great players make you pay on those plays,” said Tartans coach Harry Welch.

....and Randall is a standout at Yale.

…and caught 85 passes and averaged 5.3 yards per rush for Yale Bulldogs in 2013.

Randall took his  football  East to Yale  and was a star in 2013.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver with 85 catches for a 9.3 average and 8 touchdowns, and  scored three rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards for 33 attempts.

A greater achievement for Randall came during the team’s season-ending awards dinner. He was named captain of the 2014 team, the 137th in Yale’s storied history.


Valley Center was 8-0, ranked sixth in the San Diego Section, and awaiting a visit from Oceanside, No. 1 in Southern California among D-1 squads and fourth in the state.

The Jaguars didn’t score until 23.4 seconds remained in the game and could amass only 40 total yards as the Pirates won, 45-0.

Heeding coach John Carroll’s command to “read the keys and get off to a fast start,” Noah Tarrant returned an intercepted  pass  for a touchdown on Valley Center’s third play and raced  12 yards with a botched punt for another touchdown in the first quarter.

The Pirates led, 24-0, after 12 minutes.

Noah Tarrant scores touchdown for Oceanside in State Championship game against San  Jose Bellarmine Prep.

Noah Tarrant scores touchdown for Oceanside in State Championship game against San Jose Bellarmine Prep.


Oceanside never looked back.

Coach John Carroll’s Pirates rolled past Ramona, 52-6, the following week, a season after the Bulldogs “upset” the Pirates in a 33-33 tie.

Helix was a 26-10 victim in the San Diego Section II championship and Oceanside overcame a 13-3, second-quarter deficit at Carson to defeat San Jose Bellarmine Prep, 24-19, in the State D-I title game, ending the season with 17 consecutive victories, unbeaten in 39 games, and ranked third in the state with a 14-0 record by Cal-Hi Sports.

“Other Oceanside teams may equal this (two championships in three years), but no one will ever beat it,” said Carroll.


Reggie Bush had his San Diego hometown area code 619 penciled onto the eye black he affected at USC.

Escondido’s Ricky Seale also wore taped eye black, honoring “Aunt Jackie”, according to Don Norcross of The San Diego Union. “Aunt” was on one eyeblack, “Jackie” on the other.

Aunt Jackie was Ricky’s father’s sister, who died in 2008.

Seale honored his late aunt.

Seale honored his late aunt.


“After a Pop Warner game she told me, ‘I can’t wait to see you play in the big time,’” Ricky remembered.  “Yet she was the type of person, she knew when I wasn’t trying the hardest and she told me.”

That wasn’t very often. The son of Sammy Seale, a 10-year NFL player (4 with the Chargers), who became an NFL college scout, Ricky went on to set the San Diego Section career rushing record, although finishing his prep career on crutches.

Seale injured his left knee in the second quarter after gaining 55 yards in 13 carries in a 35-14, semifinal playoff loss to Eastlake.

Seale had 6,690 career rushing yards and was the only San Diego Section athlete to surpass 6,000 yards. He moved on to play at Stanford University.


On the night Ricky Seale rushed for 404 yards against San Pasqual, Kenneth James, Jr., of Mt. Carmel rushed for 424 against Westview, breaking the record of 410 by Escondido’s Darrick Jackson in 2003.


Dillon Baxter made a promise as a ninth grader when he joined the Mission Bay varsity.

“I told him I’d get him a ring,” Baxter said before he gave coach Willie Matson a hug.

Baxter fulfilled his promise by almost single handedly knocking out Valley Center in the Buccaneers’ D-IV championship, 48-17 victory.

Baxter delivered on promise to his coach.

Baxter delivered on promise to his coach.

The 6-foot, 205-pounder rushed for 384 yards in 26 carries and scored seven touchdowns.  Along the way Baxter erased Tyler Gaffney’s year-old season rushing record and tied the Section record with 7 touchdowns.

Baxter’s touchdowns were on runs of 6, 21, 9, 92, 87, 1, and 46 yards.

Baxter finished with 2,974 rushing yards in 13 games.  Gaffney had 2,866 in 14.  Baxter came close with 52 season touchdowns but Gaffney held on to the record, having scored 56 in 2008.

The Mission Bay quarterback set a state record with 76 rushing and passing touchdowns, burying the record of 64 by Ventura St. Bonaventure’s Tyler Ebell in 2000. Baxter’s 919 career points and 481 points this season also set state records.

A brilliant career start was short circuited in Baxter’s second year at USC and was followed by a brief stint at San Diego State. He finished his collegiate career in 2013 at NAIA Baker University in Kansas.


Ray Herring’s response to a question from writer Steve Brand on why Herring continued to run so hard after he broke into the clear on a 91-yard interception return:

“I saw a shadow and thought someone was after me, but it was my own shadow.”

Herring also teamed with quarterback Dillon Baxter as Mission Bay ran past Point Loma, 49-27.

Baxter accounted for his almost usual 300 yards in total offense, but Herring shared the spotlight with four catches of Baxter passes for 132 yards, including touchdowns of 59 and 51 yards, and intercepted two passes.


Writer Don Norcross’ game account captured the moment and the tapestry of the annual Imperial County “Bell Game” between El Centro Central and Brawley.

The 9-1 Central Spartans won, 23-18, and now trail Brawley (7-3), 41-24-1 since the Bell was first rung in 1944.

Bell tolls for El Centro's Silvia Soriano (left) and Elena Williams.

Bell tolls for El Centro’s Silvia Soriano (left) and Elena Williams.

However, the rivalry goes back to 1921, and until 2004, the Spartans and Wildcats teed it up for desert bragging rights twice a year.

Norcross pointed out that fans began lining up outside Cal Jones Field in El Centro at 2:30 p.m.

By 5:30 a crowd of 6,000 had filled  the stands and the fire marshal warned that the game wouldn’t start until the aisles were cleared.

Booster Club sales at El Centro normally grossed about $2,500, but upwards of $10,000 worth of merchandise is realized on this night.


A total of 450 “Bell Game” T-shirts, at $12 apiece, was sold to students and the boosters used the $4,600 profit to buy “Bell Game” black jerseys for the Spartans.

El Centro players didn’t see the jerseys until they returned to their locker room after warmups.


Members of the San Diego County Officials’ Association worked the Bell game, instead of representatives from the Imperial County association.

San Diego official Jacob Whittler explained that a perceived bad call could result in recriminations for a local official making the call.

Aggrieved fans could boycott the official’s business and “they’d know where his house is,” said the San Diego arbiter.


A  minute remained in the first half of the Castle Park-Chula Vista season opener when the stadium public address reminded students that progress reports would be coming the following Tuesday.

The announcer was drowned out by a chorus of boos.

“Who invited this guy to the party?” wondered writer Kirk Kenney.

It was a party for Chula Vista, which routed its neighborhood rival, 41-10.


Arsenic is believed to have been around since the Bronze Age, but it was 2,500 years later when discovered at Carlsbad High.

Mode of transportation in background, Carlsbad's Connor Sodano stretches after Lancers arrived at Westview.

Mode of transportation in background, Carlsbad’s Connor Sodano stretches after Lancers arrived at Westview.

The school was being renovated in 2008 and excess levels of the poison element were discovered in a routine soil check.

Swede Krcmar Field, named after the original Lancers coach, was condemned.

The team was forced to play all games in ’08 and ’09 away from its campus, with home designations at La Costa Canyon in ’08 and El Camino and Oceanside this year.

Carlsbad was 7-6 in 2008 and 3-8 this season.

The Lancers’ theme song might have been the 1961 Ray Charles  favorite, “Hit the Road, Jack”.


When St. Augustine coach Richard Sanchez heard that Carlsbad had played away from home for 22 consecutive weeks, Sanchez remarked, “Twenty-two games? We haven’t had a home game since 1922.”

The Saints’ 7 ½-acre site in North Park has no football field.  Their “home” games usually are at Mesa College, Southwestern College, or Balboa Stadium.

4.1 MILES & 47 YEARS

That was the distance and that was how long neighboring schools Morse and Mount Miguel had waited to play a regular-season game.

Referee Mike Parsa flips coin with historic implication at Morse-Mount Miguel game.

Referee Mike Parsa flips coin with historic implication at Morse-Mount Miguel game.

It was an eight-minute drive from Morse’s Skyline Drive campus to Jamacha Road to Blossom Road, site of the Mount Miguel facility in Spring Valley.

But the teams met only once, in the 1987 playoffs, after Morse opened in 1962.

The Tigers played 500 regular-season games before they visited Mount Miguel in the opening game of the 2009 season.

No specific reason could be offered as to why the teams had not met.

The stars apparently never were aligned.

Mount Miguel is a County school and Morse is in the city.  The schools had other rivalries. Schedules conflicted.

A game was to be played at Mount Miguel in 2003 but canceled and forfeited by Morse when a school official was warned that undesirables would be present with weapons.

Mount Miguel dedicated its new turf field with a 35-14 victory.


Mount Miguel didn’t stop there.  The Matadors defeated Helix for the first time since 1987, giving the rivalry spoils, a Scottish Claymore sword, a new address after the 44-21 win.


…that teams play to an 11-7 final score.  When Fallbrook won at El Camino by that score it was only the third time in San Diego County history that a contest ended with that point total.

Madison defeated the host Hoover Cardinals in 1995 and Point Loma won at Fallbrook in 2007.


Quote Cathedral’s 6-foot-5, 307-pound Alex Crosthwaite, headed for California-Berkeley:  “I just want to kick someone’s (behind).  If I don’t pancake the guy I’m blocking, it’s not a complete block for me.”


Writer Don Norcross enjoyed the announcements by Scripps Ranch’s public address announcer Will Bailey, an English teacher at the school:

“Keep the car in neutral, grandma.  There’s flags on the field.”

“Break out your caliper, your abacus, your slide rule, and your yardstick.  Time for a measurement.”


Oceanside  scored a rare San Diego Section victory when the Pirates knocked off Long Beach Poly, 14-7.  The Jackrabbits fell to 1-3, having also lost to No. 2 Ventura St. Bonaventure and No. 4 Anaheim Servite.

La Costa Canyon, No. 2 in San Diego, defeated Rancho Santa Margarita, 28-14,  and Vista, No. 4, was hammered by Mission Viejo, 41-17, in other  matchup’s with Southern Section powers.


Mar Vista had not beaten Castle Park since 1988 and, after dropping the Trojans from its schedule from 1994-2000, the Mariners began a decade in which the average score was 43-7 in Castle Park’s favor.

Enter Danny Salazar.  The Mariners’ senior kicker booted field goals of 46, 42, and 35 yards as Mar Vista lashed back at its South Bay neighbor, winning, 23-0.

Another long wait was over at Valhalla, which claimed the Grossmont South championship. The 14-7 victory over Steele Canyon was the Norsemen’s first league title in the school’s 35 years.

Valhalla held on for the win after a game official ruled “no catch”, nullifying a 35-yard passing gain which would have put the Cougars on the Norsemen’s 7-yard line with 1:20 remaining.

Valhalla safety Hansell Wilson told Bill Dickens of The San Diego Union that “we both had our hands on the ball, but I was able to strip it loose…the ref made the right call.”

QUICK KICKS—Eastlake  spent part of the day shooting a team picture at Qualcomm Stadium the day of the playoff finals…the Titans defeated Vista, 21-14 for the D-I crown…Clairemont forfeited its opener to La Jolla when 12 players were busted for breaking school rules and the Chieftains didn’t have enough players…Grossmont beat Otay Ranch, 16-14,  on Chance House’s 19-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds remaining, one year after the Foothillers missed a 40-yard field goal on the last play that would have won at Otay Ranch…the West Hills pep band’s timing was curious…it played Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust!”, after the Wolf Pack had just fumbled and lost a second-quarter kickoff and with Valhalla leading, 20-0 on its way to 48-7…West Hills unveiled its new, two-tone, all-weather field but again the timing was not good…Steele Canyon beat the Wolf Pack 48-23, in the inaugural game…Point Loma blocked two field goals and sacked El Capitan quarterbacks nine times in a 9-7 victory.. despite a 10-0 record, Eastlake did not receive a first-round playoff bye in D-IV….Mission Bay (10-0) and Valley Center (9-1), more established programs which played tougher schedules, warranted byes in the opinion of the selection committee…

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2013: San Diego Teams Land 4 in First 25

Rick : January 9, 2014 5:49 pm : Football

No state champions, but there were four San Diego Section teams in Cal-Hi Sports‘ final, overall top 25.  It was a good year.

San Diego tied for second with the Sac-Joaquin Section in number of top 25 squads from the 10 state sections.

Mission Hills (11-2) was 11th,  Oceanside (10-3) 13th.  St. Augustine and Cathedral, each 11-2, were 24th and 25th, respectively.

The vast Southern Section placed six of the first seven teams and 11 of the top 25.  St. John Bosco was 16-0 and number one after a 20-14 victory over No. 2 Concord De La Salle in the  Open Division championship.

De La Salle was the only North Coast Section squad in the top 25.

No. 6 Folsom was the highest of the four from the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Other sections with ranked representatives included the Central Coast (2) and the Central (1) and Los Angeles City (1).  The Northern, San Francisco, and Oakland Sections were blanked.

San Diego teams  in Cal-Hi Sports‘  top four divisions were 11-6 in intersectional games but  1-2 in arguably the season’s three biggest.

Oceanside was beaten 50-39 by Gardena Serra (13-1), which finished No. 4 overall.  Mission Hills lost a state playoff, 35-28, to No. 10 Bakersfield (13-2). Cathedral defeated No. 26 Vista Murrieta (12-2), 35-28.

Cal-Hi Sports‘ state rankings by its traditional format of five divisions:


1–Bellflower St. John Bosco.  10–Oceanside.  11–Eastlake.


1–West Hills Chaminade.  3–Mission Hills.  8–San Pasqual.


1–Newport Beach Corona del Mar.  2–St. Augustine.  3–Cathedral.  11–Mission Bay.  13–Madison.


1–Modesto Central Catholic.  3–Christian.


1–Le Grand.  9–Holtville.


1–Bellflower St. John Bosco.  7–Mission Hills.  9–Oceanside.  10–Eastlake. 13-Cathedral.   14–San Pasqual (10-2).


1–West Hills Chaminade.  4–St. Augustine.  12. Mission Bay (12-2).  14–Madison (9-2). 19–Christian (12-1).


1–Newport Beach Coronado del Mar. 14–Sweetwater.


1–Bakersfield Christian.  (no San Diego Section teams)


Imperial’s Royce Freeman was state medium schools player of the year and Christian coach Mike Ward was state small schools coach of the year.

Freeman, who set a San Diego Section career rushing record with 7,601 yards in four seasons and who rushed for 2,819 yards in 2013, is the fourth San Diego Section medium schools player of the year in the last six.

Others include Madison’s Pierre Cormier, 2012; Mission Bay’s Dillon Baxter, 2009, and Cathedral’s Tyler Gaffney, 2008.  Gaffney and Baxter were overall state players of the year.

Ward, who guided Christian to a  12-1 record and the San Diego Section D-III championship, also was coach of the year in 2011.  A previous winner was Ramona’s Glenn Forsythe, who led the Bulldogs to an 11-0 record and the Southern Section smallest schools championship in 1958.



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1922: Student Gives Newspaper Inside Scoop

Rick : December 30, 2013 9:20 am : Football

San Diego High had an unusual relationship with The San Diego Union.

Student Alan McGrew, who also served in a business position as the “Temporary Football Manager of San Diego High School,” was the de facto Hilltoppers beat writer for the newspaper.

McGrew filed daily reports on the Hilltoppers, the headline sports attraction in the city. He also provided  inside information on coach John Perry’s team along with up-to-date messages on scheduling.

Who the Cavemen were playing and where often was the question of the day, as money guarantees were negotiated and games agreed to on virtually a moment’s notice.

McGrew’s access to the team was apparent on the pages of the Union:

–A player reported to be smoking on a downtown street and who admitted his “guilt” when quizzed before the entire team was suspended by coach John Perry for the opener with Sweetwater and lost half of his letter-earning, game quarters participation.

Youthful Perry laid down the law.

Youthful Perry laid down the law.

–Perry had established an 8 p.m., be-at-home curfew with retirement by not more than an hour later.  The only evening players would be allowed to stay out “late” was after a game, when curfew would be at 10 p.m.

According to McGrew the team voted unanimously to abide by the Perry Rules.  The third-year head man  was 24, not much older than his players.


McGrew’s San Diego High bias also was obvious. The intrepid high school correspondent was one unhappy camper after the Hilltoppers’ 6-3 victory over Sweetwater in the season’s opening game.

Expecting a rout, McGrew was forced to acknowledge a stunningly difficult outing.

“The local players were taken off their feet by the county gang,” wrote McGrew.  “They were dazed, it appeared.”

McGrew continued.  “Possibly some of the players were unstrung, the game being the first of the season, and when they discovered the Sweetwater team had all kinds of  power (they) went to pieces.”

Sweetwater had been 0-3 against the San Diego varsity, losing, 54-6 in 1915, 65-7 in ’20, and 40-0 in ’21.

Fullback Charles Williams drop-kicked a 25-yard field goal to give coach Herb Hoskins’ Red Devils a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Clockwise from left, Hilltoppers' aces Norton Langford, Coney Galindo, Rex Driver, Kenny Zweiner.

Clockwise from left, Hilltoppers’ aces Norton Langford, Coney Galindo, Rex Driver, Kenny Zweiner.

Norton Langford scored to put the Hilltoppers ahead, 6-3, later in the quarter, after which San Diego was stymied by the determined National City squad.

The following week, under a story without byline, the writer hadn’t yet moved on, still unhappy and describing the Sweetwater game as a “catastrophe”.


Sweetwater opened as National City High 1907 and, according to available records, played football in 1910.

For the first 11 years, including the 1913 season when they didn’t field a team, the Red Devils were 10-24-3, according to infrequent newspaper reports.

Hoskins took over in 1919 and was 5-9-2 in his first three seasons, but the Red Devils won the four-team County League with a 5-0-1 record this season and manned up once more in the playoffs against San Diego.

Sweetwater thrived under Hoskins.

Sweetwater thrived under Hoskins.

The Cavemen this time prevailed by a 13-6 score, but Sweetwater had established itself as a credible program.

The Red Devils were 33-16-5 under Hoskins from 1922-27 and made three playoff appearances.


Writer Jess Puryear pointed out that Hoskins apparently had not been considered after the Sweetwater mentor showed interest in filling a position that opened on the San Diego coaching staff.

Hilltoppers basketball coach A.E. Shaver had left after the 1921-22 school year.


San Diego High historian Don King corrected a story which promoted many different versions over the years.

How did the name Cavemen evolve?

In 1921 the football team dressed in dingy quarters beneath the 400 building on campus, King wrote in Caver Conquest, the 1993  history of San Diego High athletics.

There was only one entrance to the dressing room and that was through a long, dark tunnel that supposedly looked like that of a passageway to the caves used by our earliest ancestors, King noted.

Vintage San Diego High Caveman sticker.

Vintage San Diego High Caveman sticker.

Alden Ross, a reporter for the school newspaper (and a future member of the 1922 squad), was standing outside the players’ entrance when the  the squad exited for a game and was struck by the similarity to cave dwellers of the past.

Ross referred to the “Cavemen” in the next issue of The Russ.

“Cavemen” caught on and was used thereafter along with “Hilltoppers”and “Hillers.”

When girls began participating in the 1970s, the name was officially amended to “Cavers,” to correct gender inequity, said King.


USC Freshmen coach H.W. Hess, responding when asked in a telephonic interview with  San Diego writers if there were “any stars who have been showing up” on the Trobabes’ squad:

“There are no stars, but eleven men on the team…and they’re all rotten,” declared the coach.

San Diego coach John Perry said he expected his squad “to be fighting all through the game (but) I do expect to be beaten by more than forty points.”

Interest in the USC team was such that the frosh’s pregame meal was assessed:  two poached eggs and a cup of tea.

The freshmen, featuring many 1921 prep stars from throughout the state, prevailed, 21-0.


According to one writer, 19 players and two coaches traveled to Bakersfield by automobile. Presumably more than one automobile.

Alan McGrew wrote that the team was scheduled to leave  at 8 a.m. on a Friday morning for  an 11-hour trip by “stage”.

Travel would include 48 miles on what was known as the Ridge Route, beginning at the Castaic Junction and featuring switchbacks and sudden  turns over the mountains north of Los Angeles.

Climax to this sometimes dangerous stretch was the Grapevine, a six-mile down grade that took travelers from 4,233 feet to the floor of the San Joaquin Valley, passing native grapevines growing on the hills near Fort Tejon.


In this still developing period of motorized conveyance (passenger railroad travel was not available to or from Bakersfield), why schedule a game so distant and so difficult to reach?

Alan McGrew pointed out that “almost every school south of the Tehachapi pass had received letters seeking games from Hilltop management, but refused.”

San Diego High was feared in the North, particularly around Los Angeles, said McGrew. Scheduling the defending state champion would curtail some of the criticism about Perry’s perceived reluctance to schedule strong opponents.

There was some history with Bakersfield.  The Hilltoppers declined an invitation to play a state championship playoff with the Drillers after San Diego had posted 12-0 record and won the Southern Section championship in 1916.

Hilltop coach Clarence (Nibs) Price sensed his team was fatigued and was not interested in a long trip.

Price did schedule the Drillers in 1917, when the school known as Kern County Union High came south and was beaten by the Hilltoppers, 18-7.

This year’s  result was different.  Dwight (Goldie) Griffith’s Drillers, who were rumored to play some adult roughnecks from the neighboring oil fields, scored a 32-0 victory.

Age limits were nonexistent.  San Diego’s outstanding lineman was Al Scheving, who would be 21 when he graduated in June, 1923.

“I was only eighteen  months older than my team captain,” coach John Perry told writer Jim Trinkle in 1954.


Without a league and of  independent classification, San Diego was required to have  five victories against high school competition for inclusion in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Scheduling was madcap.

With the SCIF postseason beginning in a week, the Cavemen were pressed to play two high school games in two days.

John Perry shrugged when it was suggested that no prep team in California had ever been asked to meet  such a challenge.

The  Hilltoppers teed up at 9:15 a.m. Friday in City Stadium, where they defeated the 7-2 Whittier Cardinals, 26-0, then followed at 12:30 the next afternoon with a 41-0 victory over weak Anaheim, against which Perry employed only four varsity starters.

Students were all for the doubleheader.  They were dismissed from school Friday to watch the game.

The Hilltoppers were fortunate not to have to travel for the Anaheim contest, which originally was scheduled in the northern community but was moved to San Diego because of an Armistice Day parade in Anaheim.


Southern California champions posed for a team picture on campus. Front row from left coaches Walter Davis, John Perry, and Claude Hippler, from left. Back, in order of appearance, from left: Coney Galindo, Jimmie West, Morris McKain, Frank O'Toole, Rex Driver, Howard Williams, Kenny Zweiner, Pete Szalinski, Norton Langford, Ed Rjuffa, Harold Fitzpatrick, Ed Giddings, Al Schevings, Jonathan Fox, Bob Perry.

Southern California champions posed for a team picture on campus. Front row from left coaches Walter Davis, John Perry, and Claude Hippler, from left. Back, in order of appearance, from left: Coney Galindo, Jimmie West, Morris McKain, Frank O’Toole, Rex Driver, Howard Williams, Kenny Zweiner, Pete Szalinski, Norton Langford, Ed Ruffa, Harold Fitzpatrick, Ed Giddings, Al Schevings, Jonathan Fox, Bob Perry.

Don King’s Caver Conquest listed 14 games on San Diego High’s schedule, as did the first Evening Tribune Prep Football Record Book, published in 1965.

According to The San Diego Union of November 30, 1922,  the Cavemen had played 17 games and, after meeting  Santa Ana, Gardena and Bakersfield, would finish the season with a stunning total of 20, their record being 14-5-1.

NFL teams don’t play that many, unless they’re a wildcard team that plays in the Super Bowl.

The line between scrimmages and games was blurred in The San Diego Union.  

A midseason excercise with Sweetwater was loosely described as a game but also as a “practice.”  The Cavemen played five “games” with teams from military institutions and seven “games” in 13 days from late September to early October.

Games with military squads were common for San Diego-area teams.


San  Diego’s playoff with Santa Ana matched not-so-friendly rivals in a series that dated to 1905. The Cavemen claimed the Orange County school’s students and players were the poorest losers in the state.

“Besides ‘razzing’ the players on the street  and at the hotel where the team was lodged, the girls at a public dance in Santa Ana refused to dance with the San Diego boys,” reported Alan McGrew.

According to historian Don King, “Santa Ana fans threw soda pop bottles and ripe fruit as Kenny Zweiner ran 65 yards with an intercepted pass for a touchdown.”

Coney Galindo raced 35 yards for another score in a 12-0 victory that elevated the Hilltoppers into the Southern California finals against Gardena.

The winners rushed for 112 yards, Galindo leading with 50 yards rushing, and completing a 17-yard pass.


Perry remembered years later what it was like to practice on the “Rock Pile,” and to play on a dirt surface in City Stadium.

“We weren’t allowed to practice in the stadium, but had to go across the highway by the horse barns,” said Perry.  “Before working out we’d try to get all the rocks we’d kicked up the previous day out of the way.”

The stadium layout would be sprinkled, then rolled before each game.  “There wasn’t any grass and it was as hard as concrete,” remembered the coach.


Future World War II hero aviator Lt. James Doolittle left Jacksonville, Florida at 7:30 p.m. Pacific  time and hoped to land at Rockwell Field, located on Coronado’s North Island, at about 4 p.m. the next afternoon.

The 18 1/2-hour flight included a fuel stop in San Antonio, Texas.


Back to School at Lion Clothing.

Back to School sale  at Lion Clothing.

Two-pant tweed sports suits were available for $19.65, Shoes for $6.50, and caps for $2.50 at Lion Clothing Co., Fifth Avenue at E Street.


San Diego High pupils paid student dues of .75, plus they were required to make a $4 deposit to assure return of textbooks at the end of the school year.

Students were required to purchase locker padlocks that were available from San Diego merchants.

Incoming freshmen received a 128-page “manual”, detailing all activities and regulations at the school.

National City High, renamed Sweetwater, moved to a new location on Highland Avenue at the South end of National City, serving approximately 325 students from Chula Vista and as far south as San Ysidro.

Construction of Grossmont’s permanent campus on the hill overlooking El Cajon Valley was almost complete, with 350 students listed as having enrolled.

Artist's conception of Sweetwater High's new campus, open to students in January, 1922.

Artist’s conception of Sweetwater High’s new campus, open to students in January, 1922.


Prospective San Diego High players were feted in a banquet at the San Diego Hotel the night before the first practice.

Team leader Norton Langford addressed the players on the “value of close association and the necessity for no petty jealousy (apparently a problem the last couple seasons, along with questions of soft scheduling and Perry’s not coaching ‘fundamentals’).

Langford said he hoped to “see a game up North” at the end of the season “for the state championship and with San Diego returning victorious.”


San Diego players favored a rematch in the state playoffs with Bakersfield, rather than  participate in a so-called national championship game.

The Cavers received challenges from the Amarillo Golden Sandstorm of Texas, Twin Falls, Idaho, and a team in St. Louis.  Coach John Perry postponed any decision until after the Gardena contest.


Gardena, which won at Bishop, 31-0, the week before,  was accorded an edge by the San Diego media because it had played on the Bovard Field turf  gridiron at USC.

Whatever advantage Gardena possessed disappeared in the fourth quarter, when the Cavemen trailing, 14-12, scored 19 points to win 31-14.  Coney Galindo ran for three touchdowns and scored another on an intercepted pass.


San Diego accepted a challenge to play Bakersfield in a state playoff, but only if the game was played in the City Stadium.  In a telegram to Bakersfield officials, McGrew said the Cavemen were “not in condition for another trip.”

The Drillers agreed.

The journey south was easier on the visitors, who were reported to have “passed through Los Angeles” and were spending the night in Santa Ana after practicing at Whittier College.

Transported in two motor coaches, Bakersfield arrived in San Diego on the day of the game.

The Cavemen battled in vain before about 6,000 City Stadium fans who represented the largest turnout in school history, according to the Union, although the 1917 game drew a reported 10,000.

Part of he crowd of 6,000 watched action near San Diego goalline.

Part of the crowd of 6,000 watched action near San Diego goalline.

It was 17-0 before Ed Ruffa scored a touchdown in the final two minutes to send the Hilltoppers home 17-6 losers.


That was the lead on The San Diego Union account of the Cavemen’s 106-6 victory over Army-Navy.  The writer also suggested that flags would be at half mast at the Pacific Beach academy.

Nothing out of the ordinary about that, but in the second paragraph it was noted that the Cadets fully expected to win and to qualify for the Southern California playoffs!

Coach Paul Jones, who exuded such confidence before the game, was slightly off the mark.

Contributing to the carnage was a rule of the day:  Teams scoring touchdowns received the ensuing kickoff, i.e., Army-Navy kicked off after every San Diego touchdown.

QUICK KICKS—San Diego High dropped its ninth-grade, freshmen class when two junior highs, Roosevelt and Memorial, opened…the schools had grades of 7, 8, and 9…by contract with the CIF and Santa Ana, expenses were provided for  18 players when the Cavemen took the train north for the second of three semifinal playoff contests, but coach John Perry traveled a squad of 23… San Diego High was not the only team to play games on back-to-back days…Grossmont sustained a 40-7 loss to the Hilltoppers, then went out the next day and dropped a 7-6 decision to the sailors from the U.S.S. Rapahannock…when writers referred to a team concentrating on its ground game, it was described as “straight football”…passing, infrequently used,  was just that, passing…The San Diego Union published the roster of San Diego High and players’ numbers before the game with the USC Freshmen…24 players were numbered from 1 to 25, with only jersey No. 2 omitted… …Escondido was greeting “a whole set of husky Indians from the backcountry,” according to the Union… County League teams Escondido, Sweetwater, and Grossmont were considered “backcountry”…”The Winning Play,” an article that appeared in Redbook magazine, was read to the team by San Diego coach John Perry before it took the field against Gardena…Sweater and Letter Day at Sweetwater was attended by the entire student body, which honored the County League team as Herb Hoskins awarded monograms to 15 players….


2013: Freeman Sets Scoring Pace

Rick : December 23, 2013 8:09 pm : Football

Royce Freeman of Imperial scored 43 touchdowns and 258 points in 12 games to lead the San Diego Section for the third year in a row and finished sixth in the state, according to unofficial statistics provided by Max Preps.

Freeman amassed 39 touchdowns and 3 two-point conversions for  240 points in 2011 and 36 touchdowns and 216 points in 2012.

Freeman scored 111 touchdowns in three seasons for Tigers.

Freeman scored 118 touchdowns in three seasons for Tigers.

Edgar Segura of Mendota in the Central Section was the 2013 state leader with 57 touchdowns and a total of 358 points.

Andrew Brown of Ripon Christian of the Sac-Joaquin Section, had 335 points, followed by Rashaad Penny of Norwalk, Southern Section, 320. Tre Watson of Corona Centennial, Southern Section, was fifth with 306.

Freeman also ended his career with the sixth highest single-season performance in the San Diego Section.

Evan Fisher of Julian scored 342 points in eight-man football in 2001, followed by Tyler Gaffney of Cathedral, 336 (’08); Dillon Baxter, Mission Bay, 324 (’09); Zay Shepard, Brawley, 276 (’04), Dionne Grigsby, San Pasqual Academy 8, 262 (’04), and Freeman.

San Diego Section 2013 leaders:

Player Team Games TD PAT 2Pt FG Pts
Royce Freeman Imperial 12 43 0 0 0 258
Clayton Bowler Holtville V 13 27 0 0 0 162
J.T. Barnes Grossmont 12 13 64 0 2 150
Brandon Alexander San Pasqual Academy 8 7 23 0 0 0 148
Thai Cottrell Oceanside 13 22 7 1 0 141
Justin Santa Maria Calvary Christian S.D. V 9 19 0 12 0 138
Riley Racciato Classical V 10 23 0 0 0 138
Jose Ramirez Calvary Christian Vista 8 7 20 0 4 0 128
Damonte Holiday Hoover 11 21 0 0 0 126
Isiah Olave Eastlake 12 21 0 0 0 126
Jimmie Hill Mar Vista 10 21 0 0 0 126
Tim Clow St. Joseph 8 8 19 0 5 0 124
Elijah Preston St. Augustine 11 20 0 0 0 120
Isaiah Capoocia El Capitan 12 19 0 0 0 114
James Harwell San Marcos 14 7 53 0 6 113
Ray Lyons Crawford 10 18 0 1 0 110
Bulla Graft The Bishop’s 10 17 0 3 0 108
Chris Moliga Cathedral 11 18 0 0 0 108
Tony Miro Santa Fe Christian 10 18 0 0 0 108
Dan McManus West Hills 12 6 29 0 14 107
Nareg Skakarian St. Joseph 8 8 12 34 0 0 106
Damian Ramirez Blythe Palo Verde 12 17 0 1 0 104
Jesse Brookins Francis Parker 11 17 0 1 0 104
Ben Lomibao Mount Miguel 10 17 0 0 0 102
Isiah Henne San Marcos 14 17 0 0 0 102
Manny Rodriguez Olympian 11 17 0 0 0 102
Carlos Campos San Ysidro 10 15 8 0 0 98
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2013: 38 Coaches Are Members of Club 100

Rick : December 19, 2013 5:00 pm : Football

La Jolla Country Day’s Jeff Hutzler, who stepped down recently, became the 37th coach in the San Diego Section to have a career total of at least 100 victories.  Jack Mashin of Grossmont recorded 125 victories in the Southern Section.

Eleven active coaches have 100 or more (see complete list here):

Oceanside's Carroll tops all.

Oceanside’s Carroll tops all.

John Carroll (234-74-6, .755), Ron Hamamoto (195-122-4, .614), Rob Gilster (183-112-5, .618), Willie Matson (166-117-6, .585), Sean Doyle (144-77, .652), John Morrison (140-60-3, .697); Gary Blevins (129-90-4, .587), Chris Hauser (115-54-2, .678), Matt Oliver (115-56-3, .670), Jerry Ralph (111-65-2, .629), and Mike Hastings (111-74-4, .598).

Hutzler, whose Torres finished 5-6 this season, posted a  101-37 record and .732 winning percentage from 2002-13,  joined a select group that is led by Herb Meyer, who was 339-148-15 for a .690 percentage from 1959-2003 at Oceanside and El Camino.

Other 100-game winners include Bennie Edens (240), John Shacklett (229), Gil Warren (216), Ed Burke (215), Jim Arnaiz (213), Dick Haines (194), Carl Parrick (190), Mike Dolan (165), Bob Woodhouse (146), Chick Embrey (144);

Gene Edwards (136), Birt Slater (133), Bob McAlister (132),  Steve Sutton (131), Craig Bell (130), Walter (Bud)  Mayfield, (129), Ladimir (Jack) Mashin (125), Mike David (122), Gene Alim (120), John McFadden (120),  John Bishop (117), Chris Hauser (115), Brad Griffith (112), Vic Player (111), George Ohnessorgen (103), and Dave Lay (102).

Carroll (.755) is first among all San Diego Section coaches, active or retired, in winning percentage and with at least 100 victories. Birt Slater (.747) is second to Carroll in percentage. Ohnessorgen (.745), Lay (.741), McFadden (.735), Hutzler (.732), Arnaiz (.726), Burke (.720), Warren (.707), Alim (.701), and Bishop (.701) round out the Top 11.

Ties are factored in as half games won and half games lost.

The  highest winning percentage, minimum 40 games, in the history of high school football in San Diego is .856, earned in the Southern Section by Chula Vista’s Chet DeVore from 1951-55.  San Diego’s Duane Maley is second with a Southern Section record of 97-19-3, .828.

Bill Bailey, who coached at Point Loma in 1942 and at San Diego from 1943-47, posted a career record of 40-8-1, .810.

The comprehensive list of Win, Lose, Tie records of all 100-game winners.

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2008: He Scored 56, Count ’em, 56 Touchdowns!

Rick : December 16, 2013 9:55 am : Football

That Tyler Gaffney led Cathedral to a State championship and scored a record 56 touchdowns in 14 games only reinforced the notion that this was a year of the running back.

Thirty-one San Diego Section players rushed for at least 1,000 yards and none were more productive than Gaffney, Escondido’s Ricky Seale, and Madison’s Robbie Rouse.


The 6-foot, 1-inch, 215-pound Gaffney was a power runner and long distance threat.  Third and short, fourth and goal, or from far outside the redzone, Gaffney was the package.

In 2013, when a group of San Diego writers selected the all-time, all-San Diego County squad, Gaffney was one of three, first-team running backs, joining Oceanside’s C.R. Roberts (1953) and Lincoln’s Darrin Wagner (1987).

Gaffney sheds St. Mary's tackler en route to winning touchdown in State III championship game.

Gaffney sheds St. Mary’s tackler en route to winning touchdown in State III championship game.

Gaffney also was named state player of the year for 2008, selected by the respected Cal-Hi Sports.

“Tyler Gaffney is Justin Green and Demetrious Sumlin (earlier star backs for the Dons) rolled into one,” said Cathedral coach Sean Doyle.  “He’s physically the best back I’ve ever had.”

Gaffney rushed for 324 yards in 33 carries and scored 6 touchdowns in a 58-32, regular-season victory over 5-0 Lincoln.

That monster performance, however, was not close to being the story of Gaffney’s season.


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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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