Football Blog

2016: 13 Players From Here on NFL Rosters

Rick : September 21, 2016 11:04 am : Football

Editor’s Note:  A couple sharp-eyed readers, Gregg Durrant and Justin Schaeffer, noticed a couple whiffs as soon as this article appeared.  I listed Tony Jefferson as a wide receiver when he is a safety and  overlooked kicker Jason Myers of Jacksonville. I should have caught the error that cited Myers as a Mater Dei/Santa Ana graduate when he is a Mater Dei/Chula Vista alum.

Editor’s Note II:  Bill Dobson, former head coach at Mountain Empire, found another error in the NFL’s list.  Alex Mack attended Santa Barbara San Marcos.

The corrected story appears below:

Thirteen San Diego Section graduates were on active, 53-man  rosters when the regular season began earlier this month, according to the NFL. There were 15 in 2015.

Helix leads all San Diego Section schools with 4 active players, Reggie Bush of Buffalo, Alex Smith of Kansas City, Levine Toilolo of Atlanta, and Jamar Taylor of Cleveland.

Florida’s Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and Belle Glades Central lead all U.S. schools with 9.  Colton, near St. Bernardino is next with 6.  DeSoto, Texas, Cleveland Glenville, Miami Norland, and Miami Northwestern each has 5.

Florida (202) tops all states, followed by California (192), and Texas (187).  Miami is the leader among cities with 27, followed by Houston (18), Cincinnati (17), and New Orleans (15).

San Diego Section alums:

Name School College Position NFL Team
Tony Jefferson Eastlake Oklahoma Safety Arizona
Levine Toilolo Helix Stanford Tight End Atlanta
Reggie Bush Helix USC RB Buffalo
Jamar Taylor Helix Boise State Cornerback Cleveland
Jason Myers Mater Dei Marist, N.Y. K Jacksonville
Alex Smith Helix Utah QB Kansas City
Arian Foster Mission Bay Tennessee RB Miami
Kenny Stills La Costa Canyon Oklahoma WR Miami
Damien Williams Mira Mesa Oklahoma Running Back Miami
Joe Cardona Granite Hills Navy Long Snapper N.Y. Giants
Leon Hall Vista Michigan Cornerback N.Y. Giants
Brian Schwenke Oceanside California Center Tennessee
Aaron Wallace Rancho Bernardo UCLA Linebacker Tennessee


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2016 Week 5: Saints and Dons Have Each Other in Sights

Rick : September 20, 2016 6:05 am : Football

St. Augustine and Cathedral  are on a collision course and, unless Madison gums up their plans, will meet for the Western League championship at Mesa College in  Week 9, the winner being the favorite for the top seed in the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs.

Cathedral showed resolve last week, overcoming Helix leads of 21-0 and 28-7 to win, 35-28,  in a series in which Helix had won 7 of the previous meetings.

St. Augustine rolled  on Otay Ranch, 41-14.  Each team is 4-0, but Cathedral has a demanding intersectional opponent this week, playing host to Bakersfield Liberty.

St. Augustine has been ahead of the Dons in the Union-Tribune Top 10 poll since taking over the top spot in Week 2,  although Cathedral has played an arguably tougher intersectional  schedule, with wins over Reno Damonte Ranch and Modesto Central Catholic, while the Saints only venture outside the area was in a victory over Los Angeles Loyola.

 Cal-Prep Sports recognized Cathedral this week, jumping coach Sean Doyle’s team from 13th to 10th in the state top 25.  St. Augustine moved from 18th to 13th and Helix dropped from 14th to 21st.  Bubble teams are Madison, Oceanside, and Rancho Bernardo.

First-place votes in parenthesis.
Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Rank Team W-L Points Last Week
1. St. Augustine (16) 4-0 256 1
2. Cathedral (6) 4-0 238 3
3. Oceanside (4) 3-0 218 4
4. Rancho Bernardo (1) 4-0 179 5
5. Helix 2-2 153 2
6. Madison 3-1 140 6
7. Mission Hills 3-0 128 7
8. Poway 4-0 73 10
9. Mater Dei 3-1 39 8
10. Mt. Carmel 4-0 30 NR

NR–Not ranked.                                                                                                                         Others receiving votes: Grossmont (3-0, 17 points),  Valhalla (3-0, 1), San Marcos (2-1, 8), The Bishop’s (2-0, 1), Carlsbad (1-3, 1).*                                                                                    *Includes forfeit loss.

Twenty-seven sportswriters, sportscasters, and other representatives comprise the voting panel:

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2016 Week 4: Saints Win After 88 Years

Rick : September 12, 2016 3:46 pm : Football

Not the most significant achievement in school history, but St. Augustine celebrated.

The Saints won at Los Angeles Loyola, 17-14, last week, defeating the Cubs for the first time since Prohibition.

Okay, so it was only the eighth time the teams had faced each other in the 88 years and 89 seasons since 1928.

But the victory was the San Diego squad’s first since the series resumed in 2014.  Loyola won as the host, 42-35, two years ago and 23-20 as the visitor in 2015.

Wheel and Deal Herb Corriere was the Saints coach when the schools first got together for a 0-0 tie in 1926.


Strengthened by the addition of six San Diego High graduates who were eligible because none had reached the age of 21, the Saints defeated the Cubs, 25-0, two seasons later.

(Relations between San Diego and St. Augustine were poor during the ‘twenties, but a truce was reached after principal John Aseltine and Father O’Meara of St. Augustine issued a joint statement of athletic cooperation. Search 1928: Eligibility Showdown for Saints and Hilltoppers.)

The Saints’ victory in the  final game was the highlight of a 6-3 season, since Loyola had been 9-0 in 1927.  Despite the influx of Hilltoppers, St. Augustine had dropped its opener to San Diego, 6-2.

The local team and the Cubs did not meet again until St. Augustine, struggling in its attempt to land a league affiliation, joined the far-flung Southland Catholic loop in 1945.

All of the Saints’ league opponents were in the Los Angeles area, but at least some of the games were played in Balboa Stadium, the Saints’ home turf in those days.

The Saints were part of this long-distance alignment through the 1950 campaign.  They lost to the Cubs, 26-0, in 1945, 25-7, in 1947, 35-0 in 1949, and 27-6 in 1950.

Loyola holds a 6-2-1 lead in the series.

Heading into Week 4, St. Augustine retained the top spot in the Union-Tribune poll.


The Saints’ 248 points were one less than in  Week 3.  Maybe that was because I voted for Helix No. 1 this week and the Saints No. 2, after having the Saints on top last week.

The situation is reversed in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings.  Helix is 13th, Cathedral 14th, and St. Augustine 18th.  Madison, Oceanside, and Rancho Bernardo are teams “on the bubble.”

First-place votes in parenthesis.
Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Rank Team W-L Points Last Week
1. St. Augustine (13) 3-0 248 1
2. Helix (6) 2-1 237 2
3. Cathedral (3) 3-0 218 3
4. Oceanside  (3) 3-0 195 4
5. Rancho Bernardo (1) 3-0 168 5
6. Madison 2-1 124 7
7. Mission Hills 2-0 110 6
8. Mater Dei 2-0 80 9
9. San Marcos 3-0 35 10
10. Poway 3-0 34 9

Others receiving votes: Mt. Carmel (3-0, 15 points); Grossmont (2-0, 10), La Costa Canyon (2-1, 6); Carlsbad (1-2, 5), Valhalla (2-0, 3), The Bishop’s (2-0, 1).

Twenty-seven sportswriters, sportscasters, and other representatives comprise the voting panel:

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2011: Let There Be Light

Rick : September 11, 2016 1:15 pm : Football

At 3:38 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, all of San Diego County and communities north to San Clemente, south to northern Mexico, and east into Arizona suddenly were without power.

Something had gone awry at a connecting station in the western Arizona desert.

A total of 1.4 million customers across the region were without electricity.

Flights were canceled at Lindbergh Field. Streets became gridlocked as traffic signals went blank. Trolleys were stopped dead on their tracks. Hospitals activated generators, and school districts announced shutdowns.

What about football, with a full schedule the next day?

Writer Kirk Kenney of The San Diego Union captured the moment and described how Poway coach Damian Gonzalez handled the situation.

Gonzalez apparently had no problem getting  the word to his players about the status of the next day’s game at La Costa Canyon, according to Kenney.


Before the season, Gonzalez made the Titans’ varsity and JV players follow him on twitter @coachgonzopoway.

“The kids all laughed at me,” Gonzalez said.  “They thought it was a joke.”

But Gonzalez’ tweets kept everyone in the loop during the blackout and into the morning afterward.

Gonzo tweets:

Thursday, 9 p.m.:  “School is canceled tomorrow. No idea on game yet.”

Thursday, 10 p.m.: “Football games will be decided in the morning. Compete!”

Friday, 8 a.m.:  “Hang tight.  No word yet this morning.”

Friday, 11:01a.m.:  “We have not gotten the word to play. There is no official decision.”

Friday, 11:07 a.m.:  “It is now official.  Game on!”                                                                  

Electricity was restored at 4:30 the next morning, approximately 13 hours after the failure, and life gradually was returning to normal.

Poway defeated the host La Costa Canyon Mavericks, 28-14, that night.

Keeping with the spirit of the moment, a La Costa Canyon cheerleader participated in the halftime banner run-through by carrying a candle, in the shape of a light bulb.


Writer Jim Lindgren noted that at one point in 1973 vocalist Vicki Lawrence hit the top of the record charts with “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia.”

In San Diego the lights did go out on Skyline Drive, 38 years ago.

Morse and other city schools were advised by Education Center bosses that night football was out.

Rowdyism, a fact of life on the high school circuit for many years, was cited and football became an afternoon sport.

Night games eventually returned and schools in recent years began adding lights to their stadiums.

Luminosity was part of the $15 million ball park that Morse unveiled on its campus this year.

One problem, Kearny dimmed the glow by defeating the Tigers, 35-20, in the first game under the stars.


A first-week, 21-14 stumble against Eastlake was all that kept Helix from a perfect season.

The Highlanders rolled off 13 consecutive victories and won the State Division II championship by defeating Loomis Del Oro, 35-24.

Helix outgained the Sacramento-area team known as the Golden Eagles, 384-272, and led, 28-10, at halftime.

The growing state playoffs included 6 teams in three divisions.

Helix had gotten such a head of steam late in the season that a D-II quarterfinals playoff in San Diego actually ended with a running clock.

Although penalized 12 times, the Scots walloped Torrey Pines, 44-7 and followed with a 21-0 win over Mission Hills the next week and beat Oceanside, 44-7, for the championship.

There was the usual uncertainty about availability of Qualcomm Stadium, where the San Diego Section finals were held.

The get use of the San Diego Chargers’ home field, the CIF was forced to implement an unpopular playoff schedule that resulted in three games in 10 days for the finalists.


Oceanside was 11th, Helix 15th, and Eastlake 40th in the preseason Cal-Hi Sports poll.  Helix rose to fifth in the final selections, Poway to 18th, and Cathedral to 33rd.

The final Union-Tribune poll had Helix, Cathedral, and Poway 1-2-3.


Between teaching classes in Advance Placement Literature and Theory of Knowledge, Walter (Bud) Mayfield found time to coach football at Coronado.

Mayfield hung up his whistle after the season, closing his career on a 70-32 rush over the last 10 years, representative of the  Islanders’ best run since the Amos Schaeffer-coached teams of 1926-33 went 45-10-5.

Mayfield was at the trans-bay helm for 23 of his 31 seasons, with time out for stints at University, Anaheim Servite, and Santa Ana Mater Dei, and finished 130-119-4 overall.

Two other prominent coaches also left the scene.

Dave Lay moved from assisting at Valley Center to a similar position at Mesa College.  Lincoln’s Ron Hamamoto also left for an assistant position at Mesa.


Carlsbad coach Thadd McNeal never will forget his first victory.  The Lancers defeated San Diego, 36-35, with a two-point conversion with no time remaining.

The winning score was set up on a 39-yard, flea-flicker touchdown pass play on the final snap of regulation play.

Carlsbad hired McNeal, who quarterbacked there in 1985, after McNeal posted a 45-15 record in five seasons as head coach at Lynwood.


San Marcos missed a two-point conversion and trailed Orange Glen, 31-30 with 1:30 remaining in the game, but the Knights recovered the ensuing on-side kickoff.

Christian Gomez’ 28-yard field goal on the final play of the game gave San Marcos a 33-31 victory.


Eighth-ranked San Pasqual scored 10 points in the final 2:39 and tied No. 4 Poway, 17-17, with a 40-yard field goal on the final play.


Gil Warren won his 200th game against Sweetwater, the school at which he got his start.

Warren was a wingback on the 1958 Red Devils squad that was 7-3-1 and reached the semifinals of the Southern California playoffs before bowing to Santa Monica, 34-20.

Warren became the seventh San Diego-area coach to win 200.

Herb Meyer, with 338 victories, ranked third all-time in the state.  Bennie Edens followed Meyer with 238, with John Shacklett (229), Jim Arnaiz (212), and John Carroll (211) also in the select group.


San Diego’s game at Morse was called in the second quarter after Cavers quarterback Khari Kimbrough sustained a  broken leg that required surgery.

San Diego athletic director Ty Guzik described a “very emotional scene” on the Morse gridiron.

Tension enveloped the stadium when there was a delay in attending to Kimbrough, the son of Cavers coach Keir Kimbrough. Because of the delay a second ambulance had to be summoned.

The game, scoreless at the time of the injury, was declared no contest.


San Diego Jewish Academy defeated Los Angeles Milken, 25-8.  Mark Wetzel, coach of the San Diego team, said the game was the first tackle football contest between two Jewish high schools.


Classical defeated Capistrano Valley Christian, 82-67, a common basketball score.

Except the game was eight-man football.

A total of 149 points.

A lot, but not enough to set a record.

St. Joseph (96) and Lutheran (74) scored 170 points in 2008 for the San Diego Section standard.

San  Diego High holds the 11-man record of 137, having defeated Army-Navy, 130-7, in 1920.

The closest any 11-man teams have come to the Cavers’ outburst were Rancho Bernardo (71) and West Hills (48) in 1999.


Seldom in their 62 seasons have the Mar Vista Mariners created a noise that could be heard beyond their Imperial Beach city limits.

The Mariners averaged about one winning season every decade and had won 1 of 10 playoff games since 1950, but they rolled out a vintage Winged-T attack this season that could be felt all over the South Bay region.

The Mariners went 11-2 and defeated city power St. Augustine, 42-28, in the quarterfinals of the Division III playoffs.

As Jim Lindgren of The San Diego Union reported, the Mariners rushed for 355 yards and had scoring drives of 11, 12, and 15 plays.

“It’s the number one offense in the history of high school football,” said coach BrIAn Hay.  “We use it because it fits our people.”

The fit was so snug the Mariners rushed for almost 5,000 yards, but their season came to an end in the semifinals in a 40-8 loss to Olympian.


Reintroductions were in order before Chula Vista “avenged” a playoff loss to Escondido with a 30-0 victory.

Escondido had beaten the Spartans, 13-7, in the playoffs, 43 years earlier, in 1968.


A drunk driver was charged in an auto accident that killed four players from Grande Prairie Composite High in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The  school, known as the “Comp”, was the visiting team for a game at Santana just three weeks before.


San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral returned five fumbles for touchdowns in a 56-6 victory over St. Ignatius.  The Oakland-area Emeryville squad in 1974 and El Camino in 1978 had shared the record.

The Wildcats returned four fumbles for scores in a 33-13 win over Fallbrook.


Football was going uptown at La Costa Canyon, where seat backs were installed and concession stands were equipped with closed-circuit television.  What’s next, luxury suites?


Ninety-eight of 120 San Diego Section schools fielded teams.  Eight in 8-man, 18 each in Division I-IIII, 16 in IV, and 19 in V.

Twelve of the 98 head coaches had been on the job for more than 10 years.  Twenty-five coaches were reported in their first year, 6 in their second, and 15 in their third.


Hilltop’s Omar Hernandez, who quarterbacked the Lancers to six straight victories after a 0-3 start, was known as Houdini.  He escaped Castle Park defenders to score two touchdowns and kicked a 52-yard field goal in a 23-7 victory.


Cathedral’s 17-3 victory over St. Augustine increased the Dons’ lead to 31-19 in the Holy Bowl series…Sweetwater announced plans to construct a new football stadium at a cost of $2.2 million…Patrick Henry had to play all but one of its games in a 3-7 season on the road because of a delay in the resurfacing of the Patriots’ stadium field…Mt. Carmel coach John Anderson is uncle of Poway wideout Teddy Anderson…St. Augustine was 6-0 for the first time since 1970…the Saints’ Seamus McMorrow tied the section record with a 58-yard field goal and won a postseason all-star game in Carson with a 45-yard field goal after setting up the winner with a successful onside kick…McMorrow also ran 26 yards with a fake punt….

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2016 Week 3: Are Wildcats on Way Back?

Rick : September 5, 2016 4:06 pm : Football

El Camino was 58-81 through 2015 after Herb Meyer took his 339 career victories and walked into the coaching sunset in 2001.

Jerry Ralph is the Oceanside school’s fourth coach since Meyer stepped down and may have the Warriors positioned to end a run of mediocrity.

El Camino has had 4 winning seasons following Meyer, whose brilliant career started at Oceanside in 1958.

The Wildcats last week led Rancho Bernardo, the defending state Division III-A champion, 10-0, in the third quarter and 17-14 in the fourth, but a couple disastrous turnovers opened the door.

The Broncos of coach Tristan McCoy, playing at home before 5,000 blue-clad and logo-appareled loyalists, snatched the opportunity and pulled out a 28-17 victory.


Ralph was 16-17 in three seasons at Santana, 78-32-2 in nine at St. Augustine, 2-8 in a startup program at Del Norte, and 27-19 at long-dormant Hoover.

Can he do it at El Camino, where the tide rolled back to neighborhood rival Oceanside after the millennium?

Ralph, who holds the San Diego County record with five different head-coaching appointments, obviously learned as he moved along his coaching track.

Go where you can win.

Ralph’s best move may have been exiting Del Norte after one season (the Nighthawks have an all-time record of 24-44).

Legendary mentor Ed Burke, 243-95 at King City, Taft Union, San Dieguito, and Torrey Pines, may have said it best when he spoke with Ralph of the pain that usually accompanies a first-year school playing a varsity schedule:

“It’s something you will never forget and something you will never do again,” Burke said.

El Camino is a place where Ralph can win.


Poway’s 43-19 win over Mount Miguel was the 100th of coach Damian Gonzalez’ career.  Gonzalez is the 42nd locally to earn that many victories.

Valley Center defeated Brawley for the 198th victory in Rob Gilster’s coaching career.

Gilster was 63-43-3 from 1989-97 at Orange Glen, then opened Valley Center in 1998, and is 135-74-2 with the Jaguars.

Gonzalez, is 82-60-1 since 2004 at Poway, following a stint at Army-Navy, where Gonzalez was 18-22-2 from 1997-00.

Calipatria defeated visiting Maranatha for coach Mike Swearingen’s first win in 12 seasons.

Swearingen was 55-50-1 at Imperial and El Centro Southwest before going on hiatus after the 2005 campaign.


San Diego Section teams were 3-1 last week and are 7-6 overall in principal intersectional games.

Coronado dropped a 26-12 decision to Sun Valley Village Christian.  Cathedral topped Modesto Central Catholic, 28-25. Eastlake whipped Lake Forest El Toro, 41-21, and Helix beat Concord Clayton Valley, 13-0.

3 IN TOP 20

My weekly vote in the Union-Tribune Top 10 is different than the overall poll below, but is similar to that of  Cal-Hi Sports.

My No. 1 is Cathedral, followed by Helix, and St.Augustine.  Cal-Hi Sports  chose Cathedral No. 13 in its top 25, with Helix 19th, and St. Augustine 23rd.

Bubble teams include Rancho Bernardo, Oceanside, and Madison.


First-place votes in parenthesis.
Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Rank Team W-L Points Last Week
1. St. Augustine (14) 2-0 249 1
2. Helix (6) 1-1 231 2
3. Cathedral (4) 2-0 218 3
4. Oceanside  (2) 2-0 189 4
5. Rancho Bernardo (1) 2-0 173 5
6. Mission Hills 1-0 111 6
7. Madison 1-1 95 7
8. Mater Dei 2-0 80 9
9. Poway 2-0 33 NR
10. San Marcos 2-0 20 NR

Others receiving votes: Mt. Carmel (2-0, 15); Grossmont (2-0), El Camino (1-1), 11 each; La Costa Canyon (1-1, 10); Carlsbad (1-1), Eastlake (1-1), 4 each; Olympian (2-0), Valhalla (2-0), Santa Fe Christian (1-1), 1 each.

Twenty-seven sportswriters, sportscasters, and other representatives comprise the voting panel:

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1984: What’s in a Name?

Rick : September 1, 2016 11:38 am : Football

 Grossmont School District superintendent Lewis Smith was one of the most ardent advocates of what could have been termed the “Free San Diego” movement in the late 1950s.

Smith and other educational and school board associates wanted out of the vast Southern Section and were instrumental in formation of the tiny 31-school San Diego Section in 1960.

The mere mention of “Grossmont” was music to Smith’s ears.  The former Grossmont administrator naturally found no confusion in the name he selected for the league in which district schools would participate.

The circuit was known as the Grossmont League and, beginning in 1961, was the largest in the fledgling section.

Lewis Smith was involved with Grossmont for four decades.

Two decades later the original seven-school alignment had grown to nine, adding Santana in 1965 and Valhalla in 1974.

Nine teams and eight league games were migraine-causing headaches for athletic directors and coaches charged with scheduling.

–A 10-week season allowed for only one preleague game and one bye week.

–A mid- or late-season bye made it difficult and sometimes impossible to find opponents (Helix had to go on a long road trip to Dana Hills in the last week of the regular season).

–Grossmont basketball teams were forced to start league play ahead of the Christmas vacation, before the traditional start on the first Friday night in January.

But most nettlesome was a system that allowed the Grossmont only two berths in the San Diego Section playoffs, especially when compared to their County counterpart.


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2016 Week 2: Change Already at Top

Rick : August 28, 2016 3:26 pm : Football

Two things learned in Week 1:

Helix might be less and St. Augustine might be more.

The No. 1 Highlanders, ranked ninth in the state in Cal-Hi Sports’ preseason Top 25, was surprised, 28-21, by Timpview of Provo, Utah, in a home game that marked the debut of coach Robbie Owens.

Timpview is no chump, with a flock of state championships and a 115-18 record the last 10 seasons, but Helix, 102-22-2, in the last decade, figured to get the measure of a travel-weary squad that had come more than 700 miles.

The Scots are out of the top position in the San Diego UnionTribune ratings and St. Augustine, No. 2 last week, moved to No. 1 after scoring a touchdown on every possession until taking a knee in the final minute of a running-clock, 62-13 rout of usually representative Ramona.

My only quibble with voting colleagues was their giving too much cred to Mission Hills, which defeated middling Los Angeles Crenshaw, 21-20, on the road.  The Grizzlies, perhaps living on their strong reputation, jumped from ninth to sixth.

Mission Hills’ rise bumped Madison from sixth to seventh, but the Warhawks on the road played tough Vista Murrieta, the Los Angeles’ Times‘ No. 7 team, 12-2 in 2015, to a 20-9 loss in a game tied, 6-6 at the half.

First-place votes in parenthesis.
Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Rank Team W-L Points Last Week
1. St. Augustine (11) 1-0 246 2
2. Helix (9) 0-1 228 1
3. Cathedral (3) 1-0 213 3
4. Oceanside  (3) 1-0 196 4
5. Rancho Bernardo (1) 1-0 168 5
6. Mission Hills 1-0 98 9
7. Madison 0-1 94 6
8. La Costa Canyon 1-0 90 7
9. Mater Dei 1-0 80 8
10. Carlsbad 1-0 17 NR

Others receiving votes: Poway, 1-0, 15; 10, Grossmont, 1-0, 11; El Camino, 1-0, 8;  San Marcos, 1-0, 7; Torrey Pines, 1-0, 4;  El Capitan, 0-0, 1.

Twenty-seven sportswriters, sportscasters, and other representatives comprise the voting panel:

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2016 Week 1: First Poll Like Last; Coach Changes, Con’t

Rick : August 19, 2016 6:07 pm : Football

Helix and St. Augustine are 1-2 in the first Union-Tribune football poll and that’s how they finished in 2015.

The Highlanders  and most of the rest of the San Diego Section open the season this week,  marking one the earliest starts in County history, probably preceded only by the Hawaii preseason trips that were popular a couple decades ago.

Helix, 13-1 at season ago, will waste no time getting into the thick of the intersectional spirit, taking on visiting Provo Timpview,  a Utah power that was 11-2 in 2015, and 12-2 Concord Clayton Valley at Mission Viejo in Week 2.

St. Augustine, 10-3 last year, eases in with a home game at Mesa College against Ramona (4-7).

Other Top 10 teams also have early opportunity against out-of-area opponents.

No. 3 Cathedral takes on visiting Reno Damonte (4-7).  No. 4 Oceanside visits San Clemente (11-3).  No. 6 Madison is at Vista Murrieta (12-2), and No. 7 La Costa Canyon plays host to Whittier La Serna (11-3). Los Angeles Crenshaw (9-5) goes to No. 9 Mission Hills.


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1915: Hilltoppers HaveTheir Field of Dreams

Rick : August 16, 2016 9:34 am : Football

“City” Stadium, a horseshoe-shaped edifice with more than 23,000 concrete seats, opened the previous spring in the back yard of San Diego High.

Coincidentally, football fortunes improved on the Hilltop.

Coach Clarence (Nibs) Price, 2-3-1 in his inaugural 1914 season, guided the school to its best record in the 24 years since the game was introduced here.

Price, from Iowa and the University of California, was more familiar with rugby when he was appointed coach but was learning fast.

The Hilltoppers finished with a 6-1-1 record, the best since 1891, and boasted a roster of underclassmen who would make 1916 one of the greatest in school history.

The stadium, built at the same time as many of the iconic buildings in Balboa Park, was part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1914, and gave  San Diego High the advantage of playing at home.

The Hillers gathered for a team photo in their new stadium.

The Hillers gathered for a team photo in their new stadium.


Just not for the first game.

A San Diego-Coronado contest was scheduled, but the teams were forced to play on the island community’s polo grounds, later to become Coronado Country Club.

A dispute had arisen between the high school and the Park board, which demanded a $25 deposit and one-third of the gate receipts.

Meetings between the park entity and the school board resulted in compromise.

An agreement was made before the Hilltoppers’ next game against a Park Exposition Marine Corps team.

As reported in The San Diego Union:

“In the future the high school students will have the use of the grounds for their games by giving the park board due notice of their schedule of games. They will not be charged for use of the stadium, as (an agreement of) $60 per month will cover rental for contests where an admission fee would be charged.”

The $60 would be paid to a grounds-supervising “caretaker”, or stadium manager.


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1917: Hilltoppers Learn it’s Difficult to Repeat

Rick : August 10, 2016 9:18 pm : Football

Uneasy rested the crown.

San Diego High, anointed the best high school team in the country by a New York publication after the 12-0 campaign of 1916, experienced a season of highs and lows, emphasis on the latter.

Coach Clarence (Nibs) Price, who started practice in September with news that his best player was “dangerously ill with fever”, missed a playoff game that was coached by one of his players, and ended the season with a 0-55 thud.

Karl Deeds, an integral part of the championship squad who was forced to drop out of school to work and then was reinstated, mentored a 28-0 victory over El Centro Central from the City Stadium sideline as Price was away in Los Angeles, attempting to join the aviation corps.

The Great War in Europe had a far-reaching effect.


The “dangerously ill” Brick Muller recovered from fever and was back in uniform about three weeks into practice, but his was an uneven season.

Muller sustained a broken collarbone against the Occidental University frosh, missed rivalry games versus Long Beach Poly and Santa Ana, and was in and out of action for the remainder of the year.

Muller was a star end on the 1916 squad, making all-Southern California, and was the centerpiece of what Price hoped would be another championship entry.

The player was held in such high regard on campus that Muller was elected to the school’s athletic “executive committee” for the second year in a row, while he was home sick in bed.


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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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