Football Blog

2015: Rick (Red) Hill, Longtime San Diego Sports Figure

Rick : October 10, 2015 9:08 am : Football

Richard Morgan Hill, 62, passed away recently at Grossmont Hospital.

Few people would recognize the name.  He preferred being called Rick but was even better known to a couple generations of fans and media around here as “Red” Hill.

Helix High  coach Mike Muirhead introduced me to this Tom Sawyer-looking teenager  in 1970, when I still was covering high school track for the Evening Tribune and Rick was a fledgling journalist for the school’s Highland Fling newspaper.

Rick wasn’t cut to be a television anchor man or radio sportscaster, but that didn’t stop him from becoming an important and respected contributor on the San Diego sports beat.

“I first met Rick in ‘seventy-two,” remembered Union-Tribune writer John Maffei, then the sports information director at San Diego State. “He just came into my office and offered his services.

“I used him to get tape of coaches and players and we put it on a hot line (which people would call for updates on the Aztecs sports teams).

“One of the truly honest guys I’ve ever known,” said Maffei.  “He would do anything for you and never asked for anything in return.”

Three time zones away, in West Palm Beach, Florida, retired radio sports anchor and Chargers broadcaster John DeMott was moved to post on Facebook:

I first met Rick in the early seventies. He was just a kid out of school. He loved sports and he worked so dilligently to become a peer of the San Diego sports media. He did anything and everything he could to find his niche.

“Rick decided he would fill the need for every thankless chore he could think of. He chased tape in locker rooms and at press conferences. He lugged equipment at remotes. He earned part-time pay from about every broadcast outlet that did sports, and for some of the teams as well.

“It got to a point where we all took Red Hill for granted, which I believe is exactly what he hoped would be the case,” DeMott wrote.  “The number of folks who Chris Binkowski tells us were at his memorial last night proves that. He was Red Hill and he was one of us. RIP, Rick.”

“The turnout for his service–Chargers, Padres, USD, San Diego State, radio, and TV people were there–can tell you how many people he touched in his life,” said Maffei.

Red traveled with the Chargers, covered  Super Bowls, and every big, San Diego-linked sports event during his time.

I used to make a simple announcement on the stadium press box microphone for many years during my time with the Chargers.  It was more like a brief page: “Red Hill.”

Although Hill was not a fan of the nickname,  he knew that we all respected him for what he worked so hard to  become, a professional.




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2015, Week 8: Mission Hills Takes Over North County

Rick : October 10, 2015 6:59 am : Football

Wither, Oceanside?

The 45-0 loss to Mission Hills last week shook the foundation of the dynastic program at the school overlooking the intersection of old U.S. 101 and Interstate 5.

It’s one thing to get blown out, but even in losses the Pirates have usually managed to score. Their dominance in  the  North County, though being challenged the last few years by onrushing Mission Hills, hasn’t been in question.

The loss marked  the Pirates’ first shutout  to a North County team in 130 games. Carlsbad blanked them, 28-0, in 2005.  No North County squad had scored that many points in 152 games.  Fallbrook ran off with  a  51-28 victory in 2003.

There have been occasional whopping defeats–El Camino routed John Carroll’s 1991 team, 63-27, for example, but the highest shutout margin had been 39-0 by Carlsbad in 1979.

Margins like 45-0 haven’t been accomplished by San Diego Section teams in 89 years. There were losses to Metropolitan League rivals Coronado, 47-0, and Sweetwater, 57-0, in 1926, the Oceanside’s first football season.

The Pirates will attempt to get their swashbuckling groove on this week against 1-5 Torrey Pines.  Mission Hills probably will run the table in the regular season if it gets past Rancho Bernardo.

Coach Chris Hauser’s Grizzlies close versus weak Del Norte, pedestrian Vista, and better-than-average San Marcos, a 28-10 loser to Oceanside in the opening game.

Mission Hills’ victory kept the Grizzlies atop the weekly Union-Tribune voting and they picked up two additional first place votes that had been held by Helix, which defeated Steele Canyon, 41-6.

Some shakeups above raised Mission Hills a notch to 14th in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings.  Helix follows at 15th.  Cathedral, La Costa Canyon, and St. Augustine are among 30 others on the bubble.

Week 8 poll, after seven weeks of games:

# Team (1st place votes) Points W-L Previous
1.  Mission Hills (20) 239 6-0 1
2. Helix (4) 219 4-1 2
3. St. Augustine 191 4-2 4
4. La Costa Canyon 161 5-1 6
5. Westview 123 6-0 7
6. Oceanside 88 4-2 3
7. Grossmont 79 6=0 10
8. El Camino 77 5-1 5
9. Cathedral 67 4-3 9
10. Rancho Bernardo 31 4-2 8

NR–Not rated. Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Others receiving votes (record & points in parenthesis): Madison (4-2, 14), Mission Bay (6-0, 13), Mt. Carmel (5-1, 8), Bonita Vista (4-2, 7), Mater Dei  (4-1, 5),  San Marcos (4-2, 4), Valhalla (5-1, 4), Mater Dei (5-1, 3).

24 Media and CIF representatives vote each week: John Maffei (U-T San Diego), Steve Brand, Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Jim Lindgren, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego correspondents), Bill Dickens, Chris Davis (East County, Steve (Biff) Dolan,  (Mountain Country 107.9 FM), John (Coach) Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak (The Mighty 1090), Rick Willis, Brandon Stone (KUSI-TV), Rick Smith (, Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (, Drew Smith (, Lisa Lane (San Diego Preps Insider), Raymond Brown (, R. Pena, C. Smith and Montell Allen (MBASports-SDFNL Magazine).


Sergio Diaz has built a program before.  He was 41-47-1 in eight seasons at Scripps Ranch, but 34-25 in his last five after a 7-22-1 start.

Diaz faces a challenge seemingly more daunting at Serra, in his first head coaching job since he left Scripps Ranch after the 2009 season.

The Conquistadors are 0-6 and have been outscored, 316-13.


La Costa Canyon is 5-1 for the first time since 2009, when coach Darrin Brown’s Mavericks raced to an 11-0 mark before getting the big haircut from Vista, 47-7, in the Division I Section championship…Eastlake is 2-4 after a bitter-pill, 28-23 loss to Bonita Vista…the Titans were 9-0 against the Barons since 2006 and the 2-4 start is their poorest since the 1997 team broke from the gate 2-4…Westview continues to roll, its 6-0 beginning is the best since the ’08 club was 7-1 and finished 9-3….






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2015: Week 7, Real Racing To Begin

Rick : October 3, 2015 6:27 am : Football

Nonleague and intersectional games just about out of the way, 16 of the San Diego Section’s 19 leagues swing into action this week.

The Eastern, Metro Pacific and Metro South Bay tee up next week.

El Camino, 5-0, for the first time since 2000 in the days when Herb Meyer had the Wildcats on an 18-game winning streak, takes on La Costa Canyon, at 4-1, same as in 2014 before a 9-5 loss to El Camino signaled a flattening out to 6-6.

El Camino finished with a 10-3 record in 2000, unequaled since.  The winner of this Avocado West opener will feel pretty good about itself as it points to a late-season game with Oceanside.

The Pirates, 4-1 in their first season since 1988 without coach John Carroll holding sway, visit Mission Hills (5-0) in the annual, nonleague Battle of Highway 78.

Oceanside has come along well since a 49-13 loss to Washington power Sammamish Eastside Catholic in the season’s second game.  First-year coach Dave Rodriguez rallied the Pirates to victories over San Pasqual, Temecula Chaparral, and Rancho Buena Vista.

Westview should determine whether its contending or pretending, taking its 5-0 record  to Rancho Bernardo, which is 4-1 and the probable favorite in the Palomar circuit.

The Union-Tribiune poll this week revealed promising  matchups:   No. 1 Mission Hills and 3 Oceanside,  5 El Camino and 6 La Costa Canyon, and 7 Westview and  8 Rancho Bernardo.


Cathedral has one more intersectional on its schedule, this week at Damonte Ranch of Reno, Nevada.

Coach Sean Doyle’s Dons are 3-3, with all losses to Cal-Hi Sports‘ state-ranked teams.

The Damonte Mustangs are 1-4, losing to Carson City Carson, 17-14;  Reno, 14-13; Placer of Auburn, California, 41-26, and Sparks Edward Reed, 58-39.  Damonte defeated Reno North Valleys, 52-6.

Week 7 poll, after six weeks of games:

# Team (1st place votes) Points W-L Previous
1.  Mission Hills (18) 233 5-0 1
2. Helix (6) 219 3-1 2
3. Oceanside 174 4-1 4
4. St. Augustine 171 4-2 3
5. El Camino 141 5-0 5
6. La Costa Canyon 109 4-1 6
7. Westview 76 5-0 8
8. Rancho Bernardo 69 4-1 7
9. Cathedral 54 3-3 10
10. Grossmont 45 5-0 NR

NR–Not rated. Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Others receiving votes (record & points in parenthesis): Madison (3-2, 19), Mission Bay (5-0, 8), Mater Dei  (4-1, 5), Eastlake (2-4, 5),  5 each; Mt. Carmel (3-1, 3), Bonita Vista (3-2, 2), San Marcos (3-2, 1), Christian (3-2, 1),  Valhalla (4-1, 1).

24 Media and CIF representatives vote each week: John Maffei (U-T San Diego), Steve Brand, Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Jim Lindgren, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego correspondents), Bill Dickens, Chris Davis (East County, Steve (Biff) Dolan,  (Mountain Country 107.9 FM), John (Coach) Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak (The Mighty 1090), Rick Willis, Brandon Stone (KUSI-TV), Rick Smith (, Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (, Drew Smith (, Lisa Lane (San Diego Preps Insider), Raymond Brown (, R. Pena, C. Smith and Montell Allen (MBASports-SDFNL Magazine).


Strong Vista Murietta hung on for a 36-34 victory over St. Augustine, the Saints’ second intersectional loss.  The other was 23-20 to state-ranked Los Angeles Loyola.

St. Augustine dug itself an 0-14 hole in the first quarter, got close at 17-14, fell behind, 36-21, and battled back with a chance at a two-point conversion that would have tied the game with 4 seconds remaining.

Saints coach Richard Sanchez took a stand.

Sanchez benched a star running back and several others in the first quarter after the players missed a scheduled school event.  Sanchez last year did not dress two of his best players at Loyola after they were disciplined for engaging in a “food fight”.

Young men will be young men.


When No. 8 Sacramento Grant was beaten last week, the Pacers’ loss was Mission Hills’ and Helix’ gain.

Rankings in Cal-Hi Sports this week had the Grizzlies 14th in the state and Helix 15th.  St. Augustine, La Costa Canyon, and Oceanside are “on the bubble”.




2015: Website Readers Are Correct About NFL

Rick : October 2, 2015 9:02 am : Football

Two readers of our website looked at our table showing  13 San Diego Section high school graduates in the NFL and found a couple glaring errors.

The NFL list of 1,696 players also included safety Tony Jefferson of Eastlake and kicker Jason Myers of Mater Dei, which we missed.

We also were alerted  to Larry Warford, but Warford graduated from high school in Kentucky after two years at Oceanside and was not identified as being from this area.

Two great running backs, Cathedral’s Tyler Gaffney and Escondido’s Ricky Seale, are getting paid by NFL teams, but Gaffney is on Injured Reserve with New England, and Seale was a game-day deactivation for Buffalo on opening weekend.

The annual NFL list includes the 32 teams’ 53-man active rosters on opening day.  So Gaffney and Seale, and possibly others, were not acknowledged.

The revised list with 15 names and a Partleton thanks to Greg Durrant, Richard Porter,  and Deontae Patterson:

Name Position High School Team Year College
Khalif Barnes T Mount Miguel Oakland 11 Washington
Sam Brenner T Oceanside Miami 3 Utah
Reggie Bush RB Helix San Francisco 10 USC
Nate Chandler T Mira Mesa Carolina 5 UCLA
Arian Foster RB Mission Bay Houston 7 Tennessee
Leon Hall CB Vista Cincinnati 9 Michigan
Tony Jefferson S Eastlake Arizona 3
Levine Toiolo TE Helix Atlanta 3 Stanford
Jason Myers K Mater Dei Jacksonville  1 Marist
Brian Schwenke C Oceanside Tennessee 3 California
Alex Smith QB Helix Kansas City 11 Utah
Kenny Stills WR La Costa
Miami 3 Oklahoma
Jamar Taylor CB Helix Miami 3 Boise State
Damien Williams RB Mira Mesa Miami 3 Oklahoma
Jimmy Wilson S Point Loma San Diego 5 Montana


Mission Hills is 14th and Helix 15th in Division I in Cal-Hi Sports‘ weekly Top 10.

St. Augustine is sixth and Cathedral 10th in II.  Rancho Bernardo is on the bubble in II and Christian (III) and The Bishop’s (IV) are other bubble teams.

At the end of the regular season teams will be seeded for the state playoffs, possibly 1-25 from the North and 1-25 from the South.

According to commissioner Jerry Schniepp, the six division champions from San Diego will be invited from the South, along with 13 from the Southern Section and the rest from the L.A. City and Central Sections.

Section divisions will not be in play when the game pairings are formulated.




2015: Poll Unchanged 1 Through 7

Rick : September 28, 2015 7:11 pm : Football

Glacier-like movement in the Union-Tribune Top 10 continued this week with small action taking place in the bottom rungs.

Many teams are observing byes as league play edges onto the stage.  Almost all  will be so engaged in a couple weeks.

St. Augustine’s home game against Vista Murrieta represents one of the few intersectionals remaining.  The Saints dropped a 15-13 decision to the Southern Riverside County squad last season.

The Saints’ defense will get a stiff test, according to the Broncos’ four-game scores.

Vista Murrieta opened by defeating Seattle Ballard, 71-32, Corona Santiago, 55-33, and Lakewood, 43-7. They were beaten, 29-14, last week by Trinity League stalwart Orange Lutheran.

Meanwhile, Mission Hills and Helix each moved up one position, the Grizzlies to 15th and Highlanders to 16th, in the latest Cal-Hi Sports statewide poll.

La Costa Canyon, St. Augustine, and Cathedral reside “On the Bubble,”  out of the Top 25.

Cathedral went 219 miles north last week and defeated Bakersfield Liberty, 24-10.  The Kern County squad was ranked No. 2 in the Fresno Bee, which covers Central Section squads.

Cathedral’s victory was its second in five tries against a nonleague schedule that is the most demanding in the San Diego section.


Coach Mike Woodward’s Westview Wolverines, virtually comatose the last two seasons (5-17) and only 29-43 since 2008,  suddenly are 5-0 and No. 8 in the San Diego Section after a 36-30 win over respected San Marcos.

Truth or consequences loom for the representatives of Torrey Highlands, located northwest of Rancho Penasquitos, beginning next week against No. 7 Rancho Bernardo.  Westview’s last five opponents are a combined 18-7.

Week 6 Union-Tribune poll, after five weeks of games:

# Team (1st place votes) Points W-L Previous
1.  Mission Hills (20) 235 5-0 1
2. Helix (4) 208 2-1 2
3. St. Augustine 201 4-1 3
4. Oceanside 170 4-1 4
5. El Camino 113 4-0 5
6. La Costa Canyon 105 4-1 6
7. Rancho Bernardo 67 4-1 7
8. Westview 57 5-0 NR
9. Christian 52 3-1 9
10. Cathedral 30 2-3 NR

NR–Not rated. Points awarded on basis of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Others receiving votes (record & points in parenthesis): Grossmont (4-0, 23), Madison (2-2, 20), Bonita Vista (3-1, 11), Mater Dei  (4-0), Mission Bay (5-0), 6 each; Eastlake (2-3), San Marcos (3-2), 5 each; Mt. Carmel (3-1), Olympian (4-1), Poway (3-2), 2 each; Valhalla (3-1, 1).

24 Media and CIF representatives vote each week: John Maffei (U-T San Diego), Steve Brand, Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Jim Lindgren, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego correspondents), Bill Dickens, Chris Davis (East County, Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM), John (Coach) Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak (The Mighty 1090), Rick Willis, Brandon Stone (KUSI-TV), Rick Smith (, Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (, Drew Smith (, Lisa Lane (San Diego Preps Insider), Raymond Brown (, Montell Allen (


2015: 13 From Here on Opening Rosters

Rick : September 27, 2015 4:26 pm : Football

Helix is one of 12 schools in the country with at least 4 alumni players who made 2015 opening-day rosters in the NFL.

Thirteen San Diego Section graduates were active, down from the 16 of 2013, the last year we published this information from the NFL Communications Department.

Reggie Bush, Levine Loiolo, Alex Smith, and Jamar Taylor also represented Helix in the 2013 survey.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (alma mater of tennis’ Chris Evert and  all-pro receiver Michael Irvin of the Dallas Cowboys, among others) leads all U.S. high schools with 15 NFL players.

Cleveland Glenville (6), Miami Norland (6) and DeMatha Catholic of Hyattsville, Maryland (5), round out the top 4,

Calfornia’s Long Beach Poly, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, San Mateo Serra, Anaheim Servite, and Westlake Village Oaks Christian joined Helix with 4 each.

Oceanside and Mira Mesa each has 2, tying 155 schools.  There are 1,172  with 1 player.

Florida is the leading contributor with 204 players.  California was next with 203, followed by Texas (181) and Georgia (114).

Miami (31), Fort Lauderdale (20), Atlanta (16), and Houston (14) were leaders in the “hometown” category.  Los Angeles city had 10.

Alabama, with a population of 4,779,736, based on the 2010 U.S. Census, is the leader “per capita”  with one player for every 75,869 persons.

The pool of 1,668 NFL players in the U.S. population of 308,745,538 represented one player per 185,099 persons.

Name Position High School Team Year College
Khalif Barnes T Mount Miguel Oakland 11 Washington
Sam Brenner T Oceanside Miami 3 Utah
Reggie Bush RB Helix San Francisco 10 USC
Nate Chandler T Mira Mesa Carolina 5 UCLA
Arian Foster RB Mission Bay Houston 7 Tennessee
Leon Hall CB Vista Cincinnati 9 Michigan
Levine Loiolo TE Helix Atlanta 3 Stanford
Brian Schwenke C Oceanside Tennessee 3 California
Alex Smith QB Helix Kansas City 11 Utah
Kenny Stills WR La Costa
Miami 3 Oklahoma
Jamar Taylor CB Helix Miami 3 Boise State
Damien Williams RB Mira Mesa Miami 3 Oklahoma
Jimmy Wilson S Point Loma San Diego 5 Montana

1971: Saints and Patriots Are Don’t Invitems*

Rick : September 26, 2015 1:46 pm : Football

The Watergate break-in and burglary in Washington, D.C., still was about nine months away, but spying and potential dirty tricks already were part of the landscape in a fierce Eastern League rivalry.

St. Augustine’s defending San  Diego Section champion was scheduled to play Patrick Henry, the city’s “elite”, newest public school, one that quickly had become thought of as being a little full of itself.

“Spies” were amid Leslie’s Patriots.

In only its fourth year, the San Carlos campus numbered 3,281 students in three grades and would grow to more than 4,000 later in the decade, making it one of the larger three-year schools in the state as well as the country.

Head coach Russ Leslie had smoothly built a strong program, posting records of 5-4 and 6-3 in its first two varsity seasons.

Nine miles away in North Park, nestled amid 50- and 60-year-old Craftsman style homes, St. Augustine annually enrolled no more than 650 in an all-boys environment and for years had sought respect and recognition.

As defending champion, the Saints were top-ranked by the Evening Tribune.

The Patriots were No. 2 but the probable favorite to win the San Diego Section championship, especially after a 17-0, opening-game victory over 1970 finalist Grossmont that was followed by a 24-8 win over Point Loma.

The Saints also had opened smartly with victories over Clairemont, 32-0, and University, 21-6, under new coach Larry Shepard, a fiery competitor who learned at the knee of the legendary Birt Slater and had led Kearny to the 1963 title.


Leslie was directing practice Tuesday before the game when it was brought to his attention that St. Augustine students were attempting to “chart and photograph” Patriots’ formations and plays.

“At first we noticed two of them sitting in the stands,” Leslie told the Tribune’s Bill Finley.  “We have four or five kids patrolling the place and they saw these guys writing information in their tablets (probably three-hole binders; this was long before I Pads).

Leslie continued.  “Okay, so we asked them to leave.  A little while later, though, we noticed the two of them along with a third guy in a Saint letterman’s jacket watching us from their car on the hill overlooking our practice field.”

Shepard didn’t command spies.

The Patriots swung into action.

“Some of our players scrambled up the hill, jumped the fence and caught them,” said Leslie.

Leslie offered some evidence.  “We have the letterman’s jacket and the camera,” he said.


Bill Finley made a telephone call to St. Augustine coach Larry Shepard.

“Yeah, those were our kids,” said Shepard, who added, “I didn’t send them.  They did it on their own.”

Shepard told the writer that the students had come to the coach’s office the following morning.  “They said, ‘Here’s what they’re doing’ and gave me some stuff on paper.  You know, I threw it all away.”


Shepard discounted the value of the students’ “scouting”, but was beginning to warm up.

“They can talk all they want about this ‘spy’ stuff, but somebody out there with a good mouth has been calling our coaches and players at home all week to tell us what’s going to happen to us on Friday night.”

Things had not been rosy between the schools since Henry upset the Saints, 7-0, in 1969, forcing a three-way tie for the Eastern League championship with Henry and San Diego.

“Sure, we remember that,” said Shepard.

“What we remember most is that someone watered the (Aztec Bowl) field the day of the game.  We had all that speed in Jesse Ochoa and Frank George and there was no way in the world they could get outside in that muck.”

The Saints won, 7-6, in 1970 and Shepard told Finley he personally made sure that there was no watering of the Balboa Stadium gridiron, which represented the Saints’ home field.

Shepard, conducting a line drill in practice at St. Augustine, remembered muddy field.

And this year, at Aztec Bowl?

“We’re going to have a guy out there keeping an eye on the sprinklers.”


Patrick Henry’s colors were green and gold and its uniforms were replicas of the Green Bay Packers.  The Patriots wanted to run the ball in the fashion of Vince Lombardi’s teams.

Patrick Henry won the early showdown with the Saints, 17-8, rolled all the way to the San Diego Section finals, and lined up again against Grossmont.

“Our team is the type no one likes to see,” said Leslie, pointing out that the Patriots ran 17 consecutive plays off tackle in a 14-8, semifinals victory over El Capitan.

“I’m tired of reading about ‘em,” said Grossmont coach Pat Roberts.  “Every time I think about ‘em I get an anxious feeling from head to toe.”

Roberts’ anxiety was relieved when the Foothillers drove 90 yards to a tying touchdown with 9:38 left in the game.


Grossmont then executed a perfect, two-point conversion and edged the Patriots, 8-7, in the lowest scoring San Diego Section final, a yawner played before more than 13,000 in San Diego Stadium.

Grossmont quarterback Mike Rundle kept the play alive, drifting out of the pocket before he passed to tight end Chuck North in the left corner of the end zone.

“That’s the first time we’ve run that play to the left,” said Roberts.  “We’ve run it to the right, but they had us scouted.”

“The play should work every time,” said Rundle.  “They’re trying to cover three receivers with two defenders.”

Henry contributed to its defeat with three intercepted passes and five lost fumbles.


Clairemont players voted to play the day after popular teacher and coach Gerry Stryker was killed in a plane crash following takeoff from Montgomery Field.

Stryker, 32, a Kearny and San Diego State graduate, and his parents and brother perished along with Stryker’s uncle, who was piloting a twin-engine craft.

Stryker played basketball and baseball at Kearny.

The plane struck power lines on both sides of the I-805 construction site and crashed into a house in the 4000 block of Antiem Street.

No one was hurt on the ground, although Mrs. Edward Peterson told investigators she was thrown from her bed after the plane tore out a tree and crashed into the side of her residence.

Observers reported that the plane began to lose power after takeoff.

“This game was solely for coach Stryker,” said Mark Jones, who rushed for 138 yards in 33 carries and scored the winning touchdown with 1:30 remaining as the Chieftains defeated University, 22-20.


Kearny was going nowhere in the playoffs but traveling in style to get there.

The Komets were bounced by Grossmont, 21-17, in the first round, making their fifth consecutive early exit,  but Kearny ended the season with a Western League winning streak of 28 games and 33 without loss.

Kearny couldn’t stop a Grossmont play called “52 Veer”, which the Foothillers ran with success through the left side of the Linda Vistans’ defense.

“I think we called it five times and got four big gains,” Grossmont’s Roberts said of the maneuver.

“We’re snakebit,” said Kearny coach Birt Slater.

On the brighter side, the Komets hadn’t been beaten in league play since dropping a 19-14 decision to Point Loma in 1966.


Roberts, adorned in school colors, presented trophy to principal Walter Barnett, who played end on Grossmont's 1927 Southern Section championship team.

Roberts, adorned in school colors, presented trophy to principal Walter Barnett, who played end on Grossmont’s 1927 Southern Section championship team.

Roberts pointed to running backs Larry Olson and Mike Hicks when asked why the Foothillers usually disdain the pass, but the coach added, “Maybe I don’t have enough guts.  Whenever we pass I want to hide under the bench.”

Vista’s Dick Haines echoed Roberts.

“Look at the pros,” said Haines.  “Teams that pass 30 times a game lose.  Teams that pass 10-15 times a game win, but maybe we’re just cowards.”

Nick Canepa of the Evening Tribune suggested that Haines brought some of Woody Hayes’ Ohio State offense when Haines relocated from Dover, Ohio.

A 34-12 defeat of Oceanside was Vista’s first over the Pirates since 1960 and only their third in 27 years.

The win was the 131st in Haines career.

“I wouldn’t have known that if my wife hadn’t told me,” claimed the Panthers mentor, who won 12 consecutive league championships in Ohio and took with him to Vista assistant coaches Dave Parks and Steve Korcheran.

Haines won 125 games in Ohio and would claim another 194 at Vista before he retired following the 1994 season.

Vista, 0-9 in 1969 and 4-5 in 1970, Haines’ first season, completed a remarkable turnaround, closing at 10-1 following a 34-7 playoff loss to Grossmont.


Only 28 of Marian’s first 86 games since the school opened in 1961 were played on campus.  Night games at home were out, until Week 3 this season.

“We got some old lights from Mar Vista and we’re in the process of aiming them,” Crusader coach Joy Gritz told Will Watson of The San Diego Union.

Gritz singled out booster club president Chuck Perkins:  “He got the lights, some old telephone poles, and put the transformer in.”

It was Coronado that saw the light(s), defeating the host Crusaders, 10-7, in Marian’s first home game under the arcs.


The name began showing up in results involving San Diego teams in 1969, when Mountain Empire scored an 18-6 victory over CETY’s of Mexicali. Borrego Springs dropped a 23-8 decision this season.

Centro de Ensenanza Tecnica y Superior of Mexicali opened in 1961.  Translated the name essentially means Superior Education Center.

A Tijuana campus would open in 1972 and another in Ensenada in 1975.

San Diego teams in the future would schedule many American football games against squads from the two older Mexican institutions that offer high school and university business and technical curricula.


Coronado raced to a 5-1 start, its best since the Harry Sykes days and the 8-2 club of 1951.

A 5-0 start in the Metropolitan League also had Islanders followers honking horns on the Bay Bridge and celebrating in their yachts on Glorietta Bay.

“We haven’t met the strength of the league,” cautioned coach Gene Greene before a 16-7 victory over Bonita Vista.

Greene knew.  A capacity crowd of more than 3,000 at Cutler Field the next week witnessed a 38-0 loss to Sweetwater.

Coronado was outscored, 85-21, in its last three games, all losses.

Despite the flat finish the Islanders’ 5-4 record was their best since the Roger Rigdon-coached squad was 4-3-1 in 1962.

Quarterback Jim Skaalen, who would go to a 40-year career as a player,  scout, and major league coach in baseball, was so valuable that Greene said, “If we lose him we might as well close our doors and go home.”

Skaalen also starred in basketball and signed a baseball contract out of San Diego State.


The yards weren’t coming for Wally Henry.  He rushed for 910  and made the all-San Diego Section third team at San Diego as a sophomore.

Henry transferred to Lincoln and his numbers fell off to 600 yards this season.

Maybe Wally should block and run at same time.

“We just don’t block for him,” said Hornets coach Earl Faison.  “If he could block for himself he’d be a lot better off.  Wally might be the best blocker we have.”

That Henry was as dangerous as any runner in the area was demonstrated when he scored on a game-deciding 26-yard run as Lincoln beat Crawford, 10-7, knocking the Colts out of the playoffs, and pushing Lincoln through the door.


“A cold East wind swept through here making it an evening not fit for man or beast.  But it apparently was perfect weather for Bugs.”

So wrote the Tribune’s Harlon Bartlett on a blustery, late-fall night at Ramona High, where Julian’s James (Bugs) Ponchetti rushed for 194 yards in 28 carries and scored three touchdowns.

The 170-pound Ponchetti, a Diegueno Indian from the Santa Ysabel band, also played middle linebacker as the Eagles defeated Army-Navy, 30-8, for the San Diego Section A (small schools) championship.

“Bugs”, who has a brother named Charles but is better known as “Goody,” also led the section in scoring with 118 points.


Football would not come until 1983, but The Bishop’s School became co-educational for the first time since opening in 1909 when the all-girls La Jolla student body merged with San Miguel School.

San Miguel originally was located in National City but moved to Linda Vista to a site that would be occupied by upper level students of Francis Parker.

Parker, which began as a college prep curriculum in 1912, had housed all students at its Mission Hills location.


University coach Robert (Bull) Trometter, on the origination of his nickname:  “I used to smoke Bull Durham tobacco.  I couldn’t afford the expensive stuff.”

Santana coach Joe DiTomaso, on diminished success at Santana after a  12-0, championship season at St. Augustine in 1970:  “The last time I walked on water, I fell in.”

Hall rejoiced in his fifth career victory.

Hall celebrated.

QUICK KICKS:  Sweetwater’s Steve Riiff set a San Diego Section record with 52 career touchdown passes, bettering the 48 by San Diego’s Ezell Singleton from 1956-58…Riiff’s mark would stand until Helix’ Jim Plum passed for 70 touchdowns from 1979-81…El Capitan outscored Helix, 14-0, in one quarter and led the East to a 14-0 victory over the West in the 11th annual (16th overall including when the schools were in the Metropolitan League) carnival…Crawford’s 21-14 victory over St. Augustine “was the best win for me since I’ve been a head coach,” said the Colts’ Bill Hall…Hall was 1-8 in 1970 but improved the Colts to 6-2-1 this year….

*With apologies to the late syndicated gossip columnist Walter Winchell, who described bitter rivals as “don’t invitems”, as in don’t extend them an invitation to the same event.


2015: Week 5, Chula Vista & Sweetwater Keep Streak Alive

Rick : September 19, 2015 8:18 am : Football

You haven’t found them in any top 10 poll lately, but in a constantly shifting world one thing is certain:  Chula Vista and Sweetwater will play, every  year.

The South Bay schools, connected by  Highland Avenue in National City and 4th Avenue in the community to the South, have battled each other every season since 1947.  Theirs is the longest continuous rivalry in the County.SweetwaterPrimaryLogo

The Spartans defeated Sweetwater, 35-21, last week, but Sweetwater leads in the game-by-game count, 36 victories against 30 losses and three ties.

Other great series have come and gone, a few to return.

Leagues are realigned or made defunct. Teams move around.  Neighborhoods and demographics change. New schools take the place of old rivals.

Before Sweetwater and Chula Vista there was Grossmont and Sweetwater, the County’s answer to the city’s San Diego and Hoover and La Jolla and Point Loma.

The Red Devils of National City and the Foothillers of La Mesa met all but one year from 1920-60.  Grossmont was in the City Prep League in 1952 and the teams’ schedules were in conflict.Chula-Vista-Spartans

Sweetwater leads, 23-21, and two of those victories came in San Diego Section playoff games in 1970 and ’78.

Grossmont and Sweetwater have not met in the regular season since 1961, when the Foothillers joined the new Grossmont League and Sweetwater remained in the Metropolitan.

The Foothillers by that time had shifted most of their attention to Helix.

The La Mesa neighbors were natural rivals when Helix began classes on the Grossmont campus in 1951.  Helix leads, 39-18-1 and the schools reunited in the Grossmont Hills League in 2010  after going their separate ways in 2000.

San Diego and Hoover played each other every season from 1933-77, but only 27 times in the last 38 seasons.  Hoover is 17-9-1 since 1978 but the Cavemen, who won 18 of the first 23 games, still lead, 39-32-1.

La Jolla and Point Loma played for the Shoe Trophy annually from 1926-72  and just 24 times in the last 43 seasons, although they have been back together in the Western League since 2003.  Point Loma has the edge in the shoe war, 44-24-4.

Oceanside and Escondido first traveled the dirt road that connected their communities in 1926 and watched as that 20-mile link became state highway 78. Escondido holds a 40-28-5 advantage in the oldest Northern rivalry, but the Cougars and Pirates have not met since 2006.

Week 5 Union-Tribune poll, after four weeks of games:

# Team (1st place votes) Points W-L Previous
1.  Mission Hills (20) 235 4-0 1
2. Helix (4) 212 2-1 2
3. St. Augustine 197 3-1 3
4. Oceanside 164 3-1 5
5. El Camino 125 4-0 7
6. La Costa Canyon 103 3-1 10
7. Rancho Bernardo 45 3-1 4
8. Eastlake 44 2-2 NR
9. Christian 42 2-1 9
10. San Marcos 40 3-1 NR

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes (record & points in parenthesis): Madison (2-2, 39), westview (4-0, 26), Cathedral (1-3, 16), Point Loma (3-1, 9), Bonita Vista (3-1, 8), Grossmont (3-0), Mater Dei  (3-0, 8 points each), Mission Bay (4-0, 2), Valhalla (2-1), Poway (2-2), 1 point each.

24 Media and CIF representatives vote each week: John Maffei (U-T San Diego), Steve Brand, Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Jim Lindgren, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego correspondents), Bill Dickens, Chris Davis (East County, Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM), John (Coach) Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak (The Mighty 1090), Rick Willis, Brandon Stone (KUSI-TV), Rick Smith (, Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (, Drew Smith (, Lisa Lane (San Diego Preps Insider), Raymond Brown (, Montell Allen (


A 37-7 victory over Cathedral elevated Helix to No. 17 in the Cal-Hi Sports‘ state rankings. Mission Hills remained 16th and on-the-bubble recognition went to St. Augustine, La Costa Canyon, and Oceanside.


Twelve teams will try to maintain their undefeated status this week.

Mission Hills, Calexico Vincent Memorial, Calvary Christian San Diego, El Camino, Westview, El Centro Southwest, Mission Bay, and The Rock are each 4-0.

Army-Navy, Grossmont, Maranatha, and Mater Dei are 3-0.


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2015 Week 4: Helix Seeks Return to Top 20

Rick : September 15, 2015 8:09 am : Football

Helix has vanished!

From Cal-Hi Sports.

The Highlanders  are nowhere to be found in this week’s top 20 ratings.

Coach Troy Starr’s Scots are 1-1 and coming off a 56-7 blowout of Eastlake.  They aren’t even given “On the Bubble” status, that “something’s missing here” honor being accorded locally only to Cathedral and St. Augustine.

“A typo,” said Cal-Hi’s Mark Tennis, who said the Highlanders really are a bubble team this week.

Helix and Mission Hills also are on the bubble in Division I, which lists 15 teams.

Helix, No. 1 in San Diego and No. 12 in Cal-Hi Sports in preseason, will need to beat Cathedral if it entertains any hope of climbing back in to the state’s top 20.

That game, featuring the Union-Tribune poll No. 2 Scots and No. 9 Dons, is the marquee event on this week’s schedule, just ahead of No. 4 Rancho Bernardo’s playing host to La Costa Canyon (10).

San Diego’s only representative in the State Top 20 is San Diego No. 1 Mission Hills.  The Grizzlies are 16th, same as last week, after a 48-7 rout at mediocre Long Beach Millikan.

Week 4 poll, after three weeks of games:

# Team (1st place votes) Points W-L Previous
1.  Mission Hills (23) 239 3-0 1
2. Helix (3) 204 2-1 3
3. St. Augustine 196 2-1 2
4. Rancho Bernardo 136 3-0 4
5. Oceanside 125 2-1 6
6. Madison 116 2-1 5
7. El Camino 89 3-0 10
8. Cathedral 84 1-2 9
9. Christian 33 2-1 7
10. La Costa Canyon 24 2-1 NR

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes (record & points in parenthesis):San Marcos (2-1, 18) Bonita Vista (2-1, 25), Eastlake (1-2, 10), Mater Dei (3-0, 9),Torrey Pines (1-1, 34), Point Loma (2-1, 7), Hoover (2-0, 13), Westview (3-0), The Bishop’s (3-0), Grossmont (3-0), 3 points each; Mission Bay (3-0, 2),Poway (2-1, 1).

Media and CIF representatives vote each week: John Maffei (U-T San Diego), Steve Brand, Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Jim Lindgren, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff (U-T San Diego correspondents), Bill Dickens, Chris Davis (East County, Steve (Biff) Dolan, Rick (Red) Hill (Mountain Country 107.9 FM), John (Coach) Kentera, Ted Mendenhall, Bob Petinak (The Mighty 1090), Rick Willis, Brandon Stone (KUSI-TV), Rick Smith (, Jerry Schniepp, John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section), Bodie DeSilva (, Drew Smith (, Lisa Lane (San Diego Preps Insider), Raymond Brown (, Montell Allen (


Coach Tristan McCoy has reversed the downward spiral at Ranch Bernardo…5-6, 1-10, and 1-9 in his first three seasons, McCoy led the Broncos to a 10-3 record in 2014 and they are  3-0 this season…Rancho Bernardo is 14th in Cal-Hi Sports‘ D-II, while St. Augustine is fifth and Cathedral seventh…Christian is on the bubble in D-III.

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1970: The Saints Finally March In

Rick : September 9, 2015 9:52 am : Football

“Neither rain nor sleet nor snow can keep the Saints from twelve and oh.”

That pregame prophecy,  as reported by Bill Center of The San  Diego Union, was scrawled on a chalkboard in a pregame meeting room under the Aztec Bowl stands before St. Augustine’s playoff against Escondido.

The week before, running backs Frankie George and Jesse Ochoa, playing as a tandem for one of the few times in the season, rushed for a combined 254 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 38-7, opening round win over Madison.

Frankie George was two-way star for Saints.

Frankie George was two-way star for Saints.

The Saints were confident and should have been.

Ochoa complemented George.

Ochoa complemented George.

They dispatched Escondido, 21-0, in the semifinal game on a soggy gridiron and prompted Cougars coach Chick Embrey to remark, “It would have been worse if the field was dry.”

The championship game against Grossmont, before a San Diego Section record crowd of 18,827, would have had more cachet if quarterback Matt Fahl were not sidelined by a  sprained knee early in the Foothillers’ 26-20 win over Sweetwater.

The Saints’ defense carried the day in a 13-8 victory and coach Joe DiTomaso, after coming up short in the finals in 1967, in the semifinals in 1969, and missing out on the postseason despite a 7-2 record in 1968, became  the second coach of a 12-0 team in San Diego County history, matching the San Diego Hilltoppers of 1916.

The Saints’ Greg Ricks hit Grossmont quarterback Mike Rundle as he delivered a pass that Robert George  intercepted and returned 43 yards to set up a touchdown by Frank George, who had 16 unassisted tackles on defense. Robert also ran 67 yards for a touchdown with a recovered fumble for a score.

Grossmont was without starting quarterback Matt Fahl.

Grossmont was without starting quarterback Matt Fahl.


Grossmont outgained St. Augustine, 257-226, and had 16 first downs to 11.  Rundle completed 7 of 12 passes for 78 yards and two interceptions.

Rundle took over for the injured Fahl the week before in a 26-20 semifinal, leading the ‘Hillers on a 51-yard touchdown drive to the come-from-behind, winning touchdown with 40 seconds to play that overcame a  20-0 deficit manufactured by Sweetwater quarterback Mike Riiff and running back Mike Ruiz.


Castle Park coach Gil Warren, whose team averaged 40 points and won its last seven games, was on the outside looking in when  playoff brackets were announced.

The Trojans finished the season with a 7-2 record after losing to Sweetwater, 20-13, and Granite Hills, 14-12, in their first two games.,

So inexperienced were the Trojans at the start of the season, they were penalized three times versus Granite Hills when players exited the field to the wrong sideline.

“I think we’re the hottest team in the CIF now and we’ve got results to prove it,” said Warren.

Warren had a compelling argument:

“The committee voted San Diego into the playoffs (as a higher seed than St. Augustine in 1969), because San Diego was the hottest team in the (Eastern) league at the end of the regular season.”

Warren  lost.  That defeat to Granite Hills allowed the Grossmont League’s Santana, 6-3 overall and 5-2 in loop play, to squeeze in.  The Sultans had a 26-13 victory over Granite Hills.

Embrey won his 100th.

Embrey won his 100th.


Escondido’s Chick Embrey passed a milestone achieved only once in the first 79 seasons of games played by teams in San Diego County.

Embrey, in his 15th season as the Cougars’ coach, won his 100th career game, becoming the second area mentor to achieve that number.

Grossmont’s Jack Mashin was the first, winning 124 games in a career that stretched from 1923-47.

Embrey reached triple digits in his 138th game, Mashin in his 164th,  a 21-6 victory over Oceanside in 1941.

Embrey began the season with 98 victories.  No. 100 did not come easily.

The Cougars dropped a 13-12 decision at San Luis Obispo after a six-hour bus ride in the opening game.

The loss followed with win No. 99, a  22-0 shutout of Poway, but that was a met by another loss, 8-7 to Carlsbad.  Escondido finally put Embrey over the hump with a 41-6 triumph against Vista.


Two prominent coaches from other eras had outstanding records but retired a few wins short.

San  Diego’s Duane Maley was 97-19-3 from 1948-59.  John Perry was 92-45-11 from 1920-26 at San Diego and from 1930-39 at Hoover.

Perry stepped aside from coaching and was in charge of the physical education department at San Diego from 1927-29.

Grossmont's Travis Hitt (42) fumbles (left) in first half and St. Augustine's Curt Young recoversin end zone (right) to thwart Foothillers.

Grossmont’s Travis Hitt (42) fumbles (left) in first half and St. Augustine’s Curt Young recovers in end zone (right) to thwart Foothillers.


Twenty Orange Glen players came down with viral meningitis and the Patriots were forced to forfeit their Avocado League game to San Marcos.

“The cancelation of the game was no fault of the players or schools, so I don’t think either should be punished,” said coach Dick Disney, petitioning for a rescheduled game.

Disney told Bill Center that a game could be played the Monday or Tuesday after the regular season.

“If they say play, we’ll play,” said San Marcos coach Bob Woodhouse,  “You know we don’t like winning games that way, but on the other hand it’s hard to prepare for a game with only 3 days at most in between,”

San Diego Section commissioner Don Clarkson, who would take such a request to the CIF board of managers, encouraged Disney.  “The board might approve such a game,” said Clarkson.  “It is not something the school could have stopped or had any control over.”

The issue went up the administrative ladder.  “I don’t know what use it would serve,” said Guilford (Bud) Quade, the Escondido School District superintendent.

“The game still would be a forfeit,” Quade added.  “We’d try to help, but there would be a lot in the way of a game after the season.”

Quade was being charitable.  His message quickly reached the ears of Orange Glen principal Pat Ross, who spoke with Center a few days later:

“Any discussions we had are over and it’s a closed issue now,” said Ross.

Disney started the Orange Glen program from scratch, built it into an 11-0 juggernaut in 1969 and was 39-39-3 when he stepped down after the 1971 campaign.

He always remembered the losing game his team never played.


A burgeoning superstar was sophomore Wally Henry of San Diego.

“He’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Cleveland Jones,” said Cavers coach Allan (Scotty) Harris, who coached the legendary Jones when both were at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

“Wally’s not that fast, but he has tremendous balance and quickness.  He doesn’t fumble, he doesn’t drop a pass.  It takes an army to knock him down.”

Henry got his chance to play when starter Elijah Turner was hurt.  “I wanted to bring him along slowly,” said Harris.  “Now we can’t get him out of there.”

As Jerry Powell had done four years before, Henry transferred from San Diego to Lincoln, where former Chargers star Earl Faison replaced Shan Deniston as head coach.  Scotty Harris retired at San Diego and  Deniston replaced Harris.

Bill (left) and Bruce left their marks at Helix before UCLA.

Bill (left) and Bruce left their marks at Helix and UCLA.


UCLA’s gain was Helix’ loss.  The Highlanders took a 49-game winning streak into the opening game of the 1970-71 basketball season, but, sans Bill and Bruce Walton, the Highlanders were denied No. 50, losing, 63-61, to Kearny.

Bruce was a starting forward on the 29-2, 1968-69 club.  Bill was the architect of that season’s success and a 33-0 campaign the following season.

Bruce already was on the Bruins’ football varsity when freshman Bill showed up for basketball.


San Diegans may be driving to El Centro to catch planes for Chicago and Boston or Washington in another 15 years, according to the top story in The San Diego Union local section.

A federal committee said it may be necessary for San Diegans to use the El Centro Naval Air Facility as a second airport unless an alternate site for Lindbergh Field is developed before then.

Hmm, uh-huh.


DiTomaso's unbeaten Saints became second to win 12 games.

DiTomaso’s unbeaten Saints became second to win 12 games.

St. Augustine coach Joe DiTomaso saluted the effectiveness of the 4-4-3 defense installed by assistant Larry Shepard, who made his bones as a quarterback at Kearny in 1963.

Saints linebackers Larry Mascari, Frankie, and Robert George, augmented by cornerback Monte Jackson and several other defenders, were standouts in a group that held 12 opponents to a touchdown a game.

Mascari was from a family that had produced St. Augustine players since 1948.  Jackson played at San Diego State and was the first selection in the second round of the 1975 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson led the NFL with 10 pass interceptions in 1978 and played nine seasons.

Monte’s younger, freshman brother Terry was a fifth-round draft choice of the New York Giants out of San Diego State in 1978 and played eight seasons.


Kearny annually was knocked out of the playoffs, this year for the fourth consecutive time, but the Komets owned the Western League.  They were in the midst of a 28-game league winning streak that started in 1967 and would not be broken until 1972.


It was a yearly complaint.  The CIF once again appeared inadequately prepared for the playoff game between St. Augustine and Grossmont, two programs known for large followings.

Kickoff was delayed 10 minutes to accommodate the crowd, which flocked to the three ticket booths at Aztec Bowl.


Commissioner Don Clarkson, after complaints in 1969, arranged for playoff dates so that there were two games each on Friday and Saturday in the first-round, quarterfinals and one game each on Friday and Saturday in the semifinals.

The playoffs were expanded to eight teams and had the authenticity of an upper and lower bracket.  A legitimate and workable thirty-three per cent of the Section’s large schools earned postseason bids.

The CIF finally had come up with a playoff format that satisfied everyone.


Ruiz's playoff run led to scoring title.

Ruiz’s playoff run led to scoring title.

University of San Diego High became coed for the first time…many students from the closed Cathedral High for girls in downtown San Diego enrolled at Uni…Sweetwater’s Mike Ruiz scored 99 points in the regular season, three touchdowns and four PAT behind the 121 of Castle Park’s George Ohnessorgen, but Ruiz knocked down 40 points in two playoff games to earn the County scoring touchdown with 139…Joe DiTomaso, a 1954 graduate of St. Augustine, left after the 1970-71 school year and became coach at Santana…with a growing family, the move was easier with pay definitely higher in the Grossmont School District and the hours  shorter…Clairemont defeated Hoover, 47-44, after scoring only 42 points in the first six games…Bill Center  estimated that 13,000 persons attended the annual city bragging rights game between Escondido and Orange Glen…”The stands overflowed, there was standing room only, and the banks on both end zones were full,” said The San Diego Union correspondent…Center also estimated that 13,000 overflowed Aztec Bowl for the Grossmont-Sweetwater playoff…Grossmont coach Pat Roberts’ philosophy on defense:  “Fight as hard as you can, get to the ball, and get there as ugly as you can”…Santana defensive back Steve West had the pedigree…dad Harry West was head coach at San Diego City College, played in the Rose Bowl as a collegian for the University of California, and teamed with Cosimo Cutri to form the “Touchdown Twins” at San Diego in 1945…

Official Jack Taylor lost his footing but still made call of completed catch for Grossmont's John Gavin against El Capitan.

Official Jack Taylor lost his footing but still made call of completed catch for Grossmont’s John Gavin against El Capitan.


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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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