1941:  “I Want to Play Someone I Can Beat”

33VanPatten and logo0001That refrain was heard early and often in the CIF Southern Section.  It is heard today, more than 100 years later.

Coaches, players, administrators, fans, even the media, want to see their teams positioned to win or at least able to compete evenly.

That’s the way it was when the interscholastic federation was formed in 1913, as about 30 high schools from Santa Barbara south actually were playing football, in 5 or 6 very loosely formed “leagues”.

The latest attempt to find competitive balance resulted this year.  Schools of substantial enrollment tried something radically different.

According to Southern Section historian John Dahlem, commissioner Seth Van Patten on May 18, 1940, appointed a committee to study re-leaguing, specifically as it was related to the CIF’s larger entities, i.e., San Diego, Hoover, Long Beach Poly, and others.

Van Patten named four administrators to the group, including the No. 2 man at San Diego High, vice principal Edward Taylor.

All-CIF end Eldon Johnson welcomed Roy Engle to Hoover coaching staff in a year of change for Cardinals and Coast League.

All-CIF end Eldon Johnson welcomed Roy Engle to Hoover coaching staff in a year of change for Cardinals and Coast League.

Excerpted from the CIF Annual Report for 1940-41:

–The “reorganization committee” was charged with addressing the “problems of releaguing.”

–The group met four times during the first semester of the 1940-41 school year and presented its recommendations to the section’s Executive Council on Feb. 1, 1941:

“(a) That all leagues except the Coast League (which included San Diego, Poly, and Hoover) remain as set up at that time.

“(b) That the Coast League be disbanded.

“(c) That for Class A football only a “Major Conference” of seventeen large schools be set up and a schedule for a two-year period be adopted.”

(The seventeen large schools were Alhambra, Alhambra Mark Keppel, Beverly Hills, Compton, Glendale, Glendale Hoover, San Diego Hoover, Inglewood, Long Beach Poly, Lawndale Leuzinger, Pasadena, Redondo Beach Redondo, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Whittier, and Long Beach Wilson).

“(d) That in all sports except Class A football, San Diego Hoover, Poly, Pasadena, San Diego, and Santa Barbara compete as free-lance.

“(e) That the five schools named in paragraph (d) elect a representative to the Council.”


The Council approved the recommendation in paragraph (c) and a schedule was drawn up for 1941 with the understanding that for 1942 the same schedule would be followed with sites of games being reversed.

The events in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, changed everything.

The Major Conference lasted one year as the CIF retreated and struggled through World War II, but the conference served as another example of the unending difficulty of scheduling and  finding balance.

Putting all of the big schools together seemingly gave those with fewer enrollment numbers a more level field on which to compete for league championships.

“It was the problem of individual schools wanting to determine where they were re-leagued and what gave them their best possible chance of winning,” said Dahlem.   “Same problem today.

“The schools which hadn’t done well wanted into an ‘easier competitive league’ and were tired of never winning a big championship.

“The seventeen-school conference,” Dahlem added, “was the temporary answer to age-old questions of re-leaguing, meaning,  ‘I want to play someone I can beat.’”

The top three finishers in the Major Conference qualified for the playoffs.  The winner of the San Gabriel Valley League would provide a fourth postseason qualifier.

Talk of disbanding the playoffs often was on the table.  The playoffs would continue this season and a four-team bracket would take care of the postseason in two weeks.


San Diego coach Joe Beerkle could be contemplating Cavers' departure from Coast League as tackle George Schutte (middle) and center Roy Guy concentrate on football in coach's hands.

San Diego coach Joe Beerkle could be contemplating Cavers’ departure from Coast League as tackle George Schutte (middle) and center Roy Guy concentrate on football in coach’s hands.

San Diego was a charter member with Long Beach Poly, Whittier, Santa Ana, Pasadena, and Fullerton when the Coast League was re-constituted in 1923-24, but schools came and went as travel and competition was problematic.

Glendale and South Pasadena joined in 1925-26 as Fullerton dropped out.  Whittier and South Pas bailed in 1929-30.  Long Beach Wilson came aboard in 1930-31.

Wilson left the League and Fullerton returned in 1931-32. Fullerton was out again in 1933-34.  Pasadena and Glendale said sayonara after the 1934-35 school year.

Always strong with from six to eight schools, the Coast was down to four, San Diego, Alhambra, Poly, and Santa Ana, in 1935-36. The number returned to six in 1936-37, when San Diego Hoover and Long Beach Wilson were added.

Charter member Santa Ana dropped out in 1937-38.  Wilson was gone again in 1938-39 as only Alhambra, Hoover, and Poly remained.

Alhambra exited after 1938-39. The Coast was down to San Diego, Hoover, and Poly.

Van Patten dropped hammer on Oceanside.

Van Patten dropped hammer on Oceanside.

John Dahlem said there was a general consensus before the 1941 re-leaguing process that “if the Coast League could be settled for football  re-leaguing problems would be settled.”

It never was settled.

The Major Conference may have been a good idea, but W.W. II ended that option.

The war ended in 1945, promising prosperity and the G.I. Bill,  but the Coast League never regained its early form.

By 1947-48 there was a shaky alliance of San Diego, Hoover, Pasadena, Compton, Pasadena Muir, Grossmont (except football) and Bakersfield (football only).

In 1950, San Diego, Grossmont, and Hoover helped form the San Diego City Prep League.


“Not many schools wanted to play San Diego because of its prowess and the distance to travel,” said John Dahlem.

Other factors were in play.

“There were many complaints against Oceanside High School and its lack of control over eligibility, and the Metropolitan League (of which Oceanside was a member) was under constant scrutiny,” said Dahlem.

Van Patten had suspended two Oceanside players in 1940 after determining they were illegally recruited and forced the Pirates to forfeit two victories.


Gardner helmed Sweetwater's 8-0 season.

Gardner helmed Sweetwater’s 8-0 season.

Cletis Gardner, the former Villanova fullback who enjoyed 35-year career in San Diego as coach, game official (several years in the NFL), and master of ceremonies, guided Sweetwater to an 8-0 record and the school’s first undefeated season.

It wasn’t until 1972, when Dave Lay led the Red Devils to a 12-0 record, that Sweetwater repeated an all-victorious season.

Freeman Moeser led the Red Devils and the Metropolitan League with 8 touchdowns in league play.


Escondido had a new coach, Bill Duncan, who came South from El Monte to replace Charlie McEuen, who replaced Marvin Clark at La Jolla, where McEuen was joined by assistant  coach Don Clarkson.

Duncan moved into the house in Escondido that McEuen vacated.

The Cougars’ boss had a history with San Diego.  He was an assistant coach to Wallace (Chief) Newman at Covina, which defeated San Diego, 13-6, in an infamous Southern Section championship in 1925.

Covina was found guilty of using players from the Riverside Sherman Institute , but the Colts never gave up the title or the championship trophy.


Roy Engle, the star of Hoover’s first victory over San Diego in 1935, returned to his alma mater and was an assistant coach to Pete Walker.

The 23-year-old Engle took over for Walker early the week of the San Diego game when Walker was laid up with the flu.

Engle the following spring coached Hoover to the Southern California baseball championship.  Among Cardinals standouts on the baseball team was future major leaguer Ray Boone, whose two sons, Bob and Bret had long careers in the majors, as did grandson Aaron.


Hoover’s Ben Chase, who did not attend school in 1939-40, returned as Hoover’s quarterback and threw perhaps the longest pass in area history, 63 yards in the air.

From his 45-yard line Chase reared back and flung a towering spiral that end Eldon Johnson caught 8 yards deep in the end zone, according to writer Bob Angus of The San Diego Union.

Pasadena weathered Chase’s shot and went home with an 18-13 victory.

Chase’s throw bettered the 57-yards-in-the-air completion by San Diego High alum Harold (Brick) Muller, who connected with teammate Brodie Stephens in the 1921 Rose Bowl.

Some reports disagreed on Muller’s distance.  His Wikipedia profile says 53 yards.  Another says his pass was 70 yards.

San Diego counted on halfback Archie McGrath.

San Diego counted on halfback Archie McGrath.


San Diego coach Joe Beerkle padlocked gates to Balboa Stadium on the first day of practice before the Hoover game and issued a terse statement to the media following practice:  “We worked on offense and defense.”

Beerkle the next day held relay races, seniors against underclassmen, on the upper practice field, then took the team into the stadium for another closed workout.

San Diego defeated Hoover in the big game, 19-7, before about 12,000 persons.


Parking meters were being installed downtown, necessitating a need for taxi stands, hotel manager H. A. Williams argued before the city council.

Williams said that unless there were cab stands hundreds of hacks would be forced to “cruise” for fares.

Traffic congestion was growing, accelerated  by private and public vehicles used by thousands of new residents  working in the suddenly critical defense industry.


On Oct. 3, 1941,  Jim Londos defended his share of the world heavyweight wrestling championship by pinning Juan Umberto in the 43rd minute of a one-hour, one-fall match in the Coliseum, 15th and E Streets.

Danno O’Mahoney won over LaVerne Baxter by a disqualification.  Myron Cox pinned Manuel Rodriguez via a Japanese headlock.  Chris Zaharias defeated Pete Peterson and Hardboiled Hardy Kruiskamp took the measure of Vic Hill.


Hoover end Eldon Johnson was named to the all-Southern California third team, the only local athlete honored.


About 100 boys and girls from Hoover took part in “Ice Activities” at Glacier Gardens on Harbor Drive…Ice skating as a CIF sport?…The battle between Army-Navy and Brown Military academies was postponed a week as cadets were released to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday…the teams battled to a 6-6 tie when they got together days later…Hoover and Grossmont kicked off at 3:45 p.m. for a day-night single header…first half was played under the sun, second half under the lights at Hoover…San Diego and Hoover defeated Point Loma and La Jolla, 21-7, in the third annual City Schools carnival before about 7,000 in Balboa Stadium…San Diego High vice principal Edward Taylor  became principal of the new, Kearny Junior-Senior high on Kearny Mesa…rained out on Friday night, Hoover and Santa Barbara met the next afternoon on the Cardinals’ gridiron…the visiting Dons, destined to win the Major Conference and CIF titles, coasted to a 27-0 win…it was a strange year at Fallbrook…the Warriors finished with a 4-0-1 record to win the Southern League, then forfeited their final game to Brown Military…along the way, head coach Forrest Lindsay stepped down after three games and was replaced by Lloyd Dever and Charles Coutts….

Red Devils rolled with Freeman Moeser.

Red Devils rolled with Freeman Moeser.

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2015: Hurdler Bob Fortin, Coach Morris Shepherd

Track standout Bob Fortin, 68, and Vista and Chula Vista head coach Morris Shepherd, 95, passed.

Fortin was one of top hurdlers in the San Diego Section and had a best time of :14.7 in the 120-yard high hurdles as a senior at Crawford in 1964.

“Snortin” Fortin, as he was affectionately known because of the guttural sounds Fortin made exerting himself over the barriers, had the fourth best time in the area.

Morrie Shepherd was head coach at Vista in 1948 and Chula Vista in 1949 and ‘50, with an overall record of 13-12-1.

The 1948 Vista Panthers were 7-2, 4-0 in the Southern League, and outscored league opponents, 148-0.

Vista defeated San Dieguito, 20-0, for the league championship on Armistice Day but were beaten, 20-13, by Tustin in the Southern California lower division championship game.

Shepherd was on the staff at Sir Francis Drake High in San Anselmo and was head of driver training for the Tamalpais School District for many years before retiring in 1981 and returning to the San Diego area.

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1937: Vexed Wex(ler) Pulls Plug

Harry Wexler’s Escondido team was penalized 15 yards before it ran a play or even took the field for the second half against Grossmont.

Furious, Wexler basically challenged referee Charlie Smith to perform a physically impossible act.

The veteran mentor, refusing to acknowledge the unusual display of  Smith’s flag, ordered the Cougars off the Grossmont gridiron, where the host Foothillers held a 7-0 lead.

Escondido coach didn't take kindly to referee's decision.

Escondido coach didn’t take kindly to referee’s decision.

Smith penalized the North County eleven for not being on the field at the designated time for the third-quarter kickoff. Writer Charlie Byrne of The San Diego Union, reported that the visitors were seven minutes late.

Savage pointed out that the Spalding Rule Book for interscholastic football states “that teams must be ready to play by the end of the 15-minute intermission without notification by officials.”


Wexler’s argument was that no one in Smith’s crew gave what Wexler said was the customary “three-minute heads up”.

Smith could have picked up his flag had he deemed the delay excusable.

“I felt that our delay certainly was excusable,” said Wexler.  “I knew of the rule.  I even remarked to our players that the intermission seemed unusually long.”

Smith notified Grossmont captain Vaughn Stewart, who accepted the penalty after turning to the sideline and coach Jack Mashin, who seemed to almost agree with Wexler.


“I didn’t feel I should reverse my captain’s decision on the penalty,” said Mashin.  “If I didn’t back him up, which meant backing up the team, I don’t know how I would expect the team, or the student body, to back me up.”

King Kaufman, president of the Grossmont School Board, was at the game and unsuccessfully tried to convince Wexler to continue. Meanwhile, several hundred spectators milled about the officials, although there was no disorder, reported Byrne.

Escondido players appeared shocked at their coach’s decision and stayed on the field for several minutes before heading to their buses and the trip home.

Referee Smith was unavailable for comment.

Grossmont the winner by forfeit, 1-0.


Glenn Broderick was in his third and surprisingly final season at San Diego High. After guiding the Cavemen to successive 6-2-1 and 6-1-1 records in 1935 and ‘36, Broderick presided over a program that was slipping into mediocrity.

Undefeated season  would lead Beerkle to San Diego High.

Undefeated season would lead Beerkle to San Diego High.

San Diego finished with a 3-5 record and Broderick was out.  Point Loma’s Joe Beerkle, 20-4-1 in three seasons and a school record 8-0 this season, succeeded Broderick.

Paul (Red) Isom, who led the County in scoring with 9 touchdowns and 54 points, coincidentally accompanied Beerkle to San Diego, where Joe was head coach into 1942 and posted a record of 17-14-2.

Beerkle’s record is not including the split squads of the Cavemen and Hillers that were a combined 13-2-2 in 1942.  San Diego was 1-0 as a complete squad that season.

Beerkle was 6-4 and 6-0-1 in his first two seasons with the Pointers but offered a gloomy forecast for 1937.

“Everybody is going to be gunning for us, but the sad part of it is, we’re not going to have anything worth gunning for,” said Beerkle.


The Pointers had seven returning lettermen  but had lost 11 and returned only one starter. Two other letter winners moved away and three more either were nursing injuries, ineligible, or in the case of one, recovering from an appendectomy.

Harry LeBarron, a strapping, 175-pound end, contributed to Beerkle’s woe by announcing that he was retiring.

Isom quarterbacked unbeaten squad.

Isom quarterbacked unbeaten squad.

LeBarron was giving up football to concentrate on golf.  He had qualified for the 1936 Southern California Junior finals.

But LeBarron returned in Week 2 and made the all-Metropolitan League second team.

Isom was a threat every time he touched the ball and the rising power on the peninsula raced to an 8-0 record, punctuated by a 64-13 rout of Oceanside in the final game.

Keeping with tradition, the Pointers declined to participate in the Southern California minor division playoffs.


The highlight of Broderick’s last season was a 14-13 win over Coast League rival Alhambra.

Black, who also doubled as senior class president, saved Cavers win over Alhambra.

Black, who also doubled as senior class president, saved Cavers’ win over Alhambra.

Leonard Black ran 96 yards with an intercepted pass for a touchdown and Bob Bridgeman kicked two points after touchdowns as the Cavemen  took a 14-7 lead into the final minutes.

Alhambra scored a touchdown but its try for point hit the crossbar, leaving San Diego in front, 14-13.

Problem.  The Cavemen were off-side.  The Moors lined up for another try, this time attempting a running play, but Black stuffed the runner at the goal line.


The season record was the poorest since 1914 and the Hilltoppers were last in the Coast League for the first time since the circuit was formed in 1923.

“Wish they had that fight all the time,” Broderick remarked to Charlie Byrne, after a particularly spirited practice before the annual intersectional battle at Phoenix.

“If the fellows were like that all the time we’d win all our games,” said Broderick.

The Hillmen offered little at Phoenix, outgained, 280-91, out-downed, 14-5, and outscored, 19-0.

The team returned home but Broderick had to remain in the Arizona city, arranging for hospital care for lineman Dick Butler, stricken an hour after the game and operated on for a hernia.

Butler would be hospitalized for two weeks, but Broderick made sure a radio was  placed in his room and Phoenix officials agreed after San Diego complaints that they would not use local officials for future games in Arizona.

It was that kind of trip.


Broderick, who joined the faculty in 1926,  left San Diego at the end of the school year and went out a winner.

Glenn Broderick (fourth from left) was a senior athletic department official at San Diego High with Mike Morrow (second from left).  Others (from left) are Ted Wilson, Charlie Church, Ed Ruffa, and Bill Schutte.

Glenn Broderick (fourth from left) was a senior athletic department official at San Diego High with Mike Morrow (second from left). Others (from left) are Ted Wilson, Charlie Church, Ed Ruffa, Frank Crosby, and Bill Schutte.

The Cavers were beaten by Hoover, 63-58, and finished in a tie for the Coast League track and field title with the Cardinals and Long Beach Wilson.

Hoover defeated San Diego for the first time in a dual meet by winning the 880-yard relay, final event in a school record 1:30.7.

But the Cavers scored 24 points to beat the runner-up Cardinals in the Southern California finals and outscored 88 other teams with 18 points and won the state team title.

Broderick left teaching and worked at Convair for many years.  He eventually returned to a first love, track and field, and was a starter and timer for many years at area events.

Hoover's Bob Carr turned Ernie McNulty's pass into a 28-yard touchdown play and left one San Diego defender on the ground and another he faked as Carr made his way to end zone.

Hoover’s Bob Carr turned Ernie McNulty’s pass into a 28-yard touchdown play that  left a teammate and one San Diego defender on the ground and another wary and uncertain as Carr faked his way to end zone.


Hoover was 6-2 and defeated San Diego, 13-6, for a second victory in three years over the Cavers.

Ernie McNulty led all rushers in the San Diego game with 50 yards in 12 carries and punted with amazing power, averaging 43 yards on  eight attempts.

Hoover had a 104-yard advantage in the kicking game.  San Diego averaged only 29 yards a punt.

McNulty also boomed a 50-yard, coffin-corner kick that expired on El Monte’s six-yard line.  The Cardinals’ 19-6 win over the visiting Bears in the final game was a season highlight. El Monte was champion of the Pacific League in the San Gabriel Valley.


Hoover's Bob DeLauer played in two Rose Bowls for USC and was with the Cleveland Rams of NFL in 1942.

Hoover quarterback-punter Bob DeLauer played in two Rose Bowls for USC and was with the Cleveland Rams of NFL in 1942.

So impressed was the Hoover booster club that the group, made up of area businessmen, presented 25 players with engraved gold footballs.

The Cardinals also were celebrated as city champions, although they didn’t play unbeaten Point Loma.

St. Augustine claimed the city private school championship with a 25-0 victory over Brown Military Academy.


Sweetwater’s Dinon Bush scheduled two opponents in one day.  The Red Devils played to a scoreless tie with San Juan Capistrano and defeated San Dieguito, 18-6.

Bush, an  ex-San Diego State gridder who most recently coached at Hemet, divided a squad of 50 players into three units.  Quarters were 10 minutes instead of the standard 12.

Nonlettermen with experience played Capistrano.  Sweetwater players who lost to El Centro the previous week took on San Dieguito.

The triumvirate was complete when sophomores played in both games, relieving the first two groups.


First-Year La Jolla coach Marvin Clark followed the road west.

Clark played at the University of Arizona in Tucson and then accepted a position  240 miles away, on the Arizona-California border, where he was head coach for nine years  at Yuma.

Clark moved  west another 73 miles when he was head coach for two seasons at Brawley  in California’s Imperial Valley, and finished his voyage to  the shores of the Pacific Ocean when Clark moved to La Jolla, 134 miles from Brawley.

Clark found his niche in the seaside community.  He eventually became the Vikings’ principal before retiring in the early ‘sixties.


Seventeen players from Carlsbad High in  Southeast New Mexico marched into the city room of the Carlsbad Current-Argus and announced they were boycotting the next day’s Thanksgiving Day game with hated rival Artesia.

According to the Associated Press, school officials had refused the players permission to watch the USC football team practice.  The Trojans, as is custom, stopped in Carlsbad on their railroad trip to South Bend, Indiana, to play Notre Dame.

Insult, according to the AP, was added to injury when the Carlsbad players also were denied permission to accept an  invitation to accompany the USC squad on a sight-seeing tour through Carlsbad Caverns.

School officials somewhat condescendingly said, “They’ll play tomorrow.”

The girls' tumbling squad provided halftime entertainment at La Jolla's home games.

The girls’ tumbling squad provided halftime entertainment at La Jolla’s home games.


Southern Section commissioner Seth Van Patten was elected for another term that would pay him $2,400 annually.  The CIF budget was approved at $4,500.  A 19-year-old age minimum was established and schools in the city of San Francisco formed the sixth CIF Section.


More than 170 firefighters battled a blaze on the west slope of the iconic  Mount San Miguel, which overlooked the Southeast corner of the County.  The fire was started by a bolt of lightning and fueled by Santa Ana winds and hot, late-summer temperatures.


Two changes in the football rule book would stand the test of time…kickoffs were reduced to one attempt…if the ball went out of bounds, the receiving team automatically started on its 35-yard line …numerals were required on the fronts and backs of game jerseys…Point Loma’s 64-13 victory over Oceanside represented the most points by a San Diego team since Oceanside defeated La Jolla, 73-6, in 1929…Pomona claimed the biggest lineman in the country, 311-pound Bruce (Tiny) Twerill, who had pared from 317 pounds in 1936…Hoover coach John Perry locked gates around the Cardinals practice field before the San Diego game and had “husky” alumni and ROTC personnel keeping visitors away…actor Leo Carrillo owned a ranch in Vista and was said the be a sponsor of the first-year school’s football team…with Fallbrook playing football for the second season, only Ramona, Mountain Empire, and Julian did not field teams…Escondido’s Frank Thames kept it short, scoring on runs of 3, 3, 4, 2, and 1 yards and adding as point after in the Cougars’ 39-7 win over La Jolla…pinched financially As the Great Depression worn on, San Diego attempted to find another opponent after its season ended in a 7-0 loss to Long Beach Wilson, but there were no takers…San Diego standout Leonard Black also served as president of his senior class…when Sweetwater coach Dinon Bush announced that the Red Devils would field a “pony” backfield and big line, Coronado’s Hal Niedermeyer said, “We’re going to have a pony line and a midget backfield”….

San Diego cheerleaders (dark dresses) Eveline Matheson and Carol Remington agreed that there was nothing bigger than a football game with Hoover and its cheerleaders, Betty Jane Thompson and Corine Bailey (from left).

San Diego cheerleaders (dark dresses) Eveline Matheson and Carol Remington agreed that there was nothing bigger than a football game with Hoover and its cheerleaders, Betty Jane Thompson and Corine Bailey (from left).

Joe Rinder (16) and quarterback Red Keough teamed on 50-yard touchdown pass play in St. Augustine's win over Brown Military.

Joe Rinder (16) and quarterback Red Keough  teamed on 50-yard touchdown pass play in St. Augustine’s win over Brown.

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1965:  What’s in a Name?

Rio Seco High, a new school in Santee, was introduced last year in anticipation of its opening in time for the 1965 football season.

But students and citizens requested that such name be tabled and leaving the school unnamed until others were offered, according to Harlon Bartlett of the Evening Tribune.                                                                                           

Grossmont School District officials waited and met again later in the year.

On the table were  “Rio Seco”, “Santee”,  “Santana”, and one other.

Santana won.

The Santana Sultan

Santana High’s version of a Sultan.

The school’s title was not intended to pay homage to Carlos Santana, who was 17 and still a few years from making his international mark in rock music.

Or to Pedro Santana, a dictator in Dominica in the mid-19th century.

Nor has there always been agreement on definition of the word.

Some say Santana is a derivative of Santa Ana, which also has been known as the “Devil Wind” and a potentially dangerous force of nature in Southern California.

Others say the Spanish word is meant to describe “holy” or “Saint”.  It also enjoys popular usage in identifying baby boys and girls.

Santana High, by any name, adopted “Sultans” as its purple, gold, and white mascot, and opened on Mast Blvd., in Santee with 1,200 students in four grades this year.

Coach Gordon Teaby guided the team to two wins and six losses.

Forget the record.  Of more import is what took place in the season’s third week.

The Sultans won their  first-ever game, 23-13, defeating their immediate archrival, El Capitan, located in Lakeside 4 1/2 miles and maybe 10 minutes away by automobile.

From that beginning, Santana and El Cap played every year until 2014, when a releaguing took place in the Grossmont Valley League.  El Cap led the series with 31 victories against 16 losses and two ties through 2013.


Teams with losing records didn’t make the playoffs.  Neither did some with winning records, even undefeated.

Only league champions were invited.

Four large school and two small school squads made up the 1965 San Diego Section playoff roster.

Bennie Edens was concerned.

The Point Loma coach wasn’t the first to raise a voice in support of larger postseasons, but he may have been the loudest.

The Bennie did not have 50 or 60 teams in mind, a number that would be routinely reached by the millennium.   Edens just saw another good season possibly go unrewarded.

The Pointers were 6-3 in 1964 and 4-1 for second place in the Western League but came up postseason empty.  This year’s group was unbeaten with two games remaining but could be left out again.

Edens took advantage of a unique forum when he was invited to address the Union-Tribune Quarterback Club at its weekly luncheon in Town and Country Hotel.

Edens wanted more playoff teams.

Edens wanted more playoff teams.

Bennie suggested that each winner from the section’s four major leagues, Eastern, Western, Grossmont, and Metropolitan, and the leagues’ runners-up be slotted into an eight-team bracket.

“It would add one week to the schedule, but it would be worth it,” said Edens.

“Some ties (in the standings) are shaping up…and a good way to resolve the situation would be to have both the first and second-place teams in the playoffs.”

Edens expanded on the subject when interviewed a day later by Wayne Lockwood of The San Diego Union:

“Usually the league finishes are so close that they really aren’t a definite indication of which is the best team,” said Edens.

“Being in the playoffs is important to a school—it creates a lot of pride in the student body—and I’ve never seen a school hurt by going into the playoffs.

“They already take the top two teams in basketball and baseball,” added the longtime peninsula school mentor.

Bennie hadn’t gone all altruistic.  His agenda was obvious.

Two weeks remained in the regular season. Kearny, 2-0-1, was the Western League leader. Clairemont, 2-1, was tied for second with Point Loma, 1-0-2.

Edens’s club could win its last two games, finish with an undefeated league record and overall 6-0-3 but not make the postseason.

That’s because if Kearny won out, the Komets would be 4-0-1 and in the throne room, possessor of the circuit’s only playoff berth.

The question became academic when Clairemont, under first-year coach Leroy Dotson, upset Birt Slater’s Kearny club, 21-20, and opened the door for Point Loma.

Point Loma finished with a 3-0-2 league record, followed by La Jolla, 3-1-1. Kearny, 2-1-2, tied for third with Clairemont, 3-2. Madison, 1-3-1, and Mission Bay, 0-5, brought up the rear.

Don Clarkson, the executive section of the San Diego Section, responded to Edens’ comments.

“The principal purpose of forming the San Diego Section in 1960 was to cut down on the length of the playoffs,” Clarkson told Lockwood.

The genial, old-school Clarkson was following the company line that was uttered by administrators and various school board suits in the late 1950s:  Football season was too long, playoffs were too long, and we don’t have enough say.

The real reason for the departure from the Southern Section was because the small-thinking school honchos and their friends in local business leadership didn’t like the idea of San Diego being “bossed around” by someone in Los Angeles, in this instance Southern Section commissioner J. Kenneth Fagans.

So the locals took the 31 area schools and moved to their own, tiny sand box.

The San Diego Section would go so far as to create one champion from the City and one from the County in 1967-68 in order to keep the postseason at two weeks.

San Diego Section suits finally bowed to sensibility and added a third week in 1969.

Additional playoff divisions eventually became reality and a fourth week came about in 1986, equaling the number of weeks that had been status quo when San Diego schools were in the Southern Section.

By the turn of the century there was playoff frenzy.

Forty-four of the 76 schools playing football got postseason bids.  The number would continue to grow.


Glib Shan Deniston and  dour, less quotable Edens were rival coaches in the San Diego Section finals.

Deniston's Hornets ended season with 10 wins in row.

Deniston’s Hornets ended season with 10 wins in row.

Deniston: “At the start of the season we didn’t think we’d win a game.  After we lost the opener (14-12 to University) we were sure of it.”

Edens:  “This is a real surprise.  We were more or less resigned to a rebuilding season.”

The animated Deniston’s team defeated the reserved Edens’ team, 21-14, before about 12,000 persons in Balboa Stadium.

Point Loma’s conservative and often challenged offense operated behind Bill Settles, a solid quarterback.

Lincoln won its last 10 games, behind a flock of future Division I players, including fullback Humphrey Covington and linebacker James Gunn, bound for USC, and tackle Gregory Allison, headed for Iowa.

“He’s been with me three years and before the Crawford game (in Week 5) I finally decided to let him call all the plays,” Deniston said of quarterback Melvin Jackson. “I told him that way I could blame him if we lost.”

Deniston was kidding, sort of.  “We won, 35-6,” said the coach.  “Of course, I took all the credit.”

Jackson’s favorite target was future pro baseballer Marvin Galliher, who caught 8 touchdown passes.  Galliher manned one receiver position and Phillip Shelley an outstanding, two-way player was the other end.


Point Loma took a 14-0, second-quarter lead against Lincoln on a four-yard run by John Cervinsky and Settles’ only completed pass, a 67-yard touchdown strike to Roger Wagar.

Lincoln  eventually pulled in front in the third quarter as Jackson passed (8x 14 for 154 yards) and ran (10-yard, tying touchdown) the Hornets to victory.


Chris Chambliss, a converted end, rushed for 153 yards in 22 carries as Oceanside defeated San Dieguito, 21-7, before an overflow turnout of 7,500 Simcox Field for the A title.

Chambliss became better known 11 years later, when his home run won the 1976 American League pennant for the New York Yankees.

Crowds of at least 6,500 were on hand in Aztec Bowl (Point Loma, 20, El Cajon Valley 7) and at Balboa Stadium (Lincoln, 19, Esondido 6) in the playoff semifinals.


A Balboa Stadium turnout of 12,242 persons watched stars from San Diego city schools defeat a squad picked from County schools, 19-0, in the 17th annual Breitbard Athletic Foundation College Prep All-Star game.

Breitbard queen and Morse graduate Marcia Woods and Hoover's John Stephenson of City squad helped in publicize the game.

Breitbard queen and Morse graduate Marcia Woods and Hoover’s John Stephenson of City squad helped publicize the game.

The City, coached by Robert (Bull) Trometter of University High, outgained the suburban team, 335-149, and recorded a second consecutive shutout.

The Breitbard game’s format from 1949-55 matched Southern California stars against players from the Los Angeles City Section.  It was L.A. City versus San Diego from 1956-63.


Escondido had Dan Hustead, the player of the year and author of 20 touchdowns, but the Cougars couldn’t get past Lincoln.

“I don’t know how we do it,” said Escondido coach Bob (Chick) Embrey.
“We’ve been in the playoffs four years (out of six) and have drawn the best team in the first round every time.”

The champion Cougars defeated San Diego, 19-13, in 1960, beat Hoover, 28-26, in 1962, and lost to champion Kearny, 27-14 in 1963.


Grossmont’s 1932-34, 23-game winning streak and 24-game unbeaten run was on the line.

Kearny came into the season with 21 straight wins and was a heavy favorite to repeat its Western League and San Diego Section titles.

With quarterback Billy Bolden, the 1964 Section player of the year, and halfback Bobby Johnson on hand plus a healthy list of lettermen, the Komets of coach Birt Slater seemed potentially dynastic.

But Johnson sustained a serious ankle injury in a 25-0 victory over Grossmont that pushed Kearny’s record to 23 straight.  He missed three games including the two most important.

The Komets led Morse, 13-0, the following week before the Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final nine minutes for a 13-13 tie.

Shelley and Lincoln defense stopped Komets and Ty Youngs (28).

Shelley and Lincoln defense stopped Komets and Ty Youngs (28).

Kearny still could tie Grossmont’s 24-game mark but was beaten, 21-12, by Lincoln the next week. The Komets fumbled on the first play of the game and Phillip Shelley policed the ball and ran 25 yards for a touchdown.

Another tie and two more losses short-circuited the potential dynasty.


*Grossmont’s 20-12 win over Helix was its first since 1959 against the Foothillers’ younger, neighborhood brother and eliminated the Highlanders’ from contention.

Helix had won or tied for the title in all four years of the Grossmont League.

*Football continued to be a stranger to Monte Vista, which had not won a league game since it opened in 1961 with the streak now at 31 games.

The Monarchs had ended a 15-game nonleague stretch by defeating Mission Bay, 13-0, in the season opener.

*El Cajon Valley’s 7-0 win over Helix was the Scots’ first loss at home since a 19-0 blanking by Grossmont in the 1959 opener.  Helix was 21-0-2 at home since and 9-0-1 all-time vs. Valley.


For Hilltop’s Ward Lannom it will be his five-touchdown performance in a 53-20 victory over Vista.

Lannom scored on runs of 16, 61, and 6 yards, on a 13-yard pass from Mike Filson, and on a 90-yard kickoff return.  He also ran for a point after.

Lannom would rather forget his final game.  He was ejected after a sideline scuffle in the Lancers’ 35-6 loss to Castle Park.


Granite Hills opened Valley Stadium, a lighted facility on campus.  The stadium drive was led by Dr. George Brown, the Hoover star of the late 1930s, and all-America lineman at Navy, and later standout at San Diego State.

Brown’s son, George III, was a strapping 200-pound junior who would become one of the state’s leading shot putters in track and field and played on Don Coryell’s San Diego State squads.

Vintage coaches John Perry, Jack Mashin, and Bill Bailey (from left) visited the Evening Tribune newsroom to introduce 1965 football recordbook.

Vintage coaches John Perry, Jack Mashin, and Bill Bailey (from left) visited  Evening Tribune newsroom to introduce 1965 football record book.

QUICK KICKS—With a big hand from Bud Maloney of The San Diego Union I attempted to research and  log the score of every high school game in San Diego County from the beginning in 1895…my newspaper, the Evening Tribune, published the book…Nick Uglesich, 22-13-4 in four seasons at Sweetwater, resigned to become head coach at Anaheim Western (future golfer Tiger Woods’s alma mater years later)…the Red Devils won two Western League titles under Uglesich, who was taking assistant coach Don George to Western…before Sweetwater, Uglesich was at Huntington Beach…Matt Maslowski, a future Los Angeles Rams receiver from tiny University of San Diego, was out for football at Mission Bay…Gerry Spitler quit at Mission Bay after five games to become a  “teacher on special assignment” at San Diego High…Ken Bailey coached the Buccaneers in the final three games…rare coaching candor by Mount Miguel’s Perry Miller, whose team outrushed San Diego, 207-70, in a 14-6 victory:  “It could easily have been 35-0”…Hoover lineman Alan (Zeus) Dwyer went on to renown as a professional wrestler and was an owner of South Mission Beach’s famed “Beachcomber” watering hole…University, the defending San Diego Section A champion, was a 20-0 winner over Thermal Coachella, defending Southern Section A champion…Mountain Empire of the Southern Section was eliminated by Claremont-Webb, 34-27, in the first round of the small schools postseason…Morse followed Granite Hills when lights were delivered to its campus facility….

German exchange student Wilfried German exchange student Wilfried Huelsemann of Mount Miguel was one of the area's early soccer-style placekickers, sideswiping in practice as Dain Norman holds. Huelsemann lived with Norman's family.

German exchange student Wilfried Huelsemann of Mount Miguel, one of the area’s early soccer-style placekickers, sideswipes as Dain Norman holds. Huelsemann lived with Norman’s family.

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2015: Bill Van Leeuwen, Star on Aztecs’ Defense

Bill Van Leeuwen, a standout defensive lineman during some of the most successful years of the coach Don Coryell era at San Diego State, passed away June 10 in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Van Leeuwen, 66, was an undersized, cat-quick tackle in a 4-3 defensive alignment on the 1968 and ’69 Aztec teams that posted a combined record of 20-0-1.
Van Leeuwen concluded his four-season collegiate career having never been in a losing game.
A graduate of Anaheim Loara High, Van Leeuwen was a standout on Fullerton College squads in 1966 and ’67 that  were 21-0-1.
For the last seven years, “Coach Van,” as he was known, was a volunteer assistant coach for the Wickenburg High Wranglers.

“He was one of a handful of Division I defensive tackles that played at 205 pounds,” said teammate Del Pifer.  “Small man, big heart.”
“Bill Van Leeuwen was a great friend and teammate,” said Fred Dryer, who played defensive end on the ’68-69 teams before going on to a 14-year career in the NFL.  “He was an inspiration to me and to his many friends.  It truly is a sad day.”
No services were held.  A memorial is planned.


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2015: San Diegans Close With a Rush

Five bests in the state meet, nine in the season’s final two weeks and some competitive  efforts in the finals at Clovis Buchanan High allowed area tracksters to finish on a strong note. Weak in the flat races as compared to the rest of the state more »

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2015: Gail Devers, Meet Dani Johnson

CLOVIS–Dani Johnson of Cathedral set two San Diego Section records and was part of another as area athletes qualified in 20 boys and girls events last night in trials of the 100th anniversary state track meet at Buchanan High.

Including double advancers Jordan Miller, Charles Lemford, and Suzie Acolatse, the section totaled 22 qualifiers for tonight’s finals.

Johnson, rousing memories of Sweetwater icon and Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers, had the sixth fastest 100 hurdles time, 13.86, led all runners at :41.34 in the 300 hurdles and ran a leg for Cathderal’s 4×400 relay squad that qualified fourth in  3:47.63.

Johnson bettered her record in the short race and topped the :41.67 that teammate and Dons relay anchor Hannah Labrie-Smith ran in 2014.

The 4×400 Dons broke one of the oldest records in the books, Morse’s 3:49.12 in 1996.

Acolatse was second in the 100 in :11.68 and third in the 200 in  :23.87.

Miller improved his long jump almost a foot to 24-1/2 for second  and was fourth at 47-1/34 in the triple jump.  Lemford finished third in the discus at 183 and sixth in the shot put at 57-10 ¼.


Qualifiers: Oceanside, 4; La Costa Canyon, Coronado, Rancho Buena Vista, Patrick Henry, 1 each.

100—Brock (West Hills Chaminade), 10.47.  Others:  Kendrick (Morse), 10.85. Sourapas (Parker), 11.09.

200—Norman (Vista Murrieta), 20.99.  Others: Sourapas (Parker), 22.01; Kendrick (Morse), 22.13; Hill (Cathedral), 22.46.

400—Norman (Vista Murrieta), 47.05. Others: Shaheed (Mt. Carmel), 48.54;  Jones (The Bishop’s), 49.68.

800—Cortes (Temecula Great Oak), 1:52.19.  Others: Waters (Mission Hills), 1:55.59;  DeLong (Mt. Carmel), 1:57.07; Chinn (Poway), 1:59.16.

1600—Walker (Fair Oaks Del Campo), 4:13.78; 10. Merder (La Costa Canyon), 4:15.83; 12. Armes (Coronado), 4:17.07. Other: Siegler (University City), 4:20.34.

110HH—Collins (Carson), 13.97.  8. Alvarado (Rancho Buena Vista), 14.41. Others:  Banks (El Camino), 14.89; Walcott (Morse), 15.26.

300IH—Meech (San Juan Hills), 37.21. Others: Grundling (Oceanside), 39.01;  Marcus (Calvin Christian), 39.17; Corona (Southwest), 40.76.

4×100 R—West Hills Chaminade, 40.87.  Others: Helix, 42.18;  Rancho Bernardo, 42.45.  Oceanside, DQ, lane violation.

4×400 R—L.B. Wilson, 3:14.02. Others: Rancho Buena Vista, 3:19.30. Del Norte, 3:21.30; Mt. Carmel, 3:22.41.

HJ—Ten qualified at 6-8.  Others: Morris (Steele Canyon), 6-6; Bennett (La Costa Canyon) NH ; Rokach (Rancho Bernardo), NH.

PV—Nine cleared 15-2, including 3. Zawadski (Patrick Henry).  Others:  Others: Brown (La Costa Canyon), 14-8;  Reynolds (Rancho Bernardo), 14-2.

LJ—Sousa (Kingsburg), 24-2 ½. 2. Miller (Oceanside), 24-1/2.  Other: Batthika (St. Augustine), 21-4; DeRoos  (Tri City Christian), 21-0 ¼.

TJ—Brooks (Kingsburg), 47-5¾; 4. Miller (Oceanside), 47-1 3/4. Others: Batthika (St. Augustine), 45-1; DeRoos (Tri City Christian), 44-6.

SP—Katnik (Bellflower St. John Bosco), 71-5 ¾. 6. Lemford (Oceanside),  57-10.  Others: DeMarco (Torrey Pines), 52-1;  Miller (El Camino), 51-6.

DISCUS—Tyler (Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos), 186-2.  3. Lemford (Oceanside), 183-0. Others: Ena (Vista), 161-5; Anderson (Ramona), 158-05.


Qualifiers: Cathedral, 3; Mission Hills, Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, 2 each; Canyon Crest, Valhalla, Mount Miguel, 1 each.

100—Francis (Oxnard Rio Mesa), 11.52;  2. Acolatse (Mission Hills), 11.68. 9.  Patterson (Rancho Bernardo), 11.99. Other:  Lidrazzah (Eastlake), 12.25.

200—3. Acolatse (Mission Hills), 23.87. Others: Patterson (Rancho Bernardo), 24.28.  Mason (Carlsbad), 24.81.

400—Waller (Clovis Buchanan ), 53.78.  Others: Mongiovi (West Hills), 56.45 ; Frank (Morse), 57.35; Scott (Westview), 57.76.

800—Hill (Etiwanda), 2:08.06.  3. Akins (Rancho Bernardo), 2:09.20.  6.  McCarthy (Carlsbad), 2:09.64;  Other: Robertson (LJ), 2:11.83.

1600—Collins (Temecula Great Oak), 4:47.26. 11. Bernd (Canyon Crest), 4:56.28.  Others: Abrahamson (La Costa Canyon), 5:15.87; Laurenzana (San Pasqual), 5:17.11.

100H—Graham (Corona Roosevelt), 13.45. 6. Johnson (Cathedral), 13.86 (Section No. 1 all-time, betters 14.12 by Johnson, 5/23/15). Others: Nealis (Valley Center), 14.81; Molter (Valhalla), 15.46.

300H—Johnson (Cathedral), 41.34 (Section No. 1 all-time, betters 41.67 by Hannah Labrie-Smith, Cath., 2014). 8.  Molter (Valhalla), 42.54. Other: Bell (Steele Canyon), 45.01.

4×100 R—Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 45.75.  Others: Cathedral Catholic, 47.91; Rancho Bernardo, 48.41; Torrey Pines, 48.76.

4×1600 R—4. Cathedral Catholic, 3:47.63 (Section No. 1 all-time, betters 3:49.12, Morse, 1996).  Others: Poway. 3:54.21; Rancho Bernardo, DQ, lane violation.

HJ–Beattie (Ventura Buena) led seven at 5-6.  8T, Snow (Carlsbad), 5-4.

PV—Eight cleared 12-2. Others: Wagenvald (Calvin Christian), 11-8; Chandler (Torrey Pines), NH.  Myers (Poway), NH.

LJ—Corrin (Studio City Harvard), 20-9; Others:  Noiseaux (Eastlake), 16-8 ¾; Harvey (Granite Hills), 16-8 ½; Iwanowicz (Torrey Pines), 15-10.

TJ—Davis (Agoura), 40-08. 14. Harvey (Granite Hills), 37-6 ¾; Galloway (Cathedral), 36-10 ½; Noiseaux (Eastlake), 36-1 ¾.

SP—Bruckner, Corona Roosevelt, 49-11 ½.  5. Tausaga (Mount Miguel), 44-11 3/4. Others: Mohammed (Imperial), 39-2 ¾; Jackson (Castle Park), 34-7 ½.

DISCUS—Mader (Newbury Park), 154-2.  Others: Sola (Morse), 124-0; Drummond (San Marcos), 122-6.



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2015: Morton, Gehring, Sam Edwards

Lance Morton, Rich Gehring, and Sam Edwards are among former San Diego prep athletes who  recently passed away.

Morton, 81,  a founder of the Brigantine Restaurant chain, was a second team all-City Prep League  end on the 1951 Point Loma squad that finished with a 6-2 record, losing only to San Diego, 15-6, and La Jolla, 21-14, teams that tied for CPL championship.

Morton also was a standout in track and field and held the Pointers record in the shot put for several years at 51 feet, 3 1/4 inches.

Rich Gehring, 80, had bests of :15 in the 120-yard high hurdles and :20 in the 180 lows and was a double winner for Escondido in the 1953 Metropolitan League track finals.

Gehrig, also played end on the Cougars’ football team and was the leading scorer in the County with 443 points in the 1952-53 basketball season.

The 6-foot, 5-inch Gehring was an important member of the 1955-56 San Diego State basketball squad that advanced to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship tournament in Kansas City.

Gehring later was head track coach at Sweetwater High and Southwestern College.

Sam Edwards, 74,  was an end and defensive end on the 1958 San Diego High team that posted a 10-1 record, scored 457 points, and was one of the premier teams in Southern California.

Edwards, all-City  on defense for a team that allowed 57 points in 11 games, caught 4 of quarterback Ezell Singleton’s 28 touchdown passes and was one of nine Cavers who scored at least four touchdowns.

Edwards (right) and San Diego High teammates dominated on defense as well as offense.

Edwards (right) and San Diego High teammates dominated on defense as well as offense.

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2015: Marks, Weather Terrific in San Diego Section Track Finals

The stars shone in the afternoon yesterday as two meet records fell and seasonal bests were set or tied in 19 boys and girls events in the 55th San Diego Section track and field championships.

Perfect weather at the pristine Mt. Carmel facility made it a great day for the athletes and the aficionado.

It’s on to the state meet Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High in  Clovis. There are no predictions of individual champions, but there should be many medals for the taking.

The area improved slightly against statewide competition (see table below), even with two major casualties.

Mount Miguel weight champion Laulauga Tausaga, third in the state at 156 feet, 7 inches, fouled out in the discus.  Tausaga rallied strongly with a 48-3 1/2 shot put, putting her second in the state, and setting a  meet record.

Cathedral’s Hanna Labrie-Smith was far in front and seemingly headed for a sub 42-second performance on the 300 hurdles when she began having trouble with her number of steps between hurdles as the field came out of the curve.

Labrie-Smith tried to compensate as she struggled down the stretch but crashed into the final barrier and went unplaced.

Dani Johnson, Labrie-Smith’s younger teammate, doubled in the hurdles, edging Valhalla’s Leah Molter in the 100 barriers, :13.991 to :13.99.6 (officially :14.00 for each) and logging :42.14 in the 300s.

Molter, coming strong late in the season with better marks almost every week, backed up Johnson with a :42.55 for second in the 300.

Labrie-Smith rallied with a :55.5 anchor as Cathedral came home in 3:49.54 for a meet record in the 4×100 relay.  The Dons appear capable of slashing more time off that mark.

Others who got people’s attention:

St. Augustine junior Tanner Batthika, long jumped 24-2 to move  to fourth in the state;

Oceanside’s Jordan Miller triple jumped from seventh to fourth with a 48-4 effort.

Jordan’s teammate, Charles Lenford, improved almost 12 feet to leap from ninth to third in the discus at 191-7.

Lenford and Miller pushed Oceanside to the team title. The Pirates outscored Morse, 83-49.

Nia Akins of Rancho Bernardo ran the fifth all-time fastest 800 in San Diego, winning in 2:09.07 and moving to second in the state.  The Broncos won the Girls’ team title with 69 1/2 points.  Steele Canyon, third in the boys with 47, was topsecond with 54.

State events in which San Diego athletes are in Top 10:


100 Acolatse (4) Mission Hills :11.46w :11.24w Francis Oxnard Rio Mesa
200 Acolatse (7) :23.69 :22.68w Williams Westlake Village Oaks Christian
 800 Akins (2) Rancho Bernardo 2:09.07 2:08.44 Smith Clovis North
100 Hurdles Johnson (10T) Cathedral :14.00w :13.21 Graham Corona Eleanor Roosevelt
Molter (10T) Valhalla :14.00w
300H Johnson (3) :42.14 :41.10 Woodward Vacaville
Molter (8) :42.55
Labrie-Smith (9)* Cathedral :42.62
Shot Put Tausaga (2) Mount Miguel 48-3 1/2 53-5 ½ Bruckner San Jose Valley Christian
Discus Tausaga (4)* 156-7 182-8 Bruckner
4×400 Relay Cathedral (9) 3:49.54 3:44.76 Corona Eleanor Roosevelt


Shot Put Lenford (4) Oceanside 61-8 71-11 ½ Katnik Bellflower San John Bosco
Discus Lenford (3) 191-7 194-8 McMorris Santa Ana Mater Dei
Pole Vault Zawadski (8T) Patrick Henry 15-7 16-3 ¼ Laut El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge
High Jump Morris Steel Canyon 6-9 7-0 Burke Lemoore
Long Jump Batthika (4) St. Augustine 24-2 24-10 ½ Vann Oxnard Rio Mesa
Triple Jump Jordan Miller (4) Oceanside 48-4 49-9 ¾ Huggins Kingsburg

*Did not qualify for state meet.

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1934: The Brothers Nettles

Their story could have been inspiration for “The Grapes of Wrath,” because Bill Nettles and younger twin Wayne lived the life of John Steinbeck’s poor and displaced.

Teenagers, age 16,  caught in the poverty of Oklahoma’s depression-era Dust Bowl, they sought a way out,

With the spirit and optimism of youth, the youngsters decided to make their way West.

The twins hopped a passing freight train near Claremore, Okla., while their mom, the widow Pearl, wasn’t looking, according to John Nettles, Bill’s oldest son.

Armed with a roll of salami and a long loaf of bread, Bill and Wayne rode the rails that followed the route of the highway U.S. 66.

Trouble loomed when the twins became separated during a stop near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“Wayne was out looking for around for food when he was discovered by one of the ‘bulls’,”  said John Nettles.

The bulls were the feared railroad security guards.

Wayne was forced to return home, but a couple weeks later he caught another freight and soon was reunited with his brother. Bill had reached  relatives in Flinn Springs.


The Nettles’ cousins, Ernie and Joe, lived in Flinn Springs, a tiny, unincorporated community east of El Cajon and west of Alpine.

That’s where the boys found a home and a promising future.

They soon would enter high school.  The closest was Grossmont, about 11 miles away.

It was August, 1932.

The Foothillers of coach Jack Mashin were enjoying the most successful era in school history, posting a record of 35-5-2 from 1931-35 that included a streak of 23 wins and one tie.

(“We have a wide-awake club, a bunch of boys who take advantage of every break,” Mashin explained of the Foothillers’ success).

Bill Nettles played end and Wayne was the center.

Bill and Wayne Nettles aren't identified but they're in this photo of Grossmont's combined varsity and junior varsity squads.

Bill (twelfth from left, top row) and Wayne Nettles (unidentified)  were part of Grossmont’s combined varsity and junior varsity squads for this photo.

Mashin’s squad was assured its second straight 9-0 season when Bill outjumped three Coronado defenders to catch Ben Reynolds’ pass for a touchdown on fourth down and 18 to give Grossmont a 7-0 victory.

The win wrapped up another Metropolitan League championship and Bill Nettles was one of the leading scorers in the County with 8 touchdowns and one PAT for 49 points.

Pearl Nettles’ sons had made a name for themselves and then moved on to Glendale Junior College.  They closed out their collegiate careers in 1938 as members of San Diego State’s Southern California Conference champion.


The brothers bore such striking resemblance to each other that Bill once mistook himself for Wayne.

For a game at Fresno State, Bill was part of the first group of players traveling.  Wayne was to come with another group the next day.

When Bill entered his hotel room, he faced a full-length mirror.  “What are you doing here, Wayne?” said a stunned Bill as Bill looked at Bill.


It was their offspring that forged a family legacy.

Bill’s son, John, was an all-San Diego Section end at St. Augustine in 1961.

John’s younger brother, Tom, was a basketball star at Hoover, earned a letter as a javelin thrower at San Diego City College, and caught 68 passes for the 1968 San Diego State football team.

Tom Nettles was drafted by the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and played in the 1975 U.S. Open golf championship.

Wayne Nettles’ son, Graig, was an all-Southern California selection in basketball at San Diego High and is best known for a 22-season major league baseball career, including 11 with the New York Yankees and three with the San Diego Padres.

Graig was one of the key players in the Padres’ drive to their first National League pennant in 1984.

Jim Nettles, Graig’s younger brother, played basketball and baseball at Crawford High and six seasons in major league baseball.


San Diego’s Ambrose Schindler, the leading scorer among major schools with 15 touchdowns and 90 points, was the Southern California player of the year.

Schindler and tackle-captain-kicker R.C. Moore were Cavemen's representatives on all-Southern California teams.

Schindler and tackle-captain-kicker R.C. Moore were Cavemen’s representatives on all-Southern California teams.

The only other area athlete from a major school to match Schindler’s football honor was San Diego’s Charlie Powell in 1950.

Schindler broke long runs and ran with toughness.

No records for total yardage exist, but Schindler ran inside and outside.  In a 13-7 victory over visiting Pomona the product of San Diego’s Mission Hills community and Roosevelt Junior High rushed for 301 yards in 28 carries.


The Cavers were 16-3-2 in Schindler’s last two seasons but  couldn’t get past Long Beach Poly this year, losing 20-13, on the road, finishing second in the Coast League, and out of the playoffs.

Years later Schindler, who went on to star at USC, returned to the scene of his high school glory.

Schindler annually worked San Diego Chargers games in Balboa Stadium as a member of the American Football League officiating staff.


Nelson Fisher of The San Diego Sun broke the news that Hilltoppers coach Hobbs Adams was leaving to accept a line coach position at USC, his alma mater.

Adams had just been elected head of the San Diego County Football Officials’ Association at that group’s season-ending awards banquet at Plata Real in the U.S. Grant Hotel.

Adams told Fisher that “I haven’t heard anything official yet, but I’ve always had a somewhat hidden desire to get back there with (USC coach Howard) Jones.”

Adams was 41-11-3 in six seasons with the Cavemen and took the 1933 team to the Southern California finals.

The former Hilltoppers player and San Diego native was 2-4 against arch-rival Long Beach Poly, all of the losses close and all almost impossible to swallow.


Early speculation on Adams’s successor centered around Bert Heiser, coach at Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, and Leo Callan, a Hilltoppers alum who was head coach at the University of Idaho and a former USC all-America.

San Diego principal John Aseltine stayed at home, elevating Glenn Broderick, who was on staff and had served as head track coach and Class B football coach.


An announcement by Hobbs Adams late in the season revealed that Schindler had been accepted at the Naval Academy and would enroll after his midterm graduation in February, 1935.

Schindler would play for coach Tom Hamilton, a former Navy all-America who had connections in San Diego and had just finished his first year as the Midshipmen’s coach with an 8-1 record.

Schindler never made it to Navy.  He changed his mind.  Perhaps it was coincidental with Adams’ change of address, but Schindler landed at USC.

It was a good move for Adams and Schindler and for Howard Jones.  Schindler played on USC’s Rose Bowl-winning squads in 1939 and ’40 and was most-valuable player in the 1940 Chicago All-Star game against the NFL champion Green Bay Packers.

Schindler was a 13th-round selection of the Packers and the 119th player in the 1940 draft but opted for coaching on the high school and junior college levels.


Hoover was in its fifth year and ambitious.

The East San Diego school had dropped out of the City Prep League after the 1932 season and, as an independent, sought a stronger schedule and more recognition.

John Perry (lower right) and two coaches were given demonstration by starting backfield of (from left) Jim Fitzpatrick, Roy Engle, Morris Siraton, and Larry Daley.

John Perry (lower right) and two of his coaches were given demonstration by starting backfield of (from upper left) Jim Fitzpatrick, Roy Engle, Morris Siraton, and Larry Daley.

A game with San Diego High, first earned in 1933, was only part of the plan.

The Cardinals celebrated the opening of their turfed, 4,000-seat stadium this year.  With financial help from the school faculty (encouraged/pushed by principal Floyd Johnson), Hoover was the first area high school to also have lights.

La Jolla and Coronado followed Hoover later in the decade.  Balboa Stadium wouldn’t become illuminated until 1939.  Navy Field, to become known as Sports Field, had temporary lights in 1930 but was essentially void of seating.


Cardinals coach John Perry continued to upgrade his team’s schedule, but a road game at Santa Barbara was a disaster, after the Cardinals had shut out their first five opponents.

A 41-7 loss, in which the Cardinals scored only on a blocked kick recovered in the end zone and were outgained, 461 yards to 117, began with a daunting logistical challenge.

The game at Santa Barbara’s Peabody Stadium was about 210 miles from the Hoover campus, where 25 players plus supernumeraries caravanned in automobiles on Sunday evening.

The players spent the night at the YMCA in downtown Los Angeles and were joined by coaches John Perry and Bill Bailey the following morning for the 70-mile ride to the stadium on the Dons’ campus.


The Cardinals arrived a couple hours before the Armistice Day kickoff for a matchup that San Diego sportswriters had determined as being “pretty even.”

According to “The Punter,” a nom de plume used by the prep writer of The San Diego Sun, “It was all Biff McLaughlin’s fault.”

McLaughlin passed for two touchdowns and ran for one as the Dons took a 21-0 lead in the game’s first seven minutes.

According to The Punter, McLaughlin was going to quit school the next year to sign a Pacific Coast League baseball contract.

The Santa “Barbarians” were made up of players “19 to 20 years old and none of them weigh less than 190 pounds,” wrote The Punter.

Hoover’s day was not over.  The team would arrive back on campus late in the evening, so the players could attend classes Tuesday morning.


Hoover had another tough opponent scheduled four nights later against Los Angeles Loyola. The loss to Santa Barbara, leaving the Redbirds with a 5-1 record, had apparently eliminated them from playoff consideration.

A rainy week in San Diego prompted a weird response from Loyola officials.  They canceled the game, 24 hours before kickoff, allegedly declaring they did not want to soil their new uniforms on a muddy field.

Speculation was that the Cubs were locks to make the playoffs and didn’t want to risk a possible road loss.

Floyd Johnson was miffed.

The Hoover principal had a sympathetic ear from CIF bossman Seth Van Patten, who ordered Loyola to play the game the following week.

Oh, and while we’re at it, we’ll make this a first-round playoff, said Van Patten.

The Cardinals were assuaged.  They got the game and the promise of a solid financial return and they also were in the postseason.

The Cubs spoiled the evening, defeating Hoover, 14-7.

The Cardinals dropped a 14-0 decision to San Diego the following week in the second annual Elks Charity game and flattened out to a final, 5-3 record  as San Diego rushed for 283 yards to  125 and Schindler scored on a 52-yard run.

Schindler (below) was too much for Morris (Moose) Siraton and Hoover Cardinals.

Schindler (below) was too much for Morris (Moose) Siraton and Hoover Cardinals.

But Hoover was getting closer to the Hilltoppers and it justifiably looked with confidence to the 1935 season.


Hoover scored all its points in the first eight minutes of a 15-0 win over Point Loma.  The Cardinals blocked two punts in the first quarter, Bob Summers covering one of blocks in the end zone for an apparent third touchdown.

The jubilant Summers hurried to the Hoover bench, but the whistle had not blown.  Point Loma covered the ball for a safety.


Army-Navy’s Harry DeVenny hit an Oceanside receiver so hard that the Pirates’ receiver fumbled and then punched DeVenny.

Referee Glenn Broderick ejected the Oceanside offender, at which point Pirates coach Bob Carpenter, either upset with the player or referee Broderick, pulled his entire team from the field.

Two seconds remained in the half.

After much cajoling, Carpenter finally agreed to send out his third and fourth stringers for the second half, which was limited to five minute quarters.

Army-Navy’s scored all of its points in the first quarter of the 17-0 victory, twice on blocked kicks and once on a bad Oceanside snap from center that resulted in safety.


Schindler was the only first-team, all-Southern California choice.  Tackle R.C. Moore of San Diego made second team.  End Cozen of Oceanside was on the third team.  Hoover nemesis Harry (Biff) McLaughlin of Santa Barbara was second team.


The bus taking Coronado footballers to their game at Grossmont was moving along El Cajon Avenue when the driver noticed an oncoming car weaving in and out of traffic.

The bus suddenly veered to avoid the car and ran off the road, sheering a telephone pole, and coming to rest near the intersection of College Avenue and El Cajon Avenue.

All passengers were shaken but okay.  Grossmont officials then sent a bus for the Islanders.


No playoffs again for Mashin's squad.

No playoffs again for Mashin’s squad.

Grossmont could afford  transportation for the Coronado team, but expense apparently was the reason the Foothillers opted not to enter the Southern Section playoffs for the second season in a row.

The Foothillers were undefeated for the second consecutive season but school principal Carl Birdsall believed it cost too much to bus the players to the Los Angeles area for a game.

Birdsall, citing financial concerns, also  announced that the 1935 edition of the El Recuerdo yearbook would be eliminated.

The yearbook staff and class advisor raised enough money to ensure the annual’s publication.

Times were tough during the Great Depression.


Two burglars, apparently well into the sauce, gained entry to the Fox Theater at Seventh Avenue and B Street, at 2 a.m. and forced the night custodian to take them to the office safe.

John Thompson convinced the inebriated crooks that he didn’t know the safe combination.  The pair staggered out of the theater with no money but took an evening dress used by Miss Dixie Barnes, theater hostess.


Banning and Beaumont, Riverside County schools, started an annual battle for the “Stage Coach Wheel”.  In the more contemporary 21st century, the game is known as the”War of the Wheel.”


Lyle and Leon Finnerty were important contributors to Sweetwater’s 6-1-1 record, the Red Devils’ best  since 1926.

Lyle was the second-highest scorer in the County with 73 points (San Diego’s Ambrose Schindler had 90) and their nephew, Jim, was a three-sport start at Sweetwater in 1964, leading the Red Devils to a 6-3 record and passing for 15 touchdowns.

Lyle finnerty (top) was the younger brother of Leon (bottom).

Lyle Finnerty (top) was the younger brother of Leon (bottom).



San Diego was unsuccessful in scheduling a post season game in Nevada against the Las Vegas Wildcats…as writer Nelson Fisher said, “It would give the Hilltoppers a pleasant trip and a chance to see Boulder Dam”…the Cavemen also were unable to get a game with Inglewood, which upset San Diego in the 1933 Southern California finals…San  Diego’s itinerary to its game at Phoenix Union:  Buses left school at 7 .am., lunch in Yuma, Arizona, arrived in Phoenix at 6 p.m. and practiced at 8…proceeds from the Hoover-San Diego Elks Charity Game provided grocery baskets for San Diego families…attendance for the San Diego-Hoover game was 12,000 double the turnout for Santa Ana-San Diego…Army-Navy’s all-Metropolitan League halfback Norm Montapert had been all-City at Los Angeles Belmont in 1933…a pool of 38 officials worked 96 San Diego County games…Grossmont’s Jack Mashin sent prospective members of his 1935 squad to a game with the Green Valley Falls Civilian Conservation Corps team at the end of the season…La Jolla students and townsmen wanted to see more of coach Lawrence Carr’s Vikings, who had enjoyed a 6-1-1 season, best in school history…Carr prevailed on San Diego coach Hobbs Adams  to bring his junior varsity to La Jolla for a season-ending game…La Jolla won, 34-0….

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