2017: Hamamoto, Hauser, Jackson Jump 3 Places

Three coaches each moved up three spots in the annual review of those with at least 100 victories in their careers in this area or in the San Diego Section.

Monte Vista’s Ron Hamamoto now has 218 victories and is fifth all-time behind Herb Meyer (339), John Carroll (248), Bennie Edens (239) and John Shacklett (229).

Hamamoto started the season eighth.  Mission Hills’ Chris Hauser, with 154 victories, climbed from 19th to 16th and Madison’s Rick Jackson, with 128 wins, moved from 32nd to 29th.

Jackson, whose overall record is 128-39-1, has the best active won-loss percentage, .765, and will enter the 2018 season as the Section all-time leader among coaches of least 100 victories.

Carroll is second in won-loss percentage at .763. Kearny’s Birt Slater  next at .753, followed by Chula Vista’s George Ohnessorgen (.745), and Eastlake’s John McFadden (.735).

Several mentors, if they return next year, are not so far from 100 that they couldn’t make the jump in one season.

Olympian’s Paul Van Nostrand has 94 victories, Grossmont’s Tom Karlo, 91, Ramona’s Damon Baldwin, 90, and St. Augustine’s Richard Sanchez, 89.

Chula Vista’s Chet DeVore, who coached from 1951-55, was 44-7-1 and has the highest percentage (.856) among coaches of at least 50 games.  San Diego’s Duane Maley, 1947-59, was 97-19.3 (.828).  Hobbs Adams of San Diego, 1929-34, was 41-11-2 (.772), and Amos Schaefer of Coronado, 1926-35, was 55-25-5 (.676).

John Perry was 53-15-5 (.760) from 1920-27 at San Diego and 40-34-6 (.538) from 1930-39 at Hoover for an overall 93-49-11 (.644).

Mira Mesa will have its third coach in the school’s 41-year history.  Gary Blevins (145-117-4, .552) announced his retirement.  Blevins succeeded Brad Griffith, who started the program in 1977 and was 112-82-3, .576 when he retired after the 1994 season.

For a complete list of 100-game winners, go to the “Football” menu on the home page and drag to “Coach 100 Club”.

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1935-36: Hilltoppers Win, Cardinals Feathers Ruffled

It was an unlikely season with some unlikely conclusions.

–A rare playoff run by San Diego teams in the Southern California playoffs.

–San Diego High’s march through four rounds to win its only CIF Southern Section championship, along the way setting a school single-game scoring record…maybe.

–Hoover’s blitz of  Class B opponents in a sequel to championships in 1931-32, 1933-34, and 1934-35 but with no hardware and no satisfaction.


San Diego entered the season with four lettermen starters, Ernie Mallory, Melvin Hendry, Vance Randolph, and Lowell Lee, and picked up a fifth, Bill Patterson, who transferred in from Frankford, Indiana.

Alhambra and Long Beach Poly were favored to fight it out for Coast League laurels.  The Hillers were 6-8 overall the previous year, 3-7 in league play, and 0-4 against the Moors and Jackrabbits.

San Diego made it clear early  that it was vastly improved, sweeping Class A (a more preferred nomenclature than “varsity”) competition in the annual San Diego County Interscholastic Tournament that opened the season in December.

With Mallory leading, Coach Mike Morrow’s squad whipped through Grossmont, 48-13, Point Loma, 36-14, and Ramona, 54-15.

Alhambra was the visitor in the league opener and went home a stunned, 31-28 loser after trailing, 15-9, at halftime.  Mallory led the winners with 13 points.

The San Diego-Alhambra contest was played on a Friday afternoon at 3:30 instead of at the usual 7:30 p.m. because the Moors didn’t want to be headed home late at night on the Coast Highway with the threat of fog.

The 1935-36 Southern California champions pose in front of the Stadium peristyle, front row (from left): Ernie Mallory, Paul Shea, Roy Cleator, Vance Randolph, Billy Cesena. Middle row, from left: Coach Dewey (Mike) Morrow, Roy Rollins, Judson Starr, Melvin Hendry, Lowell Lee. Top row, from left: Bill Patterson, Bob Barth, Homer Peabody, manager Erickson.  Missing, Eddie Priesler, Herman Gatewood.


Travel and its various inconveniences always was a nemesis for the far-flung Coast League squads.


The visiting Hilltoppers led Long Beach Poly, 18-17, at the end of three quarters in their next game but couldn’t hold on and dropped a 21-19 decision.  It was the Jackrabbits’ 17th victory in the 19 games between the teams since they first met in the 1920-21 season but it also was San Diego’s last loss in the 15-1 season.

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2017 Week 16: Helix Faces Hostile Environment on Neutral Field

The San Diego Section has four chances to win at least one of the six state championships this week.  Last year the Section was 2-3, with victories by Cathedral in Division I-AA and Madison in D-3.

Most of this week’s games appear tossups, but no team has a challenge like that facing the Helix Highlanders, who will be a decidedly visiting team at  Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus.

Helix’ opponent is the Sac-Joaquin Section’s 15-0 Folsom, painfully remembered as the team that clobbered Oceanside, 68-7, in Pirates coach John Carroll’s final game in 2014.

Sacramento is the hub of the Sac-Joaquin Section and Folsom, for which Johnny Cash brought some notoriety when he wrote “Folsom Prison Blues” in 1957, is its heartbeat, about 17 miles and 20 minutes from Hornet Stadium.

The Bulldogs were 16-0 in 2014, 14-1 in 2015, and 12-2 in 2016.

The Highlanders had success against another tough team from that area, defeating Loomis Del Oro, 35-24, for the Division II championship in 2011, but that game was played at the Carson Stub Hub in Southern California.

Cathedral topped Stockton St. Mary’s of the Sac-Joaquin Section, 38-31, for the 1-AA championship in 2016.  That game also could have been considered a home engagement for St. Mary’s, which is located about 45 miles from Hornet Stadium.

As a prognosticator, I’ve been a shade above average, nothing to brag about.  I’m 13-9 in the last three weeks, falling from 8-3 in Week 12 to 2-3 and 3-3. Here’s another shot trying to pick the winners:


The moons seemed to be aligned for Folsom, realistically the home team at this “neutral” facility.  The Bulldogs have scored 721 points and average 48 points a game.  No team has come closer than Carmichael Jesuit, which bowed, 27-14, in the Sac-Joaquin playoffs.

Helix’ outstanding defenders Isaac Stuart-Taylor and Rashad Scott will be tested by Folsom wide outs Elijah Badger and Joe Ngata. Joe and his brother Daniyel combined for five touchdowns last week in the Bulldogs’ 54-35 win over 12-2 Fresno Central.

Helix, 13-1 after an opening loss to Paraclete, was tough and resourceful last week, hiking 165 miles through the Los Angeles and Ventura County fire areas, overcoming an early deficit, and walking away from Cal-Hi Sports’ No. 8 team, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 28-13.

Scott’s 27-yard touchdown interception return put the Highlanders ahead for good, 14-13.

The win elevated Helix from 13th to seventh in Cal-His top 50.  Folsom now stands fifth.

The Pick: Folsom 28, Helix 21, @Sacramento State.


Rancho San Diego and areas around Mt. San Miguel are agog.  The Cougars’ game with Half Moon Bay has been moved from Steele Canyon (11-4) to Southwestern College in response to an anticipated crowd that would swamp Steele facilities.

Steele, under Coach Scott Longerbone, has come all the way from being a No. 7 seed in the San Diego Section playoffs to knock off unbeaten Ramona in the San Diego finale and top Orange El Modena last week.  Those wins came after blowout losses to Helix and Grossmont in the middle of the season.

Half Moon Bay (14-0), from the Central Coast Section, overlooks the Pacific and sits 57 miles South of San Francisco on Highway 1.  The also-named Cougars (14-0) represent one of the oldest schools in the area, opening in 1909, and are members of the Peninsula Bay League.

The Central Coast is not regarded as one of the upper-echelon sections in California football, although the West Catholic League of San Mateo Serra, San Jose Village Christian, Mountain View St. Francis, and San Jose Bellarmine have solid, state-wide reputations.

The Half Moon Cougars received a 46.0 scorefrom Cal Preps.com, while the Steele Cougars’ score is 42.8.

The Pick:  Steele Canyon 24, Half Moon Bay 20, @Southwestern College.


The Pick:  Milpitas 31, @El Centro Southwest 35.


The Pick:  San Francisco Galileo 30, @Calexico Vincent Memorial 45.


Folsom’s Cal-Preps.com score is 73.6 to Helix’ 67.5……Helix’ Cal Preps.com score dipped from 68.4 after Paraclete was shocked by Harbor City Narbonne, 50-14…San Diego teams came close to sweeping all six Southern California playoff games last week…Monte Vista was edged by Anaheim Katella, 36-35, after leading, 35-7, and El Camino was upset by Los Angeles Crenshaw, 13-10…Cathedral lost to Loomis Del Oro of the Sierra Foothill League, 22-12, in the season opener…Del Oro, 8-6 overall, was on the short end of a 54-10 score against Folsom…the Folsom state prison is 3.3 miles from the high school campus, opened in 1880, and was the first California lockup to have electricity…Milpitas (12-2) won its Northern championship, 52-38, over Moraga Campolindo, the team that overcame a three-touchdown deficit in the final seven minutes  to top El Capitan, 35-28, in the state final in 2014…Milpitas has a 38.7 Cal Preps.com score to 14-0 El Centro Southwest’s 38.2…San  Francisco Galileo (10-2) is the alma mater of O.J. Simpson…the Imperial Valley is hosting two championship games within five miles…El Centro Southwest is at home and Calexico Vincent Memorial (12-2) is playing at Calexico High….

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2017: Week 15: Helix Game Site in Question

Note:  Westlake Village Oaks Christian closed school today because of smoke and ash from the nearby wildfires. Helix is scheduled to play there Friday night, Dec. 7.

The field at Southwestern  faces south to North but the football moved east.

Helix, Steele Canyon, and Monte Vista, from the two Grossmont leagues in the foothills of San Diego County, won championships and El Centro Southwest and Calexico Vincent Memorial from the Far East in Imperial Valley also took home hardware.

El Camino, from the oft-ballyhooed Avocado League, provided a break in the trend.

All five division winners will move on to the Southern California championship “bowl series” games this week, prelude to the state championships Dec. 15-16.  Five qualifiers from Open through D-1A will play at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus.

The winner between Helix and Westlake Village Oaks Christian will go to Sacto for a game on Dec. 15.  Other division winners will compete Dec. 16 at sites to be determined.

The five other San Diego Section champions have been slotted in D-3A through D-6AA.


Placed in the highest alignment behind the Open Division, which will be settled by Santa Ana Mater Dei and Concord De La Salle on Dec. 16, Helix (12-1) is presented with another daunting challenge on the road, 165 miles away, unless evacuations and continual fire danger force a change of venue.

The Highlanders led favored Mission Viejo, 28-25, with two minutes remaining and had the ball, but a fumble recovered by the Diablos in Helix territory led to a 32-28 Mission Viejo victory in 2015.  The Orange County team went on to defeat San Jose Bellarmine, 24-0, and wrap a 16-0 season.

Oaks Christian is 12-2 and winner of its last nine after an uneven start in which the Lions lost their opener to West Hills Chaminade, 47-10, and a game 5, 38-20 decision to Murrieta Valley.  They’ve outscored their opponents by an average score of 36-11 since and are No. 8 in Cal-Hi Sports’ Top 50.

Helix, which jumped from 20th to Cal-HI’s 13th this week, has solid quarterbacking in Carson Baker and can pound the ball with sophomore running back Elelyon Noa. The Scots will face the exponential need to protect the ball and play their game in what would be a hostile setting, much like 2015.

Their Cal-Hi rankings fairly close, both teams are closer in the analytics department.  Oaks has a computer score of 66.5, according to Cal Preps.com, Helix 65.5.

A nagging, Week 2 loss of 23-6 to Lancaster Paraclete, which lost to Oaks Christian, 30-21, seems to have cost Helix more in the ratings.

The Pick:  Helix 34, @Oaks Christian 28.

Winner meets Northern champion Fresno Central or Folsom.


Steele Canyon (10-4), the seventh seed in the San Diego Section Open Division, won its last six after blowout losses of 41-7 to helix and 51-14 to Grossmont, and knocked off top seed Ramona, 33-29, in the finals.  Orange El Modena (12-2) played in a softer North Hills League of Orange County.  Steele has a 41.4 Cal-Preps score, El Modena 40.

The Pick:  Steele Canyon 24, @El Modena 20.

Winner meets Northern champion Sutter or Half Moon Bay.


El Camino (8-5) overcame the loss of suspended coach Jerry Ralph, who had put the Wildcats in position for a run this season, and rallied behind Mike Hobbs, the former El Centro Central mentor, with strong play through the playoffs.  Crenshaw, a member of the weak Los Angeles Coliseum League, was beaten by Harbor City Narbonne, 48-7, in the L.A. City finals.

The Pick: @El Camino, 35, Crenshaw 21.

Winner meets Northern champion Placer or Salinas.


El Centro Southwest (13-0) won its first championship since joining the San Diego Section in 2000 and was one of the three unbeaten finalists to survive last weekend at Southwestern (Ramona and San Diego, the two others, each went down).

San Joaquin Memorial (11-2) lost to Fresno Edison and Fresno Bullard, which finished a combined 13-12,  in league play but got hot with four playoff wins and will have to overcome an expected seven-hour trip of 430 miles down U.S. 99, through Los Angeles, east to Palm Springs and South to the Imperial County.

The Pick:  San Joaquin Memorial 30, @El Centro Southwest 27.

Winner meets Northern champion Milpitas or Moraga Campolindo.


Monte Vista (8-5) and coming hard, will play at an interesting venue, Anaheim’s Western High, better known as the alma-mater of Tiger Woods.  Coach Ron Hamamoto, with 218 career victories, will send big running back Jahmon McClendon against Anaheim Katella (12-1).

The Pick:  Katella 41, Monte Vista 28.

Winner meets Northern champion Oakland McClymonds or East Nicolaus.


Huntington Park (11-3) won the Los Angeles City Section after finishing third in the Eastern League.  Calexico Vincent Memorial (11-2) will be at home at nearby Calexico High.

The Pick:  Huntington Park, 27, Calexico Vincent Memorial 20.

Winner meets Northern champion San Francisco Gallileo or Rio Vista.


The dream season of San Diego High ended with a 71-48 loss in D-IV to Monte Vista..Monte Vista coach Ron Hamamoto, believe it or not,  coached a 71-48 Rancho Bernardo victory over West Hills in a 1999 playoff…the Monarchs’ Jahmon McClendon, a tall, upright runner in the mold of pro football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, wore down the Cavers with 8 touchdowns…San Diego, which led, 22-21, in the second quarter, finished with a 12-1 record and tied the 1916 Hilltoppers team for most wins…Helix’ 26-19 victory over Mission Hills attracted a standing-room crowd of 9,304 to Southwestern College, not an easy place to get to on a Friday orSaturday night, but the best locale in the area, by far…Helix thus earned the No. 1 ranking in the final Union-Tribune poll….

Rank Team 2017 Points Week 11
1. Helix (28) 12-1 280 2
2. Mission Hills 12-1 251 1
3. San Marcos 9-3 174 5
4. Torrey Pines 7-5 173 9
5. El Camino 8-5 157 NR
6. Steele Canyon 10-4 129 NR
7. Ramona 12-1 104 3
8. Madison 8-3 86 8
9. El Centro Southwest 13-0 47 NR
10. Eastlake 10-3 42 NR

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

NR: Not Ranked.

Others receiving votes:  La Costa Canyon (7-4, 39 points),  St. Augustine (7-4, 23), Monte Vista (8-5, 10),  The Bishop’s (9-1, 8), Oceanside (6-7,  4), Grossmont (7-4, 3).

Voters (28 sportswriters, sportscasters, officials): John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI Chl. 51; Adam Paul, East County Preps.com; Ramon Scott, East County Sports.com; Bodie DeSilva, San Diego Preps.com; Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions; Troy Hirsch, Fox 5 San Diego; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Jerry Schniepp, John LaBeta, Carlton Hoggard, CIF San Diego; Raymond Brown, sdfootball.net; Montell Allen, MBASports-SDFNL Magazine; Bob Petinak,  1360AM; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9FM; Jim Arnaiz, Mike Dolan, John Carroll, CIF Football Tournament Directors.

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1945-46: “We Got (Expletive)!”

The cry is as old as the game.  Visiting teams screaming that the referees or the timekeeper did them unjustly.

Huntington Beach certainly had those thoughts when the Oilers, 4-0 on the season and a reported 20-1 in 1944-45, were on the short end of a 38-37 score at San Diego in a game punctuated by a wild finish and “pandemonium, with fans spilling onto the floor,” according to The San Diego Union.

Huntington Beach had taken a 37-36 on a free throw after Hilltopper Ben Cendali fouled with two minutes remaining in the game.  Cendali got back into his team’s good graces when he converted a free throw to tie the score, and then, in the final seconds, scored on another trip to the foul line.

As time was running out, or ran out, depending on whose side you were on, the Oilers’ Elmer Coombs launched a desperation shot from behind the halfcourt line that drained the basket but was disallowed.

Neither the Union or Evening Tribune stories carried a byline, indicating that the sports desk probably received a game call from Cavers coach John Brose or a student representative.

The Huntington Beach coach apparently claimed that there was no  moment that declared the game was over, charging that the starter pistol used to signal the ends of periods of play was faulty and never went off.

And no one heard the timer blowing a whistle that the game was over, according to the newspaper  reports.

Basketball coach John Brose (left) was going into administration and baseball mentor Dewey (Mike) Morrow was returning from the military, as was basketball coach  Merrill Douglas.

It also was reported that the game timer was Amerigo Dini, a Cavers football letterman who had to be filling in for a faculty member or coach.

And that’s the way it was on the cool, overcast evening of Dec. 16, 1945, as the city, relieved that  war was over, prepared for the most joyous Christmas in years.


Midterm graduates, the bane of coaches, were leaving school around the first of February since the early days of the CIF.

Southern Section historian John Dahlem pointed out that the practice of students accumulating credits and graduating early probably began to diminish in the 1950s.  Dahlem was part of one of the final midterm graduations in Southern California when he and others got their diplomas in 1961 at Santa Monica High.

San Diego High had lost players for years, even during the 1935-36 Southern Section championship season but that team was talented enough to overcome.

Pre-war coach Merrill Douglas had returned from the Army but would not take over again until the 1946-47 school year, leaving the wartime mentor, John Brose, to cope with the departure of four starters.

That’s four, as in a starting lineup of five.   Wally Pietila, Norm Scudder, Bob Grant, and Lee Bowman all left early, along with Elfego Padilla and Joe Castagnola, six of the top seven.

Brose coached splendidly in Douglas’ absence, his teams posting a 48-12 record in Brose’s three seasons, including 20-5 this year, but the Hilltoppers flattened out with a 4-4 record after a 16-1 start.

Grant, a three-year letterman at center, was the leading scorer in his Victory League games, averaging 15 points a game.

Midterm graduate Bob Grant still led the all-Victory League team.

An assembly honoring the mid-term graduates saw the team’s most-valuable player trophy go to Grant and Pietila received the Parents Teachers’ Association award after earning 20 grades of A. Pietila was scheduled to enroll at the University of California at Berkeley.

The players’ last game was a 49-30 victory over Point Loma as Grant led the way with 18 points.

Brose pointed out that “Pietila, Castagnola, and Bowman actually are Bees, but their play elevated them.   It is unusual for a B exponent player starting on varsity.”

The 5-foot-5, 128-pound Pietila, one of the Hilltoppers’ starting forwards, just missed qualifying for Class C, based on the exponents of height, weight, and age.


Ish Herrera put Foothillers ahead of Cavers

Brose began his team’s second season by inserting reserves Bob McCommins, Jerry Dahms, John Holloway, Charlie Coffey, and Clyde Barnes into the rotation with junior Ben Cendali, who became the team’s leading scorer, averaging nine points in seven league games.

The Hilltoppers had no time to ease into the transition.  Their next opponent was Grossmont, like San Diego, with a 4-0 record.

The Hilltoppers led, 26-25, late in the game, but the Foothillers’ Ish Herrera drained a 30-foot set shot and Ralph Lamp added a basket for a 29-26 victory. A 48-36 loss to Hoover dropped San Diego into third place tie with Coronado at 5-2 in the final standings, while Grossmont and Hoover, each 6-1, tied for first.


San Diego, with an invitation from the Beverly Hills Tournament, switched its Victory League game from Feb. 22 to Feb. 12.

The bid undoubtedly came before the midterm graduation, when the Cavers were undefeated in league play and with one of the best records in Southern California.

Hoover, as winner of the first Beverly event in the 1941-42 season and in the resumed event in 1944-45, also was part of the field Grossmont expected an at-large bid, but The San Diego Union cited a “misunderstanding” between Beverly Hills officials and the Southern Section and the Foothillers were out.

Hoover’s bid for a third consecutive Beverly Hills title stalled against Santa Barbara.  The Cardinals led, 19-8, at the half, and 26-19 after three quarters but fell to the eventual tournament champion, 33-32.  San Diego started fast, 43-13 over Lawndale Leuzinger, but went home after a 43-24 loss to Anaheim.


The Victory League campaign ended on Feb. 22.  The Southern Section playoffs would not begin until March 1.  Hoover and Grossmont first engaged in a playoff to determine the league champion and drew an estimated 2,200 persons to the reported 1,800-seat capacity Men’s Gym at San Diego State.

A 49-29 victory sent the Cardinals into the first round of the Southern Section tournament and they responded with a 54-44 win over Brawley.  The season ended when South Pasadena, 27-2 coming into the game, defeated the Cardinals, 33-23, in the semifinals.

Hoover finished the season and Rickey Wilson’s tenure as coach with a 13-6 record, following seasons of 10-4, 11-4, 14-5, and 16-1. The best in school history far into the 21st century.

Hoover’s Jack Seiquist participates in the photo op of the day.

Wilson’s overall record of 64-15 and .810 winning percentage remained as the best in school history through a succession of mostly successful coaches through the turn of the century.


…Herb Hoskins?

The man coaching the Brawley Wildcats in their first-round playoff game against Hoover looked familiar.

Hoskins had been the Sweetwater football coach two decades before, posting a 40-29-3 record from 1919 to 1928.  He moved to the Imperial Valley after leaving the Red Devils and taught chemistry at Brawley, adding basketball resume before the 1943-44 campaign.


Hoover won its 15th consecutive Victory League game by defeating Kearny, 39-21.  The Cardinals had not lost in league play since 1943-44, but Kenny Tennison’s basket for Grossmont with five seconds remaining gave the Foothillers a 34-33 victory, ending the Cardinals’ streak.


Play resumed in the Chino Invitational after wartime hiatus following the 1941 tournament…defending champion Hoover dropped a 41-39 decision to Burbank in the semifinals…San Diego bowed, 32-24, to San Bernardino in the semis…lack of local competition annually forced Hoover and San Diego to the road…the Cardinals began their season with a U,.S. 395 trip to San Bernardino )29-26 loss) and Ontario Chaffey (37-34 win)…Grossmont went East, through snow in the Laguna Mountains, and was beaten, 24-20, at El Centro Central…San Diego warmed up for league games with 22-13 and 36-29 victories at Compton and Redondo Beach Redondo, respectively…the Cavers went North late in the season to defeat a group of prisoners at the Chino’s Men’s Institute, 37-34,and at Huntington Beach, 21-15…Coronado’s Dave Melton\on was the leading Victory League scorer, averaging 12.1 points with 85 in seven games…Melton played 13 years ibn baseball, most in the high minors, and had cups of coffee with the Kansas City A’s in 1956 and ’58…Melton hit .299 with 116 runs batted in and 19 home runs for San Francisco in the PCL in 1955…St. Augustine defeated Santa Monica. St. Monica’s, 24-13, in a Southland Catholic League contest on an outdoor court at Navy Field…Grossmont took season high point honors in a 63-10 rout of San Diego Vocational…Bob Grant scored 20 points in San Diego’s 60-22 win over Kearny….

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2017 Week 14: More Picks (Guesses) For Finals This Week

The so-named expert is trying his hand again as 10 San Diego Section teams come together for the playoff finals at Southwestern College Friday and Saturday.

I tied the Union-Tribune’s resident genius, prep honcho John Maffei, each of us picking seven out 10 winners last week.  My bad was a stinko choice of Hilltop over El Centro Southwest.  I lost a close call when Mission Hills edged Torrey Pines and was surprised when Monte Vista beat University City.

Numbers in parentheses following school names below are seedings.


Helix (2) vs. Mission Hills (1).

There’s more at stake than a San Diego Section championship.  Seedings  in the upcoming Southern California bowl game playoffs also will come into play for all division winners.  Helix (10-1), now ranked 20th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, can take it to the house from anywhere on field, as the Highlanders did numerous times last week, building a 48-6 halftime lead that ended with a 62-41 win over San Marcos. Quarterback Carson Baker will have a tough matchup against Mission Hills’ Jack Tuttle.  The Grizzlies, who hold a 49-27 win over San Marcos, have gotten to 12-0 for the first time in school history and are Cal-Hi’s No. 8 team. Coach Chris Hauser’s club was 12-2 in 2013, when it beat Helix, 24-21, in the semifinals.

The Pick:  Helix, 42-35.


El Camino (1) vs. Eastlake (3).

It doesn’t speak well that the Wildcats are the top seed in this division with a 7-5 record, indicative of a so-so field, although Eastlake is 10-2. Scores against common opponents are tight.  El Camino beat Carlsbad, 31-24, and Olympian, 29-21.  Eastlake beat Carlsbad, 24-21, and Olympian, 27-20. El Camino comes from the stout Avocado League, Eastlake from the decidedly thinner Metro Mesa.

The Pick: Eastlake 24, El Camino 21.


Ramona (1) vs. Steele Canyon (7).

The Bulldogs (12-0) rank No. 40 in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports.  Steele Canyon (8-4) has won 4 in a row, but never got whiff in the weekly Union-Tribune Top 10.

The Pick:  Ramona 38, Steele Canyon 28.


El Centro Southwest (1) vs. (2) Santa Fe Christian.

Southwest (12-0) has been virtually unchallenged, outscoring its opponents by an average score of 44-7.  The only close game was against Brawley, which battled but lost, 20-12. Mount Miguel (7-5) dropped a 39-21 decision in the quarterfinals, after which Matadors Coach Shaun McDade leveled some howitzer-like shots at the officiating crew.  My disrespect for Imperial Valley teams other than Brawley bit me in the back side when I suggested that Hilltop would top the Eagles, who sent the Lancers home with a 62-18 whipping.

Santa Fe Christian (8-4) represents a savvy program from the Coast, one of the best small school circuits in the state.  The also-named Eagles are making their seventh trip to the finals since 2001 and ninth overall.  They’re used to competing against larger schools.  Southwest has an enrollment of about 2,100, compared to Santa Fe’s less than 450. Santa Fe’s playoff 63-14 rout of La Jolla and 14-12 verdict against San Pasqual look good.

The Pick:  Santa Fe Christian 34, El Centro Southwest 28.


San Diego (2) vs. Monte Vista (4).

San Diego is on the brink of history.  Its win over El Centro Central last week elevated the Cavers to a 12-0 record, matched in school history only by the 1916 Hilltoppers. The Cavers’ success and the prospect of a 13th victory after decades of mediocrity is the feel-good story of the season.  Neutral observers of last week’s fourth-quarter comeback noted, however, the consecutive dead ball fouls at El Centro’s three-yard line, an example of a lack of poise, perhaps fueled by the Cavers’ over-the-top stadium public address.

Monte Vista (7-5), an in-and-outer most of the season, stepped up and won two tough playoff games, including 30-21 over top seed University City last week.  The victories sent coach Ron Hamamoto passed a couple legendary colleagues on the all-time list.  Hamamoto now is fifth with 217 victories, behind Herb Meyer (339), John Carroll (248), Bennie Edens (239), and John Shacklett (229) and ahead of the retired Gil Warren (216) and Ed Burke (215).  Hamamoto can continue his neck-and-neck battle next year with Valley Center’s Rob Gilster, who closed the season with 216 victories.

The Pick:  Monte Vista, 28, San Diego 21.


Games were close for the most part and the CIF ratings system held strong.  Of the six championship contests, 9 of the 12 teams represented are No. 1 or 2 seeds.  This includes Calexico Vincent Memorial and Crawford, which played last week for the D-V title, Vincent winning, 45-3 after leading 19-3 in the third quarter.

Mission Hills scored the winning touchdown in a 20-17 battle with Torrey Pines by crossing the Falcons’ goal with 1:12 remaining.  San Diego overcame a 22-12 disadvantage with under nine minutes left to beat El Centro Central, 26-22. El Camino edged Oceanside 49-42 on a touchdown with 10.8 seconds left. A failed two-point conversion attempt with 4:27 remaining doomed Granite Hills, 28-27 loser to Steele Canyon.



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2017: Luther Hayes, 78, Lincoln’s All-Time Hornet

Fledgling Lincoln High began to create its great athletic legacy after Luther Hayes, a vital member of San Diego high’s 1955 Southern California championship team, transferred to the young school at 49th Street and Imperial Avenue.

Hayes 78, who passed on Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by his wife, Anita, and family at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, starred in football, basketball and track and field at Lincoln, was a standout in football and track at USC, and played on the first Chargers team in San Diego in 1961.

Hayes, who was born in Houston and came to San Diego at age 5, was a starting end as a sophomore on Lincoln’s first varsity team in 1954.

Hayes transferred to San Diego after the football season and competed in track and field for the Cavers, finishing fifth in the Southern California broad jump competition in Ontario, at 22 feet, 1 inch.

Hayes (left) in front row was standout on Cavers’ defense that allowed only 65 points in 12 games.

Hayes was an offensive and defensive end on the 1955 San Diego team that posted an 11-0-1 record and was declared the national champion by a New York publication.

A dramatic play in the Cavers’ march to the title that season came in a game that Anaheim tied, 20-20, late in a semifinals struggle at Long Beach Veterans’ Stadium.

The 6-foot, 4-inch, 190-pound Hayes had gotten his hand up and deflected an attempted point after following Anaheim’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter.  If successful, the Colonists would have won the game, 21-20.

Hayes’ family (and that of San Diego teammate David Grayson) moved during the ’55-56 school year, back into the Lincoln district.

Luther helped Lincoln post a 20-4 record in basketball and he won the first of two Southern California broad jump championships, overcoming a markedly short runway at Inglewood with a 22-foot, 9 ¾-inch, effort.  He had set the City Prep League meet record of 23-9 ½ three weeks before.

Luther stood tall at right in back row as Lincoln lettermen posed for group shot in 1957 annual.

Hayes was all-City as a fullback on the ’56 Lincoln team, its leading scorer in basketball and, defeated favored Preston Griffin with a 23-11 broad jump in the track finals at Ontario Chaffey.

Hayes finished fourth with a jump of 24 feet, 1/8 inch in the state meet at Chico in 1956 and won the event the following year at 23-8 ½ at Edwards Field in Berkeley.

Hayes went on to earn more honors at USC.

The first athlete from Lincoln to be recruited by USC, Luther earned two varsity letters before an injury slowed his senior season, but he etched his name in Trojans’ lore in 1958 when he returned a kickoff 74 yards for a game-tying touchdown as underdog USC battled UCLA to a 15-15 standoff.

Hayes won the national collegiate championship in the hop, step, and jump in 1960 and ’61, and set a NCAA meet record of 51-2 ¼.  He still ranks among all-time USC leaders with a 25-6 ¼ broad jump and 51-9 ½ in the event that became known as the triple jump.

Drafted by the NFL Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers of the AFL, Hayes opted to sign with the hometown team and played one season, catching 14 passes for a 20-yard average and three touchdowns.

Luther went on the coach and educate in Los Angeles in a career that lasted 40 years.

He is remembered as an athlete that  came up big in the big games and meets and as the gentleman Lincoln student who always had time for anyone, no matter their status on campus.

Hayes (fourth from left) was two-year letterman in basketball and the Hornets’ leading scorer in the 1956-57 season.








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2017 Week 13: How an “Expert” Sees This Week’s Games

Here they are, our predictions for the five San Diego Section semifinals and one final this week. I pretty much went with the seeds, although there are a few strays from chalk.  I’m not Colin Cowherd or the late “Jimmy the Greek,” so take these picks for what they’re worth.


3 SAN MARCOS (9-2) @2 HELIX (10-1).

Helix dropped a 23-6 decision to Lancaster Paraclete in what was considered a moderate upset in the opening game. The Paraclete Spirits still are winning, 11-1 with only a 30-21 loss to well-regarded Westlake Village Oaks Christian.   Since that game in September the Highlanders have run off 10 straight victories, including their annual beat down of big brother Grossmont, 57-3, one month ago.

San Marcos, laboring in the  shadow of the neighboring and more renown Mission Hills, is 9-2 and sent St. Augustine packing last week, 41-21.  The Knights are the No. 2 team in the muscular Avocado League, despite a 38-21 loss to Torrey Pines and 49-27 loss to Mission Hills.

The Pick:  Helix.


Mission Hills, 52-42 over Grossmont in the quarterfinals, has been here before and is the elephant among the Avocados, taking charge since Oceanside’s John Carroll retired and rode off with his 248 career victories.  Mission Hills’ Chris Hauser is moving up the list with 153 wins. Quarterback Jack Tuttle, wideout Chris Olave, and the rest of the Grizzlies’ crew will have the home crowd behind them.

Torrey Pines, despite four losses and a 7-4 resume, emerged as one of the best teams in the San Diego Section beginning in Week 5.  The Falcons were 5-2 down the stretch, losing to No. 1 Mission Hills, 24-23, and to La Costa Canyon, 27-21.

The loss to the Grizzlies was not surprising, but Torrey’s rematch seven days later with La Costa Canyon got people’s attention. The Falcons, pounding it with a flock of runners in the Wing T tradition of Ed Burke and used today by Coach Ron Gladnick, kayoed the Mavericks, 40-0, in a stunning 46-point swing.

The Pick: Torrey Pines.


5 Oceanside (6-6) @1 El Camino (6-5).

2 Carlsbad (6-5) @3 Eastlake (9-2)

The Picks:  El Camino & Eastlake.


7 Steele Canyon (8-4) @6 Granite Hills (10-2).

4 Otay Ranch (8-3) @1 Ramona (11-0).

The Picks: Steele Canyon & Ramona.


4 Hilltop (7-4) @1 El Centro Southwest (11-0).

3 San Pasqual (7-4) vs. 2 Santa Fe Christian (7-4) @Torrey Pines.

The Picks: Hilltop & Santa Fe Christian.


3 El Centro Central (10-1) @2 San Diego (11-0).

4 Monte Vista (6-5) @ 1 University City (10-1).

The Picks: San Diego & University City.


2 Crawford (8-4) vs. 1 Calexico Vincent Memorial (10-2) @Southwestern College.

The Pick: Calexico Vincent Memorial.


Except for Division II, the new ratings system is working, but the real test comes in the next two weeks.

Three of the five top seeds still are in the hunt in the Open and Division I, respectively. The top 4 in III and IV are active and the top two will meet in the D-V championship.  Numbers 2 and 3 went down in D-II

The Bishop’s, No. 2 in D-II and a state finalist in 2016, lost a 61-52 shootout to 7 seed Steele Canyon and 6 seed Granite Hills topped No. 3 Valley Center, 49-30.

Two fifth seeds, Torrey Pines in the Open and Oceanside in D-I, will continue making their cases.


El Centro Central has not scored on San Diego High in 100 years…not that the Spartans have had many opportunities…San Diego won at Central, 20-0, in 1987 and blanked the visitors from Imperial Valley, 28-0, in 1917 in the teams’ only meetings…San Marcos’ win over St. Augustine last week was the Knights’ fifth against no defeats versus the Saints…the teams had last met in 1984…Mission Hills remained 11th in Cal-Hi Sports’ top 50, Helix dropped from 25th to 26th, Ramona rose from 44th to 42nd, and Torrey Pines joined at 50th…San Marcos is on the bubble.

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1940-41:  Douglas, Wilson Make Coaching Debuts

Two young coaches destined to become legendary in San Diego basketball lore arrived as varsity mentors at the city’s two prep powerhouses.

Rickey Wilson, a former San Diego High player, succeeded Lawrence Carr at Hoover and Merrill Douglas, a transplanted Montanan, took over for Bill Schutte at San Diego High.

The schools  continued to be San Diego’s prime representatives, the Hilltoppers going 15-3 under Douglas and Hoover 10-4 under Wilson, but teams in the Metropolitan and Southern Prep Leagues commanded their shares of attention, although headlines were reserved for the war clouds that loomed in the West and the “The Battle of Britain”, being fought between the British and Germans in the skies above London.


San Diego and Hoover would join a 17-team super conference beginning in 1941-42 as the CIF attempted to separate large schools from small schools.  San Diego, Hoover, and Long Beach Poly, were the only members of the Coast League.

Down to three teams since Santa Ana bailed after the 1935-36 school year and Alhambra after 1938-39, the Coast basketball season was shortened.  The Hilltoppers and Hoover seasons ended this year in late January.  The Metropolitan and Southern Prep were active through the end of February.

New Cardinals mentor Rickey Wilson (right) meets Hoover athletic director John Perry.

CIF commissioner Seth Van Patten often had to hustle to fill playoff brackets.  Some leagues, notably the Metro, at the geographical bottom of the Federation, just didn’t want to be bothered.  Records in the CIF archives showed only a four-team field this year.

Poly won the Coast, taking three out of four from San Diego and Hoover, but the Jackrabbits were beaten in the CIF finals by Glendale Hoover, 23-20.

A spirited, six-game Metropolitan League race ended with Coronado, Escondido, and Grossmont, each 5-1, tying for first place.  Ramona ran the table with a 12-0 record to win its fifth consecutive Southern Prep championship.

Coronado Islanders were Metropolitan League co-champions with Escondido and Grossmont. Front row (from left) James Mealy, Bob Wright, Sevy Molino, Scott Daubin, Dexter Lanois. Back row (from left) Herman Riedlinger, Bob Melton, Jacob Gayle, Willard Matott, Bill Johns, Fritz Sanderman, Bob Thompson.


It took the San Diego news corps awhile to get it right with Ermer Robinson, the San Diego High star and future Harlem Globetrotter.  He was known as “Irma” Robinson for the first month of this, his junior season.

Martin Payne, the sports editor of The Russ, San Diego High’s weekly newspaper, covered several games for The San Diego Union and was the first to ensure that Robinson was correctly identified, when Payne covered the Hilltoppers’ 25-19 league victory over Long Beach Poly.


–Known as the County Interscholastic Tournament, an eight-team event took place with games at San Diego High, Hoover, Municipal Gym, and San Diego State. Grossmont defeated Point Loma, 30-12, for the championship.

–San Diego and Hoover at the same time were in the Huntington Beach Tournament, which also included Coronado. The Islanders opened with a 46-7 victory over Laguna Beach as Bud Ingle scored 20 points.  They were eliminated the next day by Ontario Chaffey, 22-17.

San Diego defeated Hoover, 24-15, for the Huntington Beach title after advancing with wins of 28-20 over defending champ Chaffey and 29-23 over Long Beach Wilson.  Hoover was in the finals after defeating Whittier, 36-26, and Santa Barbara, 20-19.

Junior Ray Boone would finish stellar basketball-baseball career at Hoover, become outstanding major league player and father and grandfather of future major leaguers.

San Diego was forced to give up the Huntington Beach trophy when Bob (Lefty) Felthaus was declared ineligible by the CIF a few days later for having signed a professional baseball contract in 1939, days before his 17th birthday.

Brooklyn Dodgers scout Tom Downey, under heavy criticism from local prep officials, said that he signed Felthaus after the player stopped attending school, his having dropped out of Hoover.  Felthaus became a student again at San Diego and had turned out for basketball.

–“Irma” Robinson scored 10 points as San Diego, playing for the first time without Felthaus, opened the post-Christmas Chino Tournament with a 42-9 win over San Juan Capistrano.  The Hilltoppers buried Huntington Beach, 38-13, but lost to Burbank, 30-20, in the semifinals.  Poly won its second straight title, 34-24, over Burbank.

–St. Augustine lost to St. Mary’s of Phoenix, 36-27 in the Los Angeles Catholic League tournament.  Hoover defeated Grossmont, 11-7, and Point Loma topped Hoover, 26-8, in finals of the San Diego High invitational for Class C and D teams, respectively.


Army-Navy’s 34-33 victory clinched a best, two-of-three series against the Oceanside chapter of the Knights of Pythias.  The cadets were not as fortunate against the so-named Vista Outlaws, who prevailed, 21-15.


Ramona’s 59-17 victory over Fallbrook represented the single-game scoring high for the season. The Bulldogs also defeated Julian, 53-26.

Julian’s Bud Farmer had the top individual performance with 24 in a 38-31 victory over Army-Navy and added 22 in a 30-24 win over San Dieguito. Julian’s 51-6 rout of Fallbrook, with Farmer scoring one point, represented the third, 50-plus game in the county.


Hilltoppers coach Merrill Douglas saw Maley as one of the keys to the following season.

San Diego’s season was over but Coach Merrill Douglas enticed Chino to come south a couple weeks a couple weeks later.  Douglas employed only players who would return for the 1941-42 season, opening with a starting lineup of Ermer Robinson, Jim Warner, Ron Maley, Denzil Walden, and Gerald Patrick.

The underclassmen delivered a 32-15 victory but Douglas would never see them play together again.  He would respond to a call from Uncle Sam before the next season and not return until the 1946-47 campaign.


Hoover’s Willie Steele set a record of 24 feet, ¾ inch, in the broad jump at the Southern Section track finals in Glendale in May, a few months after Steele served as student manager of the varsity basketball squad.  Steele was awarded a letter by coach Rickey Wilson, as was B squad manager Monroe (Bookie) Clark.

Steele, who played class B basketball the season before, went on to win the national collegiate broad jump championship at San Diego State and was the 1948 Olympic gold medalist in the event, with an all-time best of 26 feet, 6 ½ inches.


St. Augustine principal the Very Rev. W.B. Kirk announced that the Saints had found a home and would join the Southern Prep League in the next school year, after free-lancing and scuffling as an independent since the school opened in 1922.  The agreement was for one year, depending on the circuit’s ability to develop a schedule for eight teams.

Ramona, Julian, Fallbrook, Brown Military, Army-Navy, San Dieguito, and Vista were the other SPL members.  St. Augustine’s games would not count in the standings and the Saints eventually joined the Southland Catholic League of the Los Angeles area in 1945.


“The Russ” outgoing editor Graham Ostrander (left) makes traditional hand off of keys to student newspaper office at San Diego High.  Accepting is spring semester editor Martin Payne. Event took place during dinner at Hotel San Diego.

The U.S. census for 1940 reported San Diego County’s population at 289,348, including 203,737 in the city.   Other “township” totals: Borrego, 90; El Cajon, 20,160; Encinitas, 4,473; Escondido, 9,487; Fallbrook, 2,308; Jacumba, 1,214; National City, 32,213; Oceanside, 8,191;  Ramona, 3,384, and Vista, 4,091.

San Diego State, which would win the 1941 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship, drew a record 19,256 persons to 17 home games in the 1,800-capacity Men’s Gym.  The largest turnout was 1,713 for Santa Barbara State, although the record was 1,907 for a 1939 game against the Broadway Clowns.


The San Diego High gym was packed to the rafters with an estimated 1,900 persons when Hoover upended the Hilltoppers, 32-17…seven days later San Diego won at Hoover, 32-17…Coronado’s Metro League co-championship was achieved despite Coach Hal Niedermeyer’s suspension of Bud Ingle, the Metro’s leading scorer in 1939-40; Bill Hakes, and Al Galpin, early in the season…the three-team Coast’s all-league squad featured San Diego’s Bob (Lefty) Felthaus, Bob Carson, and Jack Maupin…Felthaus’ selection apparently was made on his reputation; he didn’t participate in league play…Hoover’s Rupert Crosthwaite, later well-known in San Diego circles for his ownership of a local sporting goods store, made second team….

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2017 Week 12: It’s Playoff System Controversy Time

CIF boss Jerry Schniepp had a thoughtful response recently to criticism of the San Diego Section playoff formula by writer John Maffei, but even if Schniepp’s assertion that the system implemented this year is the best of several that have been tried, teams like Bonita Vista. 0-11 and counting, continue to get postseason invitations.

Bonita Vista apparently had a stronger “strength of schedule” than 6-4 Brawley or 5-5 Morse, but the Barons were only the most recent example of the “participation trophy” mentality that has been evolving since the CIF first admitted a losing team, coincidentally Bonita Vista, in 1984.

The CIF seemed to even go out of its way to include 0-10 San Marcos in 2006.

Headine announcing San Marcos’ admittance to 2006 playoffs.

Steve Brand, then of The San Diego Union, wrote of the Knights’ inclusion that year:

“Mission Hills dumped San Marcos, 42-0 (in the regular-season-ending game) but the Knights received an unexpected bonus.   They were given a playoff berth.

“Madison and Crawford were out of the postseason because of (combined 11) forfeits, but instead of constructing an eight-team playoff bracket in Division IV, the committee of former coaches, overseen by (commissioner) Dennis Ackerman, opted for a 10-team bracket.”

Of the 11 eligible IV possibilities in 2006, San Marcos was picked over another winless club, Kearny.

“0-10 is 0-10,” Knights coach Desi Herrera admitted to Brand, “but the beauty is we’re starting 0-0 and the playoffs are where we aspire to be.  I want the players to get used to going to the playoffs every year.”

San Marcos was game but bowed in the first round to Coronado, 27-21. Bonita Vista exited last week after a 35-19 loss to Oceanside.


If not fewer divisions, smaller brackets would make for a more competitive postseason.

That won’t happen. The more the merrier is the financially-enhancing go-to philosophy throughout the state CIF’s 10 sections.

There will be more blowouts this week as the surviving 44 teams from the original 64 reach the quarterfinals in Open, I, II, II, and IV.  D-V teams are in the semifinals. Games should tighten up the following week.


The echoes of Rancho Buena Vista’s thundering herd of the late 1980s were loud and clear on Longhorn Drive last week.  Running back Dorian Richardson brought back memories of Markeith Ross, Scott Garcia, and O.J. Hall, who ran and ran and ran in that era for the Rancho squads of Coach Craig Bell.

Richardson scored 8 touchdowns and rushed for 499 yards in 37 carries in the Longhorns’ 62-43, first-round win over Santana.

The yardage total bettered the section record of 436 by Mt. Carmel’s Ken James in 2009.

Richardson’s record touchdown total would have led the County for the whole season in 1943 and  been runner-up in in 1937 and ’40.

Hoover’s Eddie Crain and San Diego’s Tom Poole each scored 25 points in the abbreviated, wartime, six-game season of 1943. Point Loma’s Paul (Red) Isom had 54 points in 8 games in 1937 and Sweetwater’s Marcus Alonzo had 54 in 8 games in 1940.

Frank Green of Coronado scored 11 touchdowns in one game and a ttoal of 80 points in  a 108-0 win over Sweetwater in 1929


Julian upset undefeated and favored Calvin Christian, 26-21, in the D-VI eight-man finals at Ramona.

Eagles quarterback Ozzie Martinez scored 20 seconds into the game when he faked a pass and hustled 65 yards for a touchdown.

Julian’s Roman Sanders halted a Crusaders drive with less than a minute to play when he returned an intercepted pass 28 yards, allowing the Eagles to take possession and do  akneel-down.


Despite having a bye, Mission Hills profited from some playoff losses of teams ahead of the Grizzlies, who advanced from 16th to 11th in Cal-Hi Sports’ Top 50…Helix gave ground, dropping to 25th from 24th despite a bye, and Ramona moved from 48th to 44th…The Bishop’s and San Marcos are on the bubble.


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