At 3:38 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, all of San Diego County and communities north to San Clemente, south to northern Mexico, and east into Arizona suddenly were without power.
Something had gone awry at a connecting station in the western Arizona desert.
A total of 1.4 million customers across the region were without electricity.
Flights were canceled at Lindbergh Field. Streets became gridlocked as traffic signals went blank. Trolleys were stopped dead on their tracks. Hospitals activated generators, and school districts announced shutdowns.
What about football, with a full schedule the next day?
Writer Kirk Kenney of The San Diego Union captured the moment and described how Poway coach Damian Gonzalez handled the situation.
Gonzalez apparently had no problem getting the word to his players about the status of the next day’s game at La Costa Canyon, according to Kenney.
Before the season, Gonzalez made the Titans’ varsity and JV players follow him on twitter @coachgonzopoway.
“The kids all laughed at me,” Gonzalez said. “They thought it was a joke.”
But Gonzalez’ tweets kept everyone in the loop during the blackout and into the morning afterward.
Thursday, 9 p.m.: “School is canceled tomorrow. No idea on game yet.”
Thursday, 10 p.m.: “Football games will be decided in the morning. Compete!”
Friday, 8 a.m.: “Hang tight. No word yet this morning.”
Friday, 11:01a.m.: “We have not gotten the word to play. There is no official decision.”
Friday, 11:07 a.m.: “It is now official. Game on!”
Electricity was restored at 4:30 the next morning, approximately 13 hours after the failure, and life gradually was returning to normal.
Poway defeated the host La Costa Canyon Mavericks, 28-14, that night.
Keeping with the spirit of the moment, a La Costa Canyon cheerleader participated in the halftime banner run-through by carrying a candle, in the shape of a light bulb.
ELECTRICITY OF ANOTHER KIND
Writer Jim Lindgren noted that at one point in 1973 vocalist Vicki Lawrence hit the top of the record charts with “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia.”
In San Diego the lights did go out on Skyline Drive, 38 years ago.
Morse and other city schools were advised by Education Center bosses that night football was out.
Rowdyism, a fact of life on the high school circuit for many years, was cited and football became an afternoon sport.
Night games eventually returned and schools in recent years began adding lights to their stadiums.
Luminosity was part of the $15 million ball park that Morse unveiled on its campus this year.
One problem, Kearny dimmed the glow by defeating the Tigers, 35-20, in the first game under the stars.
A first-week, 21-14 stumble against Eastlake was all that kept Helix from a perfect season.
The Highlanders rolled off 13 consecutive victories and won the State Division II championship by defeating Loomis Del Oro, 35-24.
Helix outgained the Sacramento-area team known as the Golden Eagles, 384-272, and led, 28-10, at halftime.
The growing state playoffs included 6 teams in three divisions.
Helix had gotten such a head of steam late in the season that a D-II quarterfinals playoff in San Diego actually ended with a running clock.
Although penalized 12 times, the Scots walloped Torrey Pines, 44-7 and followed with a 21-0 win over Mission Hills the next week and beat Oceanside, 44-7, for the championship.
There was the usual uncertainty about availability of Qualcomm Stadium, where the San Diego Section finals were held.
The get use of the San Diego Chargers’ home field, the CIF was forced to implement an unpopular playoff schedule that resulted in three games in 10 days for the finalists.
Oceanside was 11th, Helix 15th, and Eastlake 40th in the preseason Cal-Hi Sports poll. Helix rose to fifth in the final selections, Poway to 18th, and Cathedral to 33rd.
The final Union-Tribune poll had Helix, Cathedral, and Poway 1-2-3.
THIS BUD’S FOR YOU
Between teaching classes in Advance Placement Literature and Theory of Knowledge, Walter (Bud) Mayfield found time to coach football at Coronado.
Mayfield hung up his whistle after the season, closing his career on a 70-32 rush over the last 10 years, representative of the Islanders’ best run since the Amos Schaeffer-coached teams of 1926-33 went 45-10-5.
Mayfield was at the trans-bay helm for 23 of his 31 seasons, with time out for stints at University, Anaheim Servite, and Santa Ana Mater Dei, and finished 130-119-4 overall.
Two other prominent coaches also left the scene.
Dave Lay moved from assisting at Valley Center to a similar position at Mesa College. Lincoln’s Ron Hamamoto also left for an assistant position at Mesa.
Carlsbad coach Thadd McNeal never will forget his first victory. The Lancers defeated San Diego, 36-35, with a two-point conversion with no time remaining.
The winning score was set up on a 39-yard, flea-flicker touchdown pass play on the final snap of regulation play.
Carlsbad hired McNeal, who quarterbacked there in 1985, after McNeal posted a 45-15 record in five seasons as head coach at Lynwood.
BUZZER-BEATING MADNESS, II
San Marcos missed a two-point conversion and trailed Orange Glen, 31-30 with 1:30 remaining in the game, but the Knights recovered the ensuing on-side kickoff.
Christian Gomez’ 28-yard field goal on the final play of the game gave San Marcos a 33-31 victory.
BUZZER-BEATING MADNESS, III
Eighth-ranked San Pasqual scored 10 points in the final 2:39 and tied No. 4 Poway, 17-17, with a 40-yard field goal on the final play.
Gil Warren won his 200th game against Sweetwater, the school at which he got his start.
Warren was a wingback on the 1958 Red Devils squad that was 7-3-1 and reached the semifinals of the Southern California playoffs before bowing to Santa Monica, 34-20.
Warren became the seventh San Diego-area coach to win 200.
Herb Meyer, with 338 victories, ranked third all-time in the state. Bennie Edens followed Meyer with 238, with John Shacklett (229), Jim Arnaiz (212), and John Carroll (211) also in the select group.
CANCELATION FOLLOWS INJURY
San Diego’s game at Morse was called in the second quarter after Cavers quarterback Khari Kimbrough sustained a broken leg that required surgery.
San Diego athletic director Ty Guzik described a “very emotional scene” on the Morse gridiron.
Tension enveloped the stadium when there was a delay in attending to Kimbrough, the son of Cavers coach Keir Kimbrough. Because of the delay a second ambulance had to be summoned.
The game, scoreless at the time of the injury, was declared no contest.
San Diego Jewish Academy defeated Los Angeles Milken, 25-8. Mark Wetzel, coach of the San Diego team, said the game was the first tackle football contest between two Jewish high schools.
Classical defeated Capistrano Valley Christian, 82-67, a common basketball score.
Except the game was eight-man football.
A total of 149 points.
A lot, but not enough to set a record.
St. Joseph (96) and Lutheran (74) scored 170 points in 2008 for the San Diego Section standard.
San Diego High holds the 11-man record of 137, having defeated Army-Navy, 130-7, in 1920.
The closest any 11-man teams have come to the Cavers’ outburst were Rancho Bernardo (71) and West Hills (48) in 1999.
THEY WINGED IT
Seldom in their 62 seasons have the Mar Vista Mariners created a noise that could be heard beyond their Imperial Beach city limits.
The Mariners averaged about one winning season every decade and had won 1 of 10 playoff games since 1950, but they rolled out a vintage Winged-T attack this season that could be felt all over the South Bay region.
The Mariners went 11-2 and defeated city power St. Augustine, 42-28, in the quarterfinals of the Division III playoffs.
As Jim Lindgren of The San Diego Union reported, the Mariners rushed for 355 yards and had scoring drives of 11, 12, and 15 plays.
“It’s the number one offense in the history of high school football,” said coach BrIAn Hay. “We use it because it fits our people.”
The fit was so snug the Mariners rushed for almost 5,000 yards, but their season came to an end in the semifinals in a 40-8 loss to Olympian.
SAY, AREN’T YOU?
Reintroductions were in order before Chula Vista “avenged” a playoff loss to Escondido with a 30-0 victory.
Escondido had beaten the Spartans, 13-7, in the playoffs, 43 years earlier, in 1968.
A drunk driver was charged in an auto accident that killed four players from Grande Prairie Composite High in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The school, known as the “Comp”, was the visiting team for a game at Santana just three weeks before.
San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral returned five fumbles for touchdowns in a 56-6 victory over St. Ignatius. The Oakland-area Emeryville squad in 1974 and El Camino in 1978 had shared the record.
The Wildcats returned four fumbles for scores in a 33-13 win over Fallbrook.
Football was going uptown at La Costa Canyon, where seat backs were installed and concession stands were equipped with closed-circuit television. What’s next, luxury suites?
Ninety-eight of 120 San Diego Section schools fielded teams. Eight in 8-man, 18 each in Division I-IIII, 16 in IV, and 19 in V.
Twelve of the 98 head coaches had been on the job for more than 10 years. Twenty-five coaches were reported in their first year, 6 in their second, and 15 in their third.
IS IT MAGIC?
Hilltop’s Omar Hernandez, who quarterbacked the Lancers to six straight victories after a 0-3 start, was known as Houdini. He escaped Castle Park defenders to score two touchdowns and kicked a 52-yard field goal in a 23-7 victory.
Cathedral’s 17-3 victory over St. Augustine increased the Dons’ lead to 31-19 in the Holy Bowl series…Sweetwater announced plans to construct a new football stadium at a cost of $2.2 million…Patrick Henry had to play all but one of its games in a 3-7 season on the road because of a delay in the resurfacing of the Patriots’ stadium field…Mt. Carmel coach John Anderson is uncle of Poway wideout Teddy Anderson…St. Augustine was 6-0 for the first time since 1970…the Saints’ Seamus McMorrow tied the section record with a 58-yard field goal and won a postseason all-star game in Carson with a 45-yard field goal after setting up the winner with a successful onside kick…McMorrow also ran 26 yards with a fake punt….
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