“Elevator! Elevator! We got the shaft!”
The age-old shout from unhappy cheering sections, usually directed at game referees, was leveled by head coach Dick Haines and Vista partisans at nine coaches charged with seeding and selecting teams for the San Diego Section playoffs.
The mentors, reportedly by an 8-1 vote, nominated San Dieguito as the twelfth and final team in the AAA playoffs. Vista was out for only the fourth time in the last 17 seasons.
San Dieguito defeated Vista 16-7 on the final Friday night of the regular season.
The Mustangs won the head-to-head meeting. So what’s the problem?
Vista and San Dieguito each posted a 6-4 record, but the Panthers were 3-3 in Palomar League play and took on a more difficult nonleague schedule that included Oceanside, Fontana, Morse, and Cordova Rancho Cordova.
San Dieguito was 2-4 in league competition and played nonleague games against Granite Hills, Patrick Henry, Helix, and San Diego Southwest.
EVEN GRANITE HILLS?
Vista also was bypassed by Granite Hills, a playoff participant with a 5-5 record.
Vista coach Dick Haines, who did not attend the meeting open to coaches at Francis Parker High, teed off on his colleagues.
“They’re logic isn’t very logical,” Haines suggested to Steve Brand of The San Diego Union. “I’m dumb enough to think that people will do what’s right.
“I don’t have a vote,” Haines added, more or less explaining his absence.
“It was difficult to keep Vista out, because of the respect we have for Vista,” said Fallbrook’s Tom Pack, the Palomar representative, “There was a lot of discussion but what it came down to was which team was stronger at the end of the season.”
Two days later coaches on the panel were more candid, their comments coming at the same time a Union story reported that coaches of possible at-large teams in the future would be required to attend seeding meetings.
“I honestly feel that if Dick Haines had been there they would have been in,” Helix coach Jim Arnaiz inferred to Steve Brand. “It came back to us, at least to me, that Vista was somewhat indifferent about being in the playoffs.”
“The feeling was, ‘He’s not here, why should we put him in?'” said Pack. “My feeling is that a lot of teams didn’t want to see Vista in there. There are some people in the County that don’t want to play them.”
Arnaiz also noted that coaches with teams having a chance of being selected were required to show up at the end of the seeding meeting to exchange game film with their first-round opponent.
Channeling his inner “I’m-Dick-Haines-don’t-you-know-who-I-am?”, Haines declared, “You show me where it says everybody has to attend. The CIF bulletin says coaches may be there. Logically, we are in, but there was no logic here.”
LAW SUIT THREATENED
Meanwhile, parents of several Vista players talked about legal action and hired a lawyer.
“There’s something wrong in Denmark, not to offend anyone in Denmark,” attorney Frank Gould said of the process. “I just find it very strange that eight coaches would vote for San Dieguito.”
When apprised of the parents’ involvement, Haines seemed curiously ambivalent: “They asked me.”I said, ‘Hey, they’re your kids. It’s your decision.’ I’m all for it.”
Haines did not attend the parents’ meeting with Gould.
The lawyer later withdrew, telling the parents that chances of obtaining a restraining order and having the Panthers invited to the postseason tournament were “slim.”
GARDEN OF EDENS
Bennie Edens didn’t spend his entire life at Point Loma. It only seemed that way.
The 1944 Hoover graduate joined the coaching staff of Don Giddings in 1949, a year in which the Pointers were 9-1-1 and won the Southern California lower division championship.
Edens became head coach in 1955 and was there until a health scare forced him to retire following the 1997 season.
Edens’s coaching career is defined by years of great success and some of, figuratively, “when’s this season going to end?” The decade of the 1980s was his best, and Point Loma enjoyed a stretch unlike any other in the school’s history, which dates to 1926.
The Pointers were 93-32-3 from 1981 to 1991. It’s arguable which was Bennie’s best team, the 13-0 club of 1987, the 13-1 team of ’91, or the 11-0-1 squad of 1982.
COTA LIKES HIS CLUB
Stephen Cota, a second-team, all-San Diego Section linebacker (and the son of Ron Cota, a first-team all-Section center at St. Augustine in 1961) opted for his 1987 team and may have said it best:
“Our team had about 30 players. Half of us were from Point Loma or Ocean Beach and the rest were from Southeast San Diego or East San Diego. It was a great mix.
“I think we got Bennie at the top of his game. He was a better coach in his sixties than he was in his thirties and a better coach in his sixties than he was in his seventies.”
Eleven of the ’87 Pointers played on Division I college teams.
Linebacker Israel Stanley (Arizona State) made the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and tight end and team most-valuable player Bob Brasher (Arizona State) had cups of coffee with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
(Brasher became part of a memorable tradition as recipient of the Golden Helmet, given annually to the top Pointer and in the memory of Kathy Edens, Bennie’s deceased daughter).
Junior safety Marcel Brown would start as a freshman at Southern California, but his potentially brilliant career was ended by an off-field incident that resulted in Brown’s incarceration.
Of the 13 victories, three were against Lincoln (24-21) and Morse (14-13 and 16-14 for the AAA championship).]
“Those were real battles,” said Cota. “Our players from the Morse and Lincoln areas took a lot of verbal abuse for leaving to come to Point Loma. I was proud they were my teammates and that they could shut out a lot of that stuff.”
A galvanizing moment came when the Pointers were 4-0 and visited 3-1 Sweetwater. A Sweetwater defender knocked Michael Bennett, the third of three brothers to play quarterback at Point Loma, out of bounds and spat on Bennett.
Bennett got up, kicked the spittle off his forearm and faced the Sweetwater player. “You ain’t —,” Bennett verbally saluted, and then returned to the huddle and led the Pointers to a 10-0 win.
The 43-season Edens era, defined by the 11 from 1981-91, also included stretches of 16-23-2 from 1955-59, 49-19-6 from ’60-’67, 51-64-3 from ’68-’80, and 30-34-2 from ’92-’97.
The ups by far outweighed the downs in Bennie Edens’ career.
Brent Woodall was an all-San Diego Section running back at La Jolla. He played football and was graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and pitched in the Chicago Cubs’ baseball organization.
A shoulder injury ended Brent’s baseball career and he took a position as an equities trader in New York.
Brent worked for Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower. He was killed with 66 co-workers on 9/11/2001. On April 22, 2002, Brent’s widow, Tracy, gave birth to a daughter, Pierce Ashley.
A memorial scholarship was created in Brent’s name at La Jolla High. In 2006 a bench in New York’s Central Park was named in Brent’s honor, with the inscription “Brent James Woodall July 20, 1970-September 11, 2001 A Quiet Place to Sit and Remember Good Times”.
Woodall was the fourth highest scorer in the San Diego Section this season with 91 points, on 12 touchdowns, 13 points after touchdown, and 2 field goals.
I WILL BE FIRED!
Oceanside coach Roy Scaffidi predicted his demise to writer Tom Krasovic.
Scaffidi said he had alienated school district officials and Oceanside faculty members with his efforts to gain eligibility for star quarterback Jerry Garrett, who missed the final six games because he didn’t pass the San Diego Section-required number of units for the semester.
“There definitely is some tension,” said Scaffidi. “I think some people perceive I believe football is more important than academics.”
Scaffidi defended himself, citing 15 years as an educator and a decision to bench a starting tailback against Rancho Buena Vista earlier this year.
The Pirates were 4-5-1 this season and Scaffidi was not fired. He would be replaced after a 9-4 season in 1988. Scaffidi’s replacement was destined to become a North County legend: John Carroll.
WILD AND CRAZY
Marc Sherman scored 4 touchdowns in a sequence of five plays for Francis Parker in its 45-18 victory over Julian in an eight-man game.
–Julian, which hadn’t been scored on in the season’s first five games, led 18-0 before Sherman caught a nine-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left in the half.
–Julian was forced to punt on its first second-half possession and Sherman returned the ball 47 yards for a touchdown.
–A Parker penalty on an ensuing punt return interrupted Sherman’s touchdown count.
–Sherman took quarterback William Beemer’s pass and scored on a 73-yard play (on Parker’s 80-yard field) on the Patriots’ first possession following the penalty.
–After a fumble recovery, Beemer passed 15 yards to Sherman for the fourth touchdown.
Francis Parker scored three more touchdowns. Two Julian players were ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct. Fights broke out all over the field following Parker’s final touchdown.
Game officials had enough. The game was called with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
BAD TASTE FOR U. CITY
Darrin Wagner transferred from University City to Lincoln after the seventh game of the 1986 season. Controversy followed, but Wagner was cleared by the CIF to play at Lincoln before the end of the season.
Wagner scored on runs of 60 and 24 yards as Lincoln beat the host Centurions 34-13 in Wagner’s return.
SECOND COMING OF O.J.
Individual scoring for Mountain-Desert League teams was haphazard and not always reported, so the efforts of Army-Navy’s Jason Simpson are impossible to quantify, but his football pedigree was impressive. Jason’s father is O.J. Simpson.
Patrick Henry goofed and scheduled Orange El Modena and Grossmont on the same weekend. Section commissioner Kendall Webb solved the problem by getting Grossmont to play El Modena. Patrick Henry was forced to sit out the weekend.
Former Patriots coach Walt Baranski had scheduled a two-game, home-and-home series with El Modena in 1986. When no one from the Orange County school responded to Baranski’s numerous calls to confirm the 1987 date, Baranski then scheduled Grossmont.
Mount Miguel’s smallish “Thunder Midgets” were in the middle of a terrific run, 9-3 in 1986, and 11-1 this year…Jesus Alvarez’ 47-yard field goal turned the tide in Mount Miguel’s favor in the Grossmont title-clinching, 16-7 victory over Helix…Coronado fashioned a 15-game winning streak, including the ’86 and ’87 seasons…Patrick (Duke) Gonzales scored three touchdowns and five extra points to lead University to a 41-8 win over Mar Vista…Gonzales’ grandfather nicknamed him The Duke, after actor John Wayne…new Serra coach Skip Coons drafted his two sons, 21-year-old Lon and 18-year-old Lou for his coaching staff…Lincoln’s Darrin Wagner edged Morse’s Larry Maxey, 160 points to 156, to win the County scoring title, but Maxey outrushed Wagner, 224-109 in their head-to head meeting…Morse reversed a 51-0 loss to Lincoln in 1986 with a 40-12 triumph…Morse coach John Shacklett said before the game, “This is the game that’ll let us know how we’d do in the playoffs”…Morse went to the AAA finals…the Tigers’ 6-foot, 8-inch, 290-pound Lincoln Kennedy, a future No. 1 draft choice out of the University of Washington by the Oakland Raiders, was tabbed a blue-chip prospect by college scouts in The Union‘s annual listing…Point Loma tight end Bob Brasher and linebacker Israel Stanley were “strong college prospects”…the lights went off at Coronado’s Cutler Field with 40 seconds to play and the Islanders leading St. Augustine 13-6… play resumed after 10 minutes and several unsuccessful attempts to turn the light back on…the Saints scored with seconds to play but failed to make a two-point conversion…