1943: V is Key

The most important letter in the alphabet was V.

World War II was reaching the halfway point.  The dark days of early 1942 had receded and Victory, while not yet in sight, was coming.

V had become a symbol, visible everywhere throughout the country. There were hundreds of references, from military training programs (V-12), to graphics on sporting events tickets to the ultimate goal of V-E (Victory in Europe) and V-J (Victory in Japan).

School honchos in San Diego had created the Victory League and put the Metropolitan League on hiatus just weeks  before the start of the 1942-43 basketball season.

The move was part of the wide-ranging war effort that would extend until Victory was achieved.

Football followed this season.


The Metro League stretched almost 50 miles, from National City (Sweetwater) to Oceanside and Escondido.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which governed sports in Southern California, put a limit of 6 scheduled games and a  travel distance of  15 miles.

The travel mileage restriction seemed to have some leeway, but there was no travel outside teams’ league reaches.

The Northern San Diego County schools were aligned in what the CIF called the Group 12 League, comprising Oceanside, Vista, Escondido, Army-Navy, San Dieguito, and Ramona.

St. Augustine and Brown Military were members of the Group 12  but they played a limited schedule and their games did not count in the standings.

The season did not start until October and ended by the middle of November.  There would be no Southern California playoffs.

A smaller, travel-safer, and more manageable high school football world was important, as was fuel and rubber conservation.

The players also contributed to the war effort.  Many left school during the season, before graduation, and answered the call from Uncle Sam.


San Diego and Hoover were in a different league for the fourth consecutive year.

They left the Coast League, which the Cavers had help found and were members of from 1923-40, as the CIF experimented with a 17-school “Major Conference” in 1941.

With the war on and travel becoming an issue, the Cavers and Cardinals split their squads and became part of a 11-team Metropolitan Conference the following season.

There were 18 high schools in the County, but only 15 played football.  Julian would not field a team until 1967.  Fallbrook had suspended play in 1942 and there is no record of Mountain Empire.

The Cavers and Cardinals each dressed out one squad as part of the seven-member Victory, which also included Grossmont, Sweetwater, Point Loma, La Jolla, and Coronado.


Raleigh Holt, who began his coaching career in the Imperial Valley and who turned out outstanding cross-country and track teams for three decades at Hoover, guided the Cardinals to a 5-0-1 record and the Victory League title.

Undefeated Cardinals were coached by Raleigh Holt (stanmding,m left) and led by Eddie Crain (31), Freddie Espy (25), and Frank Smith (40). Assistant coach Bob Breitbard is in dark top , second row.

Cardinals were coached by Raleigh Holt (left). Team leaders  Eddie Crain (31), Freddie Espy (25), and Frank Smith (40) are in first row. Assistant coach Bob Breitbard is in dark top, second row.

Holt, assisted by former Cardinals lineman Bob Breitbard, relied on a meat-and-potatoes attack that featured  Eddie Crain, Gene Ricard, Julius Kahn, Freddy Espy, Frank Smith, and Bob Paramore.

Crain scored on runs of 14, 35, and 1 yard and completed the only pass (for a touchdown) Hoover attempted in a 40-13 victory over Coronado the week before the Cardinals met San Diego in the 11th annual rivalry game for city bragging rights and the league championship.

Bill Bailey had moved from Point Loma to San Diego, replacing Joe Beerkle, who went into administration and became principal at Memorial Junior High.

Beerkle had advocated the  T formation introduced by coach Clark Shaugnessy at Stanford University and which was hailed as the difference in Stanford’s 1941 Rose Bowl victory over Nebraska.

Bailey, assistant to Charlie Wilson  several years at Point Loma, led the Pointers to a 6-1-2 record in 1942, and then brought his single-wing attack to San Diego.

Formations and modes of attack were taking a back seat.


Bailey told Bob Lantz of The San Diego Union that he considered suiting up a tackling dummy, his team was so short-handed.

Of more import to the San Diego coach, pass-catching Everett Posey, who  missed a week of practice,  would be available for the Hoover game.  Posey had received his induction notice and reported to Fort McArthur in Long Beach.

Another Caver, junior halfback Sam Balesteri would be playing his final game.  He was awaiting a call from the military.


A crowd of 9,000, representing the lowest attendance in the history of the game, saw the Cardinals strike with a third-quarter, 84-yard drive in six plays to score the game’s only touchdown in a 7-3 victory.

Crain and Espy collaborated on a 45-yard touchdown pass.  Guard Frank Smith toed the point after.

The Cavers had taken a 3-0 lead in the second quarter on a 23-yard field goal by Neal Black, the first such placement in the series.

Hoover was perspiring heavily at  game’s end.

Sam Balesteri’s  passing had moved the Hillers 63 yards but they came up short.  Harlan Davenport caught a pass from Balestreri and was tackled on Hoover’s four-yard line.  The game ended before another play could be run.


Single wing quarterback ( actually, blocking back) Al Sawaya of San Diego earned a CIF Southern Section first-team honor.  Second team choices were La Jolla quarterback Ed Teagle, San Diego tackle Ralph McCormick, and Coronado center John Ludwig. Hoover tackle Dick Chase made the third team.


Mayor Harley Knox told the Carlsbad Rotary that, for the first time in generations, San Diego was ready to abandon dumping in the bay and that Harbor Drive, bordering the bay from Point Loma to Chula Vista was almost complete.

Knox also said that the city has asked the government for 13,000 more new housing units.  Previous construction of 13,000 units of government housing mostly was occupied by aircraft plant workers.


Coach Dick Rutherford’s Oceanside-Carlsbad Pirates, behind quarterback and future Fallbrook coach Al Waibel,  swept the CIF Group 12 League with a 6-0 record…the Pirates defeated  host Escondido 31-6 in a  showdown which drew a record 3,000 persons  in the inland community…newspapers’ accounts variously identified Oceanside, Army-Navy, Escondido, Vista, Ramona, and San Dieguito as representing the CIF County League, CIF Northern County League, or the CIF Northern Victory League….about 8,000 servicemen, students, and a few fans watched a East contingent of Hoover, Sweetwater, Grossmont, and  Coronado defeat the West’s San Diego, Point Loma, and La Jolla 19-0 in the fifth annual football carnival…San Diego got it coming and going, surrendering touchdowns to Sweetwater in the first quarter and to Hoover in the fourth…Coronado scored the East’s other touchdown against La Jolla…Point Loma-La Jolla matched two graduates of the Imperial Valley shuttle…La Jolla’s Larry Hanson was head coach at El Centro in 1938 and ’39 and Point Loma’s Bill Maxwell was Hanson’s assistant…Hanson went on to coach the nationally-recognized, often-100-point Los Angeles Jefferson basketball teams in the 1950s…tailback Larry Purdy of Point Loma was son of the Pointers coach of the same name in 1929-30…after 8 consecutive losses dating to 1915, Sweetwater showed its carnival effort against San Diego was not a fluke…Leroy Jackson’s 65-yard touchdown return of Tom Powell’s pass with 40 seconds remaining in the game gave the Red Devils their first victory over the Cavers…Grossmont saved all its points for a 26-0 victory over St. Augustine…the Foothillers did not score a point in six Victory League games….

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