To say the Rams (now one of the best in the Sac-Joaquin Section) had humble beginnings is an understatement. In one 10-year stretch, they were nearly winless. They now have all of their scores in one archive provided by Cal-Hi Sports.
Up next in this series: Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa). For more on the Cal-Hi Sports football archives project and on how we can help your school, CLICK HERE.
After a bizarre start to the football history of St. Mary’s High in Stockton in 1928, the Rams settled into difficult times and it wasn’t until the 1970s that they began to build toward the type of big-time program that they are today.
In four of the first five games that St. Mary’s ever played – way back in 1928 – the team was shut out. And what happened in that one game in which the Rams did score? They played now-closed Holy Cross of Santa Cruz and won 79-0. That first St. Mary’s win, in fact, is still the most lopsided win in school history and it’s still the second-most points the football team has ever scored in a game.
In those early days, St. Mary’s appeared to struggle to find suitable opponents. The school was smaller than it is today and just couldn’t cope with the larger schools in the area at the time.
In the second season (1929), St. Mary’s played the JV teams from Stockton High and Lodi High and won. Stockton High’s varsity was faced in 1930 in a 20-0 loss, but in the only other game played against the now-closed but at the time powerhouse program the Rams lost 78-0 in 1948. That is still the worst loss in school history.
Starting in the late 1930s, St. Mary’s football especially endured some lean times. Following a win in 1938 against Christian Brothers of Sacramento, the Rams did not win again until 1945 with a 20-13 triumph over Escalon. Some of those seasons only included four games and in two years (1942, 1943) there was no football at all (which was the same for many schools in California) due to World War II.
That win over Escalon snapped an 0-19-1 winless streak. It was followed by an 0-18-2 winless streak that was broken in 1948 (again with a win over Escalon). Therefore, if it wasn’t for that one win in 1945 the Rams would have had an 0-38-3 winless streak over approximately 10 years.
The competitive landscape for St. Mary’s began to change in the late 1940s. Franklin and Edison had opened in Stockton although the Rams didn’t start playing Edison consistently until 1960. Lincoln opened in the late 1950s and it didn’t take long for the two schools to become rivals. Some of the smaller town teams – like Escalon, Linden, Gustine and Calaveras – also were growing and at the time were a good fit.
Head coach John Dinubilo guided the Rams to their first unbeaten season in 1959. It included a 26-6 win in the third game ever played against Lincoln and then a 35-7 romp past Davis in the final.
It was the years when Duane Isetti coached St. Mary’s from 1968 through 1978, however, that the program began to reach toward elite status in Northern California. Isetti’s 1971 squad went 9-0 with triumphs over Manteca, Sonora, Oakdale and a last one of 14-6 over Lincoln. The Rams also had 7-2 and 8-2 seasons under Isetti and then in 1976 came a 10-1 campaign. The 10th win was in a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game over Nevada Union of Grass Valley, but was followed by a 28-20 playoff loss to Placer of Auburn. After coaching, Isetti later became a Stockton city councilman.
The current high-level of the program, including last season’s 12-2 squad that came within a few plays of knocking off unbeaten Grant of Sacramento in the SJS D2 championship game, has been achieved under head coaches Steve Towne and Tony Franks.
Towne took over the program in 1989. His 1994 team, quarterbacked by his son, Scott, went 11-2 with one of the losses coming to state and national No. 1 De La Salle of Concord and the other by just one point to Napa. The Rams also played the Spartans in 1995 and gave them one of the four closest contests in their legendary 151-game winning streak in a 35-25 defeat.
Franks, who was a head coach at St. Mary’s previously for the 1984, 1985 and 1986 seasons, returned to take over for Towne in 2002. By 2004, with future University of Arizona QB Willie Tuitama at the helm of the offense, St. Mary’s had its first CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title. The 13-1 season concluded with a 50-45 triumph over Nevada Union in the Division I final played at University of Pacific’s Stagg Memorial Stadium (which is now no longer there).
St. Mary’s lost to Napa in the 2007 title game, but in 2008 beat Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove and then went to the CIF Division II state bowl game where the Rams lost 37-34 to Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in one of the best state bowl games ever played.
Yet another top quarterback, Cody Vaz, who would later play at Oregon State, led the Rams in 2008. It’s been a running back, however, who’s been the school’s best known football alum from recent years. That would be 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Doug Martin, currently still playing for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Martin was the best player at St. Mary’s in 2006, which made it to the SJS D1 semis but could only finish 6-7.
Here are some of the other St. Mary’s of Stockton football records that the school now has in its possession courtesy of this archive initiative:
REPORTED ALL-TIME RECORD HEADING INTO 2015 SEASON:
412 WINS, 355 LOSSES, 25 TIES*
*Including two forfeit wins and four forfeit losses, record would be 414 wins, 359 losses. There is one reported forfeit win and four forfeit losses in the 1930s. There is one forfeit win in the 1950s.
53.6 ALL-TIME WINNING PERCENTAGE
(Based on half-win, half-loss for ties)
Best Records For Single Season
9-0 – 1971
8-0 – 1959
13-1 – 2004
11-1 – 2009
10-1 – 1976
Worst Records For Single Season
0-8 – 1947
0-8 – 1953
Most Points Scored (Single Game)
85 – VS. Stagg (Stockton), 2009
79 – VS. Holy Cross (Santa Cruz), 1928
74 – VS. Bret Harte (Altaville), 1929
67 – VS. East Union (Manteca), 2012
66 – VS. Stagg (Stockton), 2007*
66 – VS. McNair (Stockton), 2007*
Most Lopsided Wins
79-0 – VS. Holy Cross (Santa Cruz), 1928*
74-0 – VS. Bret Harte (Altaville), 1929
66-0 – VS. McNair (Stockton), 2009
66-6 – VS. Stagg (Stockton), 2007**
66-6 – VS. McNair (Stockton), 2007**
58-0 – VS. Bear Creek (Stockton), 2007**
*First reported win in school history.
**Back-to-back-to-back games. Bear Creek was first.
Most Points Allowed (Single Game)
78 – VS. Stockton High, 1949
69 – VS. Tracy, 1967
68 – VS. Lincoln (Stockton), 2002
66 – VS. Merced, 1932
Most Lopsided Losses
78-0 – VS. Stockton High, 1949
69-6 – VS. Tracy, 1967
68-6 – VS. Lincoln (Stockton), 2002
66-6 – VS. Merced, 1932
Records Against Notable Opponents
23-9-0 VS. Franklin (Stockton)
18-11-1 VS. Lodi
29-14-0 VS. Stagg (Stockton)
28-16-2 VS. Edison (Stockton)
14-9-0 VS. Central Catholic (Modesto)
31-27-3 VS. Lincoln (Stockton)*
18-25-1 VS. Tracy**
**Tracy had 19-0-1 streak vs. St. Mary’s, but since then St. Mary’s has won 14 in a row.
*St. Mary’s on current 11-game win streak vs. Lincoln.
Longest Winning Streaks
22 – 1970-1972 (last eight, 9-0, then next five)
13 – 2004 (won last 13)
11 – 2003 (won first 11, then lost)
Longest Losing Streaks
0-12 – 1939-1940 (tie, lost six, then lost six more)*
0-10 – 1947-1948 (0-8 in 1947, then lost first two in 48)**
0-10 – 1952-1953 (lost last two, then first eight of next season)
0-10 – 1963-1964 (lost one, then first nine of next season)
*Including a tie in 1940, it was part of a 0-19-1 winless streak that did not end until 1945.
**Including two ties, it was part of a 0-18-2 winless streak that went from 1945 to 1948.
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Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
I have a 1932 th Olympiad boxing ticket Olympic Auditorium. I read up on your grandad’s interesting life
My Dad Art Hughes coached the 1948 St Marys high Football team. They won the championship. I can’t find anything on this game online. Would also like a team roster if you or anyone can help me.
Thank you, Debbie
You can’t look up something from 1948 online. Have to go to library and look it up on newspaper microfilm reader. Sorry.
Is it possible to compile all playoff scores from the SJS including the years of 1976-2000?
All of those scores would be in an index cards collection, but those are organized school-by-school and it would take awhile to complete such a project.