State’s Greatest Closed High Schools

This is from a postcard rendering of the old Stockton High main building. The school, which closed in 1957, still has six CIF state titles on its resume. Photo: stocktoncitylimits.com.

This is from a postcard rendering of the old Stockton High main building. The school, which closed in 1957, still has six CIF state titles on its resume. Photo: stocktoncitylimits.com.


What do you do when you’re from a school that no longer exists? These schools did exist and some thrived in various sports for many years. Here’s a look back at a few of them.

We hope you like this free post on CalHiSports.com. Please help us out today by becoming a member of our Gold Club so you can see all of our great content, including many state record lists that aren’t available anyplace else. For details, CLICK HERE.

Being from a closed high school myself, La Sierra of Carmichael, this has been a topic I’ve been interested in for many years.

It was rekindled this summer when going through the all-time football scores for St. Mary’s of Stockton and Oakdale (two of the top programs in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section) and I discovered that both of them can still count their worst losses as being to Stockton High at 78-0 and 90-0, respectively.

Stockton High, which closed after the 1956-57 school year, is possibly the greatest closed high school in California, at least from an athletically historic point of view. In addition to winning six CIF state titles in boys basketball and swimming in the 1920s, the Tarzans also were outstanding in football. To see what I wrote about them for a column in the Stockton Record that also was published this week, CLICK HERE.

Guitarist Craig Chaquico, who was a longtime member of Jefferson Starship, is probably the most famous alum from La Sierra of Carmichael, which closed in 1983. Photo: craigchaquico.com.

Guitarist Craig Chaquico, who was a longtime member of Jefferson Starship, is probably the most famous alum from La Sierra of Carmichael, which closed in 1983. Photo: craigchaquico.com.


My high school closed in 1983 so it’s been many years since anybody has written about it. On one hand, I’ll never be accused of favoritism in the rankings regarding my alma mater. On the other, it’s proven to be harder for graduating classes from closed schools to do reunions and other events (although Facebook definitely helps).

Doing a state record book and keeping it maintained (as well as helping with national record books) also can help keep the name of the closed high school alive.

In La Sierra’s case, a group of baseball players did something just a few weeks before the school’s doors closed forever that alums of the school should always be grateful for. It happened during a game against San Juan of Fair Oaks when the Longhorns scored 20 runs in the fourth inning on their way to a 27-5 victory. In that inning, three players – Todd Prangley, Tim Moore and Kurt Zalar – all hit grand slam homers. It’s a state and national record (most grand slams in one inning by one team) that still stands to this day. That La Sierra team also hit a fourth grand slam in that game to set another state record that still stands.

I also would be remiss not to mention the great teachers I had at La Sierra, especially Perry Williams for journalism. The best team the school had when I was there was in basketball in my junior year (1976 season). That team was in the NorCal rankings for a few weeks before going out in the section playoffs. The school was more well-known for being among the best in the nation in Marine Corps testing and believe-it-or-not rifle shooting.

Other than my own school and Stockton High, here are some other significant closed California high schools:

Aviation (Redondo Beach)
Closed in 1981. Known for boys basketball and all-time great player Paul Westphal (the 1968 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year).

Camden (San Jose)
Closed in 1980. The basketball teams when Raymond Townsend (UCLA) was there were outstanding. A fun fact is that the Camden campus was built partially on an orchard that was owned by my great-grandmother. After the school closed, Valley Christian of San Jose began on the same location. Valley Christian later moved up to its beautiful hilltop campus where it sits today.

Citrus (Azusa)
Closed in 1958. Billy Kilmer, the first QB for a Washington Redskins team in the Super Bowl in 1973, was a star for Citrus in many sports in the 1956-57 school year and appears in our record book as the State Athlete of the Year.

Commerce (San Francisco)
Closed in 1952. Commerce had some strong teams in basketball and baseball. NBA Hall of Famer K.C. Jones went there. So did 1951 American League Rookie of the Year Gil McDougal.
Record Book
Cubberley (Palo Alto)
Closed in 1979. Just before the school closed, big-time sprinter Bill Green broke the national record in the 400 meters with a 45.50 clocking. He also won in the state meet 100 but was disqualified in the 400 for running out of his lane.

Harry Ells (Richmond)
Closed in 1985. This school first closed in 1967, then was re-opened in 1971. Good thing it did because in 1975 the boys track team won the CIF state title. Ells also is where longtime MLB standout Willie McGee went to high school.

Grass Valley
Closed in 1952. Have to include this one just because my father, George Tennis, went there and was in the last graduating class. My late uncle and the founder of Cal-Hi Sports, Nelson Tennis, was in the second graduating class at Nevada Union. Nevada City High also closed in 1952. Albert Ali (baseball, football) and Pete Daley (baseball) were two of the best-ever athletes from Grass Valley.

Miraleste (Palos Verdes) & Rolling Hills (Rolling Hills Estates)
Closed in 1991. These two schools, both longtime powerhouses in sports such as tennis and swimming, along with neighboring Palos Verdes were consolidated in 1991 to form Peninsula High of Rolling Hills Estates. In 2002, Palos Verdes re-opened.

Mount Carmel (Los Angeles)
Closed in 1976. The Crusaders might be the greatest closed parochial school in state history. Football alums included Kermit Alexander and Marlin McKeever, both longtime NFL players. The basketball teams also were very good, including CIF Southern Section title winners for 1947 and 1954 and a runner-up finish in 1957.

Norte Del Rio (Sacramento)
Closed in 1982. The school shut down one year before mine in the Sacramento area. The Dons were strong in football and girls basketball. The late Don Rogers, an All-American at UCLA and on his way perhaps to a great NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, went to Norte.

Poly (San Francisco)
Closed in 1973. Remants of the old school can still be seen close to Kezar Stadium. One football game in 1928 against Lowell reportedly drew close to 50,000 fans. It’s the alma-mater of Super Bowl winning coach George Seifert and NFL Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair.

University (San Diego)
Closed in 2005. School was re-opened as current Cathedral Catholic. The Dons of Uni could also claim to being the greatest closed high school in the state (for sports). Alums include Luke Walton (basketball), Phil Mickelson (golf) and Barry Zito (baseball).
NFHS Network ad
Other closed California high schools (listed with year it closed):

Awalt (Mountain View) 1980
Ayer (Milpitas) 1980
Blackford (San Jose) 1991
Buchser (Santa Clara) 1981
Campbell 1980
Crestmoor (Daly City) 1980
Eagle Mountain 1983
Excelsior (Norwalk) 1980
Fort Jones 1983
Hogan (Vallejo) 2011
Kennedy (Barstow) 1977
Lennox 1984
Lasuen (San Pedro) 1971
Lorreto (Sacramento) 2009*
Lowell (Whittier) 1980
Marian (San Diego) 2007
Marina (San Leandro) 1980
Marshall (West Sacramento) 1977
McAteer (San Francisco) 2002
Monte Vista (Whittier) 1979
Mountain View 1980
Neff (La Mirada) 1980
Pacific (San Leandro) 1983
Pater Noster (Los Angeles) 1991
Pius X (Downey) 1995
Peterson (Sunnyvale) 1981
Pleasant Hill 1980
Presentation (San Francisco) 1991*
Ravenswood (East Palo Alto) 1976
Royal Oak (Covina) 1981
San Carlos 1988
San Dieguito (Encinitas) 1996
Serramonte (Daly City) 1981
Sierra (Whittier) 1979
Sunnyvale 1981
Sunset (Hayward) 1990
Ursuline (Santa Rosa) 2011*
Visalia 1955
Wilson (San Francisco) 1996

*All-girls schools.

Note: Not all private schools that have closed were put on this list and we didn’t include any that have re-opened.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

28 Comments

  1. Desert Rat
    Posted October 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Daniel Murphy, LA

    • Fred Karoly
      Posted November 20, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      La Sierra had a great rifle team in the years 1975-1977 they won the state title at least two times i was in one of the 19 man teams still have my trophy. Pro golfer John Daly went there too.

  2. TinyTim
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Mark
    Great article.
    Here are some other high schools (at least in the East Bay) that you didn’t mention that have closed. I’m afraid I don’t have the exact year of their closing.
    Canyon (Castro Valley)
    Concordia (private) (Oakland)
    Del Valle (Walnut Creek)
    Pacifica (West Pittsburg i.e.now referred to as Bay Point)
    Pleasant Hill (Pleasant Hill)

    Ursuline (Santa Rosa) simply became part of Cardinal Newman with just one instead of 2 separate administrations. Before becoming a single high school, I believe they had a situation similar to what Carondolet and De La Salle together have.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted October 2, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      I think I got all of them that closed after 1980 due to a list in most recent record book. Thought I might miss a few others. Thanks.

      • Albert
        Posted July 9, 2017 at 2:17 am | Permalink

        Dont forget Sacred Heart of Mary, Montebello…mid 90’s.

  3. robert arambel
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    There was a Washington High in Sacramento that played Ripon for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 football championship in 1976 that no longer exists.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted October 2, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Washington was another school with Marshall that closed to help form current River City of West Sacramento.

  4. monte300
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Mark, if I’m not mistaken Valley Christian moved to the Branham campus when Branham was closed for ten years, due to low enrollment. Branham was my Alma Mater, class of 1977. WVAL champion in football with a record of 7-2-1. We lost in the first round of the CCS playoffs to eventual champion Saratoga. Two years prior to this Branham had a better football team that beat Saratoga at Branham during the regular season. All American lineman Howard Meyer played lead blocking fullback that day and lit up Saratoga linebackers all day long. Howard went on to play at Notre Dame.

    • bagman17
      Posted May 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      That was very good team.But your coach was a jack-ass.He was screaming at me all game

  5. Tom
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Polytechnic was the DLS (or at least the Bellarmine) of The City for years until the mid-50’s. They routinely drew 5-digit crowds in football, especially against rival Lowell which was located near the Panhandle at the time.

    Poly also won some AAA, SFAL and AAL (section) baseball titles and had a girls basketball team in the early 1900’s. Lowell did too.

    Sacred Heart College (Now Sacred Heart Cathedral) in 1910 beat Stockton HS for the AAL (Academic Athletic League) championship 12-4. (The AAL would be defined as a section today. Back then it was called a “League” with the actual leagues being called “Sub-Leagues”).

  6. Bill miller
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    La Sierra was also one of the most physically fit schools in the nation according to sports illustrated and the president of the USA. We also held the golden empire league championship in football for a number of years I think from 1958-1961, but don’t quote me on that. Our fitness program was written up in Sports Illustrated for, I believe, 3 editions. We had visitors from every nation you can name looking at our fitness program. We were awesome!?,Bill.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted October 6, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I can still hear Coach DeBondt yelling, “Bluues, in the gymnasium.”
      I couldn’t do pullups so I couldn’t get out of the white shorts, but the white-red-blue system based on testing did work and gave me a foundation for exercise that sticks with me to this day.

  7. Claude Bishop
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Mark Tennis

    Basketball was not the only team in 1976 to have a good year. The LS Water Polo team won its second consecutive league championship and placed 2nd in sections. The leading scorer on the team (Paul Wiley) was chosen C0-MVP in the section. The year before the teams leading scorer (Bill Mac Donald) was featured on Sports Illustrated (In the Crowd). La Sierra was also know for its nature area which is named in Memorial for Jack (Earl Koobs). The fitness team also did demonstrations at numerous schools, and ran a leg of the Olympic Torch in 1964. Great School. Miss it a lot.

    • Dan Williams
      Posted December 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      LA Sierra 1977 varsity football team. Won the school first ever league title Capital Athletic League which was one of the top highschool football league in Sacramento at the time. Grant , Highlands, and Bella Vista all rank area top 10 thatf year Also.first time football went to Sacramento highschool section playoffs

      • Daniel
        Posted May 13, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, we played the Longhorns in the first round of the playoffs in 1977. Tough game that we ended up winning 21-7

  8. twalsh
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Daniel Murphy HS in Los Angeles which had some great basketball talent in the 80s.

  9. pat coffing
    Posted November 8, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Ione had a high school now closed…probably had something to do with Argonaut opening

  10. Dan Williams
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    The 1977 la Sierra varsity football team won first league title C.A.L since school open 1959. And section playoffs

  11. Tam Wedum
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I was just wondering if you were aware that there is a documentary being made about the unique PE program established at La Sierra? I know PE isn’t what your blog is about, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some articles about it. I work in education and have seen a number of different PE programs as my particular duties has me frequently moving to a different school site. My heart despairs when I see the state of “physical education” currently used in California high schools today.
    Here is a link to the PE documentary: http://theleanberets.com/lasierra-high-pe/

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      No, didn’t know about the doc. Will check it out. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Barbara Brennan Kerhoulas
    Posted August 9, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Mark…
    What a great article! It is wonderful to not be entirely forgotten! When we are in Sacramento we sometimes meet people who ask what high school we attended. When we tell them we get blank looks instead of recognition when we say La Sierra. Sometimes it gets a little discouraging having to go into the whole explanation mode before they understand! The older ones remember us…the younger ones don’t.
    So from La Sierra class of 68 and my husband La Sierra class of 65…we thank you!

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      It’ll never be forgotten as long as I’m doing this work. Glad this writeup found you. It’s been awhile since I wrote it.

  13. Eddy Polanco
    Posted January 4, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Pater Noster High School in Los Angeles is still tied for the most interceptions in one game, 8 vs. St. Monica in 1978.

  14. Big Zav
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Awesome write-up, Mark, and thanks for keeping La Sierra alive in Cal-Hi Sports! But … why is there no mention that I rode the pines on that 1976 basketball team?

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Because you were more famous for juggling apples and eating them at the same time!

  15. Posted July 10, 2019 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Poly-San Francisco win streak of 36 games would have been broken if they hadn’t run into buzzsaw Stockton in 1946 a game Stockton won 12-7. Prior to the Stockton loss Poly-SF was on a 30 game win streak, after the loss Poly went on to 36 games before losing to Mission-SF in a playoff semi-final.

    Disaster stuck the next week as Mission pulled off one of the biggest upsets in AAA history,
    taking the Parrots down easily by 27-7. Poly’s thirty-six game winning streak, in effect since a
    loss to Balboa in 1949, went down the tubes as nothing went right, and Mission played an
    inspired game of football. The Dutch Elston coached Bears were reported to have played like
    men possessed and won not only by points but also by sheer desire. Nevertheless, the scoreboard
    showed Mission tallies by end Le Roy Thomas and back Garland Bluford. Cano scored for the
    Red and Black. (Poly)
    Mission then went on to win the AAA title by defeating Lincoln by 21-6 before 12,000 Kezar
    fans. Poly and Mission dominated the All-City Team, but Lowell’s Addison made the first team
    and other Indians selected were Keough and Kreuter on the second squad. Poly stars on the team
    were Bleggi, Poppin, Burns, and Keller as first stringers and Dick McKahn on the second team.
    Buford and Thomas of Mission were standouts as were Socher of Washington and Oldham of
    Lincoln.

  16. Warren Roberts
    Posted October 3, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I was in the first graduating class of Camden in 1958. We were FINALLY a 4 year school, and made our mark, winning the league championships in Basketball and Wrestling…possibly a spring sport too….tennis ? I’m proud to say I was the first No. California Champion in any sport…..wrestling…191 lbs. Those were wonderful days.

  17. Deborah M Savrnoch
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Help please my biological father graduated in Sacramento California sometime between 1958- 1961 his name was William Douglas Crabtree he also went by Dougie all I’m asking for is a photo if there’s anyone that can help please contact me through the above email

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

    Latest News

    Insider Blog

    Cal-Hi Sports on Twitter

    Cal-Hi Sports on Facebook