Football Blasts From The Past

Sean McGrew (left) rushed for more than 200 yards in a surprisingly lopsided win five years ago by St. John Bosco over Mater Dei. At right is NFL defensive end Jamir Miller, who 30 years ago was arguably the best defensive player in the state when he was at El Cerrito. Photos: Tom Hauck / StudentSports &

For the next few weeks, we’ll go back in time to approximately the same weekend of the California high school football season from five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years ago. At the end of what would have normally been the end of each of those seasons, we may go back even further. For this look back, we highlight the last time either St. John Bosco or Mater Dei blew out the other one (2015), which national record De La Salle’s Bob Ladouceur broke when he won his 300th game (2005) and we have details on the night that Leigh of San Jose’s Dana Jacobsen set the still standing NorCal record for longest field goal (61 yards in 1985).


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5 YEARS AGO (2015)
*Here’s something that isn’t going to be repeated any time soon: In a matchup between state No. 3 St. John Bosco and state No. 4 Mater Dei (both teams entered at 6-0), the Braves jumped out to a 42-0 lead and had a running clock in the fourth quarter of an eventual 42-21 victory over the Monarchs. This was the “freshman” season of MD quarterback J.T. Daniels and Bosco got a big game from senior Sean McGrew with 213 yards rushing and two TDs.
*We were continuing to rank De La Salle No. 1 with Corona Centennial No. 2 and Bosco No. 3 even though all other national rankings had the other two higher. This was also the same week that the Spartans had beaten Long Beach Poly 52-6. By the end of the season, guess which rankings were correct and which ones were wrong?
*Senior running back Isaiah Jones of Porterville made it more than 700 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns in just two weeks after he rushed for a school record of 426 yards on 34 carries with five TDs in a 45-42 loss to Tulare Western. At the time, CIF Central Section historian Bob Barnett also reported that Jones’ total was sixth best in section history. In his previous game, Isaiah had 33 carries for 302 yards and six TDs in a win vs. Mission Oak of Tulare.

Isaiah Jones of Porterville rushed for more than 700 yards and 11 TDs in two games in 2015. Photo:

10 YEARS AGO (2010)
*In one of the wildest games of that season, QB Kenny Stenhouse from Crespi of Encino (which was No. 19 in the state) passed for a school record six touchdowns in a game against Taft of Woodland Hills but it nearly wasn’t enough as the Celts beat the Toreadors 53-47. Stenhouse completed 17 of 23 passes for 364 yards with 188 yards and three of the TDs going to Devin Lucien on just six catches. Taft stayed close behind QB Michael Bercovici, who had committed to Arizona State, passed for 431 yards on 34 of 50 attempts and five TDs. The two teams combined for 1,073 total yards of offense.
*Yes, we’ve been covering the Pao Pao family of Oceanside for a long time. On this week 10 years ago, Tofi Pao Pao, a sophomore QB at Oceanside, went 13 of 19 passing for 297 yards and TDs of 20, 75, 22, 31 and 37 yards in a 48-28 win vs. Mission Hills of San Marcos. Teammate Noah Tarrant also rushed for 201 yards as the Pirates successfully opened their newly renovated stadium. Pao Pao is the older brother of 2020 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Te-Hina Pao Pao (from La Jolla Country Day).
*Also from the family ties for this week 10 years ago, Davonte Lynch from Sheldon of Sacramento, younger brother of NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, rambled for 260 yards rushing and one TD as the Huskies knocked off Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills 32-30 in a key game for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.

15 YEARS AGO (2005)
*It only took 322 games, but on an October night in 2005 was when De La Salle of Concord head coach Bob Ladouceur became just the third coach in state history to win his 300th game. The Spartans, who were only 5-2 at the time and had lost two weeks earlier 36-26 to then state No. 1 Mission Viejo, got the milestone win for their coach with a 35-13 victory over a Pittsburg squad that had won five straight games. It was reported at the time by national football records expert Doug Huff that Ladouceur reached 300 wins faster that anyone in U.S. history. “I understand the milestone – that’s a lot of wins,” Lad told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve had great coaches and players. A high school coach couldn’t ask for a better situation. I’ve had the chance of a lifetime to coach and teach at De La Salle.”
*Folks in San Diego are probably still buzzing about the game that Abraham Muheize had on Oct 21 when he led El Cajon Valley of El Cajon past West Hills of Santee 42-21. Despite the Braves falling behind 14-0, Muheize set a CIF San Diego Section record with 39 completions in 53 attempts for 461 yards and three TDs. He added 72 yards rushing on 23 carres with three more TDs and broke another section record with 523 total offense yards. Muheize had already broken school records held by former NFL QB Mark Malone.
*While offensive players can get red-hot, so can those defense. Case in point was junior DB Steve Hillgren of Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) in October of 2005. Hillgren came into a game vs. Laguna Beach with at least one interception in five straight games, but against the Breakers in a 27-0 we he not only kept the streak going but had three more for four interceptions in all. Hillgren returned one of those picks for a 22-yard TD and he had a fifth interception plus a second pick six nullified due to a roughing the passer penalty.

20 YEARS AGO (2000)
*With the boost from a state-record tying 99-yard touchdown pass play, Carlsbad came up with a 35-17 upset of previously unbeaten and previous state No. 10 El Camino of Oceanside. The Wildcats also were on an 18-game winning streak (third longest in the state at the time). Senior wide receiver Eddie Sullivan not only had a 97-yard kickoff return TD, but he got the night going well for the Lancers with a 99-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Brian Gutierrez. Carlsbad had a loss to Torrey Pines (San Diego) and a tie vs. Oceanside, so that made the big win over El Camino more of an upset.
*Coming up with his fifth straight 200-yard rushing game was power-packed senior Temitope Sonuyi from Esperanza of Anaheim. Sonuyi racked up 330 yards on 33 carries and scored five touchdowns as the Aztecs rallied from a 12-0 halftime deficit to dominate Fountain Valley 41-15. He had rushed for 296 yards just one week earlier against Mission Viejo. Esperanza also improved to 5-1 and moved up from No. 12 to No. 11 in the weekly State Top 20.

25 YEARS AGO (1995)
*It was one of the top outings for senior running back Andrew Cotter at Liberty of Brentwood when he rushed for 246 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the Lions past Irvington of Fremont 35-0. That’s the same Andrew Cotter who last year became the head coach at Liberty’s arch-rival, Freedom of Oakley. Liberty will have a new head coach of its own this season after Ryan Partridge left to join the staff at Ferris State University in Michigan.
*Just a few years before Elk Grove would have one of the most prolific offenses in Northern California history (and one of the best teams), the Thundering Herd poured it on in a 57-35 triumph over Florin of Sacramento. QB Cable Davis completed 16 of 25 passes for 357 yards and seven touchdowns. It was the state single game for the season at the time for TD passes and was one shy of the state record at the time. WR Theo Angel also had a monster night with seven catches for 153 yards and four TDs. Plus, Angel reached the end zone on a 75-yard kickoff return.

30 YEARS AGO (1990)
*Leading linebackers in the state included Jamir Miller of El Cerrito, Chris Showalter from Arlington of Riverside, Mike Burns from Esperanza of Anaheim, Roger Blake from Hoover of San Diego, Brent Farris of Napa, John Donati from De La Salle of Concord, Brett Washington of Granada Hills, Chris Lopez from Placer of Auburn, Mike Cooper of Chico and Matt Gilmore of Temple City. Miller also was one of the top recruits in the nation and did something that no one since 1991 has been able to do in Northern California: lead a team to a win over De La Salle.

35 YEARS AGO (1985)
*Despite Leigh of San Jose playing eventual CCS champion Los Gatos and losing 37-20, one of the Longhorns made huge news. That was kicker Dana Jacobsen. He was two yards short of his own school record when he booted a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, however, Jacobsen not only broke that school record but became just the second kicker in state history with a 60-yard field goal when he made one from 61 yards out. Jacobsen’s 61-yard field goal is still the Northern California record and is still second on the all-time state list behind the record of 64 yards set in 1982 by Erik Affholter of Oak Park.
*Big news was made in 1984 at Norco when the Cougars got a 7-6 upset of Riverside Poly, which didn’t lose any other games, won the top divisional title in the CIF Southern Section and was State Team of the Year. Their team in 1985 was generating headlines for its passing offense. QB Chris Kruswicki had 306 yards passing against Perris and then in a 35-21 win vs. Arlington he hit on 23 of 28 passes for 410 yards and three TDs. Kruswicki also put his season total at 1,337 yards, but he was still three yards behind Riverside County passing leader Ed Browning from La Sierra of Riverside. You may know Ed today as the dad of Folsom’s record-breaking Jake Browning (2012-2014).

40 YEARS AGO (1980)
*Playing in just his first game of the season, QB Tony Ponzo from Piner of Santa Rosa had one of the most inspiring outings of the year. Ponzo had missed his first four games after suffering from injuries he sustained in a car accident. In addition to leading the Prospectors to their first win of the season, Ponzo connected on 11 of 19 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns.
*At the time, South Tahoe of South Lake Tahoe was part of the CIF and Sac-Joaquin Section and on this week 40 years ago the Vikings almost ended the state’s longest winning streak. They played Ponderosa of Shingle Springs, led for a good portion of the game, but lost 21-14. The Bruins thus improved their win streak to 29 games. South Tahoe also played many games in those years against other schools along the Highway 50 corridor such as El Dorado (Placerville), Cordova (Rancho Cordova) and Folsom. It seems hard to believe today due to the much closer locations of the schools in the Reno area that South Tahoe is more closely aligned with.

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

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  1. Scott Ditty
    Posted October 22, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    In relation to the story about South Tahoe Vikings almost ending the Ponderosa win streak, later that year that streak was broke by the Hillmen of Placer High School in Auburn in the 1980 SJS section Championship. The Hillmen dominated the Bruins 35-8 getting revenge for a semifinal loss a year earlier which was the only loss in the 1980 seniors experienced in their four years at Placer.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted October 23, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Seems like you were on that team. Glad you have such a great connection that created such great memories.

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