Football Blasts From The Past

Five years ago, current Alabama RB Najee Harris rushed for 390 yards and six TDs for Antioch in 55-54 loss to Foothill of Pleasanton. At left are players from Central Catholic of Modesto, which 15 years ago won a section title by a score of 84-6. Photos: Phillip Walton / SportStars &

Here’s another look back in time to approximately the same week 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 such as Long Beach Poly for 100 years ago. For this look back, running backs steal the show, including Norco’s Toby Gerhart going over 9,000 career yards in 2005, Tyler Ebell of Ventura breaking state single-season record in 2000 and Ray Pallares from Valencia of Placentia breaking state career record in 1985. Plus, just five years ago, we’ll never forget Najee Harris of Antioch going for 390 yards and six touchdowns but coming up just short on a two-point conversion in a 55-54 playoff loss.


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QB Brock Johnson of Mission Viejo threw for school record-tying seven TDs in 2015 playoff game. Photo:

5 YEARS AGO (2015)
*If current University of Alabama standout Najee Harris goes on to do remarkable things in a no-doubt NFL career, it is guaranteed that he will never forget the final game of his junior season at Antioch High, and we’ll never forget it, either. It wouldn’t be a shock if Harris uses the several inches he needed that may have given the Panthers a 56-55 win over Foothill of Pleasanton in the CIF North Coast Section D1 semifinals instead of a 55-54 loss as motivation in every similar situation. The contest matched two 11-0 state-ranked teams, which in the NCS doesn’t get the attention it would get elsewhere in the state given the shadow that’s always cast by De La Salle. Foothill had a 55-40 lead with just 2:38 left, but the Panthers came back with a 97-yard kickoff return by Ryan Payne and then a few plays later they recovered a fumble. Harris scored his sixth TD of the night with 1:02 left and got the call on possible go-ahead two-point conversion. Foothill’s defense got enough of a stop and then recovered an onside kick to ice the win. Harris finished with 390 yards rushing on 39 carries to go with his six TDs. Isaiah Floyd led Foothill with 208 yards rushing on 23 caries with four TDs.
*We’ve seen a picture before somewhere of the day when NFL QB Mark Sanchez was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the New York Jets. That kid sitting next to him was the grandson of Mark’s high school coach, Bob Johnson of Mission Viejo, and in 2015 that grown-up kid, Brock Johnson, broke a school record at Mission Viejo that Sanchez had set previously by throwing seven touchdown passes in one game. Brock’s connection to Sanchez had to make that outing in Mission Viejo’s 56-21 win over Chino Hills in the CIF Southern Section West Valley Division semifinals that much more special. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 372 yards in the win, connecting five times for TDs in the first half from 55, 51, 54, 54 and 11 yards. Four of the scores went to sophomore Austin Osborne (six catches, 208 yards) while two were to Jason Lee and one went to Brenden Schooler.

10 YEARS AGO (2010)
*In a 50-21 victory by Carmel over King’s Academy of Sunnyvale in the CIF Central Coast Section D4 playoffs, Padres’ senior Andrew Franks had a 25-yard interception return for a score, a 30-yard fumble recovery he also scored on, and he split the uprights 6-for-6 on PATs. It’s the PATs and kicking is what enabled Andrew to play in the NFL. And that’s even though he went to relatively unknown Rensselaer Poly Institute for college in New York. He kicked for the Miami Dolphins in 2015 and 2016.
*Versatile Brennan Smith from St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano did it all in a 17-10 triumph vs. Campbell Hall of North Hollywood in the CIFSS Mid-Valley Division playoffs. Smith hit on 10 of 15 passes for 145 yards and one TD, rushed for 104 yards on 14 carries with one TD, kicked one field goal and three PATs, put three punts inside the 10-yard line, and he blocked a punt and tipped a pass.
*In another similar game to those other two that week, Dwain Jackson from Centennial of Compton led his team past Oak Park 67-48 in the CIFSS playoffs. Jackson ran for 156 yards and one TD, returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score, caught a 29-yard TD pass and recorded a pair of interceptions on defense.

15 YEARS AGO (2005)
*State No. 13 Hart of Newhall upset No. 1 Mission Viejo 24-12 in the CIFSS Division II semifinals. The Diablos had won 26 straight games and also had won 67 of their previous 68 games. That other loss? It was to Hart in the 2003 CIFSS DII finals. QB Tyler Lyon completed 17 of 21 passes for 264 yards and three TDs for the Indians, who advanced to the title game against district and league rival Canyon of Canyon Country. Unbeaten Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks moved up to the No. 1 ranking, which is the only time that the Golden Knights were ever in that spot.
*All-time state rushing leader Toby Gerhart of Norco went over the 9,000-yard mark for his career with a monster outing in the Cougars’ 43-36 victory over La Sierra of Riverside in the CIFSS Div. V semifinals. Gerhart put his career total way up at 9,399 yards after piling up 462 yards on 45 carries and scoring six touchdowns.
*The duo of Josh Morgan and Matt Wabby from Crespi of Encino both had more than 300 yards for the Celts in a 56-39 scorefest win over Cabrillo of Lompoc in the CIFSS Div. X semifinals. Morgan had 29 rushes for 349 yards and four TDs. Wabby hit on 13 of 20 passes for 311 yards and two scores.
*Senior Daniel Stall capped a strong two-year run for Central Catholic of Modesto with 197 yards rushing and six touchdowns as the Raiders actually won a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title by beating Modesto Christian 84-6. That’s how dominant the Raiders were in those small school divisions of the SJS before they started getting moved up in divisions due to competitive equity. Stall also had a pair of interceptions playing defense in that game.

20 YEARS AGO (2000)
*Running back Ryan Watson of Anderson piled up 314 yards rushing on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns as the Cubs won the CIF Northern Section championship with a 33-20 victory over Corning. Watson also hauled in a 63-yard touchdown pass. According to Northern Section historian Kevin Askeland, Watson set all-time section bests for points in a career with 406, points in a season with 226, touchdowns in a season with 36 and carries in a career with 564. He already had the section record for career TDs with 66.
*The state single-season rushing record fell to Ventura’s Tyler Ebell during the Cougars’ 38-21 triumph over Royal of Simi Valley in the CIFSS Division IV quarterfinals. Ebell thundered for 354 yards on 43 carries and scored four TDs, which was below average in some respects for the season he was having. That put his season total at 3,899 yards, which surpassed the previous state record of 3,599 yards set in the previous season by Jermaine Marshall from Camp Kilpatrick of Malibu.
*The hero for Washington of San Francisco when it rallied to beat Galileo of San Francisco 20-13 in the annual CIF San Francisco Section Turkey Bowl championship was senior Chinedu Elekwachi. Late in the game, Elekwachi made a smooth move to catch a Jamal Gilyard pass and race 31 yards for a go-ahead score. Then in the game’s final seconds, Elekwachi was on defense and knocked away a desperation pass by Galileo quarterback Dion Pickett. On that play, the ball also bounced of Chinedu’s helmet and was caught by a Galileo player who then was tackled three yards short of the end zone.

25 YEARS AGO (1995)
*Unbeaten and state No. 2 Fontana was upset in the CIF Southern Section Div. I quarterfinals by Loyola of Los Angeles 31-15. The Cubs got rolling against what up to then had been a super-tough Steelers’ defense and they took advantage of four turnovers. Mike Vanis topped the Loyola ground attack with 20 carries for 195 yards and two TDs. Long Beach Poly moved up to the No. 2 position with a 21-12 triumph vs. Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo. De La Salle of Concord was No. 1 with a 52-game winning streak, but started the season in the state rankings behind Los Alamitos.
*Fort Bragg jack-of-all-trades Tanner Fitzgerald came up with three interceptions on defense and scored twice on offense to lead the Timberwolves past Kelseyville 14-6 in the CIF North Coast Section Class A championship. Fitzgerald’s TDs came on a 24-yard reception and 11-yard run. The win also capped an unbeaten season for Fort Bragg.
*In the 55th edition of the Big Bone rivalry played on Thanksgiving at San Jose City College before 7,000 fans, San Jose High’s Oscar Johnson led the Bulldogs over arch-rival Lincoln of San Jose 33-14. Johnson completed 10 of 17 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 61 yards and had two TDs, plus he came up with a pair of interceptions on defense. With the win, San Jose also knotted up the great rivalry with a cool-looking all-time record of 25-25-5.

Retired head coach John Shacklett once had a 14-0 team at Morse of San Diego that in 1990 set state scoring record. Photo:

30 YEARS AGO (1990)
*Morse of San Diego, guided by head coach John Shacklett, won the CIF San Diego Section title with a 14-0 record. The Tigers also finished with a state record of 649 points scored, which broke the previous state record of 639 set in 1984 by Diamond Bar. In addition, they rolled up 6,940 yards of total offense, which surpassed the San Diego Section record of 6,569 set the year before by Rancho Buena Vista. All-State first team QB/RB Teddy Lawrence was the ringleader of that offense. Junior running back Gary Taylor was selected to the all-state underclass squad.
*Winning streaks that were snapped during the 1990 season were Bakersfield at 39 in a row and Hilmar at 46 in a row. At the time, the state record for longest win streak was 47 games so when Hilmar’s streak was snapped it prevented the Yellowjackets from tying the record set in 1977 by Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.

35 YEARS AGO (1985)
*When Ray Pallares from Valencia of Placentia took off on a 55-yard touchdown run in his team’s CIF Southern Section playoff game for this week in 1985 vs. Norwalk, he not only sealed a 35-0 win but also became the state’s all-time career rushing leader. Pallares ended the night with 21 carries for 167 yards and four TDs. That gave him 5,265 yards in his three-year career and moved him past Daly City Jefferson’s Tyreese Knox in the state record book. Knox gained 5,217 yards at Jefferson and Serramonte of Daly City (now closed) from 1980 to 1983.
*Quarterback Paul Wythes from Menlo School of Atherton broke a school record that was set several years earlier by John Paye (who was quarterbacking at Stanford at the same time) and set a single game state high for the season with 434 yards and three TDs in Menlo’s 32-21 triumph over Valley Christian of San Jose in the CIF Central Coast Section playoffs.
*Speaking of Valley Christian, the school in Cerritos was posting shutout wins at a record pace. For this week in 1985, Valley Christian blanked Desert of Edwards, 38-0, to improve to 11-0 and geet its 10th shutout win of the season. The team tied the all-time state record of 10 set in 1938 by Lowell of San Francisco. The Crusaders didn’t get another shutout, though, and also weren’t able to finish with an undefeated record.
*Elusive running back Kraig Washington of Diamond Bar galloped for 253 yards on just 14 carries and scored four touchdowns as he led the Brahmas past Indio, 45-0, in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Diamond Bar also won its 25th straight game.

40 YEARS AGO (1980)
*We were focused on the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals this week in 1980 with a dynasty coming to an end plus a wild-and-wacky 41-40 three-overtime thriller.
*The dynasty ended with Cordova of Rancho Cordova losing to Highlands of North Highlands, 20-12, for also what was known then as the Sacramento city title. Highlands’ victory ended the Lancers’ 33-game win streak and 17-game playoff win streak (which was a state record). It also ended Cordova’s string of six consecutive city titles and four consecutive section titles. The Sac-Joaquin Section didn’t have playoffs until 1976 and Cordova had won championships in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.
*The game of the year took place at Napa Memorial Stadium in the other SJS semifinal. It matched 11-0 Vintage of Napa and 11-0 Tracy. The teams also were sitting at No. 7 and No. 6 in the state, respectively. The two powerhouses battled to a 20-20 tie through four quarters. They went to what was called at the time the Kansas tie-breaker, but it’s basically the same tie-breaker used today which calls for each team getting the ball at the 10-yard line with four plays to score. Vintage and Tracy each scored twice and each team also added a PAT so the score went to 34-34. In the third overtime, Pat Hodge got into the end zone for the Crushers with the PAT kicked once again for 41-34. Tracy scored again on its third overtime series, but after that score head coach Wayne Schneider elected to go for a two-point conversion. The resulting play was ruled inches short for a 41-40 Vintage win. We can tell you, however, that many in Tracy and Schneider himself firmly believe that running back Mike Toon had gotten in.
*With Cordova losing, Edison of Huntington Beach took over the state lead for longest win streak at 20 games. The Chargers cruised past Colton 34-14 in the CIF Southern Section Big Five Conference quarterfinals. QB Ken Major passed for three scores and ran for another.

*Have you ever heard of a team with a win of 113-0 and a loss of 28-0 in the same season? Meet the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits of 1920. Their opening game was a 113-0 win vs. Harvard Military Academy of Los Angeles. They also had wins of 62-0 vs. Whittier Reform School, 61-0 vs. Sherman Indian Institute and 55-0 vs. Los Angeles Poly. They were averaging 62.6 points per game before taking on Everett, Wash., in a postseason contest. Everett won, 28-0, and is listed as the National Prep Poll champion for that season. Long Beach Poly’s key player was Jim Lawson, later a consensus All-American at Stanford.

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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