More Football Blasts From The Past

Players from Centennial of Corona (left) hold up trophy after outlasting St. John Bosco of Bellflower 62-52 in memorable 2015 CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Conference championship. At right are Granada of Livermore grads Josh Atkinson and George Atkinson III while at Notre Dame. Both tragically are now deceased. Photos: Mark Tennis & ndfootballhistory.com.

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. We also have writeups for 45 and 75 years ago. For this look back, we check out that 2015 CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Conference mega-final between Corona Centennial and St. John Bosco, we revisit a very tough 1990 Mr. Football State Player of the Year choice and we remember the super-sad story of twins Josh and George Atkinson of Livermore Granada. Plus, see what 1985 game has to be the biggest upset for Marina of Huntington Beach and why former NFL QB Trent Edwards of Los Gatos loved to play Wilcox of Santa Clara.

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Player of the game in 2015 J.J.Taylor (21) gets a hug from teammate Miles Reed. Photo: Mark Tennis.

5 YEARS AGO (2015)
*In a game with big-time talent all over the field, running back J.J. Taylor perhaps was the most spectacular with 41 carries for 271 yards and five TDs to lead Centennial of Corona past St. John Bosco of Bellflower 62-52 in the CIFSS Pac-5 Division championship. Anthony Catalano also shined with 11 of 18 passing for 225 yards and three TDs plus two TDs rushing. The pre-game hype for this CIFSS final was off the charts since both teams were undefeated and some national rankings were going with it as a No. 1 vs. No. 2. We still had defending CIF Open Division state champ De La Salle ranked higher, which was later proven to be correct. The game itself was indeed off the charts, especially in the first half as Centennial scored at will and benefitted from a couple of turnovers in racing to a 55-31 lead. No one expected it to be 110-62 for a final score and it wasn’t as the teams settled down in the second half. Centennial won its second straight CIFSS Pac-5 title (now D1) in just its second year in that top division. The Huskies haven’t been in the final since then, but they haven’t played the transfer game that Bosco and Mater Dei of Santa Ana have gone to, either.
*It was a performance La Habra fans will never forget when QB Eric Barriere led the Highlanders past San Clemente 39-36 in the CIF Southwest Division championship. With no time left, he tossed a miraculous 27-yard TD pass to Prince Ross to win the game, which also gave him a line of 15 completions in 16 throws for 293 yards and four TDs. Barriere also rushed 12 times for 98 yards and one score.
*In a matchup of the state’s No. 4 and No. 6 teams in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, Folsom topped Elk Grove 35-27 and set its sights on second consecutive state title. Jake Jeffrey passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns in just the second ever meeting of two 13-0 teams in the championship game in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section history.

10 YEARS AGO (2010)
*This is a very sad, tragic item to write up, but it was just 10 years ago when Notre Dame-bound twins Josh Atkinson and George Atkinson III were leading Granada of Livermore into the CIF North Coast Section D1 semifinals. In the first round, George rushed for 177 yards and one TD and he had 157 yards receiving with two TDs in a 40-14 win against College Park of Pleasant Hill. George and Josh both played at Notre Dame and George also was in the NFL. Their mother died in October of 2018 and then on Christmas Day 2018 Josh committed suicide. George is now just about one year of being gone as well. His death on Dec. 2, 2019 is still listed with an unknown cause.
*Proving he should be considered one of the state’s top junior running backs, Mark Jenkins from Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove rushed for a school playoff record of 322 yards in a 61-23 win over Lodi in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 semis. Jenkins also scored six touchdowns with five rushing and one receiving.
*It came in a 57-34 loss to Oaks Christian of Westlake Village in the CIFSS Northern Division quarterfinals, but the performance by Richard Mullaney of Thousand Oaks created huge headlines. Mullaney caught 19 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. The reception and yardage total both set single-game school records and put Mullaney into the state record lists both for those categories. He also finished a great season with 120 catches for 1,667 yards and 20 TDs.

15 YEARS AGO (2005)
*After suffering a non-league loss to Grant of Sacramento, players at Valley Christian of San Jose knew they could do better and ended the season with a win over Palma of Salinas in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship. Head coach Mike Machado’s club mixed in just enough passing from QB Dante Perez to go with a 1-2 punch of RBs Dominique Hunsucker and Mike Ginther. The Warriors won their second straight CCS Open crown.
*There was a good debate about which team should be No. 1 in the CIF Central Section after the D1 and D2 finals were played. Bakersfield won the D1 crown at 11-2 with a 35-28 victory over Bullard of Fresno. Terrell Young had TD runs of 41 and 96 yards while option QB Phillip Thomas had TD runs of 88 and 48 yards. West of Bakersfield won the D2 title at 12-1 with a 53-28 win against Tulare. It wasn’t that the Vikings had the better record why they were the highest of the two in the final state rankings. Tulare was 11-0 entering the previous game and junior RB Ryan Mathews was posted huge rushing and scoring totals.
*Defense was the theme for CIF San Diego Section D1 champion Carlsbad. The Lancers (11-2) got past Torrey Pines 17-6 in the title game at Qualcomm Stadium. Head coach Bob McAllister’s team only gave up two TDs in its last five games and one of those wins was 28-0 over D2 section winner Oceanside. Carlsbad’s top defenders included DLs Mendalson Covington and Nick Hasselberg along with LB Cody VanDerLinden.

Kevin Simon (middle) visits his high school (De La Salle) as a college coach these days. His former coaches, Bob Ladouceur (left) and Terry Eidson (right), are with him. Photo: Twitter.com.

20 YEARS AGO (2000)
*Providing no wiggle room for any thoughts of a drop or a flip at the close of the season in both state and national rankings, De La Salle of Concord won its ninth straight CIF North Coast Section title with a 49-13 victory over previously unbeaten San Leandro. The Spartans also extended their national record win streak to 113 games. Kevin Simon, recently voted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, raced to an 82-yard touchdown on De La Salle’s first play. The Spartans led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and 42-0 at halftime. Junior QB Matt Gutierrez completed nine of 14 passes for 206 yards and five TDs while the defense tied a school record with six interceptions.
*Ventura’s Tyler Ebell became the national record holder for rushing yards in one season and he still had one game left to play. Ebell broke the national record with 1:19 left in the third quarter of his team’s 34-21 CIFSS semifinal playoff win over Lompoc on a 15-yard run. He needed 188 yards to break the 1996 record of 4,087 yards set by Travis Henry of Frostproof, Fla. Ebell ended the night with 307 yards rushing and he broke Henry’s record in 13 games compared to the 14 that the Floridian had played. Ebell also scored five TDs in the win, breaking the state record of 59 in a season that had been held by Tustin’s DeShaun Foster and giving him 61 for his season.
*Senior Felipe Aguilar from Los Altos of Hacienda Heights came on in the clutch in a 28-27 win over California of Whittier in the CIFSS DVII semifinals. Aguilar completed 28 of 41 passes for 371 yards and four TDs, including a three-yarder to senior Ramon Martinez with 36 seconds left to play. Aguilar also improved his season total to 40 TD passes.
*Junior QB (and future NFL starter) Trent Edwards of Los Gatos riddled Wilcox of Santa Clara on 15 of 16 passing for 307 yards and four TDs in a 28-7 win that gave the Wildcats the CIF Central Coast Section Div. III championship. Edwards had faced Wilcox earlier in the season and went 11-for-11 for 176 yards. He also ended the season with a 78.1 completion percentage, which set a state record and is still one of the best we’ve ever seen.

25 YEARS AGO (1995)
*CIF Southern Section fans continued their strength of schedule argument, but it was one of the easier State Team of the Year honors that was ever given to De La Salle of Concord after the Spartans had wrapped up a 13-0 season with a 35-14 victory vs. Pittsburg in the CIF North Coast Section D1 final. Jon Kirkham threw for three TDs while Leon Callen had 22 carries for 213 yards and a 91-yard TD for a DLS club that had a tougher time with Pitt during the regular season. One of the reasons it was one of the Spartans’ easiest-to-determine No. 1 rankings is that the CIF Southern Section D1 finalists were Bishop Amat of La Puente (11-1-1) and Loyola of Los Angeles (11-2). None of the other major division section championship teams in the state, in fact, were unbeaten and untied.
*Baldwin Park of Sierra Vista RB Oscar Interiano set a school record with 350 yards rushing on 47 carries and scored twice but it wasn’t enough in a 28-21 loss in overtime to Temescal Canyon of Lake Elsinore in the CIFSS DVIII semifinals. Interiano, who also had a 25-yard field goal in the game, finished the season with 2,370 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns.
*In the CIFSJS D2 championship held at University of the Pacific, it was a matchup of 12-0 Sonora vs. 12-0 Del Oro of Loomis. A knee injury took out junior QB standout Randy Fasani of the Golden Eagles, but he came back heavily taped and then was injured on the same knee more seriously. It might have been hard for Del Oro to score much even with its top quarterback, though, as a Sonora defense led by future NFL player Josh Parry at linebacker was swarming all night long. The Wildcats also got a 75-yard punt return TD by John Phillips in the third quarter that helped them to a 24-3 win. Fast forward to 2020 and it’s hard to not notice that Del Oro has been preparing for its next season with Josh Parry as defensive coordinator (daughter Madison was on our all-state D2 team last season in basketball) and Fasani as offensive coordinator.

30 YEARS AGO (1990)
*Finishing No. 1 at 13-1 in the final Class AAA state rankings was CIF Southern Section divisional champion Lompoc. The Braves had lost in the state’s first-ever 13-0 vs. 13-0 section final the year before to Serra of Gardena. Both of those teams were led by dynamic running back Napoleon Kaufman. He also was the CIF state champ in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash at the 1989 state meet. Kaufman, who was later named 1990 Mr. Football State Player of the Year, had 1,960 yards rushing and 28 TDs as a senior. He ended his career wit 5,196 yards rushing and 86 TDs. He later starred at Washington and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.
*As electric and fun to watch as anyone we’ve ever seen on a California playing field, it wasn’t an easy call that Napoleon Kaufman was State Player of the Year. Carson QB John Walsh had that great of a season. Walsh, who had transferred from West of Torrance from the year before, led the Colts to a 12-1 record, CIF L.A. City Section title and final No. 5 state ranking for Class AAAA schools. Walsh set state records at the time with 4,223 yards and 48 TD passes. He later starred at BYU, but not in the NFL. One of John’s daughters, Reagan, is now one of the state’s top softball players from the Class of 2021. She is at South of Torrance and has signed with NCAA powerhouse Florida.

35 YEARS AGO (1985)
*In perhaps the biggest win ever for Marina of Huntington Beach, the Vikings (who were just 7-3-1) took on and stunned unbeaten and state No. 1 Bishop Amat of La Puente, 33-12, in the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Conference quarterfinals. Marina had lost only a few weeks earlier 51-14 to Edison of Huntington Beach. Sean Magulla scored on runs of 50 and 67 yards for the Vikings and had 17 carries for 165 yards. Amat standout junior Eric Bieniemy was held to 45 yards on 14 carries. Vista of the San Diego Section moved up to No. 1 and picked the perfect week to stomp Granite Hills of El Cajon, 49-3, in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the CIF San Diego Section 3A semifinals. Most in San Diego were expecting Sweetwater of National City to be in that title game as well, but the Red Devils were upset in the semifinals 15-6 by Helix of La Mesa. Sweetwater had a 37-game winning streak entering that game, which is still the longest in San Diego Section history (not including forfeits).
*Senior DB J.J. Celestine from Notre Dame of Riverside intercepted four passes and scored on two TD catches as the Titans defeated Santa Ynez, 29-9, in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Another player with four interceptions in a section playoff game for that week in 1985 was Dante Gilotti from Marin Catholic of Kentfield. Everyone in Marin County knows about the Gilotti family and its accomplishments in the building industry.
*Speedy receiver Cary Grant from Muir of Pasadena came through with four touchdown catches to help the Mustangs get past Rio Mesa of Oxnard 41-0 in the CIF Southern Section Coastal Conference playoffs. Also playing prominent roles in playoff wins around the state that week were receiver Richard Pryor from Aragon of San Mateo and running back Glenn Campbell from Saddleback of Santa Ana.

40 YEARS AGO (1980)
*One of the most highly regarded WR/DBs in Northern California was Jeff Arrillaga from Saratoga. But it was his booming 50-yard field goal that stood out the most when the Falcons defeated Bellarmine of San Jose 17-7 in the CIF Central Coast Section championship. The win capped a 13-0 season for the Falcons, who were then coached by one of our all-time favorites, Benny Pierce, who was the winningest head coach in the CCS for many years. His team in 1980 was No. 1 in Northern California and would finish No. 2 in the state.
*After Vintage of Napa won that 41-40 game in triple-overtime vs. Tracy in the SJS semifinals that was mentioned last week, the Crushers had an easier time of it in the final as they defeated Highlands of North Highlands 25-6. Pat Hodge paced the offense by gaining 174 yards on 25 carries. He capped his season with 1,847 yards rushing and scored 29 touchdowns.
*Versatile Randy Maples was the star for West of Bakersfield in its 34-3 win vs. Redwood of Visalia in the CIF Central Section Yosemite Division semifinals. After Redwood had taken an early 3-0 lead, Maples returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and later intercepted a pair of passes. The Vikings also remained unbeaten at 12-0 entering their title game vs. Madera.

45 YEARS AGO (1975)
*The single-game state rushing record was broken during this season by La Habra Whittier Christian’s Craig Johnston. He had 448 yards for the Heralds in a 61-6 win over L.A. Baptist of Sepulveda. Johnston just got past the previous record of 447 yards set in 1966 by Stan “Touchdown” Brown from Salesian of Richmond. His record held up until 1999 when Jermaine Marshall of Camp Kilpatrick (Malibu) had 454 yards rushing in a game.

75 YEARS AGO (1945)
*This marked the final year of coaching for legendary Bakersfield High football coach Dwight “Goldie” Griffith. He began coaching for the Drillers in 1908 and went on to 1942 and then he had a final season in 1945. Griffith is still among the best coaches in state history based on his winning percentage of those with 200 wins or more with a final career mark of 207-50-27. He also is still second among all coaches with six CIF state titles, which came during a seven-year stretch of 1920 to 1927. We don’t count a CIF state title awarded to Bakersfield off the field for 1919. The newly refurbished Griffith Field that stands proudly outside of the high school to this day is named for him.

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


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3 Comments

  1. Chacho Libre
    Posted December 10, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    How deep did Whittier Christian go that year (1975) with that amazing running back?

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 12, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Sorry, don’t have that kind of detailed info for that season. Our newsletters began going out in 1979-80 school year.

      • Chacholibre77
        Posted December 24, 2020 at 12:13 am | Permalink

        They didn’t make it past the first round, they played against subpar christian schools at the time – Carpintería was the eventual 1975 CIF Champion.

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