Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

Salute to Colt Brennan

Colt Brennan, the former Mater Dei (Santa Ana) quarterback who went on to a stellar career at the University of Hawaii, died at the age of 37 early on the morning of Tuesday, May 11. His father, Terry, made the announcement.

Additional media reports indicated that Brennan died at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. He was brought there due to a drug overdose. Brennan, who didn’t play in the NFL, also had been in the fifth month of a six-month drug rehab program.

Photo: @MDFootball /

Brennan graduated from Mater Dei High School of Santa Ana in 2002. While with the Monarchs, he patiently waited his turn to run the offense, as the backup to Matt Leinart, until he graduated. In 2001, his senior year, Brennan took over the reins of the program and led the Monarchs to an 8-5 overall record and a spot in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. He finished his prep career with impressive passing statistics — 166-of-253 (65.6%) for 2,079 yards and 13 touchdowns. In all, Brennan earned three letters in football and one in basketball. He helped Mater Dei advance to the league championship in basketball as a senior. He was also selected to play in the Orange County Football All-Star Game.

“Today is a very sad day for myself and for Monarch Nation,” said Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson in message the school posted on Twitter. “The passing of Colt Brennan, one of our greatest quarterbacks and a Heisman Trophy finalist, is devastating and very difficult to process.:

Upon graduating from Mater Dei, Brennan attended Worcester Academy in Massachusetts for a postgraduate year. After a brief stop at Colorado where he redshirted, Brennan then transferred to nearby Saddleback College (Mission Viejo), where he earned one letter in football. While at Saddleback for the 2004 season, he completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,532 yards and 23 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Brennan was named All-Empire Conference First-Team. After his highly successful season, he received an offer from the University of Hawaii and enrolled on the Manoa campus.

After arriving at Hawaii, Brennan quickly flourished in head coach June Jones’ air-raid passing offense. Together, the two would lead the Warriors to a level of success that the program hadn’t enjoyed before, nor since. Brennan threw for 131 touchdowns over three seasons as a starter. His 2006 season stands as the benchmark for the high-octane style system. That season, he threw for 58 touchdowns (the second-most in NCAA single-season history) with a 72.6 completion percentage. That equated to an astounding 5,549 passing yards. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting that year and then in 2007 he was third behind Tim Tebow and Darren McFadden. In a game against Boise State that season, Brennan became the NCAA’s all-time leader in touchdown passes — one of many records he held at the end of his storied career. That mark wasn’t broken until the 2019 season when LSU’s Joe Burrow bested Brennan by two TD passes. Brennan also was a two-time Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year winner (2006 & 2007).

The Warriors’ finest season ever was in 2007 as they were a perfect 12-0 in the regular season. That earned them a berth in the prestigious Sugar Bowl, part of the New Year’s Day BCS rotation. Georgia ended Hawaii’s hopes for an unblemished record, though, defeating the Warriors 41-10.

Brennan’s 70.4 percent career completion percentage is best all-time in NCAA Division I FBS history. In addition, his three seasons with more than 4,000 yards passing and number of games with 400-yards-or-more passing yards (20) are tied for most all time.

Brennan is survived by his parents, Terry and Betsy and sisters Carrera and Chanel.

Cal-Hi Sports sends its condolences to the Mater Dei football community.

Nominate for All-State FB Spring 2021

All-State Football Patches will again be handled this year by our friends at For more information about Cal-Hi Sports merchandise at, CLICK HERE.

Yes, some players might have only played a couple of games, but we are not going to turn our back on all of the players, coaches & parents who went through so much so that there was a 2021 spring football season at all. This will therefore be the 42nd consecutive season in which there will be Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football Teams. We’re going to need folks to help as much as possible by nominating top players, especially so we can have a separate teams as usual for juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools. Go inside to see what to send.

Read more…

Most Successful Sports Colleges in USA

Colleges are the lifeblood of sports across the United States. In fact, many organized college games predate their professional counterparts with American football being a notable example. In the present day, established draft systems now supply professional franchises with the best crop of new talent from the many universities.

Meanwhile, colleges maintain their own divisions within football, basketball, baseball, hockey and other sports. Along with these inter-collegiate battles, there is a separate quest to provide the most successful athletes into the pro leagues. Some colleges have a greater history of success than others but which ones are at the top of the table?

Leading the way

Ranking the best colleges in US sport shows that the University of Florida may be at the top of the tree. The Gators have enjoyed great success over the years and, in 2016-17 they achieved a notable landmark. By the end of that school year, Florida became the first college to claim all three of the Southeastern Conference All-Sports titles.

Collectively referred to as the Gator Nation, Florida has earned success in many sports, most notably football, baseball and basketball. It has been ranked inside the top 10 NCAA D1 programs in every single season since 1983-84.

Among the many world class athletes that the Gators have produced is Emmitt Smith. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1990, Smith went on to win three Super Bowls before finishing his football career with the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.

Most notably, Smith finished as the NFL’s record holder in terms of both rushing touchdowns and rushing yards. He completes an impressive list of Gators’ alumni that also includes David Eckstein and Ryan Lochte.

Up on the Rails

Among others equal to or superior to Florida is Stanford University, which supplied more athletes to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio than any other college.

Among the most notable individuals were Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel. Both won gold medals in swimming, which has traditionally been a productive sport for Stanford students over the years. Further success came in the water through diving and water polo but this is a great all-round college. In fact, Stanford produced an unprecedented 23-year run of success in the NACDA Directors’ Cup.

Among the best Stanford alumni are many true greats in their individual sports. John McEnroe won seven Grand Slam tennis championships in his career, quarterback John Elway guided the Denver Broncos to two NFL Super Bowl victories, Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers ever and volleyball player Kerri Walsh-Jennings may be the best-ever in beach volleyball.

Home of the Rose Bowl

Casual followers of college sports may know that the University of California (Los Angeles) plays host to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. This is college football’s equivalent of the Super Bowl and it’s the one amateur game that all football fans tune into.

UCLA is among the former winners of the Rose Bowl and every highly reputable online sportsbook will rank California highly in outright markets moving forward. On a wider scale, UCLA has enjoyed great success in other sports and the college has claimed over 100 NCAA titles.

Sustained victories have been gained in so-called fringe sports such as volleyball and water polo but previous alumni have made great careers in the mainstream. Among them is one of the star names of the NBA with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar winning six MVP titles. There’s also Jackie Robinson in baseball, Jackie Joyner-Kersee in track and Arthur Ashe in tennis.

Over in the NFL, UCLA has also produced champions such as Troy Aikman and Jonathan Ogden, both of whom are in the division’s Hall of Fame.

Flying the Flag

In terms of women’s sports in the US, there are few to match the success of the University of Connecticut. Women’s teams have been dominant in certain college disciplines and the basketball section has 11 NCAA titles to its name.

With returns such as those, it’s no great surprise that Connecticut has supplied a number of top professionals to the WNBA. Included in that list are four-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird, who has enjoyed domestic success with the Seattle Storm. Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore is another product of the multiple-trophy winning Connecticut college sports program.

Deep South

Stanford University may have supplied more US athletes for the 2016 Olympics but the University of Texas produced a more noteworthy record. Statistics show that, had the university competed as a separate nation in Rio, it would have finished seventh in the overall medal table.

That’s a stunning achievement for a single college but it’s one that builds on a long history of success. Medals were gained in basketball and swimming, which have traditionally been strong disciplines for Texas. Other notable wins have been gained in volleyball and golf.

Like all of the great colleges on this list, the University of Texas has produced some world class athletes. Basketball’s Kevin Durant now has two Olympic Golds and was an NBA Champion in 2017 and 2018. It’s a legacy that is set to continue thanks to a promising new crop of athletes.

College sports offers the chance to aim for prestigious silverware in its own right but it also provides a legitimate pathway into professional sport. Most fans are aware of the draft systems that exist in football and basketball and this is one lucrative way in which college athletes can make the leap to the professional stage.

Individual sportsmen and women have also prospered at the college level before forging careers in golf, tennis and other sports. The college scene is the lifeblood of American sports and its legacy marches on.

Girls BB: Trousdale Joins 700 Club

Poway head coach Jay Trousdale was presented with a ball and a banner by his team and assistant coaches on the occasion of his 700th win. Photo:

Poway girls basketball coach Jay Trousdale has become just the sixth coach to reach 700 career wins. When that happened depends on whether forfeit wins are counted, but it’s definitely happened since his team this year has started 6-0 and he only needed three wins this season (with forfeits not counted) for the magic number.


There was a celebration on March 27 after the Poway High girls basketball team defeated Canyon Crest Academy of San Diego, 67-25, for its second win of the 2021 spring season. The school, local media and CIF San Diego Section had it as the 700th win in the coaching career of head coach Jay Trousdale, who started coaching the Titans in 1988.

It just took an extra win for Trousdale to be credited with 700 wins for the Cal-Hi Sports state records due to a forfeit win that Poway had from the 2019-20 season. Forfeits have never counted in the Cal-Hi Sports state records (which also are the only state records in girls basketball that exist). No worries. Trousdale just reached 700 for that list in the next game as the Titans downed Torrey Pines of San Diego, 58-53, on April 2.

Trousdale already was the winningest coach in San Diego history before this season. He didn’t move up on the all-time state list in reaching 700, but his girls have won three more times since then and he has now tied Brian Harrigan (most recently at St. Francis of Mountain View) for fifth on that list.

The only other coaches higher than Trousdale would be overall leader Kevin Kiernan (currently at Mater Dei of Santa Ana), Melissa Hearlihy (Harvard-Westlake of Studio City), Joe Vaughan (retired from Buena of Ventura) and Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty of San Jose).

“Joining the California 700 club is such an honor,” Trousdale said in an email interview over the weekend. “It really is hard to believe in a way. The only coach who I know of the five other coaches is Joe Vaughn. I had the honor of coaching against Joe in two state playoff games in 1992 and 1995. California has had a lot of great girls basketball coaches over the years who I have the utmost respect for.”

Vaughn, who had 761 wins at Buena from 1976 to 2007, also is similar to Trousdale in that both men coached at just one public school for the duration of a long career.

“Beating Buena in the 1992 state playoffs was a thrill,” Trousdale said. “The best game I think that I have ever coached in was a (CIF San Diego Section) semifinal overtime victory in 2008 vs Escondido. The gym was packed. Escondido was an outstanding team and I know there was a San Diego Charger football player in the audience that said afterwards it was one of the best sporting events he had ever seen.”

Four of Trousdale’s teams over the years have won CIF San Diego Section titles, which came in 1991, 1992, 1995 and 2008. His Poway teams also have won 12 league titles and he’s almost always had contending teams with an average of 21 wins over his 34 seasons.

It’s not like Trousdale is exactly done with coaching, either. The 66-year-old who retired from teaching in 2017 has been extremely impressed with this year’s team, which will put its 6-0 record on the line on Friday vs. 4-2 Mt. Carmel of San Diego.

“It has definitely been the most challenging season ever,” he said. “We have seven players playing other sports at the same time and we have shorter than normal practices. It’s usually only an hour and a half with other sports using the gym, too. We will have a super challenging league so the toughest games are yet to come.”

Aari McDonald & Adia Barnes State Records

If we could ask University of Arizona women’s basketball head coach Adia Barnes a question it should be about how the graduate of San Diego’s Mission Bay High built the program at UofA to the point where it could beat NCAA title factory UCONN in the 2021 Final Four semifinals.


But we do California state high school records and our question would be much different to her: “Did you really block 1,112 shots during your high school career?”

Aarion McDonald of Brookside Christian was the two-time Stockton Record Player of the Year for 2015 and 2016. Photo: SportStars Magazine.

Barnes was a player we followed during her high school years at Mission Bay and she was selected to the 1994 all-state team as a senior, which was hard to do for that season since that was the year there were three undefeated CIF state championship teams — Brea Olinda (Brea), Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) and El Camino (Sacramento).

At the time, she wasn’t reported as a player who was blocking an average of 10 shots or more per game over the course of four straight seasons. Several years later, though, her name popped up in the CIF San Diego Section record book with the total of 1,112 career blocked shots. It still appears there with that total and it also shows up as the current National High School Federation record. Her high school info isn’t mentioned in her UofA bio but that record total is on her Wikipedia page.

We list her career blocked shots in our state records, but there’s an an asterisk because we frankly don’t believe it and instead think it’s likely her career rebounds were just put in mistakenly somewhere in the process.

*Note: Season-by-season totals not available. We would assume based on career total that at least one of Barnes’ season totals (and possibly three of them) would be more than the highest season blocked shot total that we have in our records. Our hunch is that the 1,112 number from the San Diego Section record book is due to a mistake. Barnes was a great player at Mission Bay (named to our 1994 all-state team) and later played for many years in the WNBA, but that shot block total wasn’t in the San Diego record book in any years when we did printed state record books from 1995 to 2008. We also believe the listed No. 2 career total from the San Diego records — Shawn Wilcox of Westview with 923 from 2003 to 2006 — also is an error.

Barnes’ best player for the Wildcats, guard Aari McDonald, doesn’t have a possible incorrect total from her high school career, but simply missing totals.

Aari is from California as well and was on Cal-Hi Sports all-state teams for all four of her high school seasons. Her only mention in the state record book is for a game in which she picked up 20 steals. Her career totals have been more difficult to determine, but are coming into focus.

The reason for those missing totals is because McDonald had three different coaches and went to two different schools during her high school career. She grew up in Fresno and was a scoring fiend as a freshman at Bullard of Fresno during the 2013 season. She went to Brookside Christian in Stockton for her final three years and at Brookside we know she didn’t play as a sophomore due to being ineligible. There was a coaching change after her sophomore season with Pico Wilburn taking over for Que Ngo and coach Wilburn has provided us with Aari’s junior and senior year stats.

We’ll continue to look for Aari’s freshman year totals from Bullard, but with having to sit out that one year it’s not likely she’ll have any state record book qualifying totals.

Sac Kennedy player dies after collapse


Emmanuel “Manny” Antwi, an 18-year-old senior from Kennedy High of Sacramento, was being remembered fondly by teammates and classmates on Saturday, March 20, after it was announced that he had died. Antwi had collapsed on the sidelines Friday night nearly one-hour into Kennedy’s football game at home against Sacramento Unified School District rival Hiram Johnson.

The game itself was immediately stopped and cancelled. Antwi was rushed to a local hospital and his collapse was the lead story on most Sacramento area TV stations on their 11 p.m. newscasts. His condition was not known at the time, but TV images from Kennedy’s game showed distraught coaches and one report said the player was being given CPR.

“Today we learned that Emmanuel Antwi, a John F. Kennedy senior athlete, died after a medical emergency during Friday night’s football game,” the district said in a statement Saturday. “We do not have many details to share beyond this. Our hearts go out to Emmanuel’s family and our school community during this difficult time. We ask all to give them privacy and time for healing and comfort as they grieve.”

A GoFundMe account was established for Antwi’s mother also on Saturday. It was done to account for funeral costs and to help her with the difficulty of raising two other children. As of Sunday morning, the account had already surpassed the goal of $20,000 but in this case the more the better.

“After waiting months due to COVID, the first football game of the season was finally here,” the GoFundMe statement read. “He just told his football coach that he finally got his driver’s license. He was so excited. Emmanuel “Manny” was loved by so many and he was a great young man and he definitely was too young to pass away.”

According to Kennedy’s MaxPreps’ page, Antwi was a 5-foot-10, 280-pound senior lineman. He also was a member of the Cougars’ team that played in the fall of 2019.

“There is nothing that can prepare you for a moment like that,” Johnson football coach Alex Gomes-Coelho told the Sacramento Bee and who had to console his own players. “The pain is indescribable. When you play or coach team sports you really become a family. My heart hurts for Cougar Nation and Manny’s family at home.”

The last high school football death reported by us in California was in 2013. That was from a head injury suffered by Tyler Lewellen from Arlington (Riverside) in a game vs. Chino Hills. We have also been informed by Chris Fore of the California Coaches Association that there was a football related death in 2016 of a player who was participating in spring football practice. We can add that a majority of all cases similar to Antwi’s that we have reported on since 1980 (including those from head, spinal injuries and those from other medical issues) have happened early in a season (usually in August and September). No cause of death obviously has yet to be reported for Antwi.

Calif. prep sports closer to normal?

Eight different states in the U.S. decided to move some or all of its high school fall sports into spring schedules this year. This is so that coaches and athletes will be at less risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. California was one of these states that opted not to have a fall competition, but football teams are now just about to kick off a shortened spring season.

Many other states like Florida and Georgia resumed their fall events with a slight delay, but the California Department of Public Health (and California Interscholastic Federation) decided against a delayed start due to the rise in positive coronavirus cases through California.

However, is this all about to change?

How has COVID-19 Impacted Sport Across America?

Some sports have still gone ahead, with the absence of an actual audience. For example, the first round of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament at John Hopkins University was just held and another men’s basketball tournament, ‘March Madness,’ for D1 is about to start.

For the 2019-2020 academic year, all NCAA championships after mid-March were cancelled, while the NBA was suspended until late in the summer. The Patriot League, a conference that competed in the 2nd level of D1 football, said its teams wouldn’t travel or do overnight stays in most cases.

Ivy League cancelled its entire fall season, which was now scheduled to take place in spring. The national championships for all fall sports were also cancelled.

The 2020 Division I championships from the NCAA for fall sports (other than football) were rescheduled to spring 2021 but with a one-quarter reduction in championship participants. This is due to the cost of testing, cost of lost income and other health protocols.

Some sports have also had to relocate their practice or full games because of legislative bans on sports that involve physical contact.

Other states opted to Resume the Play of High School Sports

Other states have also followed suit. Thanks to the go-ahead from Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas went ahead in allowing fall sports practice.

For the District of Columbia, the State Athletic Association said that football, soccer and volleyball would start back up from the beginning of February. Games were permitted from the 22nd up until the 16th of April.

The Iowa football season remained the same from late August. In other states, sports are expected to be starting its schedules on time, such as football and volleyball in Minnesota.

Pennsylvania is another state that prides itself on sports and despite the governor urging for high school sports to be delayed until January 2021, the PIAA voted and the fall season proceeded. The state in particular was well-known for recent law changes on sports betting as they were one of the first states to legalize online sports betting activities. Therefore, there are no surprises that the state wanted high school sports to resume in hope that their schools are creating some of the next talented sports players of the future.

Image of the Coronavirus from

Despte COVID Rates in California falling,
Residents Remain at Home

Some of the suspensions brought on by COVID doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon even though most case rates in California counties have been dropping for more than a month. Nevertheless, timelines could change, which would affect high school athletes and a return to the field.

But as COVID-19 cases continue to fall across the state, many are staying smart, continuing to wear masks and waiting until they are fully vaccinated before really getting more close to normal. The California Interscholastic Federation also has been monitoring.

On the 19th of February, the California Department of Public Health released anticipated high school sports updates that did allow for many sports to resume with a spring schedule. Then two weeks later the guidelines were updated again when the state settled a lawsuit brought up by two families who wanted high school athletes to be treated the same as college and pro athletes when it came to getting back onto the field.

The update also suggests that face coverings must always be worn when not playing, i.e. – coaches or subs standing on the sidelines. It also states that physical distancing should be in place amongst those who are not from the same household. Weekly testing for players and coaches is also encouraged.

Despite COVID, Sports Still Remain Popular in US High Schools
while Players with Scholarship Potential Exist

What makes them so popular? Firstly, they are a form of free entertainment, offering schools and pupils a greater sense of belonging, not to mention the pride that goes alongside this.

Friendly rivalry also is generated with the local community, which may have gone back for generations and play an essential part in its history.

Sports can also help children with their behavior and even help them perform better in lessons. Students themselves tend to enjoy the social aspect of the sport, providing them with an opportunity to hang out with friends.

With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that many high school sports teams attract sponsorship opportunities from the local community.

Students who do exceptionally well in their chosen sport might even be offered a scholarship at university and perhaps even develop a successful career in sports, earning millions of dollars a year.

Although COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting schedules, it is likely to return stronger than ever.

In most cases, entire seasons have been pushed back, while a handful of states continue as usual. Many teams have had to exercise great caution, avoiding large crowds, extensive travel or overnight stays.

Other teams have been permitted to practice, but in a separate area, so they’re not breaking the rules.

California was one of the worst affected by COVID-19 and therefore made the decision to not proceed with the fall games. Nevertheless, once sports make a comeback, they are likely to be as popular as ever.

How Technology Amazingly Has Changed The Online Gaming Experience

The gaming experience has totally transformed with technological advancements. With new and advanced gaming devices, the experience has completely gone to some other level. The world of technological gaming is tremendously growing and making it more interesting for the gaming enthusiast. Developers all around the world are researching and working more efficiently to offer you a more realistic gaming experience. Got confused? Don’t be, if you are still playing online games like you were doing in the last decade, then you need to upgrade and jump into the latest experience. Here’s the list to guide you:

Voice Recognition

If you are too tired or feeling lazy, then you can opt for this option. Voice-controlled gaming is taking the world by storm, now with your voice, you can not only console off and on but you can even control the gameplay. By simply talking to your gaming system, you can play selections or search the web or even interact on social media. Isn’t it just amazing?

Control Gesture

Now with the advancement in the gaming industry, you will be surprised to know that you can communicate with your device, easily just by some waves of your hand. With the utilization of the natural movement of your body, you can connect with the game and experience the ultimate use of technology.

Facial Expressions

In the gaming world, with the help of 3D scanning and technology that involves facial recognition, you can create your lookalike. In simple words, you can also display your own expressions to other digital creations. On top of it, some developers can even create games that will show the emotions of the gamers by scanning 78 diverse points on a gamer’s face. How fun it will be to see the character imitating your current expression.

Outstanding Graphics

Well, it is a fact that the gaming industry has interestingly worked on graphics and gives completely an unexpected experience. With photo-realistic textures, advancement in technology permits an experience in a completely rendered world. The graphics give the feel to the gamer that they are inside the game. Be it casino, tennis online game, basketball game, or best sports book online, every game has unimaginably amazing graphics, which all motivates everyone to play more.

High-Definition Display

As we say that this is the era of technology, hence, technology has not only enhanced our daily work but also the entertainment. And when it comes to online gaming, the experience has gone to a completely different level, as you get fascinating colors and crispness. Display plays a vital role when you are playing online, as it will either give you an amazing experience or will destroy it. But thanks to technology, it has given you the best view with high-definition displays.

Final Words

This is how technology has changed the gaming experience and made it more realistic, interesting, and exciting. If you never knew how technology has contributed to making your gaming experience unforgettable, then the above points will definitely clear everything. You will be amazed to know how you will fall in love with the gaming experience when you will start playing.

Gone But Not Forgotten (Preseason FB)

Here’s an easy to find and working list of key football players from the Class of 2021 who have already left their high school teams and therefore were not able to be included on any preseason or postseason all-state teams for the 2021 spring season. For anyone not correctly listed, email All of these players will appear on our final Hot 100 recruiting chart for the Class of 2021. For the last time we updated those player rankings (Gold Club post), CLICK HERE.

Napa’s Brock Bowers has reportedly already made a strong impression at Georgia and may be catching passes this fall for the Bulldogs from former Mater Dei standout J.T. Daniels. Photo:

RB Jonathan Arceneaux (Lawndale)
LB/DL Devin Aupiu (Pacifica, Oxnard)
ATH Anthony Beavers (Narbonne, Harbor City)
TE Brock Bowers (Napa)
DL Zach Buckey (Garces, Bakersfield)
QB Tyler Buchner (Helix, La Mesa)
DB Calen Bullock (Muir, Pasadena)
DL Akili Calhoun (Liberty, Brentwood)
LB Ethan Calvert (Oaks Christian, El Dorado Hills)
WR Beaux Collins (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
QB Finn Collins (Alemany, Mission Hills)
OL Thomas Cole (San Luis Obispo)
QB Peter Costelli (Mission Viejo)
DB Jaylin Davies (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
WR Cristian Dixon (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
LB Jonathan Flowe (Upland)
DL Korey Foreman (Centennial, Corona)
WR Troy Franklin (Menlo-Atherton, Atherton)
QB Jake Garcia (La Habra)
DB Xamarion Gordon (Warren, Downey)
DL Ja’Quez Harvey (Locke, Los Angeles)
QB Kajiya Hollawayne (San Jacinto)
QB Jalen Henderson (Chaminade, West Hills)
DB Jamier Johnson (Muir, Pasadena)
DB/ATH Devin Kirkwood (Serra, Gardena)
OL Ryan Lange (Pittsburg)
QB Justin Lamson (Oak Ridge, El Dorado Hills)
LB Keleki Latu (Jesuit, Carmichael)
DB Mitch Leigber (Laguna Hills)
RB/DB Dyson McCutcheon (Bishop Amat, La Puente)
QB Miller Moss (Mater Dei & Alemany)
QB Ari Patu (Folsom)
AB Chayden Peery (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth)
DB Robert Regan (Lutheran, Orange)
LB Will Schweitzer (Los Gatos)
OL Josh Simmons (Helix, La Mesa)
DB Jaylin Smith (Alemany, Mission Hills)
RB Julien Stokes (Grace Brethren, Simi Valley)
TE Jermaine Terry (Kennedy, Richmond)
DL Jay Toia (Grace Brethren, Simi Valley)
OL Jason White (Lutheran, Orange)
WR Xavier Worthy (Central, Fresno)

Salute to Leo Allamanno

The former Fremont of Oakland boys basketball coach, who won more than 400 games with most of those wins in the glory days of the Oakland Athletic League in the 1960s and 1970s, died this week at age 99. He’ll always have a special place in the history of Cal-Hi Sports and this website for what he did in the aftermath of Fremont’s greatest season in 1977.

As the 1977 Fremont of Oakland boys basketball team was looking like it might have the best team in California that season, Nelson Tennis was in his early 40s, living in an apartment in San Francisco and was at a mid-point of what to do for the rest of his life. One of his passions at the time was to closely follow the best California high school football and boys basketball teams (other sports would come a few years later).

Former Fremont of Oakland boys basketball coach Leo Allamanno is shown at 2018 ceremony when court was named for him. Photo:

There were no newsletters, statewide magazines or hardly anything else at the time comparing and contrasting top teams on a weekly basis so Nelson would take time to personally write up letters and would mail them to the major newspapers. He’d use colored pens, arrows pointing to key statistics and tailored each letter to the person he was writing to. Some of the newspapers, especially in the Bay Area and the Sacramento Bee, thought the letters were so well done that they printed those state rankings. Nelson used the title Cal-Hi Sports.

If you don’t know by now, Nelson was my uncle and during the 1977 high school basketball season I was a senior at La Sierra High in Carmichael (now closed). We had one of the best basketball teams in the fledgling Sac-Joaquin Section for both 1976 and 1977 and I recall at some point in those years actually printing Nelson’s rankings in our school newspaper (of which I was sports editor) since our team had been ranked. I was also helping Nelson collect information for his rankings from our area and also would go down to the state library to look up information for him as he had already started compiling all-time state records. I knew I was going to college to major in journalism (choosing San Jose State later that spring) but wasn’t sure whether Nelson’s “hobby” would ever become something to get involved with.

With my own school having had strong teams, I became more hooked on following the Northern California and state rankings in 1977. This team at Fremont of Oakland was continuing to win in a league Nelson said was one of the best. Our team didn’t go that far in the section playoffs, but when I saw that our section’s championship team from St. Mary’s of Stockton was going to play Fremont in the first round of the Oakland Tournament of Champions at the Oakland Coliseum Arena (where the Golden State Warriors played) it was too much to pass up.

We didn’t even know how to apply for media credentials in 1977 so Nelson and I just paid to go in. He took BART from San Francisco and I drove up to Oakland on my own (only the second time I had ever driven that far from Sacramento). St. Mary’s was 28-5 (partly led by Laurence Held, a neighbor of mine today in Stockton many years later), but had no chance against Fremont. I remember the Tigers dunking off the opening tip and they were off and running. They won 67-47.

By the end of that weekend, the crowds in the Fremont rooting sections were going wild. The school itself was just a few miles away, which likely contributed to the enthusiasm. To this day, there’s only been a handful of head coaches we’ve ever heard being the subject of rooting sections, but at that event the chants of “Alleee-Mahhn-Oh” were frequent and loud.

The coach they were cheering for was Leo Allamanno, who had coached basketball and baseball at Fremont at that time since 1954. He was a World War II veteran and taught the players the art and ferocity of man-to-man defense.

Fremont captured the TOC title with a 61-38 victory over St. Joseph of Alameda (which had a young head coach named Mike Phelps who would later become the winningest in state history, a record later broken). Phil Barner led Fremont with 21 points. The Tigers finished 25-1 and for Nelson’s final state rankings he penned them at No. 1, just in front of CIF Southern Section champion Pasadena (which was 29-3).

Lester Conner was the sixth man on Oakland Fremont’s rock-solid, defensive oriented 1977 squad but went on to play in the NBA for several teams. Photo:

After the Oakland Tribune published those rankings, Allamanno looked into finding out more about the author. He contacted Nelson with the idea of honoring that championship team with a rally at the school and invited him. Nelson and I talked and I agreed to help (along with my dad, George) by getting certificates for the players and a framed certificate for the school.

Nelson was shy in front of people for all of his life, but once we got to the school he warmed up to Coach Allamanno right away. Coach asked if Nelson wanted to say anything. He didn’t but Allamanno made it easy for him and he accepted. As the students and others gathered in the gym and the excitement began to build, Coach continued to assure us it would be great. These kids in front of me were all my age or younger so doing anything in front of them caused a lot of nerves for me as well.

In the end, Nelson got up in front of the school and announced in simplest terms what the award was and that their school was getting it. The cheering was loud and all the players were very happy. All I did was read off some names. Allamanno essentially ran the show.

After that rally, a couple of players came up and thanked Nelson. Allamanno also bid us goodbye with encouraging words for Nelson to keep doing what he was doing and said I had a bright future as a sportswriter. Keep in mind who we were at the time and that Allamanno was the popular coach of the top boys basketball team in the state. It was just such a jolt of confidence for both of us that it certainly helped in our development of what Cal-Hi Sports (and Student Sports) later became.

That Fremont team gained in some stature in later years when one of its players, Lester Conner, became a solid regular in the NBA.

Several years later, as Cal-Hi Sports was launching a newsletter, Allamanno was one of the first to sign up. He loved to tell the story of how we once correctly predicted that two Oakland teams, Fremont and Castlemont, would play for the TOC title in 1979 even though it was a time when other section champions from around Northern California (including 30-1 St. Francis of Mountain View) and the state (most notably L.A. City champ Crenshaw) were also in the field. Fremont won the title in that TOC as well.

We’d still get to visit with Coach Allamanno for many years into the 1990s at CIF events in Oakland and Sacramento, but not after he got into his 80s and 90s.

In 2018, Allamanno was honored by his school with the naming of Leo Allamanno Court. He was presented a banner that showed all of his records and league titles.

The school wrote in a tweet this week: “The Fremont community mourns your loss today. Incredible life you lived, giving over 30 years at @FrickUnited and at Fremont. Thank you for your dedication to thousands of students.”

And to high school sports outside of Oakland, too.

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