Thursday, September 15, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, Paul Sabolic and Ventura County's Oldest High School American Football Rivalry

Much has been written and said in recent weeks about respect for the flag and America during the playing/singing of the National Anthem at sporting events due to . . .

. . . Colin Kaepernick's kneeling
during the National Anthem at
recent San Francisco 49ers games

During the subsequent weeks I have been thinking in depth about this issue of guaranteed First Amendment Free Speech vs. respect for the flag.

Two things brought this issue into focus for me in the past few days.

The first was at the Newbury Park-Westlake game last Friday during the usual playing of the National Anthem just before kickoff. Most people stood at attention, men with their hats off, and were respectful. I saw nobody protesting but, as has become far too usual during the anthem, about 10-15% of the crowd just kept talking and walking around paying no attention at all.

Though not a protest, I find this constant disrespect much more bothersome than Kaepernick's protest. I can only remember two times when I felt everybody at a stadium completely bought into the National Anthem, once at the Rose Bowl for the Army-Navy football game and another time in San Diego while scouting a Valhalla H.S. football game. San Diego is a Navy town and people there that night were 100% behind our country and the men and women who serve it.

The other incident that got me to thinking happened when I met with some old friends and the topic quickly got around to Kaepernick. My friends were decidedly against Kaepernick's actions. No problem, I understood their position.

About 20 minutes after their anti-Kaepernick statements the topic of conversation somehow got around to the Vietnam War and the draft.

I was not drafted into the military during those troubled years because of my status as a teacher.

My two friends, who were incensed about Kaepernick's anti-American protest, then began to detail how they had both sought counsel as to how to best avoid the draft and both independently opted to gain massive amounts of weight in order to get an obesity deferment. It turns out that they were both successful in their weight gaining efforts and did not serve.

So all of this got me to thinking, who do I know that I could turn to for their take on Kaepernick?

Paul Sabolic in 1967
Los Angeles Valley College
Offensive Lineman

I have known Paul since our days as students at the University of Washington in the late 1960s.

I once read that every time that you meet a person, subconsciously you answer two questions about your new acquaintance. First, can I trust this person and second, can I respect this person.

For me when I first met Paul, the answers were decidedly YES and YES!

After graduating from the U.of W., Paul joined the Navy via Officer Candidate School and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

I will see Paul this Saturday night at the Pierce College game and as a veteran I want to hear how he feels about all the brouhaha.

Paul Sabolic today
Thank you for your service!

Meanwhile, back in Ventura County . . .

Santa Paula H.S.

Home of the Cardinals indeed!

Cardinals working on tackling

I visited with Santa Paula Head Coach Mike Montoya on Tuesday to gain some inside knowledge about his club before Friday night's game against their rivals . . .

. . . the Fillmore Flashes

Flash QB going DEEP

Fillmore 7-on-7 Drill

On Wednesday, I spoke with Fillmore H.S. coaches Matt Dollar and Curtis Garner about their takes on the big game which will be broadcast live on an on-line stream by the Ventura County Star at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Fillmore. I will again provide color analysis with broadcast announcer Danny Page and sideline reporter Will Cowan.

This will be the 106th meeting in American football between the Cardinals and Flashes. The first game was in 1923 and Santa Paula leads the series by a tally of 59-39-7.

Reading Is FUNdamental

A low body count for
a Jack Reacher novel

But still a good read!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another Week, More American Football Mania

Another week rolled by as the starting date of my newest adventure coaching American football in Madrid, Spain for the Osos Rivas American football team rapidly approaches.

This week would be a tad different as Danny Page, who I first met in Barcelona back in late June, had asked me to work with him on the Ventura County Star's live on-line streaming broadcast of the Newbury Park HS (2-0) at Westlake HS (1-1) game on Friday night. I would be Danny's color man in the booth while Ventura College Athletic Director Will Cowan would be Danny's sideline reporter during the contest.

As it would be my first time working as a color commentator, I felt that I had to be more than a little bit prepared.

Thus, on Tuesday, I was off to . . .

Newbury Park HS
Home of the Panthers

My first assignment was a good 30 minute interview with Panthers' Head Coach Jason Klein to find out all that I could about the team's personnel and and strategies of note.

Jason made my job easy with his openness.

After our interview, I sat in on their practice that afternoon. 

The Panthers looked confident

Maybe too confident.

The following day, Wednesday, I was off to . . .

Westlake HS
Home of the Warriors

Just like I had done the day before, I started with a 30 minute interview with the Warriors' leader, Coach Tony Henney.

Tony also pulled no punches in telling me all that I needed to know about his club and what they needed to do to defeat the Panthers for a ninth straight season.

Warriors' Inside Run Defense Drill

There was a palpable sense of urgency during the Warriors' practice.  They needed to rebound from their worst defeat in school history in Texas the previous Friday against Aledo HS.

It looked to be a good matchup from what I could tell.

Thursday night, Laurie and I were off to La Cañada-Flintridge, California to watch my alma mater, the St. Francis HS Golden Knights (1-0), host the Pasadena HS Bulldogs (0-2).

St. Francis HS is a GREAT
setting to watch a game

Especially when the Golden Knights are rolling to a 35-0 victory.

Friday night was my broadcasting debut.

A beautiful late afternoon
at Westlake HS

I spent 11 years here from 1978-1988 as the Warriors' first Head Football Coach.

I'm on the left and Danny Page
is on the right

You can hear our broadcast at this website:

Westlake in Orange,
Newbury Park in White

It was a fantastic game to watch as underdog Westlake had a 19 point lead in the 4th quarter.

The Newbury Park's Oklahoma University commit QB Cameron Rising led a furious comeback to lead the Panthers to an astonishing 43-40 victory. When the Panthers scored the last TD of the game with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter to make it 43-40, it was the first and only time that NPHS led in the game.

The Newbury Park-Westlake series started in 1979 and is now tied at 19-19-1.

I guess that I did OK as a color commentator since they asked me to come back and do it one more time next Friday during the Santa Paula HS Cardinals (1-2) at the Fillmore HS Flashes (0-3) game. This is the oldest rivalry in Ventura County high school American football history with Friday night's meeting being the 106th between these two schools located only a few minutes apart on Highway 126.

Saturday was College Game Day at our house.

Son Mike and Grandson Jacob joined us to watch, God only knows, how many NCAA contests on TV.

 Although it was COLLEGE
Football Saturday . . .

Mike had purchased two Los Angeles Rams jerseys for Jacob that arrived just in time for the Rams' season opener Monday night on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.

Go Rams GO!

 Saturday Tradition

After each TD is scored in a game we are watching, Mike takes Jacob outside and throws him up in the air once for each TD we've seen, i.e., once after the first TD of the day, four times after the fourth TD of the day, etc.

By mid-afternoon, Mike was getting tired.

Jacob not so much.

See, even after the days TENTH
TD, Jacob is still raring to go!

Saturday night NCAA DIII
Football Live

I drove down to Eagle Rock, California to see the University of Puget Sound Loggers (1-0) take on the home standing Occidental College Tigers (0-0).

This game was of more than the usual interest to me as I had spoken to players from both schools last Spring about furthering their careers in EuroBall after graduation. 

 The Sun going down over
Occidental's Jack Kemp Field

It was a spirited contest from start to finish with UPS leading after three periods 22-20.

Then it got crazy as the two teams combined for 49 points in the fourth quarter.

UPS prevailed to go back to their home in Tacoma, Washington with a thrilling 49-42 victory.

FS Jacob Wuesthoff
University of Puget Sound
Senior - 6'1" - 185 lbs.

Jacob is a Newbury Park HS alumnus who I met with back in June to discuss his interest in furthering his playing career after graduation.

On Saturday night he had two forced fumbles, intercepted a pass and was in on a whole bunch of tackles.

EuroBall coaches and teams need to take a good look at this kid after he graduates from UPS next Spring.

I also saw another five players on the field from both squads who are Seniors and can also have good careers in EuroBall in my opinion.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another Week of American Football and a Civil War Reenactment

August came to a warm end and the first week of September mostly meant more chances to watch American football practices and games.

 Tuesday at Pacifica H.S.

I watched Mike Moon's Tritons practice after their tough 65-44 loss to Newbury Park the previous Friday. The coaches were upbeat and their preparation this week led to a huge 20-17 victory over highly regarded Moorpark H.S. in overtime.

Both Pacifica and Moorpark are now 1-1 on the season.

 Wednesday lunch in Woodland
Hills just before attending . . .

. . . the Pierce College practice

The Brahmas, led by Head Coach Jason Sabolic, were preparing in the heat for their season opener on Saturday night at home against Moorpark College.

Thursday at Camarillo H.S.

We were here to watch the Camarillo Scorions Freshman team take on their counterparts from Saugus H.S.

The Scorpions Defensive Coordinator is our godson Tim Murphy.

The Scorpions improved to 2-0 with their 44-15 win over the Centurions who are now 1-1 on the campaign. 

Friday Night Lights
Newbury Park H.S. Style

The Panthers (1-0) were hosting
the Agoura Chargers (0-1)

 Grandson Jacob, far right, watching
the action from the Panther Tunnel

The Panther had a sluggish start falling behind 0-14 in the first quarter before exploding to a 63-21 victory.

Newbury Park is now 2-0 while Agoura drops to 0-2 for the year.

Saturday Night
Moorpark College at Pierce College

After a total of FORTY-SIX penalties for 433 yards, let's just call it a sloppy season opener for both schools.

Moorpark prevailed 25-6.

After the game, I worked my way down to the field and much to my surprise found someone on the field that I first met while coaching the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons in 2013 . . .

. . . Dario Viallet

Dario is the driving force behind the French DII Montpellier Hurricanes. He was in California delivering new football uniforms to the Pierce team and trying to make contacts with other schools and sporting goods in order to expand his business.

Small world . . .

A Nice Sunday at the
Huntington Beach
Civil War Reenactment

 We were at the right place

Jacob and I drove down to watch our son and/or Jacob's Dad Michael fight for the Union.

 But first we had to find Mike
somewhere in the Union Camp

Uh-Oh, Rebs

 We got some strange looks from the
Rebs when Jacob asked where the
2nd Vermont Volunteers were

But they did direct us to them just past the village full of all sorts of people like . . .

. . . Faro Dealers and . . .

. . . What the . . . 

Finally we found Mike

Taking aim

 Mike ready for the morning battle,
Jacob wounded

Jacob can't join until he turns 14

 George Hurley

George is just an all-around great guy. Newbury Park's Ventura County Sports Hall-of-Fame football coach is the one who talked Mike into the whole world of Civil War reenacting.

 A cigar chomping writer for
Harper's Bazaar Weekly

 A shifty New York politician angling
for votes in the upcoming election

Baseball before the morning battle

The writer from Harper's Bazaar said that this new sport would never catch on.

Mike with his bedroll
over his shoulder

 Union Cannon at the ready

Get your muskets, the Rebs are coming!


The Rebel forces won the day

The Union surrendered as Taps
were played

Rebs at honoring the fallen
during the rendition of Taps

 One happy Rebel

Mike, now a POW, marching to
Andersonville Prison in Georgia

 Jacob is a Yankee at heart

"How many more years until I'm 14?"


These reenactments are always fun and full of interesting new knowledge about life as a soldier during the 1861-65 War Between the States.

Cotton Candy Ice Cream

On the way home, we stopped at Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream store, or as Jacob calls it, "Ice Cream Headquarters."

On a side note, when we visited the same ice cream store in Las Vegas last month with grandson Kevin, he too opted for a scoop of Cotton Candy ice cream.  

Reading Is FUNdamental

Escapism at its finest!