By Bill Dickens
It is not uncommon for high school football games in Texas or Ohio to draw Friday night crowds in excess of 10,000 throughout the season.
Texas playoff games, in years gone by, attracted attendance for the semifinals and finals in excess of 30,000 in the Houston Astrodome during the 1970s. The venues have changed and are more widespread since then with the San Antonio Alamodome and Texas Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) in Irving providing the top two of the five championship sites.
California’s Imperial Valley Bell Game is much like Texas football. This rivalry, which began in 1921, matches El Centro’s Central Union and Brawley. It is routine for 8,000 fans to be in the stands an hour before game time – by game time they’re lining the fences four deep.
There really is a bell – a perpetual trophy – that was cast more than three decades ago.
There have been 152 meetings between these two schools – reportedly the largest number of consecutive contests in the nation. The rivals played twice per season until that practice was discontinued in 2004.
Games of this magnitude command pageantry to match the tradition. No matter what the stakes might be, the annual confrontation between these longtime rivals is more than just one of those neighborhood jousts that provide the winner with a year’s worth of bragging rights.
It’s a big deal for the players, alumni, students and the community.
When these long-time rivals tee it up on Friday, Nov. 14, visiting Central Union (8-1, 3-0) looms as a heavy favorite over host Brawley (5-4, 3-0).
Oceanside streak hits 21
Despite rolling up 21 consecutive victories since opening the 2007 season with a 28-20 loss to La Mesa Helix, the Oceanside Pirates have been criticized this year for not having a solid running game. Rene Siluano, hidden by the passing skills of Jordan Wynn, is gradually settling in as the Pirates’ premier running back, averaging 8.1 yards on 60 carries. Siluano rushed for 158 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown as the Pirates pasted previously unbeaten Valley Center 49-21 on Nov. 7.
Falcons net 19th straight title
Perennial power Torrey Pines won its 19th straight CIF-SDS Division I girls tennis championship, defeating Rancho Bernardo 13-5. Karen Forman led the way for the Falcons with a three-set sweep in No. 1 singles, while the doubles tandem of Mimi Hamling and Jessica Kwan also won three straight.
Senior wide receiver-defensive back Joel Sisler had three sacks, and made the most of two receptions for 108 yards with touchdown catches of 80 and 28 yards in Escondido’s 42-17 win over Mission Hills.
Central of attraction
Junior quarterback Jonathon Adams of El Centro’s Central Union clicked on 10-of-15 passes for 325 yards and six touchdowns in the Spartans' 70-13 rout of Calexico.
Other Top Performances
— Eastlake senior Chris Schmuckal guided the Titans to their first Mesa League boys’ water polo title, snapping Bonita Vista's streak of 20 consecutive league crowns in the process. Schmuckal scored 17 goals, notched 19 steals and handed out 12 assists in the Titans’ final seven games.
— Brennan Clay of Scripps Ranch scored three touchdowns, including the game winner from 7 yards out with 21 seconds remaining as the Falcons defeated rival Mira Mesa for the first time in 12 games.
— Poway’s Nick Ricciardulli rushed 25 times for 185 yards and a touchdown and then provided the decisive two-point conversion in the Titans 27-26 win over Carlsbad.
— Giovanna Silberman of Westview posted 29 assists in a four-set volleyball win over Ramona and followed that up with 46 assists in a five-set win over Mt. Carmel.
— Carlsbad junior Rachel Morris shot a 2-under-par 142 to earn medalist honors at the CIF-SDS North County Conference Tournament.
The CIF-SDS girls volleyball and boys water polo playoffs began Wednesday, Nov. 12 and continue through Saturday, Nov. 22.
All the talk about Cathedral Catholic senior running back Tyler Gaffney seems to be focused on his college football career.
While Gaffney certainly ranks among the nation’s high school elite running backs — the No. 3 rated high school fullback prospect according to Scout.com — his ability in baseball is something that cannot be overlooked.
For the moment, though, the 6-foot, 215-pound Gaffney is the driving force behind Cathedral Catholic’s bid for a perfect season. The Dons have won 16 in a row and are ranked No. 2 in the CIF-SDS football ratings with a 9-0 mark.
Gaffney carried 19 times for 260 yards and four touchdowns and also reeled in a touchdown pass in the Dons 56-30 rout of St. Augustine on Nov. 7 before more than 8,000 fans at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.
A physical runner with 4.5 speed, Gaffney lists Notre Dame, Stanford, USC, Oregon, UCLA, Utah and San Diego State as his top choices for football at present.
Gaffney’s football numbers this season are not unexpected. He leads the section with 35 touchdowns and 222 points. He is also averaging 10.6 yards per his 163 rushes. He has rushed for as much as 317 yards in a game and never has fallen short of the century mark.
Let us not forget his baseball numbers of a year ago. Due to off-the-field problems, Gaffney’s junior baseball season was limited to 10 games. He made the most of it, compiling a .531 batting average (17-for-32). He batted .407 (37-for-91) with seven homers and 35 RBI in 33 games as a junior.
Gaffney’s name isn’t included on many pro baseball prospects lists because those in the know believe football will win this star-studded athlete.
Don’t be surprised, however, if he shocks the experts and goes the other way.