Part 1 – REDLANDS IN THE SUPER BOWL

Patrick Johnson, who caught a pass in Super Bowl XX, nearly made a diving catch for a touchdown against the New York Giants.

Jim Weatherwax, who played in the fabled Ice Bowl game against Dallas, had a hand in helping Green Bay win its first two Super Bowl titles.

Brian Billick basked in the glow of his name joining names like Landry and Shula, Noll and Parcells, Walsh and Gibbs on the Lombardi Trophy. Curiously, eventual five-time Lombardi Trophy celebrant Bill Belichick would join that list after Billick.

Welcome to the Redlands Connection-Super Bowl edition. That trio of former Redlands football players – Johnson (1994 graduate), Weatherwax (1961) and Billick (1972) – has surfaced in America’s greatest sporting spectacle.

It’s easy to break it down, too. Johnson’s speed. Weatherwax’s strength. Billick’s brains. It culminated with a spot in pro football immortality.

Johnson’s path to the Super Bowl might have been the shortest. He graduated from Redlands in 1994, committed to the University of Oregon and was selected in the second round of the 1998 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

Weatherwax left Redlands after graduating in 1961, headed for Cal State Los Angeles before transferring to West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas before Green Bay selected him in the 11th round of the 1965 draft.

Billick’s path took him to the Air Force Academy, eventually transferring to Brigham Young University. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but his career wasn’t on the playing field. He coached in Redlands, San Diego, Logan, Utah, and Palo Alto (Stanford) before surfacing as an assistant coach for Denny Green in Minnesota. By 1999, Billick was head coach of the Ravens.

It almost seems like pro football didn’t exist before 1967. That was the year when the National Football League champion played the American Football League champion for professional football’s world title. It was a first.

In the seven years since the AFL had been developed, the league held its own championship. The Houston Oilers, Dallas Texans (future Kansas City Chiefs), San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills had won AFL titles.

NFL titles during that same span mostly went to Green Bay (1961-62, ’65) with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns also winning pre-Super Bowl championships in those years.

SUPER BOWL ERA BEGINS

By the 1966 season, with 1967 showcasing the first AFL-NFL title game, the Super Bowl era was born.

In fact, Super Bowl terminology had yet to become adopted. The game was billed simply as the AFL-NFL Championship Game.

Green Bay going up against Kansas City was quite a spectacle.

It was the AFL’s best team going up against the NFL’s best. Vince Lombardi’s Packers playing Hank Stram’s Chiefs.

Redlands had a representative right in the middle of that package. It was none other than Weatherwax, known to his friends back in Redlands as “Waxie.”

MJS Jim Weatherwax
Redlands’ Jim Weatherwax of the Green Bay Packers. (Journal Sentinel file photo, 1966)

Weatherwax, for his part, played plenty in the second half of both games. He was seen spelling starters Ron Kostelnik and Henry Jordan on a few plays in the first half of Super Bowl II.

That particular game had been set up by the famous Ice Bowl game of 1967. That NFL Championship showdown came down to Bart Starr’s last-second quarterback sneak for a touchdown that beat the Dallas Cowboys on the “frozen tundra” of Green Bay.

That play hinged on the blocks of Packers’ center Ken Bowman and guard Jerry Kramer, who blocked Cowboys’ defensive tackle Jethro Pugh. That play, that win ultimately led the Packers into the second Super Bowl, this one against Oakland in Miami.

Pugh, incidentally, was picked in that 1966 NFL draft five players ahead of Weatherwax in the 11th round.

Green Bay, of course, won both championship games. The Packers, thus, set NFL history in virtual stone.

“That (second Super Bowl) was Lombardi’s last game,” said Weatherwax. “You should’ve heard the guys before the game, Kramer in particular. ‘Let’s win it for the old man.’ That’s what he was saying. Looking back, you couldn’t do anything but think that was special.”

Vince_lombardi_bart_starr Photo credit unkown
Legendary Green Bay Packers’ coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr are pictured. Redlands’ Jim Weatherwax was Starr’s teammate in Green Bay’s 1967 and 1968 Super Bowl championships. (Photo by Green Bay Packers)

AFL, NFL TACTICS LED TO MERGER

It was that first Super Bowl, however, that proved itself worthy of attention.

There was bitterness between the two leagues. The AFL started in 1960. Hopes were to provide enough competition that the old NFL would be forced to allow AFL teams into the NFL hierarchy.

When the NFL’s New York Giants signed Buffalo Bills’ placekicker Pete Gogolak in 1965 – thus stealing the first player from the AFL – the war between the two leagues was on. Finally, after much negotiation, many tactics, various shenanigans, the two leagues would be consolidated into one. The AFL forced the NFL’s hand.

They called it the AFL-NFL merger.

Some of those bitter feelings were on display in the Jan. 15, 1967 Super Bowl. Played at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The quarterbacks: Bart Starr against Lenny Dawson.

The coaches: Lombardi against Stram.

The referees: Six overall, including three from the AFL and three from the NFL, including head referee Norm Schachter, who started his officiating career 26 years earlier when he started his teaching career in Redlands.

The networks: The AFL’s NBC would be telecasting against the NFL’s CBS. Jim Simpson was on the radio.

Tough talk: Part of that first Super Bowl was the chatter emanating from the mouth of Chiefs’ defensive back Fred Williamson. Who could forget Williamson, who had a future in the movies?

Known as “The Hammer” for his vicious hits, Williamson boasted that his severe forearm shiver into the helmets of Packers’ receivers would knock them from the game. It was part of the well-hyped buildup, perhaps part of that bitter feeling between the two leagues.

As the game played out, it was “The Hammer” who was carried from the Coliseum field.

Weatherwax, meanwhile, was playing behind the likes of Willie Davis and Bob Brown, Kostelnik and Jordan – Green Bay’s legendary defensive linemen.

The Redlander gave a short chuckle as “The Hammer.” Weatherwax said, “I can’t really say what happened out there.”

Translation: He knew what happened, all right.

Kostelnik chasing Garrett (Photo by WordPress.com)
Kansas City’s Mike Garrett, 21 with ball, is being chased by Green Bay defensive tackle Ron Kostelnik during the first-ever championship game between the National Football League champion Packers and the American Football League champion Chiefs. Photo by WordPress.com)

Part of the legend: Starr’s 37-yard TD pass to Max McGee, the first touchdown in Super Bowl history, was followed by Green Bay’s kickoff to the Chiefs. When Packers’ placekicker Don Chandler sent his kick in the direction of Kansas City’s Mike Garrett, it was Weatherwax who drove the onetime college Heisman Trophy winner out of bounds.

There were a few times that Weatherwax, part owner of restaurant in Orange County, later moving to Colorado, sat next to my desk. He’d shown up visiting old friends. Part of those visits included stopping by the Daily Facts. This dates back to the 1980s and 1990s. Sharing stories. Sharing memories. Showing off his championship jewelry. Great guy. Helpful. Willing to talk.

It was a huge part of a Redlands Connection.

Part 2 – About Super Bowl XXXV tomorrow.

Part 3 – GREG HORTON WAS A SUPERIOR REDLANDS FORCE

For Greg Horton, who blocked familiar foes on the Rams’ defensive line, that 1979 NFC 9-0 championship loss to the Rams was his final game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A contract dispute, a hold-out, apparently getting cut, all conspired to lead Greg back to the west coast.

Bucs’ coach John McKay, it seems, had fallen in love with University of Wisconsin guard Ray Snell, considered to be a fast player at that position. Between Greg’s hold-out and Snell’s promising prospective, there was a quick switch at left guard made between the 1979 and 1980 seasons.

Greg was gone – back to L.A., in fact, where he played two games with the Rams before getting cut.

Tampa’s offense went downhill in that 1980 season, finishing 5-10-1.

Tampa Bay’s Doug Williams’s play at QB improved in 1980. Who knows how well the Bucs would’ve fared if they’d have kept Greg on their line? A dozen sacks? In 16 games?

Incidentally, that wasn’t an NFL record. But it was close.

Four years before the Bucs protected Williams so well, the St. Louis Cardinals blocked a little better for their QB, Jim Hart. They surrendered seven sacks with a line that consisted of Dan Dierdorff and Conrad Dobler.

Unlike today’s NFL game, where QBs are throwing for yardage far beyond that in Greg’s NFL days. Defenses were built to stop running games, not rush QBs. Numbers like the Cardinals and Buccaneers would be off the charts in today’s game.

As for Greg’s replacement?

Snell, taken as the 22nd overall pick in the 1980 NFL draft, spent five seasons blocking for Williams, at times alternating with lineman George Yarno bringing in plays from the sideline.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, visits FedEx Field, where the Redskins Salute, the Washington Redskins’ Official Military Appreciation Club, hosts a Military Day for military service members and their families, Dec. 7, 2015. This year's military recognition was in conjunction with the Redskins' Monday Night Football game with the Dallas Cowboys. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Chuck Burden/Released)
Doug Williams, whose early career in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was supported by the blocking of Redlands’ Greg Horton. The pair came close to winning the 1979 NFC Championship in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, who won, 9-0. Photo by  U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chuck Burden of the Chief of Staff of the Army
derivative: Diddykong1130

Greg, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound blocker, re-appeared in the United States Football League where he spent 1982 and 1983 with the Boston Breakers. He blocked for the highly underachieving Marcus DuPree (Oklahoma) in that summer league.

It was Week 10 – Saturday night, May 7, 1983 – when the Breakers showed up at the L.A. Coliseum to play the Express. L.A. beat Greg’s team again, 23-20. A little over 16,000 showed up in that massive place to watch.

I’d been granted a field pass, something that never would’ve happened in an NFL game. Greg was gracious enough to visit with me during the game – and after.

Greg had a few games left in the tank, but his pro career was nearing an end.

So, for that matter, was the USFL.

FROM NFL BACK TO HOMETOWN

Greg, born in San Bernardino in 1951, didn’t leave all his good works on the football field. He returned to Redlands, working businesses, growing up his family – his wife, Shirley, and two daughters – and participated in coaching and went heavily into the city’s legendary high school booster club, The Benchwarmers.

Greg blocked against the likes of Alan Page and Carl Eller, Harry Carson and Randy White, plus “Too Tall” Jones – the player taken No. 1 overall in the same 1974 draft when Greg was plucked by the Bears.

He never played a down for the Bears, who were in transition from the Hall of Fame seasons from middle linebacker Dick Butkus and running back Gale Sayers. Gary Huff QB’d that Bears’ team – 4-10 under coach Abe Gibron in 1974. One year later, the Bears made a nice pick in the draft, picking up Walter Payton.

That second season, 1975, was coached by Jack Pardee – another 4-10 record – with no real future in sight. Payton had a blocking corps of Jeff Sevy, Mark Nordquist, Dan Pfeiffer, Noah Jackson and Lionel Antoine.

The Bears had some success from various state colleges: Butkus from Illinois. Sayers from Kansas. Horton from Colorado didn’t turn out to be a fit.

By Greg’s third season, he was in L.A., playing backup on a Rams’ offensive line that included four No. 1 picks – Dennis Harrah, Tom Mack and Doug France, plus John Williams (Baltimore) – surrounding center Rich Saul.

That line was good enough that Horton was expendable, traded to Tampa midway into that 1978 rebuilding season.

The Rams were memorable during that 1970s run – playoffs each season under Chuck Knox (54-15 between 1973-77). Except for that little spurt when Greg replaced injured Dennis Harrah, it wasn’t until his trade to Tampa that his career got interesting. Twenty-eight of his 34 career starts came in Tampa.

A curious note, an extra Redlands “connection” was this: On Sept. 9, 1979, Tampa Bay beat the Baltimore Colts, 29-26, in a Buccaneers’ home game. Standing on the opposing sideline was Brian DeRoo, another ex-Terrier like Greg.

“It was the only time,” said DeRoo, “we ever faced each other in a game. Early in the game, though, Greg got thrown out for pushing a referee. I think it was after one play.”

Also in that game, DeRoo caught three passes for 81 yards. One of those was a 67-yard bomb from Colts’ QB Greg Landry – a play that was highlighted one night later on ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football, narrated by Howard Cosell.

‘GUNNS’ DURING HIS BUFF DAYS

During his college years at Colorado – playing in the Big Eight Conference for the Buffaloes, Eddie Crowder head coach – Greg was a three-year starter for a team that finished 23-12 between 1971 and 1973. Future Oakland/Los Angeles Raider legend Cliff Branch was a Buffalo teammate.

On New Year’s Eve 1971, the seventh-ranked Buffaloes stopped No. 15 Houston, 29-17, in the Bluebonnet Bowl. A year later, the 13th-ranked Buffs lost the Gator Bowl to No. 6 Auburn.

As for the Big Eight, Oklahoma and Nebraska were the dominant teams.

While the Buffaloes dreamed of unsettling the legendary Sooners and Cornhuskers, Colorado might have been content to try and oust those schools from their top spots.

Colorado’s only two losses in a 10-2 season (1971) came against the No. 2 Sooners, 45-17, and No. 1 Nebraska, 31-7. Greg, a sophomore, blocked against the likes of Oklahoma’s Lucious Selmon, whose brother, Lee Roy, would be a future NFL teammate in Tampa.

Yes, future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers was on the field against Colorado in Nebraska’s victory over the ninth-ranked Buffs. The Huskers, 13-0 overall, wound up as national champions.

Fast forward a few decades. Past that 1974 NFL draft. Past his two non-playing seasons in Chicago. Past his initial years with the Rams. Past the main portion of his career in Tampa Bay. Past those two games in his Rams’ return, plus the USFL.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I sat across from Greg at the lunch table in that Redlands burger joint. His hopes to launch a local business into orbit was on his mind.

His didn’t want to talk football.

Greg wanted to talk big plans.

He didn’t want to rerun his football career.

Greg wanted to attract clients.

Greg Horton II
Redlands’ Greg Horton had a nickname — “Gunns.” Photo provided by Horton’s family.

All that football background – playing against a Heisman winner, college football’s top-ranked teams, NFL Hall of Famers, All-Pros, drafted by legendary George Halas, playing for legendary coach John McKay, nearly reaching the Super Bowl with a remarkable worst-to-first team – seemed like a distant memory.

Greg had a business to organize.

“When will this story run?” he asked.

I was Sports Editor, so I had the answer.

“Soon as I write it up.”

My hope was that the article came out all right.

Part 2 – GREG HORTON WAS A SUPERIOR REDLANDS FORCE

Greg Horton had been drafted by the Chicago Bears. It was 1974. Third round, 56th pick overall. Papa Bear himself, George Halas, supervised the selection of Horton, a third-round selection out of Colorado.

By 1976, Greg was a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Papa Bear had traded him there on April 2, 1974 for the Rams’ third round (Mike Fuller) and 10th round (Mike Julius) picks in 1975.

At L.A., Greg was teammates with Joe Namath, Ron Jaworski, Pat Haden, Lawrence McCutcheon, Heisman winner John Cappelletti, blocking against guys like Jack Reynolds, Isaiah Robertson and Jack Youngblood in practice.

Playing mostly special teams, Greg eventually took over for injured right guard Dennis Harrah midway through the 1977 season.

He played 63 NFL games, starting 34. Most of those came after he got traded to the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the 1978 season.

Greg was part of football lore.

Tampa Bay coach John McKay, who coached USC to four national championships over 16 seasons, watched the Bucs start off losing their first 26 games beginning in their first season, 1976. Little by little, though, McKay started building a strong defense.

JOhn McKay
John McKay, whose career was built on great success at USC, coached Redlands’ Greg Horton in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Photo provided by USC/Wikipedia.

QB Doug Williams, who would eventually lead Washington to a Super Bowl about a decade later, took snaps for the Bucs. Side note: Tampa’s offensive coordinator in those early years was none other than Joe Gibbs, the Redskins’ head coach when Williams QB’d them to the Super Bowl.

BUILDING BUCS’ OFFENSIVE LINE

Gibbs and McKay built Tampa’s offense from scratch. Its real strength might’ve been its offensive line.

Left tackle Dave Reavis had played for Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh – drafted in 1973 by the Steelers.

Center Steve Wilson, right guard Greg Roberts and right tackle Charlie Hannah were original Bucs. Good enough to stick around for the upgrades.

McKay and Gibbs built that left side – Williams’ blind side – with Reavis and Greg, who blocked blitzing linebackers and safeties up the middle, nose guards and defensive tackles on every snap.

Williams, incidentally, had gone down just 12 times that season. Twelve sacks over 16 games! Incredible. Onetime Trojan Ricky Bell was racking up over 1,000 yards behind that stud line, too.

It had to be one of football’s greatest ironies that Tampa Bay would host the Rams for the right to play in the 1980 Super Bowl. It would be played in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, of all places.

McKay, who probably figured to be the Rams’ coach at one point due to his proximity with USC, watched the likes of George Allen and Chuck Knox coach the Rams during his Trojan years. Ray Malavasi had taken over from Knox.

Bell, of course, was the ex-Trojan playing against the pro team from his former college home town. Also for his former college coach.

newRickyBell-1
Ricky Bell, runner-up to Tony Dorsett in the 1976 Heisman Trophy race, was picked No. 1 overall in the NFL draft by Tampa Bay. He was the man that Redlands product Greg Horton blocked for when both became Buccaneer teammates in 1978 and 1979. Photo by Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Then there was Greg, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 260-pounder who grew up in Redlands – Rams’ country – before eventually getting shipped to L.A. by Chicago in 1976. He never played for the Bears. Eventually, he was traded by the Rams two games into the 1978 season, Greg found a home in Tampa.

This was a “worst to first” ride, one of pro football’s biggest turnarounds.

When Greg arrived in Tampa, the line consisted of Garry Puetz, a 12th round pick by the Jets in 1973, with 1975 Miami first rounder Darryl Carlton occupying right tackle. By 1979, Puetz and Carlton were no longer around.

Greg started out by playing left guard, eventually shifted to right guard to accommodate injuries to Hannah, plus any rebuilding taking shape under Gibbs and McKay.

Any team’s best defense is a good offense. During that era of ball control, clock-killing, run-oriented offenses is what kept the other team’s attacks on the sideline. It’s exactly what McKay had in mind with the Reavis-Horton-Wilson-Hannah-Roberts corps blocking for Williams and Bell (1,263 yards).

The Bucs were no different than Earl Campbell’s Houston Oilers. Or Walter Payton’s early days in Chicago. Line play had been huge around the likes of O.J. Simpson in Buffalo, Franco Harris in Pittsburgh, not to mention Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in Miami.

In Tampa Bay, Bell had been taken in the 1976 NFL draft ahead of Tony Dorsett, the Pittsburgh All-American selected by the Dallas Cowboys.

Defensively, onetime Oklahoma Sooner defensive end Lee Roy Selmon was named Associated Press MVP that season. Linebacker Richard Wood, another ex-Trojan that was originally drafted by the Jets, also played a key role on the Bucs’ defense.

BUCS’ PLAYOFF RUN

After a 10-6 regular season, it was Tampa Bay 24, Philadelphia 16 in the divisional playoff round – Bell bashing for 142 yards on 38 carries behind that Bucs’ line.

Suddenly, Tampa Bay, Bell, McKay, Greg, Wood & Co. had found themselves staring face to face with the Los Angeles Rams. The NFC championship was on the line.

From a 7-37 beginning to an 11-6 record heading into the NFC Championship, McKay had lifted the Bucs to pro football’s pinnacle.

Malavasi’s Rams finished 9-7, but stunned Dallas, 21-19, in the divisional round.

Their featured running back was UCLA product Wendell Tyler.

Vince Ferragamo had taken over as Rams’ QB from onetime USC shooter Pat Haden, who combined 24 interceptions with 16 TD passes.

Williams’ 24 picks and 18 TDs weren’t much better.

Each side would try and counter the other with ground games and staunch defense.

Surely, the Bucs’ defense would devour the Rams.

L.A. had a defense of its own – the Youngbloods, Reynolds, Fred Dryer, you name it.

The date was Jan. 6, 1980.

Both teams scored touchdowns.

Both were called back because of penalties.

It was a defensive slugfest.

Or an offensive bust.

The Rams’ defense stole the show, limiting the Bucs to a mere 177 total yards.

By contrast, L.A.’s Cullen Bryant ran for 106 yards. Tyler racked up 86 more. Ferragamo threw for 163 yards – no interceptions.

Williams gave way to backup Mike Rae, the pair combining for a total of 54 yards passing.

Rams’ placekicker Frank Corral hit field goals of 19, 21 and 23 yards.

Final score, Rams 9, Bucs 0.

After a dozen years of seeing the Packers, Colts, Vikings and Cowboys reach the Super Bowl, the Rams became the first NFC Western Division team to advance to the NFL’s title game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Part 3 next week.

Part 1 – GREG HORTON WAS A SUPERIOR REDLANDS FORCE

He was sitting across the table from me at lunch.

A fast-food burger joint. On Colton Ave.

In the old days, when he played for Redlands High in the 1960s, this place probably never existed.

This NFL workhorse, who blocked for some ultra-strong Redlands High Terrier teams, got recruited to play at Colorado, was drafted by the Chicago Bears, then launched a successful pro career that ended in the United States Football League after about a decade.

Greg Horton, who died in 2015 at age 65, had plenty of cherished memories on the football field. He played in some big games. Went up against high school greats. Against some collegiate All-Americans, NFL All-Pro and Hall of Fame talent. Football insight was keen, endless.

As a Terrier at Redlands High, Greg was, perhaps, one of the biggest of their long list of football studs. The coaches there were legends – Frank Serrao, Greg’s coach, Paul Womack, both having been preceded by Ralph “Buck” Weaver, perhaps considered the father of Terrier football.

At lunch that day, I knew what Greg wanted. He had invested in a business, located a couple hundred feet from where we were eating. Naturally, he wanted it to succeed. Greg needed publicity. It was some kind of workout program, if I remember correctly.

Not my job, actually. There are business owners around Redlands who would give 12 of their toes for such publicity. Greg, by virtue of his NFL notoriety, his “homegrown” status, not to mention those many times he’d sat down for one-on-one interviews, was calling in a few favors.

I was walking a fine line on this one. It would’ve been impossible to give him exactly what he wanted. I was in sports, not news, or business.

GREG HORTON
An early shot. Redlands’ Greg Horton. Photo by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He’d have preferred, I’m certain, for me to completely focus on his new enterprise – the specials, its purpose, investors, the nuts and bolts, everyone involved – as the focal point of the piece. Like I said, I wasn’t a business reporter.

Plus, I could just see plenty of other business owners that advertised in that paper. They’d be outraged by such favorable press on Horton’s new venture, insisting upon being interviewed about their own businesses. I had to be careful.

In this city, Greg had more than paid his dues. You’d think the hometown paper owed him one. Our publisher sounded against the idea. So did the advertising director. I didn’t even convene with the editor. Okay, at least I asked.

Professional standards abounded.

Greg stood at the head of the line of Redlands High football players – NFL, high-level collegiate play, NFL championship-level, connections, battered and bruised on field, taking on some of the sport’s greatest champions.

HORTON PAID HIS DUES

This guy was from Redlands.

He’d coached plenty of locals, headed up the city’s booster club, the Benchwarmers, provided an endless amount of support for almost anything the kids needed.

As an assistant line coach at the University of Redlands one year – mid-1980s – I can remember him going after a University of San Diego defender after a game. The USD kid had cheap-shotted one of the Bulldog players.

It was the kind of play Greg knew better than anyone. He knew all the lineman’s tricks – illegal high-low blocking techniques, going for an unguarded knee, hitting from behind, you name it – so when he saw that taking place in a NCAA Division 3 (non-scholarship) game, Greg took offense.

He went after the USD player, briefly, then turned to the injured Bulldog.

“Are you all right?”

Greg wasn’t exactly my biggest fan. He never turned me away for an interview, though. I just didn’t strike well with him, I think. In fact, he was highly critical when he showed up – among other parents, school officials, Terrier football players and coaches – at what appeared to be a public slap-down of current Redlands High coach Dave Perkins during the 1990 season.

While some parents were after Perkins’ job, Horton’s public tirade was directed at me. It was something like, “The guy in the newspaper” (me) “needs to remember this is about the kids.”

Greg seemed to scream those words, an emotional outburst.

Truth is, a parents’ group wanted Perkins gone. Fired. My presence at that meeting, however, curtailed any outward signs of outrage. I’m not certain if Greg was anti-Perkins and felt my presence nullified the meeting’s outcome.

In fact, I’m certain I was specifically invited there that night to keep things under wraps. No one has a desire to be quoted in the press when they’re doing something underhanded. Right?

Perkins, who had back-to-back 3-7 seasons in 1990 and 1991, held onto his job that night. My guess is that Greg was there to back Perkins. I was there simply to report.

Greg, for his part, probably never saw any of that while he wore a Terrier uniform in the 1960s. Womack, coach. No parents’ groups. Just a bunch of high school players lighting up Friday nights during the fall.

09_Billick_PreviewPreseason_news
Brian Billick, a Redlands product whose eventual coaching career landed him at the height of NFL play, settled in as a pro football broadcaster when his days as Baltimore Ravens’ coach concluded in 2007. Photo by the Baltimore Ravens.

This may be controversial, but Greg may well be Redlands’ greatest Connection to the NFL world, at least as a player. Then again, it might be Brian Billick – who came along just a couple years after Horton – the man who coached the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl.

While Billick was developing his mind toward coaching at the highest of levels, Greg goes down as a weight room product who lifted himself to the heights of high school play, tops among collegiate programs and into the world of NFL play.

Part 2 next week.

SCHACHTER: FLAGGED FOR BAD CALL BY ROZELLE

NFL head referee Norm Schachter, whose early beginnings in education and officiating took place in Redlands, is shown at halftime with Kansas City Chiefs’ coach Hank Stram at the first Super Bowl at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Note: Schachter was known for wearing jersey No. 56, so it’s unclear why he’s wearing No. 60. Unknown photo credit, most likely by Associated Press.

NORM SCHACHTER, it should be noted, was suspended along with his entire six-man crew, by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. During a crucial game between Los Angeles and Chicago on Dec. 8, 1968, Schachter’s crew denied the Rams a crucial down in a 17-16 loss to the Bears.

You never hear about stuff like that. Fifteen years later, I had a chance to ask Schachter about the play. About the call. About the suspension.

Rozelle, who played his part in Redlands during his days as the Rams’ public relations man, called the crew “competent.”

The Rams, though, had thrown three incomplete passes in the late stages of that game. A penalty flag was thrown into the mix. The down, however, was not replayed.

“The ball was turned over to Chicago,” Rozelle said in his statement, “thus depriving Los Angeles of a fourth down play to which it was entitled.”

Five seconds were remaining. Ball at L.A.’s 47. Thirty-one yards were needed for a first down.

Schachter was a class act. He came to Redlands a few times during my years at the local newspaper. Most of those visits came in the 1980s and 1990s. Seems he had some remaining “connections” there that continued for many years despite such a brief stay in Redlands during his early days.

I think guys like former student Jim Sloan, a photographer who, among others, were happy to pronounce a connection to a guy that had a bird’s eye view of pro football.

OTHER REFS FROM LOCAL AREA

There were other officials from the area, including Redlands’ John Fouch, Sr. Down the road a bit, from Rialto, was Al Jury.

Fouch, a major high school star at Santa Ana High School turned into a superstar at Santa Ana Junior College before heading off to USC, where he shared the 1949 Trojan backfield with future NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford.

JOhn Fouch, Sr
John Fouch, Sr., a Santa Ana product who moved to Redlands to raise his family, played in the same USC backfield as Frank Gifford, eventually spending 15 years as an NFL referee (photo by Santa Ana College).

Fouch wore NFL zebra stripes for 15 years. The head referee in his crew was Red Cashion, the guy with the enthusiastically signature, “first dowwwwwwn” call. Eventually, Fouch moved to Redlands.

After all those years away, Schachter still seemed impressed with Redlands despite moving from the small orange grove-covered community.

Schachter was generous to me with his time and comments.

Redlands, he said, “was a very nice little community when I taught and reffed here.”

Schachter carried around a significant sense of humor. He proved it with some of his responses.

I spent several minutes prepping for my interview with him. Was there ever a moment where you made a bad call – and knew it? (The suspension question would come later.)

“I don’t waste time second-guessing myself,” he said. “There’ll be millions who will do it for you.”

Talk on an NFL field must be pretty horrifying.

“Oh, really?” he said. “I never heard that.”

Sarcasm was a nice little exercise for Schachter, who probably heard it all.

“Listen,” he said, “when players lose it in their legs, they gain it in their mouths.”

Oh, yeah. It was Sloan who told me to ask him about the time his crew had been suspended.

Refs aren’t perfect, though they’re probably expected to be. That December 1968 game between the Rams and Bears might have been his lowest point.

“Holding call on the Rams,” he said, explaining the suspension. “Fifteen yards in those days. Spot foul, too. We didn’t replay the down. That was the issue.”

He looked at me. Anything else? It was like he was saying, “I dare you to ask me anything more about it.”

So I took the dare. “How many times have you been asked about that?”

That drew a slight chuckle. “I lost count around 20,000 …”

I hadn’t even planned this next question. “Ever think about the fact that it was Rozelle, that he used to work for the Rams, that suspended you?”

I can’t even recall Schachter’s response. Since I didn’t put it in my article, I didn’t record it for posterity.

It was only a six-man crew during that era. It wasn’t until 1978 that a side judge was added, making NFL officiating crews a seven-man unit. The afore-mentioned Jury was one of those “seventh” men hired that season.

“Pete hit us pretty hard with the suspension,” he said. “No more games for the rest of that season, including the playoffs. We were back the following season.”

Redlands: It’s where his officiating career began. Local games. There couldn’t have been many. High schools were scarce. San Bernardino and Riverside just had one campus, like Redlands. Colton. Chaffey, in Ontario. Fontana and Eisenhower, in Rialto, didn’t even have their own high schools.

CLOSE CALLS & CONFESSIONS

He’d written “Close Calls: Confessions of an NFL Referee” in the early 1980s. The guy was an author. An official of famous NFL games. Never read the book. Can only guess how it was presented.

He also wrote text books. After his on-field days concluded, he worked for the league writing referees’ exams and other data. He edited the league’s rules book.

His “Confessions” book: Stories, humorous anecdotes, nuggets about his professional career in education. After starting as a Redlands English teacher in 1941, Schachter eventually became a principal at Los Angeles High School, later surfacing as superintendent (1971-78) in the L.A. school system.

All the appropriate names were in “Confessions” – Lombardi, Starr, Butkus, Papa Bear, Shula, Madden, Paul Brown, Van Brocklin, you name it. Hired by Commissioner Bert Bell in the 1950s – $100 a game, 7-game minimum.

Pete_Rozelle_and_George_Halas
Pete Rozelle, left, who once served as a public relations specialist when the Rams trained in Redlands throughout the 1950s, shakes hands with George “Papa Bear” Halas, the longtime owner, coach and general manager of the Chicago Bears. Halas drafted Redlands’ Greg Horton in the 1974 NFL draft – third round out of Colorado. All part of a Redlands Connection. Photo by Jim Summaria

“No,” Schachter said, “none of those guys ever spent time buying me dinner and drinks.”

He retired following the 1976 Super Bowl, Pittsburgh’s 21-17 win over Dallas – Schachter’s third Super Bowl. He’d worked Green Bay’s 35-10 win over Kansas City, then Super Bowl V when Baltimore beat Dallas, 16-13, and the Steelers-Cowboys finale.

Twenty-two years in the striped shirt. Brooklyn-born, a U.S. Marine, married to Charlotte for 56 years, sired three sons, Bob, Tom and Jim. Norm Schachter studied for a doctorate at Alfred (N.Y.) University. For Schachter, the end came in San Pedro. Age 90. Died in an old folks home.

It was a long way from the famous Green Bay-Dallas “Ice Bowl” game where he was spotted wearing ear muffs in the freezing weather.

COMING – Super Bowl’s connection to Redlands.

SAN BERNARDINO KIWANIS: MADE FOR REDLANDS

A few nuggets about a Redlands Connection:

Both Redlands High School and, eventually, city rival Redlands East Valley became connected to the San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament as 100-percenters – but in different ways.

Ever since the tournament started in 1958, the Terriers have been rabid entries to a tournament that was once considered the prime time of prep basketball, perhaps, in two counties.

REV, meanwhile, joined the fray in 1997, when the school opened for the first time. Ever since, the Wildcats – their only coach, Bill Berich – have taken the floor against any and all opponents at the Kiwanis.

As for Kiwanis tournament dedication, look no further than Randy Genung. He coached the Terriers in the Kiwanis for a staggering total of 25 years, 1977 through 2001. After that, Brad Scott took over as head coach while Genung assisted through 2010. That’s 33 straight years at the Kiwanis.

Randy-Danny-Profile photo by Harr Travel
As a coach, longtime Redlands High coach Randy Genung, left, watched the Terriers in a staggering 33 times from the bench while his son, Danny, right, is a one-time San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament selection. Photo by Harr Travel.

Redlands, now under current coach Ted Berry for the past few seasons, just completed play in the 60th San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament. The Terriers reached the finals, but lost to Barstow.

Incidentally, the Terriers have played in every single Kiwanis Tournament event since the first one in 1958.

As for the Kiwanis tourney, it’s still standing amid a remarkable stretch of history.

SOME KEY NAMES FROM KIWANIS HISTORY

Greg Bunch?

Fred Lynn?

Greg Hyder?

John Masi, Scott Kay and Ty Stockham?

Those are a few of the past players who have shown up to play in San Bernardino.

While we awaited the outcome of the 60th annual San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament, we’re reminded of the spectacular past performances of those high schoolers that came looking for tournament hardware, either a team title or all-tournament recognition.

Bunch, for instance, was the 34th player selected in the 1978 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. Out of Cal State Fullerton. He was a 6-foot-6 forward who made the all-tournament team in 1973 for Pacific.

Lynn, of course, was remembered for a brilliant baseball career. The El Monte High player was a 1968 Kiwanis all-tournament selection.

Hyder’s high school career at Victor Valley, coached by prep legend Ollie Butler, eventually led him to becoming the 39th pick in the 1970 NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).

Kay, meanwhile, was tournament MVP in 1969. Years later, he coached San Bernardino High School to tournament titles with players like Bryon Russell – the Utah Jazz forward who was guarding against Michael Jordan’s game-winner in the 1997 NBA championship.

Russell, incidentally, was two-time Kiwanis tournament MVP in 1987 and 1988.

Masi, of course, turned up as UC Riverside coach during some brilliant days when the Highlanders dominated NCAA Division 2.

Stockham, the son of San Gorgonio coaching legend Doug Stockham, was another all-tournament player that also wound up leading his team to a tourney championship as a coach.

Part of the past includes Ken Hubbs, an original all-tourney selection in 1958.

Hubbs’ legacy, of course, is that he played major league baseball for the Chicago Cubs – winning 1962 National League Rookie of the Year honors – and was killed in an airplane crash shortly before spring training began in 1964.

Eventually, the Ken Hubbs Award was established. Such Kiwanis stars – San Bernardino’s Kyle Kopp and Shelton Diggs, Redlands’ Chad Roghair and Eisenhower’s Ronnie Lott, among others – won the Hubbs honors.

It’s left the Kiwanis with plenty of tradition, history and quite a continuing legacy.

NOBODY BIGGER THAN TARK

More tradition: Jerry Tarkanian, whose coaching legend started after leaving Redlands High School in 1961, brought his Terrier team into the mix at the 1960 Kiwanis. Danny Wolthers was picked on the five-player all-tourney team.

Tarkanian, of course, left Redlands for Riverside City College, departing for Pasadena City College – coaching five State titles for the Tigers and Lancers – before landing at Long Beach State (122-20 from 1968-73).

Ultimately, his travels took him to Nevada-Las Vegas (509-105 from 1974-92), leading the Runnin’ Rebels to the 1990 national championship.

Final coaching record – 784-202.

Footnote: It was during his Redlands days that Tark began his well-known history for chomping on wet towels during games.

Redlands and San Bernardino Kiwanis Tournament connections are seemingly endless.

Kim-Aiken poto by Redlands Rotary Club
Two-time San Bernardino Kiwanis all-tournament selection Kim Aiken is now playing at Eastern Washington University. Photo by Redlands Rotary Club.

Sixty Years of Redlands Tournament Players

Here is a list of the all-tournament players from Redlands High School and Redlands East Valley (all players through 2003 represented RHS; afterward the school is indicated):

  • 1958 – Tom Fox
  • 1960 – Danny Wolthers
  • 1963 – Tom McCutcheon, Jim Gardner
  • 1967 – Randy Orwig
  • 1977 – Don Smith, Pat Keogh
  • 1978 – Tom McCluskey
  • 1980 – Mark Tappan
  • 1981 – James Sakaguchi
  • 1982 – Jon Hansen
  • 1983 – Jon Hansen (MVP), Mark Smith
  • 1986 – Jared Hansen
  • 1987 – Chad Roghair
  • 1989 – Fritz Bomke
  • 1990 – Marcus Rogers
  • 1991 – Ledel Smith
  • 1992 – Eddie Lucas
  • 1993 – Mike Allen
  • 1994 – Nick Day
  • 1985 – Jon Allen, Chris Harvey
  • 1996 – Johnny Avila
  • 1997 – Eric Siess
  • 1998 – Eric Siess
  • 1999 – Danny Genung
  • 2003 – Richard Vazquez, Michael Estrada, Matt Mirau
  • RHS 2004 – Mychal Estrada
  • REV 2004 – Brandon Dowdy, Jacob Letson, Lance Evbuomwan (MVP)
  • RHS 2005 – Mike Solimon
  • REV 2005 – Lance Evbuomwan, Darnell Ferguson, Brandon Dowdy
  • RHS 2006 – Tristan Kirk, Alex Wolpe, Josh Green
  • RHS 2007 – Josh Green (MVP), Tristan Kirk, Ricky Peetz, Nate Futz
  • REV 2007 – Robert Ellis, Jamell Simmons
  • RHS 2008 – Tristan Kirk, Ricky Peetz, Matt Green
  • REV 2008 – Ryan Griggs
  • RHS 2009 – Matt Green, Hinsta Kifle
  • RHS 2010 – Ashton Robinson
  • REV 2010 – Greg Dishman, Terrell Todd, Paulin Mpawe
  • REV 2011 – Jamal Ellis
  • REV 2012 – Eli Chuha
  • RHS 2013 – Brad Motylewski, Kamren Sims
  • REV 2013 – Eli Chuha
  • RHS 2014 – Brad Motylewski
  • REV 2014 – Chris Harper (MVP), Julian Sinegal, Alex Ziska
  • RHS 2015 – Samer Yeyha, Davonte Carrier
  • REV 2015 – Kim Aiken, Brett Vansant
  • RHS 2016 – Olivier Uzabakiriho
  • REV 2016 – Kim Aiken
  • RHS 2017 – Brian Landon
  • REV 2016 – Sebastian Zerpa, Mykale Williams

Part 2 – ROYAL, REGAL AND REDLANDS CONNECTIONS

To get the full story, read Part 1 here. 

A year or so after that volleyball banquet, I wrote an article about Redlands High’s boys soccer team. At the time, the Terriers were among the most successful soccer side in Southern California. Even on their own campus, they were more significant than any other team.

It was no contest.

Back-to-back CIF championships, five trips to the CIF semifinals and a record run of 23 straight seasons of playoff appearances had left a high standard unmatched by any other program on that campus, before or since.

Every kid that made varsity soccer teams at Redlands during that era was cutting edge. Cream of the crop. Best this city had to offer. Kids cut from those teams would have made teams at other schools very strong.

That’s how strong Redlands was in those years.

LUDIKHUIZE’S FIST PUMP SIGNALS

TERRIER GREATNESS

My by-line appeared about a soccer playoff preview for their match in Orange County. Among other facts listed were the team’s top three scoring attackers. Jeannie Ludikhuize, mother of Chris Ludikhuize, read that day’s edition and called my publisher to lobby a complaint.

She was peeved that her son’s name had been left out. He was fourth in scoring. It must have been intentional, she felt. Or maybe it was that the team’s coach, Tony Murtaugh, failed to report this information. Neither of which was accurate.

Toebe Bush, our publisher, asked me to call Jeannie.

“Jeannie,” I asked her, “what grade is your son in right now?”

Chris was a senior. Time was running out on his high school career. In fact, this would be his final match. Jeannie was, apparently, not enjoying those moments as fully as she could have.

“All I know,” I told her, “is that if I had a son on a team like this, I’d take my lawn chair, plant it in some good location, watch the game and watch every move my son made – and enjoy everything. Maybe even take some pictures.

“Savor each moment,” I said.

No one was leaving Chris out intentionally. “Forget what’s written in the newspaper, or what’s not written. Just enjoy your son.”

Jeannie, in fact, did calm down and recognized that her son didn’t necessarily need media recognition. Parents want their children’s achievements recorded. You know, for their scrapbook. For the scholarship opportunities. Good press never hurts. Her son was a good player, regardless.

By the way, in Chris’ final high school match, he couldn’t have played better. He saved a remarkable scoring attack by Anaheim Esperanza High, taking a shot that whizzed past a drawn-out Redlands goalkeeper, clearing the ball just off the line, saving a sure-fire goal. In the rain. Chris shot a triumphant fist into the air in jubilation.

That fist pump, to me, signifies that Redlands has long made its mark in all sports, at every level, creating A Redlands Connection that can never be stripped away. One of Chris’ teammates, by the way, was Landon Donovan.

Redlands ended up losing that semifinals match.

Chris represents hundreds of Redlands sports products that will not be in any of these blog posts – good but not good enough. These blog posts are, in a sense, dedicated to them. Thanks to Chris’ mom, Jeannie, it’s a reflection of a splendid athlete, pushy parent, a professional writer and limited newspaper space.

REDLANDS CONNECTION ROUNDUP

There are at least three Redlands products that share a total of four Super Bowl rings.

A three-time Indianapolis 500 champion actually learned to drive in Redlands.

Soccer’s World Cup has connections to Redlands in both men’s and women’s lore.

There’s a World Series ring in there, 1984.

The man who personally thwarted Arnold Palmer’s chance to complete golf’s Grand Slam in 1970 later moved back to the area, thus connecting Redlands to the sport’s royalty.

Olympic gold medalist Misty May, a superstar at Long Beach State and eventual beach volleyball megastar, led her college to a national volleyball championship. The legendary setter graduated, replaced by Redlands’ Keri Nishimoto, who had a few notable achievements on her own athletic ledger.

v9n8-nishimoto
Redlands setter Keri Nishimoto took over for legendary Misty May at Long Beach State. Photo credit: Cara Garcia

Those are the people we’re after.

This is a bond between Redlands and the major sports world beyond. And what a world it has been! And what bonds they have built up!

Redlands has been connected to the likes of coaching and managing legends such as Lombardi, Landry, Jerry Tarkanian, Tony LaRussa, John McKay, George “Papa Bear” Halas, Abe Saperstein, Tommy Lasorda, very nearly John Wooden and Knute Rockne and, quite possibly, Connie Mack.

For instance, did John Wooden recruit Redlands’ Danny Wolthers to play at UCLA in 1961?

That’s a breathless collection in this connection.

JOHN WOODEN UCLA
Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden may have tried to recruit Redlands’ Danny Wolthers to play in Westwood in 1961. Whatever the story, Wolthers chose to play at Cal-Berkeley. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello/ALLSPORT

Redlanders were teammates of Bart Starr, Carlton Fisk, Gaylord Perry, Misty May, Joe Namath, Orel Hershiser, Kristine Lilly, Darrell Waltrip, Fernando Valenzuela, Jennie Finch, Mark Spitz, Charles Paddock, race car dynamo Jimmie Johnson, David Beckham, Cy Young Award winners, baseball Rookies of the Year, Heisman Trophy winners, World Cup heroes, No. 1 draft choices and various Hall of Famers from different sports.

Jennie_Finch_vs._China
Jennie Finch, a teammate of Redlands East Valley’s Ally Von Liechtenstein at Arizona State, is shown pitching against China in 2008. Photo by C5813

(Photo source.)

It’s a connection to sports’ very best.

Strong and historical opposition to Redlands connections has come from the likes of Bobby Jones, Amanda Beard, Ronnie Lott, Richard Petty, George Allen, Spitz, Arnold Palmer, Carl Lewis, Jack Nicklaus, plus an endless supply of baseball, basketball and football all-stars, golf and tennis legends.

In some cases, Redlanders came out on top. In many cases, they lost out to the greats.

For over a decade, Redlands caught an up-close glance of football All-Pros, NFL Hall of Fame players, MVP types, Super Bowl and NFL championships and legendary football players, coaches and executives when the Los Angeles Rams trained at the local university.

Beginning in 1985, the Redlands Bicycle Classic began a connection to a sport that led to the appearance of national and international champions, Tour de France competitors and a link to a world that continues to connect.

Redlands has been connected to Super Bowls, World Cups, World Series, Olympics, Indianapolis 500s, Kentucky Derbys, baseball division winners, NFC championship contenders, Daytona, national collegiate championships, college bowl games, NASCAR at Daytona and Talladega, major tennis and golf championships, not to mention one of the world’s greatest showtime basketball teams, the Harlem Globetrotters – and the World Series.

Bill Buster owned a five-point share in Captain Bodgit, the colt that ran a close second to Silver Charm in the 1997 Kentucky Derby.

Those are the people these blogs are about. Connections from Redlands to the outside world of sports success at the highest possible level. It doesn’t make sense that such a smallish community has become so prominent in virtually every major sport in the USA – and beyond.

It, thus, becomes A Redlands Connection.