Garden Grove Journal
As most local high school football teams begin their season this week, it marks almost 90 years that prep players have been on the gridiron in the Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area.
Thousands of boys – and a few girls – have put on the pads and crashed into each other in that near century for the glory of good old Local High. Over that time, the sport has evolved from an afternoon distraction from the school day into a Friday night illuminated extravaganza.
From a time when there were only a half-dozen high schools in all of Orange County to today’s many dozens of teams, from the leather helmet era to the nationally-televised present, prep football in this area has evolved along with all the other changes that have taken place in that time.
So, in the spirit of taking stock, the Journal has decided to make a highly subjective list of both the top local prep teams, and the top prep games played involving area teams. For the purposes of these lists, we are including only public high schools serving the Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area.
This includes the obvious ones – schools in the Garden Grove public school system and Westminster High – as well as Orange High (serving the eastern sliver of Garden Grove, east of Haster Street) as well as Western and Magnolia high schools, which are located in Anaheim but which serve Stanton.
We’ve reviewed the record books, searched memories and taken your advice. Here’s our lists. Let the arguments begin!
The Best Football Teams
1. Garden Grove High 2010: The oldest high school in Garden Grove (founded in 1921) took a long time to get its first CIF football title, and it did so in spectacular fashion, going 13-1 and beating Beckman High 31-30 in the Southern Division title game. Unforgettable moments(s): Josh Webb’s somersaults into the end zone for the title.
2. Bolsa Grande High 1986: The Matadors won the Garden Grove League’s first CIF crown, taking the Central Conference title with a 24-7 win over Valencia. Damon Fisher starred for the Mats, who would also be strong in 1987, losing narrowly in the quarterfinals.
3. Garden Grove High 2009: Dedicating itself to the memory of Kevin Telles, a player who collapsed and died of a hidden heart ailment in the season opener, this team made its way to the CIF Southern finals and led La Mirada 21-7 before losing quarterback Sean Young to an injury. The Matadores prevailed 49-27.
4. Pacifica High 2002: Since the 1970s, the Mariners have consistently had the top football program in the area. They’ve made it to the CIF finals five times and never won. This team lost narrowly 27-21 to La Habra in the Division finals. It was Coach Bill Craven’s last shot at a CIF crown, .He would retire the next year with 212 victories and 13 league championships in the Garden Grove and Empire Leagues
5. Rancho Alamitos 1992: The Vaqs made it to the CIF finals two years running, but came closest in this Division VII final, losing 14-13 to Sunny Hills. Jeff Byrd starred for the Vaqueros.
The Best Football Games
1. Garden Grove vs. Rancho Alamitos, 1991. The oldest rivalry in the area (now led by the Argonauts 27-25-2) has featured many exciting games. Jim Sebreros starred for the Argos in this packed-house, televised game that saw Grove win 17-15 and finish with the first 10-0 record in school history.
2. Bolsa Grande vs. Saddleback, 1987. The defending CIF champs met the Roadrunners in the Central Conference quarterfinals and lost a barnburner, 36-33. The winner went on to the CIF finals.
3. Pacifica vs. Cypress, 2007.In a batte for the CIF Southern Division title. the Empire League rivals played to a 36-30 barnburner. Pacifica came within inches of getting the win. On the final play of the game, QB Raymond Huizar scrambled around, then sprinted for the end zone, making a desperate dive that the officals ruled was short.
4. Garden Grove vs. Beckman, 2011. Josh Webb’s last-second heroics led the Argonauts to their first-ever CIF championship in this 31-30 Southern Division final over the Patriots.
5. Westminster vs. Anaheim, 1968.
The Lions won their first Sunset League title with 14-2 victory over CIF powerhouse Anaheim. Darryl Berg starred for the Lions.