San Pasqual- The Building of a Dynasty
Coaches are a lot like parents-- you love all your kids equally and players are no different. As I look back through articles, what a warm feeling seeing those young men, San Pasqual Warrior football players, who bought into discipline and winning.
We have opened our blog of ‘player profiles’ with some of the players from the undefeated ’77 state championship team and will continue to introduce them as weeks go on.
Now it is time to begin introducing those players who made ’77 possible—those who looked decades of loosing squarely in the face and choose discipline, teamwork, and winning over the ever present specter of loosing.
Looking at pictures of the 1971 team of 21 players who started the season and who ultimately ended up being 13 players, left me with that same deep respect I have always had for that group of young men. Then to compare the picture of the 1972 team of 40 plus players, told the story of acceptance of a program and the excitement for winning that was beginning to grow at San Pasqual.
One of the 13 players of 1971 was a freshman named Faron Owl; and you can’t say Faron without his sidekick Damon Polk. With junior and senior leadership almost non-existent, these two freshmen stepped up and played a full year against varsity competition, much older than they were. These two were the beginning of the words, ‘Warrior Pride,’ they just wouldn’t quit or give in.
Faron and Damon played multiple positions as freshmen, which only added to their ‘football knowledge’ and their ability to be leaders for the next three years; a nucleus was born, and we all, in the ‘Decade of Dominance,’ owe these two a great deal of respect and thanks. The characters of these two young men was exemplified in their senior year when they came to a crossroads in their young lives—leave the team or face hell after practice for a week for a violation of team rules. They chose the second option and led us to another AIAA State Championship. Of even equal or more importance, Faron and Damon took that second option and became the first Native American players from San Pasqual to graduate from college—both in education today.
Faron was also an excellent baseball player and earned a baseball scholarship to Redland University . . . he coaches San Pasqual baseball today and assisted in the football program.
Faron and Damon, I think I speak for all of us from the ‘Decade of Dominance’ when I say thank you for being, from day one, the strong leadership and role models needed to begin turning San Pasqual football from disgruntled and undisciplined losers to excited and proud Warriors….on and off the field.
Surrounded by great athletes and abilities a name surfaced that tells the diversity of the San Pasqual athletic program for 10 years. An all-league player who accounted for many points was Larry Leamons, a gifted wide receiver. Larry’s twin brother was a major contributor as well for the football program. The one thing that sticks out about Larry was his overall athletic ability. As a member of both the basketball team and the baseball team, Larry was voted the San Pasqual Athlete of the Year at the awards banquet his senior year—a testament to his overall skills.
Gary, as quarterback, threw the touchdown to his brother, Larry, as San Pasqual won its first game under Coach Mundell and Coach Spitsen. Larry had 193 yards in receptions that night!
Larry and Gary Leamons
There are not many high school fullbacks you could call lovable, but Jack Bouts was different—just ask coach Spitsen, or “Otto”, as Jack would call him. Jack was a bruiser and yet always kept the team loose. I really don’t think Jack always gave himself enough credit for how good he was, but his ‘yardage gained’ numbers in every game should have reinforced that he was a major contributor to the San Pasqual Warriors turn-around.
Jack was, and is, a winner. Jack scored the only touchdown in San Pasqual’s first state title ever and had over 80 yards rushing against Orme Ranch. As one can clearly see, from the attached picture, Jack was very adept at avoiding tacklers, as well as being able to run over them. San Pasqual’s 8 – 6 victory over Orme Ranch for the AIAA State Championship was a classic that year and so was Jack Bouts.
A few times in a coach’s career, two players came together that compliment each other and make those around them better. Much like Faron Owl and Damen Polk, Robert Espino and Dick Cannon were two such players. The only two players I ever coached who made All-American in high school football. Both players led in their respective areas, Dick in the line and Robert in the backfield and the only players at San Pasqual to have their jersey retired, #9 and big #00. There were many highlights to their football careers obviously, but the personality characteristics that always stood out to me, besides their leadership, was the quiet way they listened, learned, and helped those younger players coming up behind them. Trite but true, there is no “I” in team and they displayed that wonderful combination of teamwork and lack of ego. As their time at San Pasqual seemed intertwined, so was the end for each—both have passed away, but for this coach, they will never be forgotten for what they accomplished and helped us all to accomplish.
One experience I would like to share, that speaks volumes about Robert’s character and quiet leadership, was his answer to a drug problem that was pretty rampant on campus when he played. Robert asked Coach Spitsen and I if we would meet with him in the mornings before school (7:00 am) so people on campus with drugs would leave him alone. It didn’t take long for people to know his stand and that two coaches were watching and supporting him; quiet and unassuming character always on display.
RIP Robert and Dick—from the rest of the Forgotten Warriors.
Robert Espino and Dick Cannon