Two football contests, one in Oakland and another in San Francisco, turned ugly recently as a result of insults exchanged that turned into fighting and other mayhem. And if you think this is a phenomenon that is exclusive to urban schools, think again. A couple of weeks ago in Petaluma...fully an hour and a half after yours truly had exited the parking lot after Casa Grande defeated Windsor...a stabbing occurred.
In all of these incidents, the problems were outside the lines and in a couple of the cases outside the gates of the stadium. In one incident in San Francisco involving Galileo and my alma mater, Washington, trouble had been brewing for several weeks. Insults and trash talking finally escalated to parents and other non-students confronting players because some people cannot lose gracefully.
This is the point my friends: Trash talking may seem OK at the time you dish it out, but just remember...somehow, somewhere, someday...someone will want to get even. I may be getting a little old (see the unique story following), but I long for the day when Willie Mays would get knocked down or brushed back two or three times in an at-bat against Drysdale or Gibson, then get up and take care of business by hitting the ball instead of his opponent. More recently, Ronnie Lott never stood over anyone and gloated or celebrated after a big hit. He just got a few Super Bowl rings.
Now to Negoesco
At the corner of Turk and Shrader streets in San Francisco is a university sports field named after a man whose life is partially intertwined with your humble servant. Negoesco Field, named after legendary soccer coach and player Steve Negoesco, is home to the University of San Francisco Dons soccer team...a team storied in collegiate soccer history because of this Rumanian-American. During his years at USF, Negoesco won an NCAA championship as a player in 1950 and five NCAA men's soccer titles during his reign as coach during the 1960s and 1970s. His teams won a record 544 games before he retired over 10 years ago.
Back in 1960, my family had bought a little house at 100 Joost Street in the Glen Park area of San Francisco. When the Negoescos moved in across the street, my dad wanted to meet this man who shared our Rumanian ancestry. I even became the playmate of Steve's son and daughter. So when I heard that this 78 year old giant of the soccer world had come out of retirement to coach the squad at Marin Catholic High of Kentfield, I just had to go to a game and see him in action.
Tuesday at San Marin in Novato, Negoesco's fledgling squad took a big step towards challenging Branson for the Marin County League title with a 2-nil victory over the Mustangs.
Known as a superb defensive specialist, I could not have picked a better day to talk to my old acquaintance as he came to the sideline beaming with pride over his young squad's shutout performance. "I remember you...you're the little guy," (said a laughing Negoesco as we reminisced about life, family and the passing of time. "If I wasn't coaching I'd be out here watching the games...soccer is my life...I just want to be part of these young men's lives...teaching them." He also agreed with me on another point...and the reason we both give something back to high school sports. "I prefer high school football, soccer and baseball to the big show. It's exciting and unpredictable because you never know what the kids will do."
I know one thing. If the players at Marin Catholic do what this man instructs them to do on the field, they will maximize their potential and talent on the soccer field...and in life. I sure hope Steve stays healthy and able to continue molding young people's lives.
Super Seven Rankings
(with abbreviated summaries)
1) Eureka (6-0) -- The Loggers rolled another opponent. Arcata came into the game undefeated and left demolished. Maurice "Mo" Purify only had five catches for 96 yards but four of them went for touchdowns. For good measure, he added a fifth TD on an interception to lead Eureka to a 67-0 victory in the far north. This week is the showdown with Fortuna. I may be wrong, but I just can't see how anyone can shut down Eureka. They just have too much talent.
2) Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa (6-0) -- It was all Cardinals as Newman improved to 6-0 (3-0 North Bay League) with an impressive 41-12 romp against Ukiah at home in Santa Rosa. Matt Fitts was very impressive again this week, completing 15 of 23 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns and accounting for another two scores running from his quarterback position. With Analy's loss to Sonoma Friday night, it looks like the Cardinals may be the only serious challenger to Eureka for the 3A Redwood Empire title.
3) Marin Catholic, Kentfield (5-1) -- The Wildcats continue to move up in the state Division IV rankings as well. This past week they drubbed a winless Drake, 35-7.
4) Casa Grande, Petaluma (5-1) -- The Gauchos won their fifth straight in a 21-0 shutout on the road in Healdsburg. Sophomore Joe Trombetta came up big again with 215 yards on 25 carries with one TD.
5T) Novato (4-2) -- Smarting from a loss to a Division I (4A in North Coast Section) Vintage of Napa team they were leading at halftime last week, the Novato Hornets put a real sting into the Tamalpais Red Tailed Hawks, intercepting Tams first four passes and scoring five times in the first quarter en route to a 44-6 win on the road at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais in Mill Valley. The Hornets (4-2, 3-1 Marin County League) defense accounted for two of the scores on interceptions to go with Paul Knell's 115 yards on 15 carries, including a 1-yard plunge for a score in that monstrous first quarter. Tamalpais falls to 2-4 (1-4 Marin County League).
5T) Montgomery, Santa Rosa (4-1-1) -- The Vikings took a 21-0 lead, then gave up 28 straight points to a strong Maria Carrillo team before rallying to prevail 35-28.
5T) Analy, Sebastopol (5-1) -- A flat game in a 16-6 loss to a Sonoma squad that had scored three total points in the previous three weeks does not bode well for the Tigers at this point of the season. We will give them the benefit of the doubt and wait to see how they rebound against a tough Windsor squad.
On The Bubble
8) Ferndale (6-0)
9) Fortuna (4-2)
10) Piner, Santa Rosa (5-1)
11) Redwood, Larkspur (4-2)
12) Justin-Siena, Napa (5-1)
Editor's Note: Harold Abend is in his first year as a Cal-Hi Sports correspondent from the Redwood Empire. Previously, he has been the correspondent from the San Diego Section. Abend also has served as a media relations consultant for the CIF state office for many years.