Oceanside football won't be the same without Meyer.

You might think Herb Meyer grew up with Oceanside football. But trace the milestones of city's gridiron growth, and Meyer's name is the consistent marker. Maybe it's more accurate to say Oceanside football grew up with the 68-year-old coach.

Oceanside was a quiet beach town of 10,000 people in 1949 when Meyer arrived as a freshman at what was then called Oceanside-Carlsbad High School . He would later play quarterback as a senior in a backfield with the great C.R. Roberts, coach 17 seasons at his alma mater and another 28 at El Camino en route to setting a state record for career wins. His total stands at 338 midway through what is his 45th and final season before fading into retirement.

Meyer's last appearance at Oceanside 's Simcox Field -- El Camino's 34-13 loss to the Pirates last week in the Avocado League opener -- may not have been a fitting ending, but he hardly needed another milestone victory.

Meyer's football timeline began alongside Oceanside 's original Man Among Boys, Roberts. Meyer was a senior quarterback in 1952 when C.R. -- who went on to play at USC and as the city's first NFL player with the San Francisco 49ers -- was a junior running back who steamrolled opponents.

"C.R. weighed 196 pounds and only one kid on our team weighed over 200 pounds," Meyer said. "He was one heck of a back. He could run the 100 (yards) in 10 flat. I remember one time he swung down his arm to knock away a tackler and he broke the guy's forearm. Another time he stiff-armed a guy, lifting him in the air and out of bounds. They took the kid to the hospital with a crushed sternum."

When Meyer returned home from Cal Poly Pomona to teach and coach at Oceanside, he found himself named the Pirates' head coach at age 23. Oceanside football soon grew out of its reputation as a sleepy beach community in North County.

"When we beat St. Augustine in about 1961, I got three late-night phone calls from the San Diego Union because they couldn't believe the score was right," Meyer said. "That was a time when most of the coaches in the city (San Diego) were San Diego State graduates. They said back then the coaches who couldn't get a job in the city coached in the county. We started to breakdown stereotypes."

As Oceanside's population grew, the Pirates and other North County schools began to beat city teams in the playoffs, too. Meyer's Pirates won the CIF-San Diego Section championship in 1975, a time when the section's large schools all played in one division. When Meyer moved across town the next season to open El Camino, his Wildcats won their first CIF title.

"People said to enjoy the title in 1975 because it wouldn't happen again after the schools split," Meyer said. "It was very satisfying when we kept winning. I said at the time the only change would be that now people would have to deal with Oceanside twice."

Although Oceanside High's program saw hard times after Meyer left, the Pirates have rebounded under coach John Carroll. The Pirates resumed their role as a county power the last 14 years under Carroll with CIF Division II titles.

But it's not just the CIF titles that define Oceanside football in Meyer's timeline. The city became a winter stop for the college recruiters from the best programs in the nation. Some, such as Oceanside's Willie Buchanon and Junior Seau and El Camino's Dokie Williams and Bryant Westbrook, went on to the NFL.

"Dokie and Bryant were tremendous all-around athletes who were three-year varsity (football) players and three-sport athletes," Meyer said. "Seau was the same as C.R., a Man Among Boys, although he played against more athletes his size than C.R. did."

But more than any of the players or teams, Oceanside football is identified by Herb Meyer's career. Oceanside football grew up under the old coach.


Valley Center quarterback Kevin Craft, whom Meyer calls the best quarterback in the San Diego Section, is expected to miss three to four weeks after he suffered a fractured knuckle on his throwing hand in last week's win over San Pasqual.

Meyer is the Bill Parcells of San Diego football -- meaning he doesn't lightly toss around praise -- but he's not turning soft his final year of coaching by singling out the son of San Diego State coach Tom Craft. The entire Wildcats' staff was impressed by Kevin's performance against them.

Said El Camino assistant Joe Meyer, who played quarterback for his father and at Sonoma State : "You know how they say a quarterback threw a rope. Well, on this one play against us, Craft threw a RO-O-OPE. He has a great arm."


Steele Canyon (3-3, 0-1) at Monte Vista (5-1, 1-0) -- A Spring Valley rivalry can start to take shape between Monte Vista and the new kid on the block, but Steele Canyon isn't ready to compete with the established program built by Ed Carberry, Monte Vista's veteran coach.

Chula Vista (6-0, 1-0) at Eastlake (4-2, 1-0) -- Eastlake was the preseason favorite in the Mesa League, but unbeaten Chula Vista has assumed that role with an early-season rout of defending Division I champion Carlsbad.

Carlsbad (3-3, 0-1) at Oceanside (5-1, 1-0) -- Oceanside returned to the Avocado League last week after three seasons of exile in the Valley League with a rout of El Camino. Carlsbad should be more physical than El Camino proved last week, but the Pirates have too much firepower. They've balanced their passing game with the emergence of running back Nick Kok, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior.

Vista (3-3, 1-0) at Torrey Pines (6-0, 1-0) -- All Torrey Pines does is win and another one is forecast here. Vista's record is deceiving, but somebody has to knock off the Falcons before it's time to pick against a team coached by Ed Burke.

Mira Mesa (4-2, 1-0) at Morse (1-4, 1-0) -- Mike Moran broke into the win column for the first time since following in the footsteps of retired coach John Shacklett. But win number two won't come this week.

Editor's Note: Tom Shanahan is the San Diego Section correspondent for Cal-Hi Sports. He wrote and covered San Diego high school sports and San Diego sports for 18 years for the San Diego Union-Tribune. We're honored to have his byline on our site and San Diego athletes and coaches should be honored that Tom still wants to continue to write about them in some capacity as he pursues other interests in addition to journalism.

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