LONG LIVE THE BRICK

What does the state's best high school football player from the 1910s have to do with this week's CIF state basketball championships? Amazingly, on two different storylines, the legendary name of Harold "Brick" Muller surfaces. See what other interesting facts and trivia we've uncovered about certain teams in this week's CIF state basketball championships.

Who's Harold "Brick" Muller? You could say he was the closest thing California had to Jim Thorpe in the early part of the century. He was outstanding in baseball, football and track and field. At the University of California, Muller is so highly regarded that an entire room in the athletic department is dedicated to his accomplishments.

Muller was a two-time All-American at end for the Golden Bears in football and led them to national championships in 1920, 1921 and 1922. The team's record in those years was 26-0-1. He also followed up being a star at the Rose Bowl with winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games in 1920 in the high jump. College football writers later voted him as being the most outstanding player in the nation for the first quarter of the century.

Here's where Muller comes in for this weekend's state basketball championships. As a senior in 1919, he helped lead Oakland Tech to the CIF state baseball title. Those early CIF state baseball championships were only held for five years, from 1918 to 1922, and Tech won the second one, with a 2-1 win over Fullerton. It is the only CIF state championship in the school's long history, which of course could be added to on Saturday if the Bulldogs upset Westchester of Los Angeles in the Div. I title game at ARCO Arena.

But Muller didn't start out at Oakland Tech. As a 15-year-old, he went to San Diego High and in 1918 he was part of a CIF state baseball championship team there. That's two state championships at two different schools in back-to-back years. By the way, Muller also was the CIF state champion at the 1918 track finals in the high jump in San Diego High colors. Then in 1919, at Oakland Tech, he took home top honors at the state meet in the high jump and long jump.

This weekend, Darius Sanders of Compton Centennial will try to duplicate Muller's baseball accomplishment of more than 80 years ago. Sanders played last year on the Div. II state championship team at Dominguez. Research is unclear if there has been any other boys basketball player who's been on two different state championship teams, but it looks like Sanders could be the first. Sanders would not be the first, however, among all California athletes. That honor, as well as a bunch of other firsts, will always belong to the one and only Harold "Brick" Muller.

More trivial facts associated with this weekend's state basketball championships:

•Oakland Tech is the oldest school among the boys and girls teams participating, with a founding date of around 1908. The school opened as Oakland Poly and became Oakland Tech in 1915. The school also has been kicked out, or dropped out, of the CIF in its past. After the 1918-19 school year, Oakland schools dropped out of the old Alameda County Athletic League and formed what has now become the Oakland Athletic League. That move also resulted in the Oakland schools dropping out, or being kicked out, of the CIF. It wasn't until after World War II when the Oakland schools were back in the CIF.

•Oakland Tech is a school of many notable alumni, including legendary actor Clint Eastwood (who played junior varsity football there), future Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, NFL quarterback John Brodie and the Pointer Sisters singing group.

•On the opposite end of Oakland Tech is M.L. King of Riverside. The school opened in the fall of 1999 and this year's seniors will be the first graduating class. And it's no surprise the Wolves are starting out strong in athletics. The principal is Ray Plutko, former commissioner of the CIF Southern Section.

•For the first time since 1988, there are no Orange County schools who are in any of the title games. The final two Orange County schools, the Mater Dei boys and Troy of Fullerton girls, were eliminated last weekend.

•For the second straight year, no public schools will be in any of the boys or girls title games in Div. IV or Div. V. Tamalpais of Mill Valley was the last public school to win a title in either division with a boys Div. IV crown in 2000. The last public school to win a girls title in either division was Modoc of Alturas for Div. V in 1998.

•The public-private issue would have been much more pronounced had Mater Dei's boys not lost to King, had Mitty's girls not lost to Kennedy and had De La Salle's boys not lost to Oakland Tech. Still, there are only eight public schools in this weekend's finals compared to 12 private schools. Being private may have advantages, but the large number of private schools also can be attributed to teams going up against intense competition throughout the season. The St. Francis boys, Riordan boys, Valley Christian boys, Bishop Montgomery girls and St. Bernard girls are members of what you can certainly call very strong leagues.


Golden State Preps Top Stories