The day was November 3, 1967. Just a day like any other day? Maybe, maybe not. It was a Friday, and excitement and anticipation had been mounting, especially for those who would be participating in or attending a special event planned for that night. For many who were there that November night at Escondido High School’s Memorial Field, the memories linger.
It was the inaugural football game between the vaunted Escondido Cougars and the Orange Glen Patriots, cross- town “cousins.” Epic? Titanic? Is that over the top in trying to describe the feeling created by a mere high school football game? Maybe we’ll just settle for calling it THE GAME!.
At the Daily Times-Advocate, which devoted two pages of stories and photographs to the game the next day, we assigned four people to cover the game: sports editor Dick Brocious for the main story; city editor George Cordry to do a “sidebar” about the Cougars, being with the team before and after in the locker room; I was to be with the Patriots (with them on the bus to and from the stadium); and photographer Bob Scales.
The T-A story the next day estimated that 11,000 fans swarmed into Memorial Field to watch Orange Glen edge Escondido, 14-7, in the last two minutes of play. 11,000! The most people ever to see a football game here — then or since then. Was that 11,000 figure an exaggeration? Perhaps. I don’t really know. I was there that night. The stands on both sides of the field were jammed. People were standing four and five deep around the perimeter of the field, around which a rope had been installed to keep the crowd off their field.
Maybe the count was closer to 6,000 or 7,000; maybe 8,000. But we’ll never know, except for one night in Escondido at the local football field, there was one heckofva crowd that began arriving at 5 o’clock for a game scheduled to start at 8 o’clock. The stands were about half full by 5:15.
The T-A story on Saturday said that at 5:45 pm, because of traffic congestion on North Broadway (cars slowly inching their way into stadium parking), it took 40 minutes to travel the one mile from Washington and Broadway to the field just north of Broadway and Sheridan. The Orange Glen team bus had left Orange Glen about 7:15; and because of the heavy traffic on North Broadway, went out US Highway 395 (Centre City Parkway) to Iris Lane and came into the stadium from the north.
Patriot coach Dick Disney, who had been Orange Glen’s head football coach and athletic director since the school’s inception in 1961, had been eagerly anticipating for those seven years this first ever meeting against Escondido and its venerable head coach Chick Embrey. The Cougars had a stellar running back in Louie Ruiz, who already had rushed for 875 yards in six games, averaging 145 yards a game! But the Patriots had their own shining lights in quarterback Paul Moyneur and running back Rory Reeves. And Orange Glen came into the game with an undefeated 6-0 mark.
By the end, Ruiz got his more than 100 yards (122 in 14 carries); but 106 of them came in the first half. It was really a defensive game, as O.G. shut down the Cougars in the second half, holding them to minus yardage as a team. The Cougars led half, holding them to minus yardage as a team. The Cougars led at half time in a two-yard run by Tony Sepich. Alan Dannenberg kicked the extra point.
An interception by lineman Dave Lawson of a Cougar quarterback bob McKee pass set up Orange Glen’s tying touchdown, allowing Reeves a few plays later to rush five yards for the score; Lawson kicked the extra point and the Patriots were tied at 707. Moyneur, after runs of his own for 14 and 6 yards and a 16-yard pass to Mickey Ferrick and rushes of five and one yards by Reeves, Moyneur scored from the one and Lawson kicked the extra point to seal the Patriots’ seventh win of the season.
Danny Gabbard was a standout in defeat for the Cougars, intercepting a Moyneur pass in the end zone, preventing an Orange Glen touchdown, and catching two passes on offense.
Among the other Orange Glen players that night were Dick Huff, Doug Blake, Jerry Ferrara, Jerry Fenton, Jon Berquist, Dan Leger, Darrell Waters, Jim Moyer and Hank Armstrong. Paul Turner and Tom Bice were Disney’s assistant coaches.
The intense rivalry that game started has long since waned. Neither school today considers the other the No. 1 rival. Both Orange Glen and Escondido now consider the San Pasqual Golden Eagles as their main rivals.
All of those boys who played that game all those years ago are in their mid-60s today, and next year — 2017 — will be the 50th anniversary of that first meeting between the two district high schools. But never again is there likely to be an Escondido high school football game to generate the excitement that game did.
You would have to have been there to actually know what I have attempted to describe. For Orange Glen High School that year of 1967, that game was the impetus that culminated in the San Diego County CIF championship and an 11-0 season.
Ron Kenny was a reporter and editor with the former Daily Time-Advocate from 1952 to 1979. He was a copy editor on the editorial pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune from 1985 to 1997.