Indeed, during Freeman's reign, you were lucky if you completed the
"We stayed (in high school) as long as we could, then you turned 18
and said goodbye," Freeman said. "It was a war. You did what you had to
do. There was never any doubt in anybody's mind about (fighting). It was
just off you went."
Freeman, a three-year varsity letterman, was one of only two
sophomores on Newport Harbor High's 1942 Sunset League championship team
featuring Hal Sheflin, then became a two-year, two-way starter with
All-CIF Southern Section credentials at tackle.
But Freeman, who discovered the then-novel concept of the benefits of
weightlifting in high school, missed Newport Harbor's final game in 1944,
his senior year, because the U.S. Navy owned him as soon as he turned 18
on Oct. 4 of that autumn.
Prior to a season-ending loss against Fullerton, 12-6, Freeman's
interior strength helped the Tars go 4-1-1 under Coach Les Miller. Only a
controversial 7-6 loss to powerful Santa Ana and heartbreaking 7-7 finish
against Orange kept the Sailors' record from being perfect.
After Newport missed a PAT against Santa Ana, Harbor fans vehemently
protested an official's call of wide right while Miller's players argued
to no avail. "There was just about a riot," Freeman said.
But perhaps Freeman's most memorable day came in his final game, the
tie against Orange in a mudslinging downpour at Newport Harbor, with navy
papers at home requiring him to report the next day to active duty.
As a junior in '43, Freeman merited All-Sunset League honors, after
coming off the bench in '42, when Coach Wendell Pickens' final Harbor
squad played in the CIF finals, losing to Bonita and halfback Glenn
Davis, the '46 Heisman Trophy winner at Army.
"John Shafer (Harbor's other sophomore on the legendary '42 team) was
the starting center. I was a bench-warming guard and tackle," said
Freeman, who, as a senior, made first-team All-Sunset League and
second-team All-CIF by the Times and the Helms Foundation.
Freeman laughs now when he relives his final game. His team was down,
7-0, against Orange and quarterback Ralph Freitag called Freeman's number