How do I remember the Tars of '94?
It's been 10 years since that remarkable campaign of 14 victories,
no defeats, no ties, no arguments. No matter how good anyone who
comes down the lane, nobody's going to do any better.
As a sportswriter, it was my annual routine over 20-plus seasons
to make the rounds with the photographers as we conducted "photo
day," getting our base material ready for the season. And I always
looked forward to Irvine and 16th, where the Newport Harbor Sailors
awaited. As a sports editor since 1988, the routine continued for a
time, and 1994 was no different.
They were always ready, never a glitch, and the proceeding was as
smooth as silk.
How do I remember?
Danny Pulido was a sophomore and standing 6-foot-4, weighing 190,
appeared as if a Greek god.
What an emergence, considering the Sailors' attack no longer
included the graduated Wade Tift and a host of others that resulted
in just three returning offensive starters.
I had already spoken with the coach, Jeff Brinkley, to put
together my list of special subjects and he had offered various
inside information to assist me in putting the list together.
Defensively, he told me, the real key was a 5-foot-9 noseguard
named Bill Johns, a second-team all-league returner.
The appraisal was glowing and it had stuck in my mind as the
So you can imagine my thoughts as this polite, happy and pleasant
kid with an angelic face came forth, representing Brinkley's
so-called vaunted defense.
It's the only moment in an association nearing 20 years that I
found myself believing Brinkley was either pulling off an unheard-of
prank, or was flat deceiving me. This nice kid can't possibly be the
key to Harbor's defense, I told myself.
A chess player? The best trumpet player in the band? A class
president? A 4.0 student? I could buy any of that, and more. But
Harbor's noseguard? Sure, and I'll be signing my contract with the
Rams next week.
Little did I know I had been looking at a reincarnation of Audie
As time went along, nobody made the same mistake as this virtual
assassin on the field would flatten ballcarriers, then pat them on