Tuesday, February 20, 2007

For every Anthony Munoz there is a Mike Newman

Mojack tells the tale of a Chaffey High School player who didn't make the Hall of Fame; heck, he didn't even play college bowl. Excerpts from the post.

This is a football post. It is relevant to the Herd and Trojan fans for just as Ryan Powdrell's possible career ending injury shook a little reality into the game we all have passion for, I remembered a career ending injury I saw once, and it made me think of what could've been, not for me, of course, but for the player, Mike Newman, quarterback of Chaffey High....

In 1978, I was a freshman at Chaffey High School in Ontario, California. Anthony Munoz had recently graduated from Chaffey, in 1976 I think, and had started his career at the University of Southern California. Chaffey played some good football back then, in the Citrus Belt League with Fontana and Eisenhower, Ronnie Lott's alma mater, i.e., so the quality of high school ball was high. And 1978 was another magical year of Chaffey football, led by quarterback Mike Newman and his acrobatic receiver Scott Bennett....

[T]hey were the leaders of a team that was winning the Citrus Belt League (or coming in 2nd) in front of a sold-out Graber Field. That Chaffey team was highly ranked as it started CIF playoffs, the Division 1 of CIF playoffs, and people were talking that this might be the year they actually won CIF. The first playoff game was a blowout at Graber field, against Edison or Loyola, some consistent Division 1 Southern California high school powerhouse that we've all heard of....

And the 2nd game of CIF started off in that fashion....Servite couldn't stop Newman and Bennett, and Chaffey just overpowered them. There were 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter when Chaffey scored again....Chaffey lined up to kick the extra point....But as Newman called the signals, the team never came back to line up in the standard extra point formation, they stayed spread for the trick play. The ball was hiked. Newman stood up and started scrambling for the two points. The defense surged. Newman ran for the flag. A Servite man dove at Newman, cutting his legs out, and the play was dead. No extra point.

Except Newman rolled around on the field, writhing in pain....The game ended, Chaffey won, and later that weekend or on Monday, we found out that Mike Newman's knee was damaged extensively, and he needed major knee surgery.

Days or weeks later we found out that Newman's injuries were so great, he would need more surgeries and never play football again.

All for a 2 point conversion as his team held tightly to a 30 point lead with 2 minutes left....

Scott Bennett decided he wanted to play guitar instead of football so he didn't accept any scholarship offers. And Mike Newman didn't do anything, he was angry and bitter, he wanted to still be the hero, still out there calling plays and throwing that ball a long ways down the field. But, that wasn't going to be his destiny.


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