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The 1978 Championship Game Against Arcadia

The Championship Game in 1978 against Arcadia at Compton High School was a once in a lifetime event. It was a rematch from the year before when Arcadia squeezed out a victory on the last play of the game with a 47-yard field goal that sliced just inside the left goal post. Everyone had held their breath on that last play, and now both sides were looking forward to the rematch.

Both teams were extremely well coached, and we knew each other’s playbook inside and out. The game quickly became a defensive struggle with a great deal of hard hitting from both sides. Arcadia’s defense was continually blitzing and running twisting stunts with their huge defensive lineman, applying quick pressure to our offense, hoping to disrupt our rhythm and tempo. We were doing the same thing to their offense.

There were a couple of plays that made all the difference in the game. Danny Greene (star receiver for Compton High School and the University of Washington, drafted in the 2nd round by the Seattle Seahawks) recounts one of those game-changing plays as follows:

About 1:57 before halftime, the ball set in the middle of the field at the Arcadia 38-yard line. While we stood in the huddle, Ricky Turner called the play, “I left, fake 38-speed option X post—ready … break.”

We broke the huddle, I was split on the left, and Curtis Gridiron was split out on the right. Ricky took the snap, started running to the right side of the line of scrimmage, then he pulled back 2 steps and heaved a perfect spiral to Curtis for the TD! While the play was developing, my defender ran towards the other side of the field abandoning me. At that same moment, I spotted a referee in the middle of the field throwing a yellow flag toward the line of scrimmage indicating a “holding” call against one of our lineman.

I proceeded to the end zone to celebrate with Curtis catching his first Touchdown reception of the year and informing him that the play would be called back because of holding. He responded, “Shit!”

I jogged back to the huddle as the referee stepped off the 10-yard penalty against us. As I crossed the line of scrimmage, I peeked to our sideline looking at Ted William (the Head coach) signaling the play to Ricky. But Ricky was resisting, pointing at his chest yelling at Ted, “I got it, I got it.” Finally, Ted stopped, put his hand to his side, paused then waved to Ricky to go ahead. Ricky came to me and asked, “Hey Dee! What are you open on?”

I replied, “call the same play but add z delay and go,” so the play read, “I left, fake 38-speed option, x post, z delay and go.”

As we broke the huddle, an Arcadia player came over to cover me, his name was Jim Mohra. As I lined up in front of him, I thought he was tipped off on the play because of the short conversation between Ricky and me before getting in the huddle. Making, him assume that I was getting the ball. As the ball was snapped, I jogged off the line of scrimmage hoping that Jim would do the same thing he did the previous play—follow Ricky toward the other side of the field. But as the ball was snapped he didn’t fall for it, he continued to cover me, so I took off in a sprint trying to close the cushion he had on me.

As I looked up for the ball, Jim Mohra was about five yards in front of me. The ball was uncatchable. It was angled towards my back and streaming through the air at a high rate of speed. I said to myself, “I can’t catch that, it’s going too far!” But then, in a flash, all the work I had put in before the season and the belief that Ricky and I had in myself seemed to come together. I ran as fast as I possibly could to catch that ball realizing at the last moment that the only chance I had of making the catch was to dive for it. As I started my dive, at the 5-yard line, I reached around Jim Mohra just as he reached out to swat the ball away, my hand only a hand length away from his, and I landed half a yard in the end zone making a spectacular diving catch.

As I looked to my right, I could see my girlfriend, one other song girl and two cheerleaders jumping up and down. I also spotted five of our fans sitting on Arcadia’s side celebrating as well. Those fans turned out to be my brother and some of our neighbors. I jumped up handed the ball to the referee and saw my teammates going ecstatic over the catch. I remember Ricky Turner coming to me yelling, “You caught that mutha fucka, you caught that mutha fucka,” and jumping on me!

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