Although it was only a decade ago, 2008 seems like a blur in the rearview mirror of life. Looking back, it’s easy to see how times had started to change and 2008 was right in the middle of it.
At times it was easy to see that President George W. Bush had fashion on his mind, especially when shoes were thrown at his head at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq. While throwing shoes wasn’t banned, cockfighting in the United States had been, that is, unless you lived in Louisiana. But in 2008, Louisiana finally gave in to the squawking and said it was too fowl to have cockfighting.
There was no fighting when it came to what movie was the No. 1 hit in 2008. “The Dark Knight” featured an outstanding performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker. Unfortunately, Ledger, along with George Carlin, Bo Diddley, Paul Newman and Bernie Mac all passed away in 2008.
And with all that was going in in the world, the United Nations declared that 2008 was the Year of the Potato.
Now, let’s look at what happened with Calaveras County sports in 2008.
Every year when the calendar changes from December to January, basketball is the main focus of Calaveras County athletics. 2008 was no different. In 2007, the Bret Harte and Calaveras girls’ basketball programs shared identical 15-1 records and were co-Mother Lode League champions.
Neither team was able to clinch a league title, but Bret Harte was close. In the first of three head-to-head matchups, Bret Harte knocked off Calaveras 48-41. After the first quarter, Calaveras had a 21-10 lead and Bret Harte trailed by as many as 13. But an impressive comeback stunned the young Calaveras squad.
Bullfrog Kelli Carlon led the way with 22 points and Alex Ballard had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Calaveras’ Brittani Hawkins scored 14 and had eight boards and teammate Bethany Basques had six points and six steals.
Bret Harte continued to dominate the MLL and again beat Calaveras, this time by a score of 42-40 to improve to 16-3 overall and 8-0 in league. Bullfrog Wendie Canez hit a 3-point basket with 20 seconds to play, which gave Bret Harte the win. Canez finished with 19 points. Calaveras sophomore Kelsey Hull scored 12 and freshman Samantha Golston pulled down eight rebounds and had seven points.
Calaveras’ Hull, while only a sophomore, played like a senior and had one of the best nights in Calaveras history while facing Amador in Sutter Creek. In a 67-63 win, Hull scored 33 points, a school record, with 21 of her 33 points coming from downtown. The seven 3-point baskets tied the Calaveras school record held by Sarah Busi. Hull also scored 32 in a road win over Amador earlier in the year.
Bret Harte was handed its first loss of the year in a 64-51 defeat to Linden. Canez scored 18. The Bullfrogs dropped another game, this time to Calaveras when the Redskins topped Bret Harte 46-32. Hull scored 19 and Hawkins added 16.
Calaveras finished the season 15-12 and was 10-5 in league play, which gave the Redskins the No. 14 seed heading into the playoffs. Calaveras faced No. 3 Modesto Christian in the opening round and was defeated 68-33. Hull scored 10 and Hawkins scored nine.
The Bullfrogs finished the year 20-6 and 12-3 in the MLL and got the No. 7 seed. In the opening round, playing without Canez or Hattie Anderson who were both injured, Bret Harte knocked off No. 10 Vacaville Christian 60-58. Carlon scored 18 and Ballard had 16. But in the second round, Bret Harte lost to No. 2 Loretto 51-43. It was the first time in five years the Bullfrogs didn’t make the final four.
Canez was named the Most Outstanding Player of the MLL, while Ballard, Hawkins and Hull were placed on the first team. Carlon and Bret Harte’s Sarah Spellenberg made the second team, and Anderson and Bethany Basques were placed on the all-defensive team.
Mountain Oaks Charter School girls’ basketball had a year to remember, finishing 23-4 while going 12-0 in Mountain Valley League play. Allison Milward was named the league MVP, while Ariana Beadle and Chelsea Lund were placed on the first team. Erin Bryant made the second team.
In boys’ hoops, Bret Harte had a clean sweep over Calaveras. In the first of three meetings, Bret Harte won 53-32. Bullfrog Brett Downey scored 18 and had 11 rebounds and four blocks, and teammate Clint Eastman scored 12 and had nine boards. Calaveras’ Craig Mossa scored a team-high 12 points. The win pushed Bret Harte’s league record to 2-2 and Calaveras fell to 0-4.
The Redskins had perhaps their biggest upset of the year in a 47-46 victory over previously unbeaten Argonaut. Mossa scored 12 and Steven Klith had eight points and four assists.
Even though they had won a couple of league games, the Redskins could not get revenge against Bret Harte, falling 45-36 in their second meeting. Downey scored 14 and had 12 boards and Tim Minten had 11 rebounds. Calaveras’ Josh Luke added 10 points.
Bret Harte stayed hot and won five in a row. During that run, Downey scored 33 and had 21 rebounds in a 72-57 win over Argonaut. And in the final meeting against Calaveras, Bret Harte won 35-25. The Bullfrogs got the No. 13 seed in the playoffs and had to take on San Juan, while Calaveras missed the postseason for the third straight year. Bret Harte lost 69-37 to San Juan, and Downey scored 14 points in his final high school game.
Downey was placed on the MLL first team and Eastman made the second team.
Basketball was not the only thing to bring people to the high school gyms. A harsh rivalry on the wrestling mat between Calaveras and Bret Harte was something not to be missed. While at the Tim Brown Memorial Tournament in Sacramento, Calaveras senior Brian Rutledge finished second in the 119-pound division.
Later in the winter, with the MLL dual championship on the line, Calaveras flexed its muscles against Bret Harte and won 44-31. The Redskins won eight of 14 matches with six pins and one technical fall. Chris Minhas, Joey Gellerman and Brenden Sullivan were three Calaveras wrestlers who picked up pins, while Ben Garcia and Jesse Green recorded pins for Bret Harte.
Calaveras also had six individual league champions. Sullivan, Brandon Rutledge, Brian Rutledge, Jeff Valney, Tyler Brown and Gellerman were Calaveras’ league champions, while Bret Harte had Ricky Perieff and Garcia as champs. At the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championships, Calaveras’ Brown, Gellerman and Brian Rutledge won individual titles.
Bret Harte’s Justin Dillashaw, Calaveras’ Brian Rutledge and Sierra Ridge’s Major Surrell qualified for the state tournament, with Rutledge placing eighth and Dillashaw making the top 24.
On the gridiron, Calaveras lineman Kenny Moody was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State small schools football team. Moody was a three-year varsity starter and was the Lineman of the Year in the MLL both his junior and senior years.
The spring began with some shocking news. Calaveras head football coach Roger Canepa announced that he was leaving to take the head coaching job at Central Catholic High School in Modesto. Under Canepa, Calaveras was 91-21-1.
On the diamond, Bret Harte baseball showed that a special season was on the way. The year started with Travis Goldberg throwing a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over Ripon Christian. Chris Pile went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs.
Winning was something that Bret Harte did a lot of in 2007. The Bullfrogs improved to 5-0 in league play with a 3-2 win over Calaveras. Goldberg pitched six innings and picked up the win. Calaveras got RBIs from Dustin Weatherby and Brooks Hulett. Bret Harte’s Andrew Gilbert knocked in the winning runs.
Bret Harte neared a perfect league season, but Calaveras gave the Bullfrogs their first league loss in a 2-0 defeat. Nevertheless, Bret Harte won the Mother Lode League title outright for the first time in 77 years. But the good feelings didn’t last in the playoffs, as Bret Harte was defeated by Escalon 12-3.
Calaveras knocked off Gustine 9-0 in the first round of the playoffs, but suffered back-to-back losses to Hughson to be eliminated from the postseason.
Bret Harte’s Max Myers was named the league MVP, while teammate Trevor Mills and Calaveras’ Jake Mote were both named the Most Outstanding Players. Bullfrog head coach Heath Lane was the Coach of the Year. Calaveras’ Andrew Graves, Mark Storm and Steve Frater made the first team, as did Bret Harte’s TJ Bradley, Grant Herick and Travis Goldberg. Bullfrog Seth Scales and Calaveras’ Jeff Dill and Brooks Hulett made the second team.
Calaveras softball entered the 2007 season as defending league champions and had won 17 straight MLL games. The Redskins started things in the right direction, picking up an 18-6 league win over Argonaut. Calaveras later defeated Bret Harte 6-0 and Beth Vaccarezza picked up a complete game shutout while only allowing four hits. Bret Harte’s Meghan Self, Brianna Huse, Katie Kelling and Maddie Cronk recorded hits.
Calaveras’ 24-game league winning streak came to an end with a 4-1 loss to Linden. The Redskins later lost again to Linden 2-1 in eight innings. In the playoffs, for the second year in a row, Calaveras was eliminated in the first round. This time it was by Hilmar in a 2-1 loss.
Calaveras sophomore Tanna Bindi was named the Most Outstanding Player of the MLL. Calaveras players Bethany Basques, Giovanna Vasile, Vaccarezza and Kelsey Hull, along with Bret Harte’s Maddie Cronk made the first team all-league. Bret Harte had Sarah Wassmund and Kim Pierrazzi on the second team, while Calaveras had Kaylee Baker and Cecily Basques.
On the soccer field, Calaveras and Bret Harte girls played to an early season 2-2 tie. Calaveras led 1-0 after a goal from freshman Elizabeth Baseman. Bret Harte tied it with a goal from Breanna McQuoid, but Calaveras again took the lead with a Desiree Brant goal with an assist from Jesse Myers. Bret Harte’s Mary Tanner tied things for good with a corner kick goal.
Bret Harte played good soccer all year and had its biggest win of the season when it snapped Linden’s 21-game league winning streak. Bullfrog Mary Baca scored in the first minute of the game and Bret Harte’s defense did the rest.
Bret Harte stayed hot with a 6-3 win over Calaveras. The Bullfrogs got three goals from Baca, two goals from Jessica Maschal and one goal from Holly Moore. Bret Harte improved to 10-1-2 overall and 6-0-1 in league play. Calaveras ended the year upsetting Bret Harte 1-0. The lone goal was scored by Emily Cook.
Calaveras and Bret Harte both advanced to the playoffs and each suffered the same fate. Calaveras lost to Ripon 6-1 in the opening round and Bret Harte got blanked 4-0 by Hilmar. Bret Harte’s Jessica Maschal, Mandy Baca and Mary Tanner, along with Calaveras’ Emily Cook and Jesse Myers were first-team players. Rachael Warner (BH), Nicole Benge (BH), Elizabeth Baseman (Cal) and Desiree Brant (Cal) were placed on the second team.
In the swimming pool, Calaveras’ Stephanie Kulp won the MLL title in the 100 freestyle, finishing in 1:34.7. Kulp, along with Kim Oyervides, Breanna Dickerson and Margie Rodriguez took first in the 400 free relay with a time of 4:50.50.
Bret Harte boys’ golf won the first MLL tournament of the year and junior Brendan Warner earned medalist honors by shooting a 6-over-par 78. Teammates David Hunter took second while Carson Ellington shot an 85, Aron Schwartz finished with an 88 and Tim Milward shot 90.
Bret Harte capped a 15-0 second with a 209-262 win over Linden. Warner, along with Bullfrog Russell Rier and Calaveras’ Carl Hall were all-league golfers. The Bullfrogs went on to win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship. Warner earned medalist honors.
On the track, Bret Harte’s Tucker Weathers recorded the longest shot put in Bullfrog history, measuring 51-feet, 3.75-inches. The former record was held by Kurt Heclor, set in 1979. No Bret Harte or Calaveras track and field athlete made it to the state meet.
The spring ended with Calaveras naming Jason Weatherby as Canepa’s replacement as head football coach.
Mountain Ranch resident and MMA fighter Jake Shields defeated Nick Thompson with a one-arm guillotine choke to win the EliteXC World Welterweight Championship.
With Jason Weatherby at the helm of the Calaveras football squad, he looked to have the same success as Canepa. Weatherby won his first game as head coach with a 20-18 win over Weston Ranch. Calaveras lost the second game of the season 28-7. In week three, Calaveras gave the hometown fans something to cheer about on homecoming night. The Redskins beat Ceres 48-13. Calaveras got touchdowns from Jake Mote, Nick Baatrup, Alex Fee, Phino Lavata, Devyn VanLier and Mark Storm. Ashlyn Lazarom was named the homecoming queen and Connor McThorn was king.
Calaveras finished the preseason 3-2 and beat Linden 48-3 to begin Mother Lode League play and followed that with a 39-6 trouncing of Amador. The Redskins had their 19-game league winning streak snapped in a 35-14 loss to Argonaut, but finished the year with wins over Summerville and Bret Harte to lock up the No. 2 playoff spot.
In the postseason, Calaveras suffered a heartbreaking loss to Escalon. With 12 seconds left, Escalon took the lead on an 80-yard touchdown pass to beat Calaveras 35-31.
Reaching the playoffs was something Bret Harte was unable to do. The Bullfrogs began the season with a 28-8 win over Livingston, but fell to Central Valley 46-30 the following week. In the loss, sophomore quarterback Robbie Bragg threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns.
In the homecoming game, Bret Harte beat Hughson 39-29. Robert Sailele rushed for a 42-yard score and caught a 70-yard touchdown from Bragg. Dylan Barble rushed for two scores in the win and Hattie Anderson was named homecoming queen.
Bret Harte was at 2-1, but lost its next four games before beating Linden 17-6. The Bullfrogs finished the season 3-7.
Calaveras’ Jake Mote was named the co-MVP of the league. The offensive first team consisted of Myles Hill (BH), Nick Baatrup (Cal), Jonny Lora (BH) and Steven Klith (Cal). The defensive first team consisted of Adam Bassett (Cal), Tucker Weathers (BH), Jake Fischer (Cal), Gary Gellerman (Cal), Craig Mossa (Cal), Steven Klith (Cal) and Joe O’Gorman (BH).
Under head coach Mike Koepp, Calaveras volleyball started the season 5-0. For the first time since 2006, the Redskins knocked off Bret Harte (18-25, 25-15, 25-17, 24-26, 15-3). Later in the season, Calaveras beat Bret Harte in four sets (25-10, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18). Calaveras’ Cecily Basques had 21 assists and eight aces. Kelsey Hull, Ashlyn Lazarom and Nicole Catto combined for 17 kills and 11 blocks. Calaveras finished the sweep of Bret Harte to improve to 30-6 and 10-3 in league play.
In the playoffs, No. 14 Calaveras lost to No. 3 Christian Brothers in three sets to finish the season 31-8.
Calaveras’ Cecily Basques was named the Most Outstanding Player of the league. Kelsey Hull (Cal) and Eileen Hollett (BH) were placed on the first team, while Nicole Catto (Cal), Mariah Mathews (BH) and Ashlyn Lazarom (Cal) made the second team.
Bret Harte girls’ golf won its sixth straight Valley Foothill League North championship and senior Kristen Locke won her second consecutive MVP award. The Bullfrogs entered the league tournament tied with Escalon with an 11-1 record and won the tournament to capture the title. Locke shot a 4-over-par 76.
The Bullfrogs went on to win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship by defeating Escalon by one stroke. Locke earned medalist honors by shooting a 5-over-par 77.
Winning was not a problem for the Bret Harte girls’ cross country team, as the Bullfrogs won their 10th straight league title. Kaylee Sedler took first at the league meet, finishing in 20:11, while Matt Airola finished first in the boys’ race with his time of 16:52. Later in the fall, the Bullfrogs won their third consecutive section title.
2007 ended with Calaveras wrestling coach Vince Bicocca being named a model coach by the Sac-Joaquin Section and Bret Harte golf coach Rich Cathcart was named the Sportsperson of the Year.
Next week we’ll take a trip back to the ’90s as we look at 1998.