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Stepping back 40

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

  • 10 min to read
Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Calaveras celebrates after defeating Bret Harte 10-7.

There’s no question that many events that changed the world took place in 1980. There was the “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics as the United States men’s hockey team amazed the world by beating the Soviet Union. Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington, killing 57 people. And Mark David Chapman shot and killed former Beatle John Lennon.

A severe summer heat wave in the southern part of the United States caused over 1,100 deaths. The Killer Clown, John Wayne Gacy Jr., was sentenced to death for the murder of 33 boys and young men. And Jimmy Carter signed Proclamation 4771, which required 18- to 25-yearold American males to register for a peacetime military draft.

The price for a loaf of bread was just 50 cents and a gallon of gas was $1.22. A Super Bowl ad ran around $222,000. The Rubik’s Cube was a popular gift and playing Pac-Man was also a trendy thing to do. Aside from John Lennon, Bon Scott (AC/DC), Tommy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker Band), Keith Godchaux (Grateful Dead) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) were all musicians who died in 1980, along with Colonel Sanders, Jesse Owens, Alfred Hitchcock and Steve McQueen. Born in 1980 was Kim Kardashian, Macaulay Culkin, Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Jason Segel, Randy Orton, Yao Ming, Tony Romo and Albert Pujols.

Now, let’s journey back 40 years to 1980 in Calaveras County sports.


The start of Mother Lode League play was a sample of what was to come for the Bret Harte High School boys’ basketball team. The Bullfrogs beat Amador 59-53 for its first of 10-straight league victories. Bullfrog Tom Hickman scored a game-high 21 points, followed by Jon Fehlman with 14 and Brett Hayes with 10.

The Bullfrogs stayed perfect with a 51-38 win over Calaveras High School. Bret Harte’s Kent Apley scored 16 points, followed by Kelly Osborn with 12, Fehlman with seven and Chip Barnett with five. The Bullfrogs then beat Linden 85-65, and then beat Amador 60-56. Bret Harte finished the league season with a perfect 10-0 record, and Apley was named as the league MVP. Apley averaged 16.1 points per game. Hicks, Osborn and Hayes also earned all-league honors. Bret Harte’s Rich Cathcart was named the Coach of the Year.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Bret Harte's Brett Hayes moves the ball up the court.

Bret Harte didn’t last long in the playoffs, as Vanden ended the Bullfrog’s season with a 73-68 defeat. Bret Harte’s Hickman, Barnett, Jeff Sanders, Osborn, Mike Warner and John Raggio finished their basketball careers having never lost a Mother Lode League contest in four years at Bret Harte. The sextet went 38-0 through freshman, JV and varsity basketball.

Bret Harte’s girls’ basketball team had a 1980 to remember and one of those good memories was a close 39-37 win over Calaveras. Patricia Davies led the Bullfrogs with nine points, followed by Debbie Jones and Donna Stokes with eight and Rhonda Canepa with six.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Lynda Oswald, 15, shoots and Donna Stokes, 22, looks to rebound for the Bullfrogs.

Bret Harte’s only league loss came in a 57-38 defeat to the Linden Lions. The Bullfrogs rebounded with a 56-49 win over Amador and Linda Oswald led the way with 14 points and Stokes added 10 points and nine boards. Bret Harte finished the season as league champions with a 9-1 record. Canepa, Davies and Baker were selected as all-league players. In the opening round of the playoffs, Bret Harte took on the Vanden Vikings, of the Superior California League. The contest didn’t go Bret Harte’s way, as Vanden won 59-48. Oswald scored 14 points, followed by Baker with nine, Davies with eight and Stokes with seven.

The Summerville Bears were no match for the Bret Harte wrestling team to begin the 1980 season. With victories from Joe Frederick, Jeff Young, Mike Kale, Neil Williams, Gary Loomis, Mark Brewer, Chuck Fitzgerald, Joe Azevedo, Barry Fehlman and Eric Adams, the Bullfrogs knocked off the Bears 42-15.

Bret Harte stayed hot with an impressive 42-20 rivalry victory over Calaveras. Bret Harte got points from Joe Frederick, Young, Kale, Loomis, Fitzgerald, Azevedo, Fehlman and Dan Soden. The win pushed the Bullfrogs to 2-0.

The Bullfrogs clinched a league championship following a 35-30 come-from-behind victory over Linden. The league title was Bret Harte’s fifth and first since 1978. The Bullfrogs went on to win the Mother Lode League tournament, and Fredrick, Young, Bob Anderson, Brewer, Fitzgerald and Dan Soden all placed first.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Calaveras' David Gilmore breaks around an Amador defender.

The 1980 season didn’t begin the way the Calaveras boys’ basketball team would have hoped in a 62-41 road loss to Summerville. Calaveras shot just 7 for 18 from the free throw line, while the Bears were 28 for 39. Brian Wimberly led Calaveras with 16 points. Calaveras finished the year with just one league victory. Wimberly was the only Calaveras player to be named to the all-league team.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Julie Thompson reaches for an elusive ball.

Calaveras’ girls’ basketball team picked up an early Mother Lode League victory by defeating the Summerville Bears 40-31. Calaveras led 19-14 at halftime and outscored the Bears 18-11 in the final period. Denise Meyers scored 12 points, followed by Lisa Baker with 11 and Tracy Chadwick with 10. Calaveras lost a heartbreaker to Bret Harte 39-37 and got 10 points from Baker and Cheryl Stockton in the losing effort. Calaveras saw its playoff hopes disappear following a tough 49-46 loss to Summerville.

Calaveras brought its record to 3-4 with a 32-29 win over Linden. Meyers led Calaveras with 13 points and close behind was Baker with 11. Calaveras missed the playoffs with a league record of 5-5, but still had Baker named to the all-league team.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Rene Garcia of Calaveras and Mark Mitchell of Bret Harte battle on the wrestling mat.

In its first league match of the 1980 season, the Calaveras wrestling squad picked up a narrow 31-29 home win over Amador. Having their hand raised in victory was Bryon McDowell, Eric Verhalen, Doug Kauffroath, Ted Zimmerman and Lyle Clark. The win over Amador moved Calaveras’ overall record to 3-0. Calaveras got handed its first loss in a 42-20 defeat to Bret Harte. Victorious wrestlers from Calaveras were McDowell, Neil Cordeiro, Rene Garcia and Zimmerman.

At the Mother Lode League tournament, Calaveras placed fourth overall, but still got a first-place finish from McDowell and second-place finishes from Garcia, Zimmerman and Clark.


Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Runners cross the finish line.

In the first year of Bret Harte softball, the Bullfrogs began 4-1 in league play, which included a 4-1 win over Jackson. During that stretch, Bret Harte beat Summerville 13-7 and got four home runs in the process. Rhonda Canepa went 3 for 4; Cheryl McRay went 2 for 2; Marie Tulapani went 1 for 2; and Donna Stokes went 2 for 4; Canepa, McRay, Tulapani and Stokes all hit home runs in the win. Jennifer Novotny went the distance and striking out four.

The Bullfrogs improved to 5-2 in league and 9-2 overall with a 13-4 win over Amador. The Bullfrogs scored six times in the seventh for the win. In its first ever season, the Bret Harte softball team nearly won the Class A championship, only to lose to Linden 3-1. Bret Harte won the opening game of the playoffs over Yosemite 5-4 and then beat Justin Sienna 7-3 in the semifinals. Bret Harte’s Novotny, Stokes, Lynda Oswald, Jacque Machado and Sherrine Cancilla were selected as all-league players.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Jeff Sanders throws during the 1980 baseball season.

Returning league MVP Jeff Sanders got the 1980 season started off on the right foot for the Bullfrogs baseball team. Sanders went 2 for 3 at the plate and struck out nine to lead Bret Harte to an early-season 4-0 win over Ripon. In the win, Don Harper connected for a two-run triple. There wasn’t much Sanders could do to begin league play, as he took the loss on the hill against Calaveras in a 2-1 defeat. Bret Harte fell into last place with an 8-7 loss to Amador.

The Bullfrogs got their first league victory of the season with a 10-8 win over Summerville. Bret Harte built an 8-0 lead after three innings with the help of Harper’s three-run home run. Sanders went 2 for 3; Dean Hunt went 2 for 3; and Tom Hickman went 2 for 4. Bret Harte got its second-straight win with a 6-0 shutout of the Jackson Tigers. Sanders struck out six and Hickman went 3 for 4 with three stolen bases.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Bret Harte pitcher Scott Bennett throws during the 1980 season.

Bret Harte got some revenge on Calaveras with a 1-0 nail biter. Hickman smacked a double to score Mike Warner for the only run of the game. On the mound, Sanders pitched his second consecutive shutout. Bret Harte finished the league season 4-4 and had Sanders, Rob Gianelli and Scott Bennett named as all-league players.

The Bullfrogs’ track and field team was eyeing another Mother Lode League title. With newcomer Jeff Cox, along with returners Chip Barnett, Ron Gilbert and Doug deNeveu, head coach Hal Clements liked his chance. As for the girls’ team, key returners were Kim Huse, Ellen Ward, Mimi Baker, Molly Randall and Colette Alexander.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Bret Harte's Bob Foppiano takes off for the long jump.

Bret Harte won its 31st consecutive league track meet with a 73-63 victory over Calaveras. The varsity boys were led by Cox, who won the 330 low hurdles, the 220-yard dash and anchored the 440-yard relay, and Foppiano, who won the high jump and triple jump. The girls beat Calaveras 76-33 and won 11 of 13 events. Jannell Strohmeyer set a school record with a shot put throw of 39-feet.

At the league championship, Bret Harte’s boys’ team placed first, while the girls placed second behind Amador only by one-point. Kent Apley, Steve Cox, along with Janelle Strohmeyer and Renee Henry all qualified for the section meet.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

The 1980 Calaveras softball team.

Calaveras softball improved to 4-4 in league play after a big 15-9 win over Summerville. Starting pitcher Crystal Roots picked up the win and got seven strikeouts. At the end of the year, Calaveras’ Roots was named as a co-Pitcher of the Year. Wendy Walker, Jill Thorbrogger, Annett Ramirez and Rusty Thornburg were all named all-league players.

Calaveras baseball opened up the Mother Lode League season with a 2-1 victory over Bret Harte. Calaveras pitcher Pat Norman took the win on the hill. Calaveras improved to 3-0 following a 7-1 win over Summerville, but got handed its first league loss in a 2-1 defeat to Amador. Calaveras scored its lone run in the first inning, with an RBI off the bat of David Gilmore.

Calaveras finished the season 6-4 and had Gilmore, Wimberly, Norman and Todd O’Connor named as all-league players.

Calaveras runner Greg Long set a new school record early in the season while competing in the San Joaquin Valley Relays in Livermore. Long won the two-mile race with his time of 9:11.7, which turned out to be a meet and school record. Long helped set another record as a member of the mile relay team at the Bret Harte Invitational Track Meet.

Calaveras’ boys placed second at the league championship, while the girls finished last. Long and Tim Pickens qualified to compete in the section meet. Long went on to run a personal best at the CIF State Championship, with his time of 4:13.2 in the 1,600-meter race.

In a meet against Liberty High School, the Calaveras swim team got points from John Carr, Patti Powell, Tony Boitano and Bruce Dragomanovich. Against Edison, Calaveras got points from Gabrielle Barrios, Tessie Hudson, Christy Benns, Brian Hodgson, Dan Seoane, Boitano, Ken Warden and Scott Anderson.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

The 1980 Calaveras golf team.

Calaveras finished the 1980 season 0-13 on the links.


Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

The 1980 Bret Harte cheerleaders. 

Bret Harte entered 1980 as not only the defending Mother Lode League champions, but also as defending section champions. Under head coach Hal Clements, the Bullfrogs looked to repeat their success from a year prior.

The Bullfrogs lost their first game of the season 20-13 to the Mariposa Grizzlies. Quarterback Ray Claven rushed for a 44-yard touchdown as one of the highlights of the evening. The following week, Bret Harte lost to Escalon 25-7. Jeff Cox scored Bret Harte’s only touchdown. The luck of 1979 was nowhere to be found early for the Bullfrogs, as they fell to 0-3 following a 20-14 loss to Delta. Bret Harte led 14-6 at halftime, but got outscored 14-0 in the second half. The Bullfrogs got touchdowns from Dan Emerson and Cox.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

The 1980 Bret Harte football team.

Bret Harte finally got into the win column with a 27-7 win over Riverbank and finished the preseason with a 1-3 record. Bret Harte began league play with a 13-12 win over Jackson. Cox gained 257 yards on 13 carries to lead the Bret Harte offense. Cox scored on a 66-yard run and a three-yard run. Bret Harte won its third in a row following a 42-20 win over Linden. Cox scored four times and rushed for 175 yards to bring Bret Harte’s league record to 2-0.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Bret Harte went 1-3 in preseason play.

Homecoming night was not special for Bret Harte, as the Bullfrogs lost to Calaveras 10-7. Cox rushed for 161 yards on 24 carries, which put him over the 160-yard mark for the fourth straight game. Bret Harte clinched a playoff spot with a 27-19 win over Amador the following week. Cox scored three of Bret Harte’ four touchdowns and gained 140 yards on the ground. Bret Harte finished the league season 4-1 with a 27-0 shutout of Summerville.

In the opening round of the playoffs, Bret Harte took on Central Catholic. The Bullfrogs lost 24-2. Cox was a co-Most Valuable Player of the league and Don Harper was the Lineman of the Year. Jeff Kelling, Bob Foppiano, Clay DeValle, Emerson, and Bob Anderson were named as all-league players.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Bret Harte football went 4-1 in league play.

Bret Harte volleyball finished the 1980 league season 5-5. Ellen Ward and Mimi Baker were all-league players.

Bret Harte’s boys’ cross country team won the Mother Lode League championship and Lisa Knodle was an individual champion in the girls’ race.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Calaveras quarterback John Thornburg throws in the playoffs against Hilmar.

Calaveras’ 1980 football season started with a disappointing 7-6 home loss to Riverbank. Calaveras running back Kevin Ratterman rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries. Calaveras’ only score came on a short run from Bill Bullock with four minutes remaining, but the PAT was unsuccessful and Calaveras lost by one. In another close game, Calaveras fell to 0-2 after a 6-3 loss to Ceres. Tackle Mike Ramirez kicked a field goal for Calaveras’ only points of the game.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Calaveras' Keven Ratterman was a co-MVP in 1980.

Calaveras finally got into the win column with a 20-12 win over visiting Orland. Ratterman rushed for 117 yards and one score and sophomore quarterback John Thornburg was 8 for 13, which included a 26-yard touchdown pass to John Carr. Calaveras ended the preseason with a 30-22 loss to Rio Linda. Ratterman scored twice in the loss.

After finishing the preseason 1-3, Calaveras rolled over Linden 42-0 to begin league play. Thornburg hit Carr for a 35-yard touchdown and then later connected with Bullock for a score. Ratterman scored on a 65-yard run and then from 32 yards out. On homecoming night, Calaveras knocked off Summerville 21-6 to improve to 2-0. Calaveras then spoiled Bret Harte’s homecoming with a 10-7 victory. Ratterman rushed for 138 yards in the win. Dow Kump scored Calaveras’ only touchdown with a 90-yard run. Ramirez added a field goal to put Calaveras up 10-0 and it was able to hold on to the lead.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

Calaveras head football coach Mike Flock is all smiles after another victory.

Calaveras beat Jackson 29-7 to clinch a portion of the league title and then ended the season with a 7-0 victory over Amador to become outright champs. In the opening round of the playoffs, Calaveras got a rematch with Rio Vista. Calaveras got some redemption with a 20-6 victory. Calaveras then beat Hilmar to set up a section championship battle with Central Catholic. Things didn’t go Calaveras’ way, as Central Catholic won 21-0.

Ratterman was named as a co-MVP of the league and head coach Mike Flock was the Coach of the Year. Todd O’Connor, Tony Boitano, Manuel Ramirez, Carr, Todd Darling, Mike Martell and Joe Rodello earned all-league honors.

Memories of 1980 Calaveras County sports

The 1980 Calaveras volleyball team.

Calaveras volleyball finished its league season 1-0 and had Stephanie Deini named as an all-league player.

What’s next?

Next week we’ll wrap up our look through the decades as we go to 1970.



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