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CALAVERAS COUNTY SPORTS THROUGH THE DECADES
Half a century ago

Going back 50 years to 1970

  • 5 min to read
Going back 50 years to 1970

Bret Harte football players are, from left, Dennis DeLack, Jack Fletcher, Rick Robinson and Mike Grimes.

Fifty years ago, the world was introduced to the 1970s.

Not everything was easy in 1970, especially for Kermit the Frog, who stated, “It’s not easy being green.” And Coca-Cola let everyone know, “It’s the real thing.” And not only Houston, but the whole world knew that things weren’t right when James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise couldn’t land on the moon as part of Apollo 13.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang about the Kent State Shooting in their song, “Ohio.” The “Chicago Seven” defendants were found guilty of intent to incite a riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (1968), but it was later overturned by the Court of Appeals.

In 1970, 23-year-old Gary Anderson designed the recycling logo for a design contest. In New York, the North Tower of the World Trade Center reached 1,368 feet, making it the tallest building in the world. And while Elvis Presley was hanging with Richard Nixon at the White House, Grace Slick, of Jefferson Airplane, made a plan to slip Nixon 600 micrograms of LSD when she was invited to a tea party by Nixon’s daughters, but she was turned away at the door.

It wasn’t a good year for musicians, as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died, along with boxer Sonny Liston and football coach Vince Lombardi. Born in 1970 were Mariah Carey, Melania Trump, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Uma Thurman, Ted Cruz, Chris Jericho and Tonya Harding.

Now, let’s go back 50 years and take a look at what was going on in the world of Calaveras County athletics.

Winter

The Calaveras High School boys’ basketball team started the 1970 Mother Lode League season with an 84-51 win over Ione. Calaveras led 49-22 at halftime and had a 70-44 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Gary McGeorge led the scoring for Calaveras with 17 points, backed up by Mark Bullock and Ross Ford with 13 points. Calaveras followed with a 66-61 loss to Amador. In the loss, McGeorge again led the way, scoring 17 points. Gerald Kathan came off the bench to score 15 and Jim Stone scored 10 in the loss.

In a county clash with Bret Harte, Calaveras stomped the Bullfrogs 87-65. Calaveras led 25-8 after the first quarter and pushed its lead to 49-33 at the midway point. McGeorge, Ford and Kathan scored 62 of Calaveras’ 87 points, while Stone pulled down 16 boards.

Going back 50 years to 1970

Bret Harte cheerleaders are, from left, Shilla Macy, Pat Urruty (Bullfrog) and Hollie Beatie.

Calaveras stayed hot with wins over Summerville and Ione and improved to 5-0 in the league standings. Calaveras beat Summerville 83-64 with 26 points from McGeorge. And against the Mustangs, Calaveras won 85-43. In a battle for first place, Calaveras lost to Amador 73-57. Calaveras led 22-21 after the first quarter, but trailed 37-35 at halftime. Amador led 50-46 heading into the fourth quarter and held on for the win. McGeorge scored 21 points and Stone had 12 in the loss.

In its second game against Bret Harte, Calaveras held on for a close 70-67 victory. Bret Harte led 27-21 at the end of the first quarter and extended that to 41-35 at halftime. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Bullfrogs led 57-50, but Calaveras battled back and Mike Nayden hit two free throws at the end of the game to give his team a three-point win. McGeorge led Calaveras with 21 points, followed by Stone with 20 and Kathan with 11.

Calaveras finished the season with an overall league record of 6-4. McGeorge and Stone both earned all-league honors at the end of the year.

The Bullfrog basketball squad had a tough start to the 1970 season, as they fell to Amador 57-40. Bret Harte was just 8 for 22 from the free throw line. Steve Goff led Bret Harte with eight points. The Bullfrogs got 17 points from Mick O’Meara in an 87-65 defeat to Calaveras. Bret Harte rebounded with a 65-48 win over Jackson. Goff was the high-point man with 15. Bret Harte lost to Calaveras again, this time only by three points. Jerry Biedinger scored 14 points, followed by O’Meara with 13, Ray Schwoerer with 12 and 10 points from Goff and Bob Nance in the 70-67 loss.

Bret Harte finished the league season 3-7 and O’Meara earned all-league honors.

Spring

Calaveras’ boys’ track and field team captured its 12th Mother Lode League championship and third in as many years. And on the baseball diamond, Bret Harte’s Ray Schwoerer, Bob Conaroe and Mickey O’Meara, along with Calaveras’ John Lavaroni, Wayne Dell’Orto, Gerald Kathan, Mark Bullock and Mural Moriarty were named as Mother Lode League all-stars. Amador won the league title, just beating out Calaveras’ 7-3 record.

Fall

Going back 50 years to 1970

The 1970 Bret Harte High School football team.

Bret Harte’s football squad lost its opening game 14-0 to the Mariposa Grizzlies. Bullfrog quarterback Mickey O’Meara threw a touchdown pass to Kerry Spreadborough, but the play was nullified by a penalty. The following week, the Bullfrogs lost to Ripon 26-18. Trailing 12-0, Bret Harte got on the board with a touchdown run by Dennis DeLack. DeLack later scored on a screen pass of 22 yards. Jerry Beidinger scored Bret Harte’s final touchdown, but it was too late to change the outcome.

Going back 50 years to 1970

Bret Harte head football coach Hal Clements.

Bret Harte got its first win by beating Linden 14-13. O’Meara connected with Chris Foppiano for a touchdown to cut the Linden lead to 7-6. Down 13-7, Foppiano again scored a touchdown and Biedinger added the 2-point conversion to put the Bullfrogs up 14-13.

Bret Harte’s league season started with a 28-21 Saturday victory over the Summerville Bears. The Bullfrogs scored three times in the final eight minutes for the win. Bret Harte got touchdowns from O’Meara and Biedinger. The win was Bret Harte’s third in a row. The Bullfrogs lost their first league game in a 14-0 blanking to Jackson. The following week wasn’t much better, as Bret Harte lost to Amador 16-0.

Going back 50 years to 1970

1970 Bret Harte homecoming queen candidates are, from left, Cathy Rodrigues, Leann Goff, Diane Boire and Laurie Sanborn. 

For the third game in the league season, Bret Harte was unable to score any points. This time, Bret Harte lost 6-0 to Calaveras on homecoming night in Angels Camp. Leann Goff was crowned as homecoming queen. Bret Harte finished the league season 1-3-1, with its tie coming in a 6-6 battle with Ione. All-league players for Bret Harte were Bruce Sage, Chris Foppiano, Beidinger, Bob Jaich and Jim Saunders.

At the end of the year, construction on Bret Harte’s new football field started in hopes to be completed by the 1971 season.

Going back 50 years to 1970

Calaveras football players were George Bakivich, Marty Ford, Dennis Powers and Dan Walsh. 

After winning the 1969 Mother Lode League title, the Calaveras football team had a rough start to the 1970 season. The Sonora Wildcats knocked off Calaveras 6-2. Calaveras got into the win column with a 13-0 victory over Linden. Fullback George Backovich scored twice in the win.

Calaveras then beat the South Tahoe Vikings 19-13. Two of the six banks of lights were out, leaving four banks to illuminate the playing field. The game was stopped for several minutes halfway through the first quarter when all the lights faded. Calaveras scored first on a 34-yard pass from Dan Walsh to Backovich. Walsh later connected with Mike Nayden for a score and Gary Joyner added the final touchdown for Calaveras.

Going back 50 years to 1970

The 1970 Calaveras High School homecoming queen candidates were, from left, Janet Tarbat, Caro Jasper, Rhonda Zahniser and Kathy Maben.

Calaveras lost to Amador 22-14 to begin league play. Homecoming night started off with Amador scoring first. Backovich tied the game at 6-6 with five minutes left in the opening half. At halftime, Janet Tarbat was crowned as homecoming queen. Calaveras again tied the game at 14-14 with a run from Joyner. Amador scored once more for the victory.

Calaveras got its first league win with an 18-7 victory over Summerville. In a pouring rain, Calaveras got touchdowns from Walsh and Backovich. Calaveras couldn’t figure out Jackson the following week and lost 12-6. Backovich scored Calaveras’ only touchdown.

Going back 50 years to 1970

Calaveras football players, from left, Francisco Gallo, Ray Mercer and Dale Duke talk during practice.

In another rainy game, Calaveras was able to squeak away with a 14-6 win over Ione. Dennis Powers scored Calaveras’ first touchdown and Walsh scored the final touchdown. Calaveras then spoiled Bret Harte’s homecoming with a 6-0 shutout. Nayden scored the only touchdown, which came on a 22-yard pass from Walsh.

Calaveras finished the 1970 league season 3-2, while Chris Wilbur and Jim Braydis got allleague honors.

Next year

Next year we’ll take a look at all that happened in 2011, 2001, 1991, 1981 and 1971.

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