Saturday, December 31, 2011


Cal Tech coach Bert LaBrucherie
I was quarterback at Cal Tech both for the 1957 freshman team and during spring training for the varsity team. Each ran a different offensive formation, the freshman a standard T and the varsity the old single wing because the coach was the former UCLA coach, coach of the year in 1948, a diehard single wing guy. (Imagine, NCAA coach of the year -- and a decade later you're coaching at Cal Tech. A cruel profession.)

I had a ball in both formations. As a freshman, as starting QB, I played every down except two, when I was out catching my breath after being creamed. I was creamed a lot. In fact, this is why I was the QB! The coach gave all the big guys the ball and I was the best passer among them. In fact, I was a decent passer and that saved me, I could throw on the run and usually got the ball off before being creamed but not always. I got creamed often enough that dear mother wouldn't come to my games after seeing the first quarter of the first game. Dad came to them all, however. We weren't very good. Our best game we lost only 52-12. Our worst game we lost 85-0 in a rain storm and mud bath.

During spring training, I also was set to be starting QB, which in the single wing is a blocking position. I also was 2nd string tail back. But QB at single wing was fun because I got to call out the signals and most of my blocks were of poor linemen who'd been trapped, so I got them blind-sided. I'd call signals and knock unsuspecting people down. Great fun. But I got injured during spring training and then decided to leave Cal Tech, so that was the end of my football career.

I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. You get a good perspective on competitive sports when your best game is a loss by 40 points. Of course, we were smarter than anybody we played! We were the students in student-athlete.

Sacking the QB
I thought of this watching the UCLA game after the QB got creamed. And I thought, ah yes, I remember what that feels like! No wonder poor mom couldn't watch ha ha.

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