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By Jon Hammond
Land of Four Seasons 

When the Warriors played 6-man, 8-man and 11-man football

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi

 

September 28, 2019

Photo provided

Dick Johnson with his grandson, Alec Johnson.

I played quarterback for the Warriors football team when I was a senior, in 1945. There was no stadium in those days, and football games were played at Imhoff Field, which is the grassy area on the south side of the old Jacobsen Junior High on Snyder Street (now being used for Cerro Coso College) but back then it was Tehachapi High.

The "stands" back in the 1940s was a small set of wooden bleachers, maybe six rows of seats tall and 20 yards long. There would only be 50 to 75 people at each of the games, which were always played on Saturday afternoon. We had to play during daylight hours because there were no lights on the field. And there were no announcers, of course. We did have a couple of cheerleaders, though - I remember Betty Dowdy and Barbara Inlund.

Just finding opposing teams to play against was a challenge back in those days, since there were so few high schools in Kern County. We had to make long road trips for our games, and our opponents included teams as far away as Barstow and Victorville. Fielding 11-man teams was also a challenge that some small schools simply couldn't manage. One year in the course of the football season we played 6-man, 8-man and 11-man games: Randsburg had a 6-man team, Trona had an 8-man squad and most of the others were 11 players - sometimes just barely.

I remember taking a hard shot and being laid out. This was in the days of leather helmets with no face guards. I got dinged pretty good, but I had to get back up and keep playing because we didn't have any other quarterbacks. One time we played Bishop one day and Lone Pine the next – since the team was already up in the Owens Valley, it was decided we'd play back-to-back games to save travel time and expense. My teammates included Alfred Damian, John Barrera, Leonard Gutierrez, Ralph Tallman, Gilbert Cervantes, David Navarro, George Koutroulis, Jesse Peters, Hugh Vasquez, Louie Damian, Bruce Hudson and Tony Anthony.

Dick Johnson

Dick Johnson grew up in Tehachapi and his father, Walter Johnson, published the Tehachapi News for many years. It was later purchased from him by his sons Dick and Warren. Dick was a sportswriter and lifelong Warrior. The press box at Coy Burnett Stadium is named for him

 
 

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