In the end, even James Christensen's impressive size--300 pounds, 6-foot-4--couldn't save him.
He went down with the rest of the Servite High School football players--whipped by electric clippers that left them looking like a team of Kojaks.
About 30 football players from the all-boys Catholic high school in Anaheim, and just as many parents, siblings and girlfriends, crammed into Salon Russo in Brea last week for the second annual buzz-off.
Some players joked about getting the regulation buzz cuts.
"Just a little off the sides," said one, settling into the barber's chair.
"I like my hair," a player mourned, seeing his brown locks land in clumps on his lap.
Yet, in the end, each player succumbed to the barber's razor. Not a cowlick was left standing.
David Russo, who owns the salon with his wife and parents, offered the players free buzz cuts as a way of turning a dreaded event into "a day they look forward to."
"I remember how getting a buzz was more dreadful than getting hit by a 150-pound moose," he said. Russo weighed just 98 pounds during his high school football career, which he spent warming the bench because the coach feared for his safety on the field.
Russo plied the players with pizza and soft drinks before joining his fellow barbers in administering the regulation haircuts.
All football players at Servite must wear their hair no longer than 1/8th of an inch all the way around the scalp.
"You just follow the contour of the head," Russo said. "It's like peeling an orange."
If players have enough hair leftover to pinch between their two fingers, it's too long. The team levies a serious penalty on anyone whose hair isn't short enough by Hell Week: Teammates are allowed to shave the offender's scalp.
"The guys will make a checkerboard pattern on their heads," said Mark Glaudini, athletic trainer for Servite.
Even before the barbers plugged in their clippers, a decree went out to all of the players:
"No guard," yelled Scott Jones, the 17-year-old varsity quarterback. Without a metal guard placed on the electric clippers, the players would receive the shortest cuts possible.
"No guard even if they ask for it--it shows more discipline," Jones explained.
Three stylists worked on the players, while their parents hovered nearby taking pictures.
"I used to have dreadlocks," said Dave Parkinson, 17, a linebacker for the varsity team with a head of unruly blond hair.
Parkinson feigned nonchalance at his pending buzz.
"I think they're cool," he said, settling into the barber's chair while Gene Russo, David's father, wrapped a red drape around Parkinson's large neck.
"Are you ready?" Gene Russo asked, his clippers aimed at Parkinson's head. Parkinson shrugged.
"Hey, it feels good," he said, as Russo shaved a swath across his scalp.
Parkinson picked at the tufts of hair falling in his lap.
"It looks like girls' hair," he said.
"Throw it down if you don't want it," Russo said.
When Gene Russo finished, Parkinson looked like Mr. Clean.
Christensen, 17, the varsity team's huge offensive tackle, waxed philosophic on his baldness.
"No problem. Hair's hair--it'll grow back," he said, as David Russo went to work.
Christensen's bald head made him look more menacing.
"Would you want to meet up with him?" a parent asked.
During the buzz-off, the already shorn players milled around the salon poking fun at whoever was in the chairs. They gathered around one boy after the clippers revealed he had a pronounced widow's peak.
"Hey, he looks like Eddie Munster," shouted a player, to the guffaws of his teammates.
They compared skulls, making sure nobody went away with too much hair.
"Hey, Mike's hair is too long," complained Parkinson, seeing 17-year-old Mike Hill, a wide receiver, with a 5 o'clock shadow covering his scalp.
"Dude, this is 1/8th of an inch right here," Hill said, pinching at his skull. "My hair's just darker than yours."
Some left the chairs rubbing their scalps, feeling only prickles where their hair used to be. Others quickly donned bandannas or baseball caps, then studied their new look in the mirrors.
"Is this a skinhead convention?" joked one.
Ann Muller, mother of 15-year-old linebacker Matt, stood holding a clump of her son's hair in her fist.
"His girlfriend wanted some," she said.
In little more than an hour, all of the players were bald, their hair swept into a huge pile in a corner of the salon.
Reviews from onlookers were mixed.
Tane Russo, David's wife, stared thoughtfully at one player's skull.
"He has a pretty egg shape," she said finally, trying to be kind.
Before leaving, the players stopped to pose for a team picture.
When last seen, they were headed for the coach's house, carrying a large plastic trash bag filled with hair.