The last time Wilson High won a Moore League football title, players on the current team were not yet born. When the Bruins last shared a league title, most of today’s players were toddlers.
That may explain why Friday’s homecoming victory over Lakewood appeared to be so important to the large number of alumni who packed Stephens Field. The victory clinched Wilson’s first outright league title since 1967, when former Baltimore Orioles and California Angels second baseman Bobby Grich was the quarterback. In 1968 and 1976, Wilson shared league titles.
“We had mentioned the fact that it had been a long time since we had won a title,” Bruin Coach John Brennan said. “And I won’t say it didn’t mean anything, but we didn’t make a big deal about it.”
The 37-22 victory for Wilson (8-2 overall, 5-0 in league play) could not have come at a more opportune time. Ironically, an alumni band reunion attracted more than 200 participants and many of them brought families, friends and other alumni to watch. That helped create one of the largest crowds for a Wilson game in years.
“We had a large turnout of alumni,” Brennan said. “It was so exciting (to have them there). But winning the title in front of them meant even more (to the players).”
In 1976 Wilson settled for a share of the title when it was upset in its homecoming game by Lakewood, 28-14, on the final night of the regular season. Like last week, the Bruins entered that game unbeaten and leading the Moore League.
Wilson, which has a six-game winning streak, plays host to Riverside Poly (5-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.
“It will be like playing a scrimmage game,” Brennan said. “Riverside Poly runs the same offense and defense that we do. It will be kind of fun to see if we can stop them.”
Wilson is led by running backs Frank Russell, Kevin McKenzie and Jim Hicks, who have rushed for more than 1,900 yards.
In other first-round Division I playoff games, Long Beach Poly (5-5) plays host to Huntington Beach Edison (6-4) at Veterans Stadium, and Millikan (4-6) plays at top-ranked Rialto Eisenhower (10-0).
In Division II, San Gabriel Valley League co-champion Dominguez (8-2) plays host to Mission Viejo (7-3); Downey (6-3-1), which shared the league title, plays at Muir High of Pasadena (6-4); and third-place Paramount (5-5) plays at Glendale (9-1).
In Division III, Schurr High of Montebello (8-2) plays host to Rolling Hills Peninsula (7-3), and St. Paul (3-7) plays at Hawthorne (8-2).
El Rancho (9-1) lost its final regular season game last week to Whittier, but still won its second consecutive Whitmont League title and will play host to Upland (7-3) in a Division IV playoff game. Santa Fe (5-5) plays at Baldwin Park (8-2), and Whittier travels to meet La Puente Nogales (9-0-1) in other playoff games.
Top-ranked Artesia (10-0) will visit San Marino (4-4-1) in a Division VII playoff game, La Mirada (8-2) plays host to South Pasadena (7-2-1), and John Glenn (6-4) plays at Arroyo Grande (7-2).
In Division IX, Cantwell (5-4-1) plays La Habra Whittier Christian (8-2) at Whittier College, and Olympic League champion Valley Christian (8-2) plays host to Yucca Valley (5-5).
In Division X, Leffingwell Christian (4-4-1) plays at Rosamond (8-2).
All games are scheduled to be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday.