Support the Monarchy? Bullish on Brahmas? Here's a Rivalry for You

The Victory Bell, awarded each season to the winner of the football game between Pierce and Valley colleges, will be at stake Saturday night when the teams meet in a Western State Conference interdivisional game at Valley.

Interestingly, it will be only the 28th clash between the schools, which started playing football in the late 1940s. Their first meeting, in 1965, was won by Valley, 26-6. The game at Monarch Stadium drew 5,500 people and was televised by Channel 13.

The schools had planned to meet several years earlier, but the Brahmas couldn't make it.

In 1951, Valley and Pierce were scheduled to play but Brahma Coach Mike Cirino canceled the game when, as the school newspaper The Roundup described it, the school "was forced to retire the team after it dwindled to 17 players."

Come one, come all: Neither Valley nor Pierce has enjoyed overwhelming success at the gate for several years. But Valley Coach Jim Fenwick wants to change that Saturday--at least for one night.

Fenwick hopes to attract 10,000 fans to the game and establish an all-time, single-game attendance record for a Valley-area football game. The Monarch Stadium record is 6,804 for Valley's 27-17 loss to Bakersfield in 1969.

Ironically, the Pierce stadium might hold the record for the largest crowd in the area: 8,200 on June 15, 1985, for a game between the L.A. Express and Arizona Outlaws of the old United States Football League.

Through the years: Although Valley won the first five games in the series, Pierce took the next seven and holds a 16-11 edge.

Many of the games were outstanding.

The 1975 matchup, won by Pierce, 53-49, is considered by some longtime observers as the best junior college game in the area's history. Each team scored two touchdowns in the last two minutes and time ran out with Valley on the Pierce four.

In 1982, the teams battled in the rain and Valley won, 21-20. The Valley coach was Chuck Ferrero, now the school's athletic director, and Fenwick was the Pierce coach.

Two years ago, in the last meeting between the teams, quarterback Sean Fitzgerald connected with wide receiver Brian Comer on a 13-yard screen pass with 2 minutes 24 seconds to play to give the Monarchs a 27-23 victory.

For old times' sake: Watching the game Saturday from the bleachers will be Allen Weiss and other members of the 1955 Valley team that was 8-1 and won the Metropolitan Conference championship--the school's first title--and then defeated Taft College in the Orange Show Bowl in San Bernardino.

Weiss, now a musician, said the team had an interesting group of players.

"We had a mixture of Korean War veterans and [recent] high school graduates," said Weiss, a tackle and kicker on the team.

The 1955 squad originally pledged to gather every 10 years but they met only once, in 1965. Earlier this year, however, Weiss and former teammate Babe Coverston met by chance and decided to organize the reunion. They located more than 22 players and Coach Al (Ace) Hunt and assistant Tom Matula, who also willattend.

Been there, done that: Except for the first five years, Fenwick has been involved in virtually every game in the series.

Fenwick, the Monarch head coach since 1991, was an assistant at Valley before that. He was the Pierce head coach from 1981 to 1985, after several years as an assistant. He also played at Pierce and scored on a two-yard run to help the Brahmas defeat Valley, 24-14, in 1970.

The Pierce quarterback that season was Mark Harmon, who later starred at UCLA and is now an actor.

Harmon is one of three Brahma quarterbacks who gained prominence after leaving Pierce. Erik Kramer, now with the Chicago Bears, and Babe Laufenberg, who played with several NFL teams and is now retired, were the others.

Kramer led Pierce to a 10-0 record and the top ranking nationally in 1984 before the Brahmas lost to Taft in the Potato Bowl. Kramer plays host every year to a celebrity golf tournament that benefits . . . Valley.

Trivia Question

Which was the only team to defeat Valley in 1955?


Bill Norton, Pierce coach, on the rivalry with Valley:

--"The game is great for both schools . . . . I believe it's going to be a barn-burner."

Jim Fenwick, Valley coach, on the rivalry:

--"It's one of those games that has that extra ingredient of emotion that's very unpredictable."

Trivia Answer

Glendale beat the Monarchs in 1955, 6-0.

Compiled by Fernando Dominguez.

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