Mesa Musings: Pirates remain on top

The 1975 football season brings back many fond memories for longtime Orange Coast College fans.

Thirty-five years ago Coach Dick Tucker assembled perhaps the finest team in community college football annals. The Pirates went 11-0, hammered Rio Hondo College in the Avocado Bowl, 38-14, and won the national title. No OCC team since has come close to duplicating that feat.

I was privileged to attend every game that year.

The '75 team will be honored during special halftime ceremonies at the OCC-San Diego Mesa game Oct. 2 at LeBard Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. For reunion information, call the college's Alumni Office at (714) 432-5707.

Methodical in the way it dispatched opponents, OCC's '75 team won games by an average score of 40-13.

It featured a solid offensive line, two excellent quarterbacks, a corps of talented receivers, the best running back in the nation and the premier blocking back in the land. The Pirates averaged 226 yards per game on the ground and 192 through the air.

"That's the way I liked it," Tucker said about the magnificent season. "During my years as coach I always wanted my teams to be balanced in their attack."

The Pirates had an equally stout defense, and dominated their foes.

"We didn't have a close game all season, but we never intentionally ran up a score," Tucker said. "We'd pull our starters in the third quarter every game."

The Pirates could easily have averaged 50 to 55 points a game.

"I had a blast that season," said Dave White, who quarterbacked the '75 Bucs and later played at Oregon State University. White has been the highly successful head football coach at Edison High School in Huntington Beach for nearly three decades.

"I have great memories of that team. We all got along and liked one another. Most of us were Orange County kids — from Newport, Corona del Mar, Edison and Westminster — and we had great camaraderie and chemistry."

The offense was spearheaded by sophomore running back, Tony Accomando.

"Tony rushed for 1,155 yards that season," Tucker said. "He could easily have topped 1,500. He averaged six yards per carry, and had very few carries in the second half of our games."

Accomando, an OCC All-American who later started at TCU, led the nation with 29 touchdowns. He and many of his teammates subsequently started at four-year schools.

"We rotated lots of guys in and out of the lineup," White said. "I think that kept injuries to a minimum. They say you get hurt when you're tired. Our guys were always fresh."

"We had no weaknesses," Tucker said. "We were great on offense. I would have hated to try to defend us. We played ball control. We also had a very physical defense, and we had an outstanding kicking game."

No team could get within two touchdowns of the Bucs all season.

"I knew we had a special team by midseason, and we began to think about an unbeaten record," Tucker said. "Though we were taking it one game at a time, I told our kids, 'If we go undefeated no one can ever take that away from us. Someone down the road may be able to tie us with an undefeated record of their own, but no one will ever top us.'"

"In my eyes, we were led by Accomando," White said modestly. "Our team mirrored Tony's personality and style. He was a quiet guy — not a braggart — but he had an enormous amount of self-confidence. He always let his performance on the field do his talking for him.

"Our team was confident, but we never took an opponent lightly. All great teams have letdowns, but we never once had a letdown all season. We finished off every single opponent."

White said OCC's toughest game was its 36-17 midseason victory over Fullerton College at Anaheim Stadium.

"Fullerton had a great program with great athletes and coaches, and they really got after us. But we played well. After that win, we knew we were involved in something special."

OCC's '75 Pirates have established a legacy that will never be topped!

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Wednesdays.

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