Copyright 1946, Fiction
House, Inc., New York
The Coast, by Bill Leiser
There's a helter-skelter
season brewing hereabouts. Servicemen grid veterans returning
with the shrill of the starting whistle may influence the title
race to some extent, yet two facts can be accepted at the outset:
(1) Southern California is the team to beat; (2) St. Mary's Herman
Wedemeyer will dominate the personal headline news as the area's
outstanding football performer.
If our clients are weary
of reading paragraph (1) above, year after year, so are nine
members of the Pacific Coast Conference who are forever trying
to keep Jeff Cravath's Trojans out of the Rose Bowl. As to (2)
- this forecast told a year ago that Mr. Wedemeyer would return
to the Moraga campus with a new pal, Spike Cordeiro, and that
St. Mary's little band of beardless teen-agers might build themselves,
on Wedey's greatness, to top Coast position. Which is exactly
what they did with a maelstrom of hipper-dipper small muscle
so small it's impossible to believe when you see him off the
field that he can do what he does on it, takes his place as the
greatest Coast-developed player of all time, a distinction previously
owned by the big U.C.L.A. back Kenny Washington. Unlike Washington
(and unlike any other "great" we've ever watched) Wedemeyer,
even in his frosh season, never had a bad day. No matter what
game or what opposition, he has always been every sane observer's
choice as the best man on the field. Though still at work with
a team that lacks both depth and balance, this 172-pound colossal
should lead an improved James Phelan-coached organization to
the No. 1 slot among our independents, with the University of
San Francisco under Maurice J. (Clipper) Smith putting up considerable
argument to the contrary. . . .
Our patented Mr. Wedemeyer,
good as he is, will not completly overshadow the stars of this
realm as he did in '45. There's honest-to-grandpaw competition
now. Oregon's do-everything man, Jake Leicht, will out-touchdown
Phelan's phenom, many say. . . .
St. Mary's Still Wears
A Ding-Dang-Dung combination
with a fine (though thin) line may boost the Gaels and Herman
Wedemeyer to new heights. They got as far as the Sugar Bowl last
year, though not exactly over it, and the team coming up is greatly
improved in weight, maturity, and experience.
Abraham Dung of St. Louis
High in Hawaii will personally provide one-third of the aforementioned
combination. Johnny Dang of St. Anthony's in Hawaii will do ditto.
This leaves Wedemeyer to supply the ding, of which same he has
a very large supply, indeed. Such venerable Hawaiian observers
as Friend Loui Leong Hop insist both Dang and Dung were better
schoolboy players than Wedey, and even if they miss the Moraga
boat it's nice to dream of three such sorcerers in one backfield.
Wedemeyer carried a superbly
coached team to almost impossible successes last year simply
by flabbergasting more muscular opposition. Today's new deal
gives Coach Jim Phelan some bigger and better trumps to back
his take-all joker. There's fullback power to tighten the defense
for Wedey's splits and sweeps from Ray Ahlstrom, the rugged man,
just back from service. There's more of same in J. Dang. And
this explains why Harry Van Glieson, who could be one of the
rippingest fullbacks in Coast history, will be, instead, one
of the best ends. Little Spike Cordeiro, shifty as a shadow,
has been replaced at right half by Bob Shippen, a husky freshman
and a comer. Jim Ryan from the Fourth Air Force squad backs Dennis
the Brain O'Connor, that cool and crafty strategist, at quarter;
and the veteran Gonzales Morales plays at quarter, half, or fullback,
and plenty good.
Draft-call losses in the
line only mean the replacement of good young players with older,
better ones. The huge Bill McPartland of '42 fame is back at
tackle along with Joe Suarez, a swell workhorse. Ed Ryan and
Van Glieson will be two of the West's finest flankmen on both
offense and defense. Pete Bellani and Tony Billoti, smoothed
up by Coast Guard grid experience, will give the team real class
at guards. Vic Cuccia, last year's center, is strongly backed
- for a change. The other line positions will be chiefly supported
by freshmen, but what of it? The '45 regulars were almost all
freshmen and they didn't do bad.
Yes, the Gaels look like
a good bet for any bowl but the Rose. For the first time Wedemeyer
will be playing with experienced men, and with a starting team
that has no apparent flaws. Despite toughened opposition, St.
Mary's needs only a fair shake to go through undefeated.