On Aug. 13, 1997, I wrote one of my favorite pieces ever in Tehachapi News. It’s fitting that 21 years later the subject matter is again upon us as the Warrior Football season starts this Friday night. It was a story about the first Tehachapi High School football team, the 1930 Tehachapi Indians and the early history of Mountain Football.
I did some digging at the Heritage League Museum and pieced together the story of our first squad with some help of a museum docent and copies of the "Tomahawk" yearbook. Thank the Lord for archives.
So as Tehachapi prepares to take the field this week for their 88th season, I thought it fitting to reprint a portion of that 1997 piece, to remember our humble beginnings.
"…Football began at THS in 1930. The first year was considerably rough for the team. The field had to be completed before all the equipment could be ordered. This caused a delay of three weeks before regular practice could begin. 14 boys turned out for the team and only one had ever played football before. Although small, the team was described as willing and enjoyed the distinction of being the smallest high school in the state to be playing football."
After only one week of practice, the team played the first game in Tehachapi against Shafter on Oct. 18, 1930. The larger Shafter team had too many substitutes and Tehachapi lost 34-0.
In the next game against Lancaster, the team showed some improvement, only allowing Lancaster to score in the first half but losing the battle 21-7.
The first team players, called the Indians, were small with an average weight of 129 pounds, but according to the 1930 Tomahawk yearbook, “they showed those big fellows what the word fight meant.”
The Indians didn’t win a single game that year but improved each week by holding their opponent to close scores and almost coming out on top several times.
By 1931, Tehachapi, now called the Redskins, came out fighting. Their first victory and the first victory ever for Tehachapi football came against Shafter with the Redskins winning 13-6. The 1931 team, like its predecessor, were very small but powerful and were nicknamed the “fighting eleven.” They shut down the mighty Lone Pine offense twice, losing in the final minutes of their second meeting.
The first winning season didn’t come until 1939 when the team went 6-2. The first league championship was won in 1942 when Tehachapi took the Sierra League title. 1948 through 1952 held much glory for Tehachapi football teams as they won five consecutive Sierra League titles…"
I still have that article nicely framed in my home office. It’s a reminder of everything we used to be, and everything we still are. There’s a picture of that first 1930 team as well, with the young men who started history staring back with that infamous Tehachapi snarl. Here’s to you Zip Castillo, Ernest Capdeville, Francis Wilson, Bob McDaniel, Donald Griffin, Martin Errecart, Steve Valdez, Lyle Jacobs, George Bronson, Harry Beauford, Joe Errea (captain), Woodrow Farrar, Albert Bernard, Bill Downs, Jose Narez, Loius Beauford, Jesus Garcia, and head coach G.H. Offerman.
Thank you gentlemen for setting the tone. 2018 Warriors, the ball is in your hands now.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.