Melendez: Crowley a constant in this Valley rivalry; Arcadia’s Lagace is no villain; Long night at Maranatha.


Above: Paul Crowley attends last year’s game with his son, Jon. (Photo courtesy of Jon Crowley)

MIGUEL MELENDEZ COLUMN

TWO years ago I had the privilege to spend an evening talking football with Paul Crowley, 82, and his son Jon.

It was an enlightening experience for this sportswriter to listen to the history of San Gabriel Valley football, particularly the brewing rivalry between South Pasadena and San Marino high schools.

The teams will meet at 7 tonight at San Marino for the 56th time as they battle for the coveted Crowley Cup. San Marino (2-5, 0-2) has won the last two meetings convincingly, but South Pasadena (4-3, 1-1) still leads the series, 27-25-4.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the rivalry itself is the fact Crowley never has missed a game.

Jon is a football official who spends Friday nights on the gridiron, too. But tonight you’ll find him at San Marino, wheeling a living legend onto the field. Paul has attended every San Marino-South Pasadena football game dating back to 1955 when the teams first met. Before that, the biggest rivalry used to be South Pasadena-Alhambra. Paul called it the “biggest rivalry in the history between the 1920s and 1930s.”

Paul’s health has been a concern as of late. He was in a fragile state when I met him a few years ago and his hearing was suspect. But the way he went about living, his personality and charming sarcasm are a page we can borrow from his book.

Then there’s his love for football. His memory was as sharp as when he attended the 21st meeting in 1974, a game that was televised on NBC. It also was the first Saturday afternoon game in San Marino history.
So what are the chances Paul will make an appearance tonight?

“His orders are still to wheel him out to the game,” Jon said, “even if in an iron lung.”

Paul in 1990 created the perpetual plaque, and every year he personally has picked up the plaque, taken it to the trophy company to have the latest winner inscribed and returned it to the winning school.

Two years ago, the perpetual plaque deservedly was renamed the “Crowley Cup.”

The honor was long overdue.

Lagace’s no villain

Arcadia’s Taylor Lagace is not the out-of-control, punching machine Burbank head coach Hector Valencia made him out to be in a Los Angeles Daily News article last weekend, and it was unfortunate to see Lagace’s name dragged through the mud like that.

Lagace and Burbank’s Quortney Brazier were involved in a scuffle in the Apaches’ 48-20 victory. Both players were ejected and will sit out tonight’s game.

Valencia told the Daily News that Lagace punched Brazier in the face and Brazier suffered a black eye. There was no mention of Arcadia’s side of the story.

Arcadia coach Jon Dimalante refuted the report and said Lagace never threw punches, which would make sense given Brazier was wearing a helmet.

Lagace’s a competitor. If he’s guilty of anything it’s that he’s a fierce competitor. That he’s a talented wideout makes him an easy target for defenders to instigate him.

At the very least Lagace, who will spend the next two days at a church retreat, should have been given a fair chance to defend himself.

That never happened in last weekend’s article.

A long night

What a night if you happened to be at Maranatha last week. The game lasted nearly five hours and needed five overtime periods before Cerritos Valley Christian prevailed, 70-64, in an epic showdown that will be remembered for years to come.

It undoubtedly was the longest, most thrilling game I have ever been a part of in my decade-long career as a sportswriter. Believe us when we say we tried hard to get the story in the next day’s paper, but that just wasn’t going to happen when the Star-News’ deadline is 11:10 p.m.

The game didn’t end until 11:30 p.m. We weren’t the only ones worried about deadline. There was talk about the lights possibly going out at 11, but fortunately the game continued.

It was nice to see a show of sportsmanship when the game ended, with both teams taking a knee at midfield and coaches from both staffs praising the teams.

There’s little doubt anyone on either side of the stands left the game early, and just glancing from the sidelines fans were on their feet.

Maranatha fans were just as gracious and, to an extent, appreciative of the warrior-like effort from the Minutemen who seemingly sweated every ounce and shed every tear because playoff hopes were on the line.

Here’s hoping Maranatha players are remembered for playing out an instant classic.

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  • PurdueAlum05

    Great work Miguel!

  • Anonymous

    Paul Crowley was also the mayor at San Marino and was the longtime PA announcer at the San Marino football games. Jon was a good player at SMHS and at Occidental College. Truley, a family that loves football.

  • Thanks Paul

    Paul Crowley is an exemplary individual, his love of football is just one aspect of his long history of community service.

    From community government, work for the schools, support of atheletics, he has had a significant volunteer presence in every aspect of community service to San Marino for decades. Whether you knew it or not, as a SM resident Paul has touched your life and made it a better in both small and large ways.

    He has given freely of his time and money to help build a better community for all residents.

    Note: every year he opens up his house so the SM Little League can hold the 12 year old draft in his recreation room. The the draft has never been held at any other venue.

    Paul will be an irreplaceable asset to the SM community, as his long run approaches the goal line, all that he has touched and benefited should offer him a sincere thanks and hearty, “job well done”!

  • burbank fan

    Im just waiting on the Realist to comment i know he has some very encouraging words about this article, well just one part of the article.

  • theRealdeal

    Burbanks coaches are something else! i dont blame the kids but i do rest of blame on their coaches!
    nice to see a good kid and a great athlete in the WSGV get his rep. cleared up! good job miguel!
    good luck to St. Francis, Arcadia, Monrovia/TC, and good luck to both Pasadena schools!

  • theRealdeal

    Burbanks coaches are something else! i dont blame the kids but i do rest of blame on their coaches!
    nice to see a good kid and a great athlete in the WSGV get his rep. cleared up! good job miguel!
    good luck to St. Francis, Arcadia, Monrovia/TC, and good luck to both Pasadena schools!

  • HS Football Fan

    Anyone who was at the game on Friday night and actually saw what happened knows that this article is a bunch of BS!

    Based on what I saw, Coach Wall was treated fairly and got what he deserved – - immediate termination.

    Apparently Coach Valencia is an absolute LIAR! “It wasn’t like Wall threw a punch, but he pushed Lagace off Brazier, and obviously that’s inappropriate” – - BS! I saw Brazier pull Lagace to the ground by his facemask and then the two of them began fighting. I then saw Coach Wall jump on the two players and punch Lagace 3 or 4 times. That’s a hell of a lot more than “inappropriate bahavior”!

    Coach Valencia’s comments in this article don’t even pass the reasonableness test. You don’t fire a long-time coach on the spot who simply tried to break up a fight, and who didn’t throw any punches, and who simply “touched” (or grabbed) the wrong player. That simply doesn’t make sense!

    I believe Coach Valencia knows exactly what Coach Wall did and isn’t demonstrating the leadership necessary to say so. The credibility of the entire BHS football program depends on the character and leadership of those who are at the top of the program. Coach Wall failed the program and now Coach Valencia is doing the same. It’s a shame – - and shame on them!

    A final thought … Ryan Seidler calling the fight “a shocker” is laughable! It all looked to me like a set-up from the beginning to get the Arcadia player ejected from the game. Maybe Seidler was just being sarcastic with his comment or maybe he was just making fun of Gittleson’s reporting? Who knows?

  • MoneyTalks

    Football Fan,

    Well said. No leadership at all. I wonder what type of program they are trying to foster.

  • Realist

    Great article. And great post Hs fan. You are correct. It looked like a totle set up. And the fact that Valencia totally lied about what happened is a disgrace. He is a head football coach at a High School and hes lying in front of all his players and better yet all of the SGV. Not only did he lie in the paper. But right after the incident happened, he refused to point out who Wall was. Its a relief that people will now see who was truly at fault in this incident.

    Burbank fan-
    How is this for “encouragment?” I think your mad because you know how classless your WHOLE coaching staff is and the fact that the truth came out breaks your little heart. Ive got news for you bud, Ive known since the 08 year how Burbank does things, and its not good. You believe what you want, but I got the facts. A matter of fact I am at alot these events where Burbank shows their true colors.

  • featherhead

    Paul Crowley exemplifies the support community leaders throughout, should model themselves after. Thanks Paul, and thank to you Miguel for the nice piece.

  • burbank supporter

    Arcadia fans grow up, that coach made a mistake, he should have grabbed his player only, he didn’ t throw any punches, Several players my son knows, said the coach tried to poll the arcadia kid off the burbank kid, he did it aggressively and it looked like a fight. But the kids on the sidelines, said the both kids were still going at it when they were out of bounds. Both kids were at fault, it’s football, the arcadia kid is no angel if he says the coach threw punches, that’s a lie. You should interview the kids on the sideline of burbank, hey Arcadia is no saint to sportsmanship, i witness several by you lovely fans during baseball and basketball. Also, that coach was recently added this year, get the facts.

  • Realist

    Burbank supporter-

    I’m not happy. In fact your last post is infuriating. I CAN NOT believe that you are still trying to convey the point that the coach didnt throw punches. I WATCHED him hit Taylor, then when he got pulled off he kicked him. Your in denial. And of course the Burbank players are saying he didnt hit him. HELLO! They play for the guy.

    And you want to bring up baseball and basketball? Big mistake. In baseball your coach tried to fight Parisi in the middle of the game. Classy. But thats not it. Your head baseball coach (when Arcadia was playing Burroughs) was in attendence trying to fight Arcadia’s SCOREKEEPER. Oh yea, but that Burbank sports program has tons of class. Now we will discuss Basketball. During the basketball game there were Burbank parents chanting “Just like football.” Parents? Really? Thats bad enough already. But wait, theres more. There was also a group of students sitting on ARCADIAS side talking trash! Your a joke.

    All that and, they had the most classless baseball player I have ever seen. EVER. Lonnie Kaupilla. Dirtiest most loud mouth baseball player I’ve ever seen. And not once was he disciplined by his coaches. I guess the coaches were busy trying to fight opposing coaches/fans.

    Don’t even try to say that Arcadia is more classless than Burbank. You are and arrogant person my friend. I’m still bewildered by the fact that you don’t think the coach hit Taylor. If he didn’t hit Taylor, then the Burbank police would not be investigating FELONY ASSAULT ON A MINOR if he just “did it agressivly so it looked like a fight.” You sound like an uneducated person. Get the facts. But in Burbank they didn’t post anything in the papers about the assault. No surprise there.

    It takes balls to post what you did. Now please, no more rediculous, arrogant, FALSE posts from you.

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  • Realist

    burbank supporter-

    i think your starting to get it. That must be why your not replying! Good move by you!

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  • true fan of high school football

    Why is there so much hatred towards Burbank coaches or football program? It seems everyone has a different side to what really happend. That’s the way it is because we r human and every one interprets things different. For all u guys know maybe the Arcadia player did throw the punch. Who cares who threw what. Here’s food for thought. Coach Wall was just hired this season and he has a young boy and he use to coach his sons Vikings Team. I really doubt he meant to hurt the Arcadia player. He made a mistake and unfortunately he is paying for it. I’m sure Burbank Police Dept. Is just following protocol. Which is good.That’s why Burbank is a great city, because the cops follow protocol just to be safe and because its the right thing to do. Burbank probably fired Wall because they don’t want to be associated with that type of begavior. I’m sure coach Wall didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Didn’t realize Burbank players, coaches, or football team meant soo much to Arcadia Fans…. Get a life and maybe ull stop blowing things out of proportion.

  • True Football Fan

    So what if the ArcadiA player actually threw a punch. So what if there was a fight between two players. Big deal. How old are you really…come on! I’m the biggest Burbank High Football Fan and I don’t write a stupid blog defending the Burbank player and bad mouthing the Arcadia player. If u really did appreciate football you wouldn’t be trying to blow things out of proportion. It was just a fight and a coach made a mistake. He’ll pay for his actions just like everyone pays for consequences in life based on decisions they make. Do something more productive with ur life instead of ruining high schoolfootball with ur negetive vibes.

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