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.