Wind gusts reached 45 m.p.h. Thursday afternoon in Lancaster as the Antelope Valley High School football team headed out to its final practice for tonight's Golden League showdown with Canyon of Canyon Country.
"This is a calm day," Antelope Coach Brent Newcomb deadpanned.
But by the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, things figure to be somewhat c-c-colder . Antelope Valley wouldn't mind that too much, for the weather is one of its biggest home-field advantages. The theory is that the Antelopes are used to numbness and watching passes get carried back to the quarterback like boomerangs.
It is under such conditions that Bob Hitchcock will watch the game he never thought he'd see--someone playing to break the Southern Section record of 46 straight wins.
Hitchcock's Temple City teams set the mark between 1969 and 1973. Canyon tied it last week with a win over Quartz Hill, and Hitchcock will be in the stands at Lancaster tonight, watching as the Cowboys try to push the mark to 47, which would tie the state record. Hitchcock certainly can appreciate what Canyon has done.
"But it's a little different situation now," said Hitchcock, who retired as coach after the 1981 season and is now a wood-shop teacher at Temple City. "We had to play the best of the whole area. . . . It's the best of just 30 teams now in one of the conferences.
"Sure, Canyon has an excellent team, and to win that many games means that they have a great program. If you look into the administration, you'll probably see some real good support, as we had, and some very good assistants."
Two of those assistants became head coaches--Don Swanson at Temple City and Brian Beveridge at Northview of Covina. The staff also included Ed Mohr, who remained at Temple City and has now been with Swanson since 1961. Each, of course, holds a memory of the past.
Swanson said: "I am surprised it's going to be broken. I didn't think we would see it in our lifetime. But we are seeing it happen and we are happy for them."
Beveridge said: "It was a real good group of kids because the winning just got kind of contagious. But I remember someone saying how much pressure there would be on as to who would be the first team to lose. When we lost to St. Francis (to end the streak), it was like they won the world championship. But we went on to win the (Southern Section) championship that year.
"The pressure of when it would end and what team will end it was there, and I'm not sure it was so good. I kind of feel sorry for the people (who lose), but eventually it will happen. You have to do a good coaching job to try and downplay the whole thing.
"Temple City at the time just accepted winning. I remember after the first CIF championship, someone said we could win another and a bunch of us laughed. We did it and said that it would have to stop sooner or later. We just didn't think it was possible to keep going. It's a hard thing to explain. I think we just all accepted winning."
Temple City won Southern Section 2-A titles in 1970, '71, '72 and '73. The Rams moved up to 3-A and won again in 1976, then followed that up in the revamped playoff structure with Eastern Conference championships the next two years.
Prep Notes Southern Section Commissioner Stan Thomas, who coached against Bob Hitchcock while at since-closed La Mirada Neff, will also be at the game. . . . Guard Barry Howard of Etiwanda has given an oral commitment to play basketball for the University of Washington, the fourth player to do so heading into the start of the week-long early signing period next Wednesday. . . . Center Brian Williams of Santa Monica St. Monica will visit the University of Arizona this weekend and then decide between the Wildcats and New Mexico. . . . Marcus Liberty, of Martin Luther King of Chicago, rated by most as the nation's No. 1 prospect, Thursday said he will attend University of Illinois. Liberty, a 6-foot 8-inch, 190-pounder, did surprise several UCLA officials last weekend with a self-paid trip to the campus. but contrary to published reports, was not set to take an official visit to the campus, Bruin sources said Thursday. "Illinois is closer," Liberty told the Associated Press. "I stayed at home to make my mother happy. Now, she can watch me play. This way I can come back home, and I don't have to call Mom all the time to mail money to me."