About 30 graduates from the Coast Union Class of 2002 returned to Cambria this past weekend, July 12 to 14, to do what people do at class reunions: eat, partake of beverages, and get caught up on everything old friends are doing, from jobs to family and more.
Doing the math, one quickly figures out it was the 11th anniversary for that class; but who is counting when classmates gather at Shamel Park with scrumptious catered food, the roaring ocean a stone’s throw away, with friends and libations a-plenty?
Among the 30 reunion participants were three survivors from the train wreck that was the 11-man 2001 Bronco football team.
To wit, the team went 0-10 — but that wasn’t the worst of it. They were humbled, hammered, and handed their lunch game after game, by lopsided scores.
The worst shellacking the team took was on homecoming night, Friday, Nov. 16, against Templeton (the last time Coast was to play Templeton in football). The week before Homecoming, Coast was dominated 40-6 by Riverdale, but following Templeton’s 70-0 blowout, the shell-shocked Broncos found themselves a piteous 0-10.
Eleven years later, the three — Phil Jaroslow (kick returner, cornerback, receiver); Ian Meyers (lineman, blocker for special teams); and Alex Bakula-Davis (linebacker, receiver) — sat down with a reporter and recounted the brutal beatings they endured in that season. None of the three had played football until their senior seasons.
Why did they wait until their senior year? “They needed players and, besides, we had always kinda wanted to play football, so we went out,” said Jaroslow, who today is a distributor for a wine and spirits company in the Seattle area. Was there hope at the outset of the season that the team would be competitive?
“Absolutely we had a hope,” Meyers answered. “The coach just said, ‘Do your best guys.’”
“It didn’t seem like we were very well prepared,” Bakula-Davis added.
Among the positives in that dreary season, Bakula-Davis and senior teammate Kyle Sumner racked up hundreds of yards receiving the football and hence they were placed on the All-County Team (“Second Team Offense”) by The Tribune. “I just wanted to play,” Bakula-Davis explained.
Interestingly, the 2001 Broncos rarely used contact in practices. “The first couple weeks we did some hitting drills, but people kept getting hurt so we stopped those drills,” Jaroslow remembered.
Meyers — a firefighter in Southern California — recalls being “a 160-pound lineman going up against 260-pound linemen.”
How about attendance at the home games? “For the first half we’d have people, but by the second half it was pretty thin,” Jaroslow commented. Seriously? “Yes,” Jaroslow affirmed.
What was said in the locker room or on the bus after a serious thrashing? Bakula-Davis recalls halftime talks, but little was said after another crushing defeat. “Ice up, feel better, and see you Monday,” was what Jaroslow remembered.
On the long bus ride home after losing to Firebaugh, Tranquillity, or Farmersville and other schools in the San Joaquin Valley, there were occasions when “…someone brought a little something along” to ease the pain, Jaroslow remarked, hinting that it might have been an forbidden liquid of some sort.
For Meyers, the long bus ride home ended with another long drive home. He lived in Gorda, about halfway up the coast to Big Sur. What was that late-night drive like? “Very, very winding,” Meyers quipped. “And lots of rocks in the road.”
Bakula-Davis, currently doing sales and marketing for a technology start-up in San Francisco, remembered a potential big break for the Broncos that momentarily lifted spirits for the subjugated Broncos. It was fourth down in a close game and Coast Union had their opponent, Laton High school, backed up to their end zone.
“Someone on our team blocked their punt, but the ball was tipped right into the hands of one of their players, who ran for a first down.” And so it went in 2001, albeit the Broncos came closer to winning that game than any other that year. In the end they bowed, 34-20. But, as Jaroslow said, “We had fun anyway.”