KINGSBURG – The year was 1967. It was the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, but at Kingsburg High School, it might as well have been the 1950s, as football players rocked short haircuts and letterman jackets and the girls tried to look like Sandra Dee.
Not that much was expected of the ’67 Kingsburg High football team. The Vikings had a new coach in native Texan William "Dub" Doshier, and Kingsburg had not won a league title in almost a decade.
Doshier did a magnificent job under-selling his team one week into the season as the Kingsburg Lions Club held its annual dinner that hosted the coaches of the Vikings’ opposing teams.
“We are little and slow,” Doshier said in his Texas twang, the bull manure almost dripping off every word. “Of the 30 players on our team, 10 are under 150 pounds. Our little kids are extremely slow and our big players are slower. Kingsburg parents have set a good example – the kids are too nice.”
Kingsburg played “nice” in a 6-6 opening tie against Lindsay before gaining its footing. Then, the Vikings, getting the hang of Doshier’s run-oriented I formation, won six of their final nine regular-season games to tie for the league title with Exeter.
That 1967 team, some of its players a few pounds heavier and a little more bent than 50 years ago, will be honored on Sept. 15 with an introduction before the start of the Kingsburg game against visiting Monache.
“Dub Doshier was the coach and he liked to run the ball way too much,” said Bob Kataoka, who was – no surprise — a receiver for the Vikings. "The quarterback was Mike Reardon, and he was accurate on short passes but didn’t throw the long ball. They used Mark Bennett to throw long — he could throw and kick the ball a mile.”
The offensive line consisted of Mark Pinheiro, Keith Erickson, Curtis Rasmussen, Mike Sadderstrom and Leonard Samuelson. Pinheiro was 6-foot-1, 220 pounds in an era when 200-pound linemen were considered big.
“I was co-captain of the team and have a lot of memories,” Samuelson said. “We went 6-2-2 and lost in the playoffs to Chowchilla. We tied Orosi and I had a lot of relatives in Orosi and that was the only blemish on their record — they went 9-0-1.”
About 200 miles north in San Francisco, where the Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead were getting their start and flower power reigned, future NFL Hall of Famer Dan Fouts was filling Kezar Stadium with passes for the St. Ignatius High team. But in the Central Valley of California, the forward pass was used more sparingly and the Vikings ran behind linemen, who were no behemoths.
“We had a few big linemen who were around 200 pounds, but we had more speed than anything else,” Samuelson said. “There was no weightlifting program then."
That diminutive John Perry was on the Kingsburg roster at all was unlikely. Perry and his wife Kathy — his high school sweetheart — now live close enough to Kingsburg High to hear the roar of the crowd on a Friday night. However, back in 1967, Perry had only just arrived in town after earlier attending Hanford High School.
“We bought a ranch in Kingsburg in December of 1966,” Perry said. “I missed the 1966 football season, but I did wrestle for Kingsburg that year.”
Perry is a Portuguese-American, and his grandfather came to America from the Azores, passing through Ellis Island, where they changed his name from Francisco Pereira to Frank Perry. Grandpa Frank settled first in Yreka, at the northern tip of California, and then traveled to Kingsburg to join relatives by riding a motorized bicycle, a relatively new invention in 1907.
Six decades later, John Perry was suiting up for the Vikings.
“The town was very supportive of the team,” Perry said. “Jimmy Johnson and Monte Clark — future pro players — had played there some years earlier, and there was a lot of tradition.”
Call him "Dub"
Coach Doshier also meandered his way to Kingsburg. He grew up near Temple, Texas, where he became known as “Dub” because his grade-school teacher refused to call him by his initials, W.A. He moved with his family to Pasadena in 1940 and later played on the 1951 Pasadena City College national championship team and on a College of the Pacific squad that competed in the Sun Bowl.
Doshier coached at four Northern California high schools before his arrival in Kingsburg. He fit in well in the bucolic small town, where he could play golf and bridge and attend church on Sundays with his children and wife Priscilla.
“Dub enjoyed his time in Kingsburg enormously,” said Priscilla, 82, by phone from Riverside, where she now lives. “It was amazing how united the town was behind football. The place didn’t completely roll up when the games were played, but it was pretty quiet downtown. I have nothing but happy memories of Kingsburg.”
Erickson — a small-but-quick lineman — has similar recollections.
“It was an incredible season,” he said. “We had a good coaching staff and it was a great town where you’d walk down the main street and people would shout out your name and ask how you were doing.”
Kingsburg went 2-1-2 in the non-league season, losing its only game to rival Selma, 18-7. It also dropped its West Sequoia League opener to Coalinga 13-7. However, three consecutive league victories set up a regular-season finale at Exeter and a chance for a co-title.
Few gave Kingsburg a chance, since Exeter was 3-0 in league and had beaten Coalinga.
The hard running of George Roehlk and Dave Burris and the receiving of Kataoka helped Kingsburg take a 13-7 halftime lead, but Exeter nudged ahead 14-13 after three quarters.
Two early fourth-quarter passes moved the Vikings to the Monarch 29. Then Burris ran the ball six consecutive times before bulling over from the two. Bennett’s kick eventually gave Kingsburg the game, a co-title and its first-ever playoff berth, though it lost 32-13 the following week to Chowchilla.
The memories are vivid for players like Perry, who still fits into his green letterman's jacket with the league championship patch and halfback/safety Russell Campagne.
“What I miss the most is how the whole town of Kingsburg would support the team,” he said. “Every Friday night, the fans would come out and cheer. You had the entire town’s backing, and it was a great thing.”