SI Vault
Herman Hickman
September 19, 1955
In the first of five regional reports, SI's expert scouts the Coast and Mountain conferences and rates UCLA the best
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September 19, 1955

Football In The Far West

In the first of five regional reports, SI's expert scouts the Coast and Mountain conferences and rates UCLA the best

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A man can cover a lot of territory chasing down the crop of football teams maturing in the vast stretches between the Rocky Mountain slopes and the placid waters of the Pacific, but if he's looking for power he need go no farther than Los Angeles County. The USC Trojans and their cross-town brethren at UCLA are so loaded with talent and brawn it will be an upset of Merriwellian proportions if any of the Pacific Coast Conference members or independents successfully challenges them. The one question—how do the West's best rate nationally?—will be at least partially answered next week when UCLA meets mighty Maryland (opposite), definitely one of the best in the country, at College Park.

On the Pacific Coast the only real opposition either southern California school might encounter should come from Stanford. There are a few untested young braves up at Palo Alto who could just conceivably throw the high and mightys' camps into an uproar with a couple of reckless raiding parties. Two independents, College of the Pacific and San Jose State, are the other sturdy contenders.

But that is about it. The terrible Bear of California, whose mere growl from the lair of Berkeley used to send the boys scurrying, is an unstuffed hide of his oldtime self. Resistance from the northern half of the Pacific Coast Conference, with Washington in the lead, will be sporadic and not very effective. Utah looks to be the best of the Skyline Conference. However, neither the Skyline nor its weaker relation, the Rocky Mountain Conference, is in a class with the Coast schools. The material runs thinner in the high altitudes.


UCLA. Eligible for the Rose Bowl this year, UCLA should win the PCC title and get there on its own merits. The UCLA backfield is the best on the Coast. The only weak spot, tailback, has four candidates, any one of whom could make a good team. Doug Bradley, the likely starter, began at tailback last season but was beaten out later by Primo Villanueva. Ronnie Knox, the cause c�l�bre, has been a disappointment on offense but surprisingly good on defense. He could catch fire. In returning All-America Bob Davenport, UCLA has the best fullback in the country and just behind him is substitute Doug Peters. Jim Decker is probably the best wingback Red Sanders ever had.

If real trouble develops for Sanders it will be in the line, grievously depleted by graduation. Sanders has paired ex-Guard Hardiman Cureton with Gil Moreno at tackle, insuring himself excellent protection there, and he has converted Don Shinnick, the No. 3 fullback, to guard, a move that might be his best. Sanders believes Shinnick will develop into the UCLAns' greatest guard. My guess is that the line situation will improve immensely with the season.

Southern California. This may be a Trojan year. There are 23 lettermen returning from last season's Rose Bowl squad. In Jon Arnett at left half, Southern Cal has the most unsung and underrated player in the country. Another good sign is that star quarterback southpaw Jim Contratto is being pushed by Ellsworth Kissinger and Frank Hall. Marvin Goux is probably out for the season with a back injury, but the line is bruising. No one could ask for a better pair of guards than Orlando Ferrante and George Galli. Leon Clarke, a tenacious 6-foot 4-inch, 215-pounder, heads an impressive corps of offensively minded ends.

Stanford. Word is out that Coach Chuck Taylor has the best sophomores on the Coast this fall, and with 22 lettermen returning the Indians might surprise. If UCLA's forward wall fails to jell, Stanford is the most likely Rose Bowl representative. Outstanding are Fullback Bill Tarr and End Bill Stewart who lead the nation in yards from pass receptions with 577.

California. A hard year, I fear, for Coach Pappy Waldorf. No team could lose such men as Paul Larson at quarterback, Jim Hanifan at end and Matt Hazeltine at center and not be weaker. To complicate matters the freshman squad was only mediocre. Oklahoma and Ohio State are missing from the schedule this year but Pittsburgh could be murder. Sleep well, Pappy.

Washington. The Huskies won only two and lost eight last year, but I figure they can't have as many bad breaks again. There are 25 lettermen returning. Sandy Lederman, an excellent passer, is back again. He is backed up by fictitious-sounding Credell (the Incredible) Green, a real runner who transferred from West Contra Costa Junior College. Other junior college transfers are supposed to help.

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