1962 Falcons pulled big upset
(Editor's Note: With Colfax hosting Wheatland Friday in the Falcons' homecoming game, here's a look back to a memorable game in the longtime Falcons-Pirates series)
It was a game that was almost never played. And, despite being one of the more famous football contests in Colfax High’s illustrious 50-plus years of football history, no one had really documented it with photographs until now.
The year was 1962 and the calendar had flipped into November. Earlier that season, the Colfax Falcons and Wheatland Pirates had their regular-season game scheduled for a Friday night at the Auburn Fairgrounds cancelled.
Due to heavy rains and flooding that had hit the Northern California area that week, and with roads unsafe to travel, Colfax and Wheatland officials conferred to cancel the Oct. 12 game for safety purposes. It was one of several games that were postponed that particular weekend around the North State. In Colfax that week, 21.36 inches of rain was accumulated in just four days.
Later, as the regular season came to a close, Wheatland was on top of the Pioneer League standings with a record of 5-0. Del Oro, meanwhile, coming off a 21-12 win over Colfax in the last week of the season, was sitting in second place with a 4-1 record. Its lone 27-0 loss had come at the hands of Wheatland earlier in the season.
According to historians, and in a pre-playoff era, Wheatland coach Pete Torres didn’t want to play a make-up game. His team was undefeated. The Pirates had beaten Del Oro. He had players who had to move on to basketball and wrestling seasons.
But in a vote of the Pioneer League principals, because Del Oro, with a loss by Wheatland could still earn a piece of the league title, Pioneer League officials voted that the game had to be played.
For most Colfax fans who ventured to the Auburn Fairgrounds that Saturday afternoon, not too many gave the Falcons a snowball’s chance in you know where of winning the game. After all, Wheatland hadn’t lost a game in three years. The Pirates came to the fairground gridiron that Saturday with a 28-game winning streak, the longest in the state at the time. In fact, according to Harvey Krie, who played linebacker on that ’62 Falcons team, the Sacramento Bee on Thursday of that week predicted Wheatland winning, 35-0.
But with Colfax coach Glenn Poole inserting a defensive game plan that he thought would disrupt the timing in Wheatland’s precision like wing-T offense, the Falcons had part of the blueprint to an upset.
“All season we ran a six-two on defense,” remembered Krie who is retired and still resides in the rural Colfax area. “But coach Poole moved our toughest guy Pat Bergeron over their center and he backed off our tackles about a yard and a half off the line of scrimmage. Pat just overwhelmed their center and after that Wheatland really didn’t know who to block. We were in their backfield all game long.”
On offense a balanced rushing attack led by Felix Wroblewski (16x99), Ron Fawcett (16x68) and Bob Wallington (15x48) overwhelmed the Pirates who had allowed more than one touchdown to be scored against them in a game only once in their previous eight games.
Both the Colfax Record and Auburn Journal covered the game but no photographs from the game were ever published.
Recently, in researching efforts to produce an on-line football history that will be placed on the Colfax High website, some of the only known photos that were taken at the game in Wheatland High’s yearbook from that year have been discovered.
So, for your enjoyment, some 52 years later here are some Colfax-Wheatland game action photos. Oh, by the, way, the final score that day: Colfax 27, Wheatland 14.
Nov. 17, 1962
Colfax 27, Wheatland 14
Wheatland 0 7 0 7 – 14
Colfax 7 6 7 7 – 27
C – Wallington 4 run (Wallington run)
C – Fawcett 1 run (Wroblewski run)
W – Slemp 69 pass from Jaunch (Williams run)
C – Fawcett 1 run (Thompson run)
C – Wroblewski 7 run (Novak pass from Thompson)
W – Stacy 14 pass from Jaunch (Jaunch run)