Leon Worden

Damn, I miss Harry Welch

Leon Worden · March 19, 1997

I miss Harry Welch. Boy, I never thought I'd hear myself say that. If I'd uttered such blasphemy in high school, they'd have hauled me out behind the old football shed and beaten the tar out of me. And I would have deserved it.

Harry took over the head coaching job at Canyon a few years after I graduated from Hart. Harry turned out to be probably the winningest coach in the history of the Santa Clarita Valley. For a decade, he was the driving force behind Cowboy Football. Hell, Harry Welch was Cowboy Football.

We hated Cowboy Football.

We were the Indians. The proud, mighty Indians of Hart High School. We lived to beat the renegade bunch of fighting men from across town. Every year we looked forward to the Big Game. Hart-Canyon. Or Canyon-Hart, I suppose, depending on which side of the valley you lived on.

What a rivalry! We'd swipe each other's victory trophy. We'd trash each other's school. The hijinks were folkloric, and every so often, they'd get out of hand enough to make The Signal.

It was the kind of rivalry from which legends are born. It built character. Pride. Passion. Prejudice. We were a team. We had a goal. We could see it, touch it, smell it. It burned in our hearts, souls, minds and bodies. We were one school, united against a common front.

It taught us the value of teamwork. It taught us to nurture each other's strengths for the common good -- which, in this case, meant kicking Canyon's butt. Which we did, once in awhile, before Harry Welch came along.

We learned that none of us can make all the plays by himself, but that when we work together as a unit, we can take home the brass ring. We learned that you don't run off half-cocked and do your own thing to the detriment of your squad. We learned that once a decision is made you help carry it out even if you think it's the wrong move, because you aren't always right. We learned that petty infighting and personal vendettas lead to one end and one end only. Defeat.

They were life lessons.

Perhaps that is why I am so ashamed and embarrassed by the wimpy comments I've been reading in the paper lately from some anonymous Hart parents who can't even write a letter and put their names to their opinions. Thank God, we didn't have Tell It to the Signal while I was in school. Can you imagine?

I wasn't going to say anything, but now that the cat is out of the bag on who paid for that full-page ad in The Signal some time ago -- you know, the one claiming that Valencia High School walked all over Hart in a bogus "spirit" competition -- it's open season.

Frank Ferry, wherever you are, on behalf of the soon-to-be-formed Hart Alumni Death Squad, I've got a message for you. We are going to hunt you down, and when we find you we are going to beat the holy living crap out of you.

You have thrown down the gauntlet. Speaking for my alma mater, if I may be so bold, we are going to pick it up and strangle you with it. If it's a rivalry you want, you're on, buddy. By the time we're done with you, you and the rest of the pipsqueak upstart quiche-eaters at Valencia won't know what hit you.

Now, I don't want to hear a bunch of stuff about how we're all one city. OF COURSE we're one city. Even back then, we were one valley when it came to jobs and the economy and roads and crime and such. We didn't have anything against the community of Canyon Country then, and we don't have anything against the community of Valencia now. But we sure hated Cowboy Football.

Give us back our rivalry. Give us the old team spirit. Give us a new goal. Give us the ability to instill pride and passion in the hearts of our young men again.

It's first-and-ten and you've got the ball, Frank.

Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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