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Otis Williams

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JAY PARIS COMMENTARY: Oceanside alumni revisit field of gloryBy JAY PARIS - [email protected] | Saturday, June 20, 2009 6:07 PM PDT ∞Loading…Increase FontDecrease Font email this storyprint this story Former Oceanside High football great C.R.

Roberts chats with a friend at the school's first alumni football game Saturday.

(Photo by Nick Morris - For the North County Times) OCEANSIDE ---- One of Oceanside High's best two-way players was idle.Blame it on a four-way bypass."My wife didn't want me to play,'' C.R.

Roberts said.

"I got to keep peace in the family.''Some five weeks removed from heart surgery, an Oceanside football legend was anchored to the sidelines.

But that didn't diminish Roberts' glee at Saturday's first Oceanside alumni football game.Many returned with gray hair; some had little up top to run through their fingers through.

Others carried extra weight."Hey,'' one player yelled while rummaging through a pile of jerseys, "where is the triple extra-large?''It was a big gathering, with players from the 1960s to 2008 dusting off cleats and moves.

Often, the cleats were in better shape.Nick Kok was breathing hard after nearly returning his second interception for a touchdown.

He displayed fakes of a former running back, just not the acceleration."That was 40 pounds ago,'' said Kok, from the class of 2004.Laughs ---- if not sunshine ---- were in abundance on an overcast Oceanside morning.

But the only colors that mattered were green (for the players from 2000 on) and white (for everyone else).Terry Vaughn, an Oceanside star before playing at Arizona and in the NFL, was there."It's a fun opportunity to see some of the guys and coaches I hadn't seen in a while,'' said Vaughn, who works in law enforcement and resides in Chandler, Ariz.

"A lot of these guys were influential in life.''Vaughn then heard a name from the loudspeaker, and his ears perked up.

The name was familiar, if not the player."A lot of these guys, I played with their brothers,'' Vaughn, 37, said.Warren Williams was in a white jersey that matched his hair and goatee.

At 61, Williams was chasing quarterbacks like he was a teenager again.The day jogged free some memories."Yep, three-a-days right here,'' Williams said, noting coach Herb Meyer's demanding workouts.

"Then it was running the full stadium (bleachers) and 100-yard dashes ---- all with full pads on.

I remember falling to the ground wishing I would die, saying, 'Lord, take me now.' "But those killer workouts, Williams and others agreed, molded the Pirates into one rugged bunch."It taught us not to give up,'' Roy Michel, 62, said.

"I didn't matter if you were third string or first string ---- never give up.''The thought crossed Michel's mind one practice, when smog swallowed the field."You couldn't breathe,'' Michel said.

"But Coach Meyer said, 'What if it's like this on game day?' That was his style of coaching and you just learned to suck it up.''The public address system crackled, and for a moment, there was a sense of alarm."Is there a doctor in the house?'' the voice said.

"If so, could he bring an oxygen tank to both sidelines.''More belly laughs.

More smiles.

More joy for two hours than many of these guys have had in ages."It's a chance to come out and have fun,'' said Se'e Poumele, 28.

"And it's just the chemistry.

Plus, it's Oceanside, and that is where it all started.''Moe Niu started to regain his breath.

He was working the defensive line, trying to outrun younger guys."I'm too old and slow, I guess,'' said Niu, 46, when asked why he didn't have a sack.

"But it's great to come back here ---- it's like a family thing to us.''The current Pirates clan is riding high.

Coach John Carroll's team will soon aim for its sixth straight CIF San Diego Section title."He definitely has a system, and it works for him,'' Vaughn said.

"They have done really well.''Vaughn said he was a success ---- on and off the field ---- because of coaches such as Carroll and Dave Barrett, the school's baseball coach."I know some people steered me in the right direction, and it made all the difference,'' Vaughn said.

"Just to have someone who had your back and said, 'Maybe you should try it this way.' "Roberts was way ahead of his counterparts, dominating San Diego County football like few have since.

In his junior and senior seasons, Roberts, who played at USC and in the NFL, scored 61 touchdowns and averaged 209 yards rushing per game.Though he lives in Los Angeles, the 73-year-old Roberts' heart is never far from 1 Pirates Cove Way."It was a lot smaller place back then,'' said Roberts, who used to hunt not far from the school.

"It was a very close-knit community.''Roberts was itching to get between the lines, but his wife, Vonnie, was keeping an eye on him."How come you're not playing?'' said another Pirates legend, Willie Buchanon, from the class of 1968.The bait was out, but Roberts wouldn't bite.

He was busy cheering for the old-timers to upset the relative upstarts.

The White team erased a 21-7 halftime deficit and tied the game at 21.

But with 34 seconds left and the whipper-snappers hogging the ball, time was running out.Just then, Otis Williams snagged an errant pass and sprinted toward the end zone.

The 1999 graduate barely made it to give the graybeards a 28-21 triumph."I was playing cat and mouse with the quarterback,'' Otis Williams said.The field was littered with cool cats purring about a game ---- and school ---- that to them is second to none."Once a Pirate,'' Warren Williams said, "always a Pirate.''
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