4 Highlanders on the 45 Yard Line, 8 Rows Up

MISSION VIEJO, September 9, 2016—As games go, tonight’s contest between the Mission Viejo Diablos and La Habra Highlanders was not much to talk about. And, yet, for the first time in—well, forever—I found myself talking all throughout the contest (and missing much of the action). But, that’s what happens when old friends and teammates sit down together after several decades of silence.
Grand and Garner Palenske, and Ron Kays (l-to-r).
Tonight my brother Roger (#11, QB/OLB 1963-64) and I were joined by brothers Grant and Garner Palenske, Highlanders of old, men of renown. Garner and I were teammates on the 1973 team (he also played in 1974), and Grant quarterbacked the 1976-77 squads. And we hadn’t seen each other in more than 30 years (for Garner and me, the 10-year reunion in 1985). Needless to say, we had some catching up to do.

Fortunately, we picked a good game to talk through as the Diablos pretty much handled the CLAN from whistle to gun. Final score was 32-14 Mission Viejo, but that was closer than anticipated as the 2016 CLAN seem a lesser edition of themselves while the Diablos appear to be at the apex of their power. Still, the home team was somewhat flat and the CLAN refused to quit so the final score was relatively close.

The Highlander highlight came late in the game when QB Zach Fogel scampered 65 yards to pay dirt on a very good option-read-run. The CLAN also blocked a Mission Viejo extra point attempt—the kind of special teams play that will pay huge dividends at some “big-money moment” later one. And the CLAN defense did a creditable job limiting the gray-gold-and-red-clad Diablos to “just” 32 points.

But all of that was really secondary tonight as the ongoing discussion in Row-8 was about old times, good times, sad times, fun times. About friends lost, friends found, adventures we’d shared and others we’d missed. After all of the blather, we concluded that we don’t feel old (in our minds). But, let’s face it, we’re old. Some of us even turn 60 next year!

2 Responses to “4 Highlanders on the 45 Yard Line, 8 Rows Up

  • Craig Contreras
    1 year ago

    Great story! My brothers Ruedy and David Contreras played on those 73-74 teams! I remember being there as 4 yr old little boy running through the stands, a and memorizing names and numbers of the Varsity team. Grant was a good friend of my brother Mark. Great memories for me I will never forget. Thank you.

    • The Writer
      1 year ago

      I remember Ruedy,and David was my teammate on both the football and baseball teams. Solid men and great players.

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