No one had ever heard of Friday Night Lights back when Everett "Ebbie" Fees was racing across the football field on Friday afternoons at Los Gatos High School.
It was late in the 1930s. The players wore helmets made of leather, the football rules committee was still tinkering with the regulations governing the forward pass, and there was certainly no Helm Field--after all, Doug Helm, the man for whom the Los Gatos field is named, was Ebbie's coach.
It was the pre-World War II era, and football was a much different game when Fees was playing for the Wildcats in the '30s. One thing about the game then and the game now, though, remains the same--great players were still great players.
And Ebbie Fees was one of the best in Los Gatos High School history.
Now, more than 70 years after his graduation from the grand old girl down at the end of Main Street, Fees is being recognized for that greatness. He is among 10 former Wildcats who will take their rightful places in the coveted Los Gatos High School Athletic Hall of Fame at the 11th annual induction ceremony to be held May 3, 2014, at La Rinconada Country Club.
Class of inductees
The current class of inductees includes Fees (class of 1939), Benny Pierce (1951), Wayne Hopp (1970), Monica Daley Townsend (1986), Jason Drotar (1989), Nicole Tremain (1990), Mike Warren (1993), Jason Carlton (1994), Bobby Crowder (2001) and Heather Hennessy (2001).
Fees shares a common bond with Pierce, Drotar, Warren and Carlton--all of them are former Los Gatos football players earning Hall of Fame induction. The bond goes even deeper than that, though, because all of them played multiple sports for the Wildcats.
No one, though, played more sports or won more block letters than Fees.
In addition to being a star on the football field, Fees was a standout in basketball, baseball and track.
Fees played for coach Helm as a junior, a 130-pound fullback on the Gatos varsity, and starred as a back for coach Fred Canrinus as a senior. When Canrinus selected the all-time best players on his first nine teams, he named Fees to the list, calling him "a triple threat and hard tackler."
Helm also named Fees when called on to pick the school's top basketball players, labeling him an "aggressive, hard-working ball hawk."
Fees served double duty in the spring as a pitcher, third baseman, shortstop and outfielder on the baseball squad and as a shot putter, pole vaulter and high jump on the track team.
Like Fees, Benny Pierce was a four-sport star for the Wildcats, earning 12 block letters while competing in football, basketball, baseball and track and field.
Pierce was the starting quarterback for the Los Gatos football team as a senior and won all-league second team honors, and that winter he was the starting point guard for the league championship basketball team, again claiming a berth on the all-league second team.
In the spring, Pierce competed in both baseball and track. He was a four-year varsity starter on the baseball team, winning an all-league second team spot as a senior, and he placed in the league finals in the pole vault.
Jason Drotar didn't play four sports at Los Gatos, but he was mighty good in the two he did play--especially in baseball, where he was a three-year varsity starter. He was the team captain as a junior and the team's Most Valuable Player as a senior in 1989 when he led the club with a .432 batting average. He played for two league championship teams, one of the clubs reaching the Central Coast Section finals.
Drotar was a starting tight end and defensive end on the Los Gatos football team, winning all-league honors on a team that won league and CCS championships in 1988.
Like Drotar, Jason Carlton was a two-sport start at Los Gatos. He was two-year starter as a center on the Los Gatos football team, earning a place on the all-league team as a senior.
It was on the wrestling mat, though, where Carlton was truly outstanding. He was a four-year varsity wrestler and a league finalist each of those years at 171 pounds. Carlton won league titles as a junior and senior, finished second in CCS as a senior and was a two-time state qualifier. He has already been recognized at the school with a spot on the Wrestling Wall of Fame.
Mike Warren also played two sports at Los Gatos. Like Drotar and Carlton, he excelled in each of them but truly starred in one.
Warren was a three-year starter on the Los Gatos football team, winning all-league recognition each year and all-CCS honors as a junior and senior. He was voted as the league's Outstanding Offensive Lineman as a junior and the league's Outstanding Lineman overall as a senior.
In the spring, he was the league discus champion on the track and field team and his mark of 152-2.25 still ranks among the top 20 on the all-time Los Gatos list.
Like the football players who were standouts in other sports, Wayne Hopp was a three-sport star at Los Gatos, competing in cross country, basketball and track. He won all-league honors in cross country as both a junior and a senior, winning his team's MVP award in his senior year. As a junior he placed 12th at the CCS finals.
Hopp was a two-year starting guard on the Los Gatos basketball team. As a senior, he won a spot on the all-league team and was the team's MVP after scoring 413 points for the Wildcats.
Monica Daley Townsend
Monica DaleyTownsend was also a track and cross country star for Los Gatos. She won all-CCS and all-state cross country honors all three years that she competed for the Cats and she was the team MVP in each of those seasons. During those years, the Wildcats won three league and CCS titles and two Northern California crowns.
In the spring, she was a distance star on the varsity track team for four years. At the time, she ranked No. 3 in the 3,200 meters and No. 4 in the 1,600 on the Los Gatos all-time list. She helped the Cats win their first CCS track title in school history.
Nicole Tremain was a member of the swimming and track and field teams at Los Gatos, but it was as a soccer player where she really left her mark as a Wildcat. In 1990, she led Los Gatos to its first ever CCS championship, scoring goals in each half in the Cats' 2-1 win over St. Francis in the section title game.
Tremain, now a physician working San Diego, was the Los Gatos team MVP, the De Anza Athletic League MVP and a member of the all-CCS team as a senior.
Bobby Crowder was another athlete who was tremendous in a single sport as a swimming sensation at Los Gatos. He dominated the section in the 100-yard backstroke for three straight seasons. He was a three-time individual CCS champ in the 100 back, winning the title in 1999 in 52.13, again in 2000 in 50.49 and for a third time in 2001 in 51.47. He also won section gold in the 200 free relay as a senior.
The time of 50.49 he posted at the CCS finals in 2000 still ranks as a school record at Los Gatos High.
Heather Hennessy was an All-American at Los Gatos, beating nine other state champions to win the national title in the 800 meters in 2000. She won all-league, all-CCS and all-state honors, and her 800 time of 2:07.73 still ranks as a school record and is No. 3 on the CCS all-time list. She was a two-time league champion in the 800 and was the team MVP in each of those seasons.
In the fall of 1999, she won all-league honors in cross country when she helped the Cats to league and CCS championships.
The accomplishments of these athletes span nearly 80 years, and they competed in eight different sports, but the athletes named to the 11th class of inductees in the Los Gatos High School Athletic Hall of Fame prove one thing--great athletes were great athletes, no matter when they played.