Two new goal posts for Burroughs Stadium

Two new goal posts for Burroughs StadiumBruce Auld, a former Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent, is writing the history of Burroughs High School. The articles that are being published are excerpts from his upcoming book, exclusive to The News Review. “On November 6, 1869 Rutgers and Princeton played what was billed as the first college football game. However, it wasn’t until the 1880s that a great Rugby player from Yale, Walter Camp (‘The father of American football’), pioneered rule changes that slowly transformed Rugby into the new game of American football.” (Wikipedia)

“When the NFL was founded in 1920, it used the ‘H’ design for its uprights (goal posts) and placed them on the front goal line. In 1927, the league moved the posts back ten yards, to the back of the end zone. The reasoning? That’s what the NCAA (college football) did. At the time, the NFL simply followed the college rulebook. But that was short-lived. In 1933, the NFL finally wrote its own rulebook. And in an attempt to increase field goal attempts-the general feeling was that there too many ties-the NFL moved the uprights back to the goal line.” (Emily Kaplan, Sports Illustrated)

The goal post became part of the offensive strategy. Receivers and quarterbacks would use the goal posts as an additional blocker, running defensive players directly in to the uprights. Some receivers would grab the goal posts swing around from one side to the other, leaving the defender on the wrong side of the incoming pass. Without doubt, the goal posts at the front of the end zone were a significant hazard resulting in serious injuries and it wasn’t unusual for a pass to hit the goal post, resulting in a loss of down. In 1974, the goal posts were moved to the back of the end zone. (Excerpted from Emily Kaplan, Sports Illustrated)

“A new wrinkle was introduced in 1967. Joel Rottman, a retired newspaper distributer and a hobbyist inventor, was having lunch at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal with his friend, Alouettes coach Jim Trimble. After staring a bit too long at his fork and imagining what it would look like if the two inside prongs were knocked out, Rottman blurted out an idea: what if the football goal post modeled a fork’s shape? According to a 2010 account in the Florida Sentinel, Rottman believed ‘slingshot’ goal posts would be more aesthetically pleasing-and a bit safer. Rottman brandished his new invention at Expo ’67, the world fair held in Montreal, and earned a meeting with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.” (Emily Kaplan, Sports Illustrated)

Here are my thoughts on the Burroughs antiquated goal posts. Burroughs stadium was completed in 1959. When the new, “slingshot” goal posts were available in the late sixties, the Burroughs goal posts were relatively new, thus not replaced. Equally dangerous were the light posts in the Burroughs stadium, which were just feet from the field of play. Those were moved from the field to the stands during the most recent campus modernization, yet the “H” goal post remained, likely the last remaining “H” style goal post in the nation.

The new goal posts are made possible by the generous donation orchestrated by Hansel Phelps Construction Company, including several additional contractors working on the China Lake earthquake reconstruction projects. Also donated are team benches and soccer goals.

George Silberberg, China Lake innovator and inventor had nothing to do with goal posts, but his technical team forever changed how we watch the world, especially athletics. The NFL experimented with instant replay during the 1976 season (ESPN), a technology invented at China Lake by George Silberberg’s team. “In 1975, China Lake test range personnel devised an invention to provide non-smeared stop action images of high-speed video events to allow accurate position-versus-time measurements. During the 1970s and 1980s, this technology was transferred to a commercially available multispectral video camera (a stop-action camera for sports training). (Excerpted from Arming the Fleet, Third Edition)

A little interesting Burrough’s history: George Silberberg’s granddaughter Jessica was the 1989 Homecoming Queen. As stadium announcer, I announced her crown. Jessica’s daughter and George’s great granddaughter, Taylor, was a homecoming princess in the 2018 Homecoming Court. I drove her around the Burrough’s goal posts, actually the track in a 2004 Mercedes SEL 500 (not my car). Taylor was introduced to the Homecoming crowd by stadium announcer James Bell (BHS 1992). Carolyn Barker Roseth was Homecoming Princess in 1958. Carolyn’s daughter Jennifer was Homecoming Princess in 1983. Then there is Bachman Family Dentistry, the only father and son Kelley Award recipients. There is more to that story. Michael senior married Mary Lynne Paine, 1975 Homecoming Princess. Michael junior married 1997 Homecoming Queen, Cathy Crow. I drove Cathy around the track in a 1997 Corvette. (again, not my car)

The 1950 Homecoming Queen was Ellen Jeffries (Burkhalter). Her daughter Anne Burkhalter was Queen in 1971 and daughter Kathy Burkhalter was Queen in 1975. As of yet, unique Burroughs family royalty!

I recently learned, that in addition to Brock Mather playing college football, two additional Burrough alums continue to play college ball. Brock’s cousin, Bryce Moore a defensive back, first played college ball at Victor Valley Community College, transferring to Bakersfield College to play defense with Brock. Playing behind a Division I safety, recently recruited to Oklahoma University, Bryce saw limited playing time at Bakersfield. Yet, he had enough “good film” to be recruited to Missouri Valley College on a financial aid scholarship. Playing in every game in 2020, Bryce tore his ACL during the 2021 spring practice season and sat out this year as medical redshirt. (Todd Mather)

Recall that Todd Mather’s 2017 football team played in the CIF state finals at home in Burroughs Stadium. Todd’s quarterback for the 2016 season was Austin McCollough. A three- year varsity letterman, Austin was a first team All-League Quarterback and led the Mojave River League in passing with 2835 yards, 26 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns. (hudl)

At Surprise Arizona’s Ottawa University (OUAZ), quarterback Austin McCullough (BHS 2017) a full scholarship athlete, started in thirty-five games, completed 784 passes for a total of 11,277 yards and 109 touchdowns. “I will be competing in the NAIA All Star Classic in Durham, North Carolina December 14-18. The game will be held on the 17th. This game is comprised of the best athletes for the 2021 season in the NAIA. I am very excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to represent my school and Ridgecrest!” (Austin McCullough)

Austin holds a BS in business and is in a master’s program in leadership. Absent an opportunity to play pro ball, Austin will return to Ridgecrest and pursue a career with the California Highway Patrol.

Google “Anne Akiko Meyers and 9 Year Daughter Gounod – Bach’s Ave Maria.” A real holiday treat. Anne started playing violin in Ridgecrest with Shirley Helmick.

Pictured: 2021 Kelly Award Recipient, Michael Farris, with Burroughs head coach Thomas Foisy.

Story First Published: 2021-12-17