Class of 2014
Antioch High School 1995Pitching ace Manuel Bermudez Jr. and legendary Antioch baseball coach John Whitman agreed that they didn’t always see eye to eye on everything, but one thing was indisputable: Bermudez left his mark as one of the school’s best pitchers ever.
The three-time All-Bay Valley Athletic League selection helped lead the Panthers to consecutive North Coast Section championships in 1994-95, and twice was named the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player. He was known for posting prodigious numbers on the mound and at the plate. As a junior, he struck out 109 batters in 89 innings while walking just 17 batters, and flirted with no-hitters on several occasions. At the plate, he blasted a 450-foot home run at Pinole Valley, and during batting practice at Sal Siino Field, landed a ball on the roof of the Antioch High library.
It was probably not a coincidence that Bermudez wore the same uniform number, 23, as 2010 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee Alex Sanchez, who had led Antioch to an NCS championship 11 years earlier. The two were so much alike on the field – both hard-throwing right-handed pitchers with impeccable control, great power at the plate, and a thirst for performing in big games.
Manuel’s final complete game for Antioch was at the Oakland Coliseum, a 9-2 victory over De La Salle for the 1995 NCS championship, ending his season with an 11-1 record and a 1.39 ERA. His three-year varsity record was 36-9 overall (21-3 BVAL). Manny was first-team All-East Bay and on the Cal-Hi Sports All-State teams each of his last two seasons, and was a three-time All-BVAL first-team selection.
His live arm and stubborn streak caught the eye of the San Francisco Giants, who made him their ninth-round pick in the 1995 draft (before teammate and fellow 2014 Sports Legends Hall of Fame Inductee Aaron Miles was chosen by Houston). Bermudez played professional baseball for 11 seasons, pitching 1,047 innings. He worked his way up, as shortly after graduation he reported to Bellingham of the Class-A Northwest League. He played for San Jose, Bakersfield and Burlington, all Single-A clubs, before the Giants moved him to Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League in 1998. His first appearance there marked the 12th time a ballplayer from Antioch had reached the Double-A level or higher in professional baseball.
Bermudez had three 10-win seasons: With Burlington of the Midwest League in 1996, in 1997 when he split time between San Jose and Bakersfield in the Single-A California League, and in 2001, going 8-2 for San Jose and 2-3 for Shreveport, his second stop there. He began his career in the starting rotation then was moved to the bullpen, recording seven saves with Bakersfield in 2000.
He had a career mark of 52-66 with the Giants organization, which released him after the 2001 season. Manny played for independent league teams in Iowa, Canada, North Dakota and New Jersey the next four seasons before retiring from baseball in 2005 with an overall career record of 67-82.
Antioch High School 1991The early 1990s was a golden era for Antioch football, as Mark Butterfield was one of five Panthers in a five-year span to eventually play in the National Football League. Mark, possessed of a live arm and nimble feet, entered his senior year as a preseason All-America pick of Super Prep Magazine and Blue Chip Report, and was ranked as the top returning quarterback on the West Coast after passing for 2,168 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. He threw for 3,957 yards in his career, with 28 TDs in his last two years, and was two-time first-team All-Bay Valley Athletic League.
Though his numbers did not match the output from his junior season, Mark nonetheless was named the Panthers’ MVP and received the Ron Pritchard Award as the team’s Most Outstanding Back. He was an Honorable Mention selection on the All-East Bay Team, and the Contra Costa Times selected him the No. 2 prospect in its annual Cream of the Crop. Butterfield had already committed to Stanford by that time.
Mark, 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, officially ended his high school career in fine fashion, throwing a touchdown pass for the North in a 14-0 victory over the South in the 1992 Shrine Game, in front of 11,000 fans at the Rose Bowl.
After attempting just 51 passes in his first three seasons, Mark became the Cardinal starter in 1995, and was a team co-captain. He helped them get out of the gate fast with a season-opening 47-33 victory over San Jose State, and later engineered a 28-21 upset of 12th-ranked Oregon. Mark passed for for 2,533 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior, leading the Cardinal to a 7-4-1 mark and a berth in the Liberty Bowl against East Carolina. He was second-team All-Pac-10, after leading the conference in TD passes and finishing third in completions (194), attempts (333) and yardage. Mark threw a career-high four TDs in a loss to UCLA, and was the Cardinal MVP for 1995.
Mark was passed over in the 1996 draft but spent the season with the Chicago Bears, following a stint on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad. In 1998 he played for Scotland and Frankfurt in the NFL Europe, reaching the NFLE championship game with Frankfurt. He then spent a season with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League before retiring.
Butterfield began his career in football part of the first group to play for the Antioch Youth Football program, then returned to Antioch as a coach after his career ended. Mark now works in the biotechnology industry, at BioMarin Pharmaceutical since 2005.
Antioch High School 1954Antioch wasn’t the biggest school in the Contra Costa Athletic League in the 1953 football season, but its offensive and defensive linemen were touted as being perhaps the biggest and most physical in the league. One of the best was Cal Chaney, a 6-foot-2 and 205-pound senior.
He was one of the keys to a strong running attack which helped Antioch get off to a 4-0 start. A 25-22 loss to John Swett ended that winning streak, but Chaney was named the James Men’s Shop Player of the Week for his performance. He threw a couple of key blocks, one of which sprang B.J. Hill for a 75-yard touchdown run. In the season finale, his defensive fumble recovery helped the Panthers secure a 33-0 victory over Acalanes.
After the season, Chaney was selected first-team All-CCAL both ways, was a second-team All-Metro pick of the San Francisco Examiner and was a third-team pick on the San Francisco Chronicle’s All-Northern California team. He was named the Panthers’ Player of the Year, receiving the perpetual trophy from the Chamber of Commerce at the annual awards dinner. Expectations were high for his senior season, after being a two-way starter and earning All-County Honorable Mention as a junior.
Chaney didn’t play football beyond high school, but he still earned accolades 15 years later when he was a first-team selection –both ways – to the Antioch Ledger’s Cream of the Crop, a survey to pick the school’s best players from 1950-67. Chaney was the sixth-leading vote-getter on offense – at all positions – and had the third-most votes on defense.
After school, Chaney went on to serve a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, and now lives in retirement in McKinleyville, California.
Antioch High School 1993After two years of being one of the best, Antioch High School’s Cristina Conn was the best as a senior. After a record-setting performance to win the North Coast Section championship, Conn won the 1993 National High School championship.
Her winning score in the 1993 NCS meet, 471.20 for an 11-dive program, stood for 20 years, and placed her on the High School All-America (top 40 scores nationally) team for the second straight year. That mark also broke the school record, established in 1982 by Marion Gelhaus, a 2011 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee.
“She was always very consistent,” said Phil Tonne, a longtime diving coach who was also one of the judges scoring Conn’s NCS record-setting performance.
“You have to be consistent. You have 11 dives; it’s not like a swimming event where you just have the one race.”
Cristina displayed a bubbly, relaxed persona on the pool deck but was focused once she was on the board. She was a three-time Bay Valley Athletic League champion on the 3-meter board, then took silver at NCS as a sophomore and as a junior before her record-shattering performance as a senior.
She competed in the U.S. Diving Senior Nationals all three years – she was the youngest in the field when she dove in that meet as a sophomore – and dove all three years in the age-group national championships. Conn earned a scholarship to Brigham Young University. As a sophomore in 1995, she won the 3-meter event and was second on the 1-meter board at the Western Athletic Conference meet and was named the WAC Diver of the Year.
A back injury – a common malaise among divers -- forced her to redshirt the 1996 season. But after a year of rehabilitation, she came back and competed in the 1997 NCAA championships, finishing in the top 21 on both boards.
By the time Golden retired in 1983, he had served the Antioch schools for 29 years as a teacher, coach, administrator and school board member. The native of West Virginia earned his bachelor’s degree at Glenville State College, where he was a lineman and co-captain of the football team. He had a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles but was drafted by the U.S. Army and went into the service. Golden ended up being stationed as a civilian worker at Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg when he met two of the most influential people in his life: 2007 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee Jack Danilovich, with whom he coached football at Stoneman from 1944-46, and a young woman, Dorothy, who became his wife.
Brooks, who earned his Master’s degree from College of the Pacific in Stockton, came to Antioch from the foothills – he coached the football, basketball and baseball teams to championships at Jackson High, then was head football coach at Ceres High before coming to Antioch. He became the Panthers’ head football coach in 1954, leading the Panthers to a 6-2 record that season.
His reign ended after the 1957 season when Golden was promoted to District Physical Education Supervisor and Athletic Director, overseeing the physical education programs at the high school and junior high. That included establishing physical performance tests to evaluate each student at the fifth-, eighth- and eleventh-grade levels. He went on to serve as vice-principal at Antioch Junior High, and eventually was principal at both AJH and Park Junior High before he retired.
Brooks held to a motto as a coach and teacher, “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.”
He remained active in the community. In addition to serving on the school board, Golden volunteered with the Brown Bag Program, an outreach program for senior citizens in the city.
When he was named Citizen of the Year in 1984, he told a reporter from the Antioch Ledger that what he was most proud of during his career was “working with the students – seeing these kids come out as good citizens.”
Track and Field
Antioch High School 1996After Matt Hurd qualified for the CIF State track championship meet in the high jump as a sophomore in 1994, an Antioch Ledger columnist called Hurd a name to watch for in the future. How right that was. Two years later, Hurd won the Bay Valley Athletic League, North Coast Section and NCS Meet of Champions titles and placed fourth in the CIF State championships in the high jump. His mark of 6 feet, 8 inches – which he cleared in his final five meets that year -- still stands as the school record.
During his spectacular senior season, Hurd set a meet record in winning the Top 8 Invitational at James Logan High, one of Northern California’s most prestigious high school track meets.
That wasn’t the only reason Hurd was named Antioch High School’s Male Athlete of the Year. Matt was the BVAL scoring champion in basketball, averaging 20.8 points a game, and still holds the school’s single-game scoring record, 43 points against Berkeley – one of only three Panthers to top the 40-point mark in a game.
Hurd, who was selected as one of the Contra Costa Times’ Top 50 male athletes for 1995-96, became the first Antioch track athlete since 2013 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee Joe Bonnano in 1964 to earn an athletic scholarship, to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. As a freshman for the Mustangs in 1997, he cleared 6-10.75 twice that season, winning the Big West Conference title with that mark. He reached a career mark of 6-11.5 as a senior in 2001.
Matt is just part of a family rich in athletic accomplishment and heritage. His brother, Chris, was a two-sport standout at Deer Valley, and their father, Mike, is a longtime coach and member of the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
Antioch High School 1991Stacey Johnson’s association with the Antioch basketball team began early. As a seventh-grader at Park Junior High, she was the student manager for varsity coach Sue Cottier, a 2008 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee, and most days after practice would challenge future prep All-America Vanessa Selden, a 2012 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee, to a game of one-on-one. By the time Johnson was a senior, she would have more than held her own, having graduated as the East Bay Player of the Year and the Panthers’ career leader in rebounds and second in steals (behind Selden).
Cottier said at the time that Johnson would have started for the Panthers as a freshman, but the three-year high school did not field freshman teams in any sport. Therefore, Johnson averaged 30 points a game for Park Junior High. When she got to Antioch High as a sophomore, Johnson averaged 15.8 points, 5.2 steals and 3.4 assists a game playing beside Selden in the backcourt. As a junior she became the team’s scoring leader at 22 ppg, earning her first All-East Bay selection. Then came an unprecedented senior season.
Johnson averaged 26.6 points a game, breaking her own single-game scoring record with 41 points in a 70-55 victory over Carondelet. She scored 30 or more 11 times, the last time a 36-point, 10-assist, seven-rebound performance in an 82-81 loss to Nevada Union in the first round of the CIF Northern California Division I playoffs. She earned East Bay Player of the Year, All-Northern California and All-State honors. She shared Northern California Player of the Year honors with Berkeley’s Tanda Rucker, one of her closest friends, and Nevada Union’s Kellie Cook. For her career, she averaged 21.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. She broke Selden’s career scoring record, finishing with 1,991 points.
Her basketball accomplishments and accolades overshadowed her achievements in track, which are also landmark. Johnson was a three-time CIF State meet qualifier, and she still owns the school 400-meter record, 57.19 seconds.
Stacey was also a three-time letter winner in volleyball for the Panthers. As a senior, she was named Antioch’s Female Athlete of the Year and was one of the Contra Costa Times’ Top 50 Female Athletes of the Year.
She became the third Panther to earn a basketball scholarship – following in the footsteps of Cottier and Selden – and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year at Arizona State. She was second in the conference in steals (3.2 per game) and 10th in scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (3.4). A change in the culture at ASU led her to transfer to Houston as a junior, where she averaged 20.5 points a game and was fifth in the NCAA with 4.5 steals a game as a senior. She was the Southwest Conference Player of the Week three times, once after a triple-double – 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists – against Ball State.
After Johnson’s playing career ended at Houston, she joined the Houston Comets of the Women’s NBA as an assistant, and earned a championship ring when the Comets in 1998 won a second straight WNBA title.
Stacey is one of three Johnson sisters who excelled at Antioch. Middle sister Nicole ran track for the Panthers and at Columbia University, and little sister Courtney was all-league in volleyball, basketball and track and went on to play basketball at the University of California.
Antioch High School 1958It isn’t likely that someone will achieve what Dave Kirkpatrick did as a senior at Antioch in 1957-58. He was not just a four-sport athlete – he excelled at all four. Kirkpatrick started his senior year by being named first-team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League as a receiver in football. In the winter, the DVAL scoring champion was first-team all-league in basketball. Then in the spring, he was second-team all-league at catcher – playing the position for the first time – and still made time to run the hurdles and compete in the long jump for the track team.
A two-way starter in football as a receiver and at cornerback, Kirkpatrick was the Antioch Quarterback Club’s Player of the Week against Las Lomas, when he intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble and caught two balls. He was especially devastating against Pleasant Hill. His 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, following his 41-yard first-quarter catch, got the Panthers close but they lost 19-18. Two weeks later he hauled in a 42-yard TD in a 33-21 victory over Pleasant Hill, catching a season-high 10 passes. He also scored in a 40-0 victory over Armijo. Even though he was all-league, the ultimate compliment may have come from Pittsburg coach Tony Knap after Kirkpatrick was named Most Worthy Opponent by the Pirate players after their game. He was later selected second team on the Antioch Ledger’s Cream of the Crop, which honored the best players from 1950-67.
Dave was the highlight of an otherwise dismal basketball season for the Panthers. The first-team All-DVAL guard averaged 15.5 points a game to lead the league in scoring, even though the Panthers went 1-13 in league after a 5-0 nonleague start. He was consistent, with high games of 23 points against Mt. Diablo and 20 against John Swett.
In the spring, Kirkpatrick was a starting outfielder until the Panthers lost their catcher to injury. Kirkpatrick was asked to play catcher and responded by earning second-team all-league honors. That one hurdle didn’t stop him from clearing more hurdles, running the low and high hurdles and competing in the long jump for the Antioch track team.
Antioch High School 1994It is a rare find for a football coach when he gets a player who combines three of the most desirable, innate attributes of a great player: Size, speed and athletic talent. Such was the package that Mike Lucky presented for the Antioch Panthers.
At 6-foot-6 and 212 pounds, Lucky generally towered over defensive backs, and had the speed and agility to toy with linebackers who attempted to cover him. He averaged more than 18 yards per reception during his two-year varsity career, when he caught 53 passes for 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns. Much was expected of Lucky after he caught 17 passes for 350 yards and five TDs as a junior, and was a second-team All-Bay Valley Athletic League pick. He went into his senior season ranked 15th in the nation among tight ends by SuperPrep Magazine, and Mike didn’t disappoint.
Lucky put his stamp on a 31-12 victory over East Bay power Skyline of Oakland, catching three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, and on defense getting a quarterback sack and deflecting two passes. He scored three times in a 35-20 victory over Liberty, scored twice in a 27-13 victory over Valley of Sacramento, and had a career-best 76-yard touchdown in a 40-35 loss to Pittsburg.
He caught 36 balls for 650 yards, scoring 11 touchdowns. He was a Cal-Hi Sports All-State selection, and was All-BVAL at tight end and defensive line.
Mike was also All-BVAL in basketball. His best game came in his junior season, with career highs in points (33) and rebounds (18) in a 75-67 overtime victory over Pinole Valley.
Lucky was courted by every school in the Pac-10 but chose the University of Arizona, making it official when he and Cal recruit Jeremy Newberry, also a 2014 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee, had a signing ceremony in the school’s Beede Auditorium on national Letter of Intent Day.
He started 35 of his final 36 games for the Wildcats, catching 46 passes for 534 yards and four TDs in his college career. He was fourth on the team in receiving yards as a junior at Arizona, but his role shifted to focus more on blocking as a senior. “I know when I’ve made a good block. Maybe not everyone else knows, but at least I get satisfaction out of it. If I go home and watch the game I can say I contributed to the team,” he told the Arizona Daily Star, after the Wildcats had eclipsed season high in rushing three straight weeks. His last game with Arizona was a 23-20 victory over Nebraska in the 1998 Holiday Bowl as the Wildcats finished the season No. 4 in the national rankings. After the season, he played in two senior All-Star games: The Aloha Bowl in Hawaii and was part of Team USA in the inaugural Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Florida. Lucky’s skills as a receiver and as a blocker caught the attention of the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him in the seventh round in 1999. A knee injury in training camp sidelined him for the 2000 season, so when he came back the following year and played his way into the lineup, Lucky was selected by his teammates as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient for 2001. Mike caught 19 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown during his NFL career, and was a strong blocker, playing a key part in paving the way for Emmitt Smith to break the NFL career rushing record in 2002. Another knee injury led to his retirement after that season.
Antioch High School 1995Had he never played another game after the 1995 North Coast Section championship, Aaron Miles would still be considered one of the greatest baseball players ever at Antioch High. As a senior, the hard-nosed, switch-hitting second baseman was the East Bay Player of the Year when he batted .538 and drove in 35 runs to lead the Panthers to their second straight North Coast Section championship. Three times he was selected to the All-East Bay first team and three times was first-team All-Bay Valley Athletic League.
Aaron’s high school career was marked by repeatedly coming through with clutch hits and clutch plays. As a sophomore, he was named the MVP of the High Sierra tournament in Reno after the Panthers beat the nation’s top-ranked team, Simi Valley, in the title game. Miles batted .417 that year and was named the Panthers’ MVP. As a junior, when he batted .475, he was the MVP after the Panthers won the prestigious Willie Stargell Classic in Alameda. Miles was part of a core of seven players who stayed together from their Little League days through a dominating senior year at Antioch. The Panthers were BVAL and NCS champions, were ranked first in the final Cal-Hi Sports state rankings and were No. 5 in the final USA Today national rankings. Cal-Hi Sports also honored Aaron individually, naming him to its All-State team.
His last achievement as an amateur was to be named MVP of the North-South All-Star Game.
Aaron also played football at Antioch. He was a two-way starter at receiver and cornerback, earning all-league honors on defense. He was also the Panthers’ placekicker, with a career-best 45-yard field goal against Monte Vista.
Championships seem to be part of Miles’ makeup. Miles, who started playing baseball with the Fireballs in Little League, helped the Antioch West Little League Major All-Stars win the 1989 Northern California State title and reached the Western Regional championships; he was part of two NCS titles; and in 2006 he won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
At Antioch, Miles and shortstop Brian Oliver were the nation’s most sought-after double play combination. The two teamed up on 27 double-plays in three varsity seasons. Both committed to UC Berkeley but only Oliver took that road.
Miles was drafted by the Houston Astros, and began a 17-year career in professional baseball. In 2002, while playing for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, he was named MVP of the Southern League. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte, where, in his eighth season in the minor leagues, he was named the International League’s Rookie of the Year. The Chicago White Sox brought him up to the majors at the end of the season, and he made his major league debut Sept. 11, 2003.
The following year Aaron was acquired by the Colorado Rockies, where he fit right in. He batted.293, and was named to the 2004 All-Rookie Team at second base and placed fourth in the National League Rookie of the year vote.
He went on to play with the Chicago Cubs and had two stints with St. Louis, helping the Cards win the 2006 World Series in five games over the Detroit Tigers. Aaron was part of two double plays in Game 2, a 3-1 loss to Detroit. In Game 4, he singled and scored the Cardinals’ first run, then later scored the eventual winning run in the eighth inning of a 5-4 victory.
Ever since his Little League days, Miles earned a reputation as being a tough, fearless player. An off-field incident in spring training in 2000 showed his toughness, when Miles fought off an armed intruder in his room and was still wrestling for control when police shot the suspect.
He retired from the majors in 2011 after one season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending his career with a .281 career average. He was a clutch performer throughout his career: In 2011, he batted .357 with runners on base, which led the National League.
Antioch High School 1994Jeremy Newberry may have followed in his father’s footsteps, but he blazed a trail to one of the most outstanding professional careers ever achieved by an Antioch High football player. Like his father, Dave, Jeremy was an all-league offensive lineman for the Panthers who went on to enjoy an outstanding career as an offensive lineman at UC Berkeley.
As a senior at Antioch, Jeremy was first-team All-Bay Valley Athletic League as an offensive and defensive lineman (11 sacks) for the 1993 season. He was selected first-team All-East Bay, All-Bay Area, All-Northern California and All-Far West, and was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team. Twice he won the Panthers’ Duane Putnam Award, given to the team’s top offensive lineman.
He was selected for the North-South Shrine Game in Los Angeles but elected not to play. Newberry, who was a state champion with the Golden State Wrestling freestyle club, also wrestled for the Panthers for two seasons. He was named the team’s MVP as a senior, after placing sixth at 275 pounds in the North Coast Section championships.
Jeremy, 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, made an immediate impact at Cal, starting at center for three seasons for the Bears. As a junior, he earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, and was named Cal’s Lineman of the Year and Most Inspirational player. While his father’s football career ended with the semi-pro Antioch Hornets, Jeremy skipped his senior year and headed to the NFL when the San Francisco 49ers selected him in the second round of the 1998 draft.
A knee injury in training camp cost him a full season, but he came back in 1999 as the 49ers’ starting right guard, then in 2000 moved back to center, where he again blossomed. Between 2000 and 2005 he was one of the most honored linemen in the NFL. Jeremy was a Pro Bowl selection in 2001 and 2002, the same year he was named All-Pro. He received the Bobb McKittrick Award as the 49ers’ Outstanding Lineman in 2000, 2003 and 2005. He was selected as the team’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award in 2003 and 2005. Each NFL team selects a Block Award winner each year, and Jeremy is the only 49er to receive the award twice.
''When you look up the word 'finesse,' Jeremy Newberry's picture is not there,'' former 49er coach Steve Mariucci said. ''He's one of those guys that you've got to have. Tough as nails. Plays with broken bones. He's salty. He's a leader in that locker room.''
Newberry was a rock, starting 107 of the 120 games he played in his 11 NFL seasons – nine in San Francisco and one each in Oakland and San Diego before a history of injury finally drove him from the game.
Jeremy has been honored once before in his hometown. On May 22, 2010, former teammates, friends and hundreds of fans attended Jeremy Newberry Day at the Antioch Historical Museum. Tom Cable, who was Jeremy’s line coach at Cal, told the crowd that the former Panther was “the best I ever coached ... It’s Antioch’s day to honor him, but he’s always honored where he came from.”
Jeremy is now a Bay Area television sports analyst, is a sports agent, and operates Newberry Estate Vineyards, an events venue in Brentwood.
Rebstock’s career as a high school coach spanned 22 years with Antioch and Deer Valley, with one North Coast Section championship and handful of accolades coming in the process.
John was already well-known in fastpitch softball circles before he entered the prep ranks as an assistant coach at Antioch. He was a legend in the men’s industrial leagues in the East Bay – in 1965, for example, he had a string of four straight shutouts for DuPont, the last an 18-strikeout performance over Fibreboard. His drop pitch was clocked at 88 mph, and five times Rebstock pitched in the ASA Men’s Major Division World Championship tournament.
Rebstock brought his expertise to one of the East Bay’s prominent high school girls softball programs in 1985 when Andria Edwards, a 2013 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee, brought him on as an assistant coach in 1985. A year later, Antioch won its second NCS championship in three years. Rebstock was named head coach in 1989 after Edwards stepped down, and in 1992 guided the Panthers to the NCS championship. With Rebstock helping to fine-tune pitcher Stephanie Andrews, Antioch racked up a 24-3 record and finished with a shutout of James Logan in the NCS title game.
Rebstock left the Panthers after the 1994 season, and in 1998 became head coach at Deer Valley. Once again grooming his pitchers, the Wolverines made their presence felt quickly. They got to the NCS playoffs four straight years from 2000-03. They fell to Freedom 4-2 in the 2002 3A title game, and twice were knocked out in the semifinals.
Rebstock moved on but stayed in the East County. After he led Heritage High to an NCS 2A championship in its first season of varsity competition in 2007, he was named Cal-Hi Sports Division III Coach of the Year. Then in 2008, the NCS acknowledged Rebstock’s body of work by selecting him as the Softball Honor Coach. John has taken his game to a higher level, as an assistant coach at St. Mary’s College.
Antioch High School 1988If there was ever an example of sacrificing one’s self for the ultimate good of the team, it was Casey Rhyan, part of the Antioch High wrestling teams from 1986-88. Rhyan finished his career in spectacular fashion, placing third at the CIF State championships and scoring the second-most team points as the Panthers took home the state championship. He took third in the North Coast Section championships at 145 pounds, after placing fifth at a lower weight the previous year. It was how he got there that sets Rhyan apart.
He started his junior season wrestling at 138 pounds, but cut to 126 to fill a hole in the lineup. Despite making that kind of cut, he won the Diablo Valley Athletic League tournament and placed fifth at NCS. As a senior, he was an integral part of what became the most dominant lineup in the state. He won the Arcata, Best in the West, Bay Valley and San Marin tournaments, and was second at Overfelt. He injury-defaulted out of the prestigious Clovis Invitational, placing sixth, but there were strong signs of good things ahead.
After winning his second straight DVAL title, Rhyan placed third at NCS, winning two consolation matches after a 3-2 loss in the championship semifinal. A week later, Rhyan clawed his way to third place in the state, finishing with a 41-3 record and leading the team with 20 pins.
Rhyan helped start the wrestling program at Deer Valley High, Antioch’s newest high school, when it opened in 1996. He built the program into a perennial contender in the Bay Valley Athletic League, and in 2002 he helped break the gender barrier when his 114-pounder, Melinda Ripley, became the first female to wrestle in the NCS tournament – she then went on to wrestle at the national and international levels. Rhyan left Deer Valley to become head wrestling coach at Oak Ridge High in El Dorado Hills, California.
Antioch High School 1991As a swimmer, Stephen Sanchez was in it for the long haul. The 1991 Antioch High graduate specialized as a distance swimmer, and was one of the best in the country.
As a senior at Antioch, Sanchez won the 500-yard freestyle at the North Coast Section finals in 4 minutes, 29.30 seconds, a meet record which stood for seven years. Stephen also placed third in the 200 individual medley in 1:53.60. Both performances earned him first-team All-America honors.
It was the second such honor for Stephen, who earned All-America in the 200 IM as a junior with an NCS-winning time of 1:52.52. He was also third in the 500 freestyle that year, in 4:37.99.
Stephen was a three-time Diablo Valley Athletic League champion in the 200 IM, and won the 500 free as a sophomore and as a senior. Stephen had a personal duel with Northgate’s Chris Lane, finishing second to Lane in the DVAL 500 final and third behind Lane in the NCS final. He got him the next year, beating him in the league final then beating him by less than a second in the NCS final.
Sanchez began swimming with the Delta Waves under coach Craig Carson, then moved to the Concord-Pleasant Hill Swim Club when he was ready for a more competitive program. Though he specialized in distance freestyle, Sanchez was an All-America in the 200 butterfly. As an 18-year-old, he was ranked 11th in the nation in the 200 IM, 17th in the nation in the 200 fly and 15th in the 400 IM. With the CPHSC, he was the leading point scorer in his age group twice in Pacific Swimming, earning Outstanding Swimmer in the 15-16 and 17-18 age groups.
He earned a scholarship to the University of Indiana, one of the NCAA’s perennial swimming powers, and in 1992 qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials.
Stephen earned his degree from Indiana and chose to remain in the Hoosier State. He is an assistant coach at Fishers High in Fishers, Indiana. He is also a coach with the Fishers Area Swimming Tigers, one of the top 40 age-group developmental programs in the country, and was named the Indiana State Coach of the Year for 2014.
With a returning state medalist, one of the city’s best Junior golfers and an underclassman with huge potential leading the way, the chances of the Antioch High golf team improving upon its dismal showing in 1956 seemed pretty good. The Panthers exceeded all expectations when they hoisted the Contra Costa Tournament Championship trophy at the end of an undefeated season.
The Panthers had won their first three matches handily when they faced Acalanes, the seven-time defending County champion. When the day was done, it was clear that Acalanes’ run might be ending. Wayne Sleppy, who later that year would win his second straight Antioch City Championship, set the tone by defeating the Dons’ Wally Marsh 1-up and the Panthers went on to a 5-1 victory. Coach Bruno Favero proclaimed in the Antioch Ledger the next day that the Panthers were now in the driver’s seat in the race for the county championship.
Antioch rolled through its next four opponents, finishing the Diablo Valley Athletic League season with a forfeit victory to complete an 8-0 regular season. The Panthers were the favorites to win the county tournament, and they didn’t disappoint. Co-medalists Sleppy and Phil Anderson each shot a 79, and Bob Heaton was fourth with an 81. The Panthers, with a three-man net of 298, were 14 strokes ahead of second-place Acalanes.
Though Sleppy and Heaton went on to stellar careers in golf, the Panthers’ accomplishment was truly a team achievement. During the course of the season, Antioch golfers Louis Caple, Ray Edwards, Roger Edwards, Jim Green, Keith Guthrie, Don Kovisto and John Stansbury all had key match play victories en route to the season championship. Tom Cesa and Jim Libbey also played on the team.
After the high school season, Anderson finished second in the 1957 Contra Costa County Junior Championship, losing by a stroke in a playoff, then represented the county in the state championship tournament. Sleppy, a 2008 Sports Legends Hall of Fame inductee, went on to win the Antioch City Championship for the second straight year, clinching the victory with the second of his six career holes-in-one. He became the PGA professional at Long Beach Municipal at the age of 20, and in 1964 won the Southern California PGA tournament. Heaton, inducted into the Sports Legends Hall of Fame in 2009, went on to win the NCGA Public Links Championship in 1964. He competed in two USGA Senior Opens and two British Senior Opens, and was a two-time NCGA Player of the Year.