The bone-jarring tackles made by “Bus” Ackerman in the 1920s era of football were made even more impressive by the lack of modern protective gear. Bus graduated in 1927 from Riverview High School, the very building that now houses the Antioch Historical Society Museum and Sports Legends Hall. At Riverview, Bus was both place kicker and tackle and was All-League for four years. In baseball he played centerfield and held the record for most runs scored at Riverview High. His skills as a tackle and place kicker earned him All-League honors and a full scholarship to St. Mary’s College. He played football and centerfield in baseball at St. Mary’s between 1927-1931. He was First Team All-America in football in 1929: the legendary Knute Rockne signed the certificate. Bus was the first All-America player to come out of Antioch. When he wasn’t playing college ball, Bus played on club football teams. He was on the American Legion Football team, coached by Walter “Dutch” Eells, the namesake of Antioch High’s stadium, and in 1928, on a summer break from college, played on the championship American Legion baseball squad. Bus played in the very first East-West Shrine Game in 1929, the same year this early athlete chose baseball after college, spending more than two yeas in the Pacific Coast AAA Baseball League. Bus stayed in Antioch, serving the city as a police officer when his sports career ended. He is enshrined in the St. Mary’s Hall of Fame, where he’s been so honored since 1970. Welcome Home, Bus.
Jack Danilovich’s tenure at Antioch High School was short, but his influence was indelible. “He put Antioch on the map” according to one of his star players, and fellow Sports Legend, Worth Shaw. “This guy put two players in the NFL.” Shaw said that in 1951, three of the AHS boys Danilovich had coached were captains of their respective college football teams. Jack was Panther head football and track coach between 1939-1949, guiding some of the best teams – and players – to ever come out of Antioch. The St. Mary’s College alumni’s first year as head coach was disappointing. His record: 0 wins, 6 losses and two ties. Jack took that dismal season as a challenge, and went on to lead the players to a remarkable record of 75 wins and six losses in 10 years – encompassing a 27-game winning streak from 1944 – 1948 that included AHS’s first undefeated season in 1945-46. Beginning in 1940, Jack’s boys never lost more than one game in a season until 1948, when the record was 6-2. The extraordinary leadership he exhibited earned Jack the honor of being named “Best Coach west of the Mississippi” in 1946. Jack left after the 1949 season to coach at East Contra Costa Junior College, now Diablo Valley College.
Michelle Gromacki’s face may have been hidden behind a catcher’s mask during her playing career, but she continues to make herself known in the world of softball. Michelle was chosen All East Bay First Team catcher and was Antioch High School team MVP in 1982. On April 27, 2007, Michelle’s OO jersey was officially retired from the AHS lineup. She began her post-prep career at Butte Junior College and then spent three years at Cal State Fullerton playing on its national championship team. She led the Titans to a 170-19-1 record string of victories between 1985-1987, including the NCAA 1986 national championship. Michelle’s softball career didn’t end with college. She continued on, playing in the softball World Cup in Japan in 1989, Softball World Championship in 1994 and played five times in the Olympic Festival. Michelle qualified for the Pam Am games and was a finalist for a berth on the 1996 Olympic squad. She’s a gold medalist for several USA Softball teams and played professional softball. She spent 12 years behind home plate for the American Softball Association’s Redding Rebels, which earned a national championship three times between 1993-1995. Her stint with the Rebels resulted in being named a nine-time American Softball Association All-American. Michelle moved off the diamond and into the dugout at the end of the 1990s, becoming head coach of the 2001 USA Softball National Red Team. She was assistant coach of the National Elite Team between 2002-2004, all the while maintaining her duties as head coach at Cal State Fullerton, where she currently coaches. Michelle’s Fullerton teams were Big West Champions for five out of the seven years she was head coach and Michelle earned Coach of the Year honors in the Big West Conference in 2000 and 2006. She was also Regional Coach of the Year four times: 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2006.
Jack was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal as a Rear Admiral in the Navy, but decades earlier he had earned a chest full of varsity letters at Antioch High – eight to be exact. This four-sport athlete began his prep career in 1947. As a junior, he was chosen for the All-County football and baseball teams. Jack’s senior year in 1950 was a cavalcade of accolades: a unanimous selection for All-County in football and baseball, a spot on the State All-Star Baseball team, and county and North Coast high-hurdle champion. Off the field, Jack served as student body president. Athletics continued to be a big part of his life during his years at the U.S. Naval Academy. Jack played halfback on the undefeated freshman football team, playing both offense and defense. His junior and senior years brought several accomplishments in both football and track. He scored Navy’s only touchdown in the Army-Navy match-up of 1953. Jack was starting halfback on both offense and defense on Navy’s famed “Team Named Desire” which finished fifth in the nation and won the Sugar Bowl in 1955. That year, he was also Navy’s best high hurdles runner. Jack spent 31 years in the Navy, including a tour of duty in Europe and in Vietnam. He was the Navy’s Chief of Information in Washington, D.C. – where he earned the Navy Commendation Medal – and retired in 1986.
One sport was not enough for Rally – he did three. It’s been exactly a half-century since he wore black and gold, but many remember his dazzling skills on the diamond, the court and the track. Rally was a four-year starter in baseball and named all-league twice. He was all-league again in basketball and scored an astounding 223 points in his senior year – averaging 18.5 points per game – setting a Diablo Valley Athletic League record. That was not his only record – he long-jumped 20 feet, 9 inches, setting an AHS mark that stood for many years. He continued in both basketball and baseball at Diablo Valley College, setting the bar high by being named All-Conference in both sports. He was also named to the All Nor Cal team in basketball. He scored 952 career points and averaged 20.3 points per game in his college sophomore season. Rally’s ball-handling skills took center court, as he accepted a basketball scholarship to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The Mustangs made a great investment, as Rally led the conference in scoring in his senior year and was all-conference first team. He went on to set four Cal Poly all-time school records; most points scored in one season (478), most points in career (1,034), highest points per game season average (21.7) and most field goals in one season (175). While at Cal Poly, Rally was selected as an honorable mention to the UPI All Far-West and All-Coast teams and was one of only three Californians chosen as honorable mention for the Small College All America team. Los Angeles came calling after college, drafting him into its American Basketball League franchise. He won a release to play near his hometown with the Oakland Oaks, appearing in pre-season exhibition games. After his basketball career was behind him, Rally took up fast-pitch softball, and played for Napa, one of the eight U.S. teams in The AAA 1975 World Series. Rally was also named in 1988 by the Contra Costa Times as one of the best prep basketball players in the history of the Diablo Valley Athletic League.
Ralph’s outstanding Panther career included being on the All-League backetball and baseball teams in 1954. As a freshman, Ralph played varsity basketball and in baseball, he batted .318, leading his team to a league championship. By the time he was a junior, Ralph was batting .400 and earned All-League catcher honors, capping the year by playing summer ball with the Yountville Merchants. The Panthers won the league baseball the S.F. Examiner All-Star squad and All-League honors. The two-sport star continued his achievements at East Contra Costa Junior College (now Diablo Valley College) in 1954-1955, batting .358 before transferring to Stanford University. At Stanford, Ralph was named All-League catcher in the California Inter-scholastic Baseball Association and ended with a .400 average in league play – hitting .358 for the season – and chosen for the national All-America team. The Chicago Cubs came calling in 1958, drafting Ralph to its Class “B” Burlington, Iowa squad. Between 1959-1963 he played with several farm teams. In 1974 Stanford awarded him with an entry into its Baseball Hall of Fame and a plaque for his contributions to Stanford athletics. Ralph became a much-honored prep baseball coach at Kennedy High in Fremont where he retired after a 30-year coaching career. In 1999 he was named North Coast Section Coach of the Year. He coached several league winners, four future professional players and has a field at Kennedy High named in his honor.
Panther football, basketball, and track teams were dominated by Ron “Bogie” Edwards between 1960-1963. The multitalented Bogie was the DVAL basketball player of the year and league scoring champion. The guard and team captain was a three year starter. Bogie didn’t rest on his laurels, but took up the high jump, winning first in the league and fifth in the Nor Cal decathlon. Bogie was voted AHS’ Most Outstanding Player on the gridiron and earned a first team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League berth on both the football and basketball squads. He was the area’s top rusher in 1963. In 1970, his name became part of the DVAL “All Decade Team” in basketball. His amazing skill earned full scholarship offers; basketball from the University of San Francisco and Pepperdine University, track from San Jose State University and football from Utah State University, where he eventually attended from 1963-1967. Bogie chose Utah because it allowed him to play three sports during his freshman and sophomore years until he settled on just one. He eventually chose to toss a pigskin and it served him well. He was the starting quarterback for three seasons and team captain during his senior year at Utah State, earning Academic All-America honors along the way as well as setting 11 offensive records. This earned a much-deserved spot in the Utah State University Hall of Fame. The Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes took notice and drafted Bogie out of college. That began his professional football career. Bogie tried out for the Denver Broncos. He eventually played for the Continental Football League as the Norfolk Neptunes’ cornerback, earning First Team All-League. Eight years after his pro football career ended, Bogie took on a bigger challenge – the elite Ironman Triathlon – a one-day combined 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and full marathon. He competed in two Iron-man events between 1980 and 1985.
It’s been over three decades, yet two of Shaun Bogan’s Antioch High School swimming records have yet to be broken. Shaun’s splash into the AHS record pool ran from 1974 through 1976, setting record performances in the 200-yard, 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke. The records continued in 1975 in water polo, with an untouchable achievement that sounds more like a home run record – 61 goals in water polo, with an untouchable achievement that sounds more like a home run record – 61 goals in a single season, part of a career total of 92. The water polo team captain was named MVP for the year. Shaun was undefeated in dual meets for the 100-yard butterfly in 1976 for the Panthers, and went on to win first place in the Senior Pentathlon Swim Meet for East Bay High Schools – scoring the second highest overall points of anyone in an eight-year period. Shaun’s swimming continued into college at DVC. In 1976, Shaun was Most Inspirational Player in water polo. In 1977 he set a school 400-meter medley relay record. In 1978 he earned All-America status in eight events at Diablo Valley College. Shaun’s amazing speed in the water earned a full-ride scholarship in 1979 to the University of Oklahoma, where he set records for the Sooners in the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter freestyle. Shaun placed second in the 200-meter individual medley and fifth in the 100-meter breast stroke at the Big 8 conference championships and earned All Big 8 Conference in the 200-meter individual medley. Shaun has earned dozens of honors for himself however he has also been able to help East County youth make waves in swimming competitions. As a Freedom High coach, he was the first to send swimmers to North Coast Section championships in 2001, helping an Oakley teen earn All-America status and an All-America Coach honor for him. The following year the Delta Skimmers swim club team benefited from his expertise, with a winning season for the first time in many years. Shaun coached Deer Valley High boys and girls teams in 2003, earning a second and third place respectively in the Bay Valley Athletic League.
Steve was a true three-sport high school athlete, but wrestling became the path to individual glory in college and led to national recognition as one of the top prep coaches in the country. This Antioch High School Class of ’67 grad grappled all four years on the varsity squad: as a junior he made All-Diablo Valley Athletic league, as a senior, he was voted Outstanding Wrestler in the DVAL League Tournament. Steve placed third in the Northern California state meet, with the AHS team finishing fifth. In 1966 he was co-captain of the Panther varsity football team, which was league champion that year under Bill Snelson with an 8-0-1 record, the first unbeaten AHS team since 1945. He was voted first team All-DVAL, All-East Bay, and played in the Contra Costa-Alameda All-Star Game, as well as earning the “Most Courageous” player award from AHS. Steve was also team captain on the varsity baseball team in 1967. The prep standout continued on to Diablo Valley College where he earned honors in two sports, wrestling and football. Steve was a two-time Golden Gate Athletic Conference wrestling champ and earned junior college All America honors. He was named All-League first team defensive back in football in the Golden Gate Conference in 1968. Steve transferred to Portland State University, where he earned a third place in regional competition and a second place in the Las Vegas YMCA nationals. After college, Steve began his coaching career at Merced High School and then came home to Antioch. He is the only coach in the state to have led two different high schools to California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships. Steve’s highest recognition was being named the United States Wrestling Federation Coach of the Year in 1980, an honor that encompasses all prep, college and open club teams in the United States. His other coaching honors include: National High School Athletic Coaches’ Association Regional Coach of the Year (1982 and 1987), California Coaches’ Association High School Wrestling Coach of the Year (1982 and 1987), Big C Athletic Club Coach of the Year (1987) and induction into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000.
Few people are honored by having a sports facility named after them during their lifetime – but not many people have given as much to their hometown as Worth Shaw. Worth was a notable multi-sport prep star at AHS in the 1940s. During his senior year of 1945-1946, he was starting forward on the basketball team, county high jump champion, and All-County team member in football, a spot he well deserved for the 25 touchdowns he achieved that year, a Panther record. He was a key member of Antioch’s undefeated football team. He played football at Modesto Junior College and was named to the All-Nor Cal Conference second team. An injured knee in training camp ended his potential NFL career with the Baltimore Colts in 1953. Oh yes, and he dabbled in baseball, too. When Uncle Sam took him away for military service, he took up the shortstop position for the Army while stationed in Yokohama, Japan. Fifty-seven years ago, Worth organized, played with, and coached the Antioch Hornets, a semi-pro football team financed by local businesses. After the team was disbanded, Worth’s amazing energy was channeled into founding the Antioch Quarterback Club, a group of more than 300 members who bought equipment, sponsored awards, and organized a “gala sports night” for AHS teams between 1957 and the late 1960s. Volunteers from the club built Antioch’s Rademacher Field for little league baseball players. Worth founded the Antioch Junior Football League fifty years ago for boys aged 10-13, where he also coached a team. For a quarter-century the program grew and nurtured the skills of future college and pro athletes among the 4,000 children who participated. Worth’s organizing skills continued under the Antioch Recreation department, where he set up sports leagues for boys, girls, teens, and adults. Worth was the perfect person to be Antioch’s first fulltime recreation director, a position he held for 31 years, retiring in 1991. Since 1992, new generations of Antioch athletes have honed their skills in the beautiful softball and soccer complex on James Donlon Boulevard that bears his name.