Antioch High School 1966
Great achievement in both athletics and academics marks the career of Robbie Adams, a three-sport star and 1966 Athlete of the Year at Antioch High School who went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Oregon. Robbie earned multiple accolades in football, but also excelled in basketball, where he was named the Panther MVP during his senior season, as well as being selected Second Team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League. In track and field, he made First Team All-League and All-North Coast for his performance in the shot put, setting what was then an AHS record throw of 57-feet, 7½-inches, a mark that still ranks as fourth on the all-time AHS best list almost five decades later. Panther fans could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking there was a set of Adams triplets on the 1965 football team, since Antioch Coach Bill Snelson started Robbie at offensive tackle and defensive end, and also used him as a place-kicker and punter. The 6-2, 198-pound end was First Team All-DVAL on offense, First Team All-Metropolitan and Fourth Team All-Northern California, the latter two chosen by the San Francisco Chronicle. The football talent pool in the Bay Area must have been quite impressive that year, as future Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl quarterback Jim Plunkett, a James Lick High School senior, only rated Third Team All-NorCal. Robbie’s fierce gridiron and academic talents earned recognition in 1965. He was named top lineman on the Bay Area Scholar-Athlete team, chosen from among 10 counties, and Outstanding Lineman from Contra Costa County, and named Top Lineman on the NFL Football Foundation Hall of Fame, Northern California Chapter. Later on, he was an honorable mention on the Daily Ledger’s “Cream of the Crop” team, a selection of the best football players Antioch High produced between 1950-1967. A 3.6 GPA, grouped with being a Boy’s State representative and member of the California Scholarship Foundation, made Robbie a top prospect for Stanford University. He played freshman football there, with Plunkett as quarterback. Robbie was a starter on the final freshman game against UCLA. With the Vietnam War escalating and so many young men being drafted, Robbie said the social upheaval of the era drew his attention back to academics. As for football, “I satisfied myself that I could do it,” and then left the Stanford football program after his freshman season. He transferred to U.C. Berkeley as a junior, earning a degree in rhetoric in 1970. He later earned a master’s degree from CSU Los Angeles and a doctorate degree from the University of Oregon in 1982. He taught speech at Los Medanos College, University of Oregon, and later at Indiana-Purdue, Ft. Wayne. Returning to California in 1985, Robbie began a two-decade career as a Contra Costa County probation officer, earning a Juvenile Justice Award in 2005 for outstanding service. He retired from the county in 2010.
Antioch High School 1964
As more technologically advanced athletic equipment and training methods are developed, running records have been shattered in the 21st century. Joe Bonanno’s Antioch High record still stands after nearly five decades. Since 1964 the panther runner’s time in the 440-yard dash still remains as the fastest by any Antioch High athlete, and was fast enough to place him second overall in the 1964 Northern California standings. He beat San Jose ‘s Lee Evans at the North Coast Section Finals, winning the event with a time of 48.5. Evans came in second in that event at 49.0, but would go on four years later to win a gold medal in the 400 meters at the 1968 Olympics, shattering the existing world record. Joe was honored with an “Athlete of the Week” award for his performance at North Coast by the Tri-Club Boosters (Pittsburg, Antioch and Concord groups combined). Joe’s 48.5 at the NCS Finals was the second time he broke the school record, shaving a full second from the first record, which he had run one week earlier at the NCS Trials. What makes Joe’s victories so remarkable is the fact that he barely made it to North Coast at all. After a disappointing fifth place finish in the Diablo Valley Athletic League Finals, he “worked out like mad, his guts and determination paying big dividends,” according to a story by former Daily Ledger Sports Editor Bill Boyer. An Oakland Tribune sportswriter reported that while “no one was paying attention,” Joe ran a “blistering 49.5,” breaking an AHS record set by future Antioch Sports Legend inductee, Mac Enz. Joe ran varsity track all three years in Antioch, beginning as a sophomore in 1962. He became track and field team captain as a junior and tied the AHS record in the 100-yard dash running 9.9 seconds, and placed first in the All-Contra Costa League with 10.0 flat in the 100-yard dash and a wind-aided 21.7 in the 220, leading to a local newspaper sportswriter to crown him Antioch’s “Sprint King.” At 15, he placed 4th in AAU Junior Olympics competition in the Bay Area. Serving again as team captain in his senior year, Joe tied his own school record for the 100-yard dash. During a meet against Pittsburg, Joe bypassed competing in the 100 event and ran the 440 for the first time. His 51.3 broke an existing school record held by Eddie Savage, a 2008 inductee into the Sports Legends Hall of Fame. The East Bay Prep Writers Association named Joe the Contra Costa Track Athlete of the Year, chosen from among prep stars from 58 schools. Colleges took notice. Joe received letters of interest or scholarship offers from Idaho State, Utah State, University of Washington, San Jose State, Southern Illinois State, Northwestern, Oregon and Washington State. Joe accepted the offer from Utah State, where the long-time sprinter performed another amazing feat. He broke a Utah State record in an event that he had never run in high school – the 440 intermediate hurdles. It was déjà vu for Joe during his junior year at Utah; back to back record – breaking performances. Joe broke the Aggie record in the 440 intermediate hurdles with a time of 54 seconds, and then broke his own new record at the Utah State University Invitational by shaving .3 seconds from the previous week’s mark. Prior to competing for the Aggies on a full scholarship, Joe” had never hurdled a hurdle except in fun,” according to his college coach. Following graduation, Joe embarked on a 38-year teaching and coaching career at Bella Vista High School in the San Juan Unified School District near Sacramento. At Bella Vista Joe wore many hats, teaching human anatomy and physiology while serving as the head varsity football coach and assistant track coach.
Antioch High School 1988
Anthony “Macho” Camacho lived up to every bit of his high school nickname. The High School All-American grappler completely dominated his sport in East Contra Costa County during the 1980s. Competition began when he was a young kid, grappling for the Golden State Wrestling Club, an organization his father, Richard, helped found. Anthony was an 8-time AAU California State Champion, 2-time Western Regional Champion and 4-time Grand National Champion, all before entering high school. Once he hit the mats for the “Black and Gold,” Anthony continued to improve. He intimidated his opponents with an overall prep record of 125-5. Wrestling at 126 pounds in his first high school season, he placed first in the DVAL and first at the North Coast Section Championships, easily qualifying for the California State Championship. Due to injury, he was unable to attend State, but came back strong as a junior in 1987, becoming team co-captain and defending his league and North Coast titles prior to taking third place at State in the 132-pound class. Anthony reached his zenith as a senior, taking the league and North Coast titles for a third straight year but had a heartbreaking elimination at State in the second round, his first loss of the year after 39 straight wins. Antioch’s team went on to win the State wrestling title for the first time in school history. Redemption came at the USA Wrestling Southwestern Regionals, when Anthony bounded back to win in his 138-pound class. He later took 5th at the national level. After being named the #2 top prep prospect of 1988 by USA Wrestling Magazine, the University of Minnesota offered Anthony a full-ride athletic scholarship, which he accepted, and began his college wrestling career, but only stayed one season. He accepted a second scholarship to complete his education back home in California and went to California State University, Fresno. He wrestled in the 150- and 158-pound classes in college, where he was twice a runner-up champion in the Western Athletic Conference. The two-year team co-captain was a 1991 NCAA National Championship qualifier and ranked third in the Pac-10 for his weight class. In 1992, he placed second in the University Freestyle All-American USA Wrestling tournament and fifth in the Sunkist International Freestyle Open Tournament. Anthony stayed involved in wrestling after college, becoming an assistant varsity wrestling coach for Deer Valley High, and Clovis High. He was head coach at Clovis East High and Fresno City College, the latter experience earning the title of California Community College Coach of the Year in 2002. Since leaving coaching in 2002, Anthony completed a master’s degree and now works as a private investment management advisor. He lives in Fresno, where and he and his wife of 20 years, Deanna, watch their four children participate in school sports.
Credited by the Antioch Ledger as “the coach who brought Antioch to the top of the softball world,” Andria Edwards’ Antioch High softball teams won two North Coast Section Championships in three years, triumphs that earned recognition as East Bay Coach of the Year in 1984 and again in 1986. That type of success is enough to be considered for Antioch Sports Legends recognition, but Coach Edwards led two more teams to two additional North Coast Section Championships in a completely different sport – golf – at a different high school. Her Deer Valley High girls’ golf teams have made it to NCS seven out of the last nine years. Edwards, who coached varsity softball at Antioch High School for 13 seasons, had eight Diablo Valley Athletic League Championships in the decade between 1979 and 1989 and sent 11 of her athletes on to college softball careers. Eight of her players have been inducted into the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame; Michelle Gromacki, Rachelle Manning, Debbie Nelson, Sue Cardinale, Mia Rexroth, Karen and Sharon Christianson and now Dawn Hilgenberg (all AHS). During the North Coast Section winning softball seasons, the Panthers’ records were 28-1 (1984) and 25-2 (1986). Her assistant coaches were John Rebstock and Bob Luis. Coach Edwards said her teams’ successes owed a great deal to former AHS Principal Bob Lathrope, who was “the first principal to promote and support women’s sports at Antioch.” Proving that such success could be repeated, Coach Edwards switched hats and came to cross-town rival Deer Valley High in 1996 when the campus opened, becoming its physical education department chair. She began coaching softball that year and three years later began the first Wolverine girls’ golf team in 1999. The 2012 golfers became the sixth team to be Bay Valley Athletic League Champions. Six of her students have gone on to play golf in college. Coach Edwards is herself a product of Antioch High, where she graduated as Andria Litvinov in 1971. Swimming, volleyball and tennis were the only sports open to women at Antioch High in the late 1960s and early 1970s, so she had no opportunity to compete in the sports she later came to love and coach. Coach Edwards graduated in 1976 from California State University, Chico and was hired that same year at Park Junior High School (now Park Middle School) and promptly began coaching the JV basketball, swimming and volleyball teams. She shifted to Antioch High the following year, and became the varsity softball coach in 1979 and coached varsity girls’ basketball for three seasons, 1979-1981. Her three children have been some of her best pupils, and pursued their own sports careers. Daughter Alexis, a BYU All-American in golf, is now the head women’s golf coach at Cal State Monterey Bay. Daughter Ashley was named MVP for three years in the BVAL and played for the University of Oregon before turning pro. Son Tom was MVP for golf at DVHS and was All-League in water polo. Her last two children were born during Coach Edwards’ tenure at Antioch High – in the midst of her best softball coaching seasons. During the two final pregnancies, she spent three hours after each full teaching day coaching the girls’ team on basic fundamentals. “It was hard at times,” she said in an interview in the late 1980s, “I remember at the North Coast someone was sitting next to my mom and they were saying, ‘She (Andria) shouldn’t be out there’ and my mom turned around and said, ‘She has a right to be where she wants to be.’ “
Antioch High School 1961
From the time he was junior in 1959 at Antioch High, Jon Fontana was a varsity starter on the football team – on both offense and defense. The gifted athlete was actually a quadruple threat; he played first base and centerfield on the baseball team and was a high jumper and broad jumper in track. The 180-pound 6-footer became a First Team All-Contra Costa County guard and Antioch High MVP in basketball, however his accomplishments were the greatest in football. An Antioch Ledger clipping describes Jon as being able to “hold a casaba (melon) in one hand.” Perhaps that was a contributing factor to his success in two sports that require mastery of manipulating large orbs. As a senior in the 1960 season, Jon had scored the most touchdowns of any Panther (5) and had 19 receptions for 346 yards, earning a Contra Costa Athlete of the Week award. The Concord Quarterback Club honored the Panther as its Athlete of the Week in a game against Clayton Valley High; Jon had four receptions for 73 yards and helped his team win 20-6 against the Eagles. The team co-captain was also MVP of his football team, earned First Team All-League and was the only Antioch High player chosen for First Team All-Division. He was later named to the First Team All-Metropolitan. Jon was one of three Contra Costa prep stars invited to play in the prestigious Shrine California Classic in 1961, a charity game that pitted the best high school players from Northern California with the best from Southern California, played in the L.A. Coliseum. An especially high honor came when he was listed as an Honorable Mention All-American by the Sporting News national sports weekly magazine. The honor was bestowed by an organization called the “Wigwam Wisemen,” a creation of the Oklahoma City University Athletic Director, for the purpose of identifying the best high school football players in the United States. Players were chosen annually by 134 sports editors around the country beginning in 1947. Jon said his happiest memory is winning the Antioch Chamber of Commerce “Perpetual Silver Cup Trophy” for Best Football player. The Silver Cup trophy had been awarded since 1937 but had mysteriously disappeared for two years. It resurfaced in 1961 and was bestowed upon Jon. In hindsight, it became clearer that Jon’s skills stacked up nicely with the top prep stars of the subsequent decade. In 1967, the Antioch Daily Ledger selected Jon as its First Team Offensive End for its “Cream of the Crop” Team – made up of Antioch High School prep stars who played between 1950 and 1967, when area sportswriters created the local dream team concept.
Antioch High School 1986
Scott Freier needs a room-sized display case to shelve all the awards he accumulated for Antioch High School in the late 1980s. An extraordinarily gifted athlete, the tight end was First Team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League, All-East Bay, SF Examiner First Team All-Bay Area, and All-Northern California in football. The 6-4, 235-pound lineman’s accomplishments while on the Panther roster include making 22 catches for 340 yards (averaging 15 yards per catch) during his senior season: most were not easy catches, as Scott made connection with the ball, tossed by quarterback Jason Verduzco, surrounded by a traffic jam of opponents. Scott was part of a massively sized offensive line – average player weight was 252 pounds – that led the DVAL in total offense in 1985, helping running back Bryan Hill rush for 1,120 yards and 11 touchdowns. Scott is also a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in Antioch football history: He is one of only a handful of AHS athletes to be a part of the “Super Sixty” – a gathering of the best high school football players in California chosen for the prestigious Shrine North-‐South All Star Football Classic played at the L.A. Coliseum. His two catches totaling 19 yards during the 1986 Shriner game put a sweet end to his prep career, but Scott’s life as an athlete was far from over. Following his senior football season, Scott played baseball at AHS, where he was an All-‐DVAL and Second Team All-East Bay pitcher. His .407 batting average, 1.80 ERA and 9-3 record earned an invitation to the Philadelphia Phillies camp, but he declined the offer. He also played varsity basketball as a sophomore on the NCS-qualifying Panther team that beat Pittsburg three times that year, but every coach in the Pac-10 and several Ivy League schools sought his services on the gridiron. In a 1985 local news article, it was clear that Scott was one of the most sought-after football players to ever come out of Northern California. “Several of the (Pac10) conference’s head coaches have visited his home,” the article said, and those same coaches offered him full five-year scholarships, eager to pay for an extra redshirt year to entice him to sign. Scott’s family endured several calls each day from coaches around the country seeking his services, including Yale and Nebraska. He received more than 20 scholarship offers. Scott accepted a full-ride scholarship to play for the powerhouse University of Southern California. At USC, Scott played three positions; offensive guard, center and tight end for three years, making three consecutive appearances in the Rose Bowl between 1988 and 1990. He suited-up and accompanied his team to the Citrus Bowl in 1987 as a freshman and was a pitcher for the USC freshman baseball team. Following his football career, Scott settled back in his hometown of Antioch, and proudly wore a different uniform: Antioch police officer, a career from which he recently retired in 2012 with the rank of sergeant.
Antioch High School 1986
“March 31, 1983.” Proud mom Ruth Georgen glued a neatly typed caption under the picture of a grinning 14-year old wearing a blue and gold uniform for the first time: “Margaret, today you ran your first track meet… you had a wonderful time. Antioch won the meet overall and we’re very proud of our “Speedy Goose.” Three months later, Antioch Junior High School Principal Brooks Golden would award Margaret Georgen a certificate as Best All-Around Athlete. The late Mrs. Georgen – a long-time Antioch schools employee and namesake of the Ruth Georgen Memorial Student Service Award at AHS – was able to witness her daughter eventually becoming the Antioch High School discus record-holder, a mark that still stands after 27 years. By the time she was a senior in 1986, Margaret reached the pinnacle for an Antioch prep athlete – “Female Athlete of the Year.” During her freshman and sophomore years, she played volleyball and was a sprinter in the 100, 220 and 440-yard relay. Margaret was MVP and team captain in volleyball and “Athlete of the Year” at AJHS. By the time she was a junior, Margaret took up a sport that she had never tried before –heaving a 1-kilo (2.2-pound) disc as far as it would go. In her junior year, Margaret won first place in discus in the Diablo Valley Athletic League, first in the North Coast Division 3-A Championship and third place in the NCS Meet of Champions, qualifying her to participate in the California State CIF Track and Field Championships, earning a “Most Improved” award in track and field. By the next year she was named MVP. As a senior, Margaret again played volleyball – and was so talented she was named Antioch High School’s Most Valuable Player and made First Team All-DVAL – the only player in East Contra Costa County to do so in 1985-86 as an outside hitter. She was also Big “C” Athletic Club Athlete of the Week for volleyball and made the All-Tournament Team from the Antioch Panther Classic Volleyball Tournament in 1985. At the prestigious Arcadia Invitational track meet, she set a new AHS record in the discus of 138-8. The record lasted exactly four days. In a league meet against Mt. Diablo High School on April 16, 1986, Margaret had the best throw of her career: 141-8, smashing her own Antioch High record, which was already twenty feet beyond what her nearest competitor had done that season. The throw put her in the all-time Top Ten for women in the East Bay. As of 2013, her record still stands at Antioch High. When notified earlier this year that she was still #1 in the AHS record books, she said jokingly “someone needs to break this record.” She ended her prep sports career with a year of firsts – First Team All-DVAL in volleyball, first place in the DVAL, North Coast 3-A regional and at North Coast Section Meet of Champions for her discus throws. She again qualified for the CIF meet. Margaret attended California State University, Northridge briefly, but returned to East County, completing school at Los Medanos College, and had a successful 20-year career with Pacific Bell.
Antioch High School 1962
Jack Hannigan is being inducted as an Antioch Sports Legend, but he will forever be remembered as a hero, sacrificing his own life to save his fellow platoon members – felled by an enemy attack in Vietnam. Just three years earlier, Jack was a champion swimmer at Antioch High School. He made First Team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League two years in a row. Jack earned the honors through his multiple record-breaking performances in the 100-meter breaststroke. He was the DVAL champion breaststroker as a junior and repeated the feat as a senior. His first record-breaking performance occurred as a junior in 1961, setting a new AHS mark of 1:13.4, which occurred during the North Coast Division I meet. As a senior in 1962, Jack quickly erased his previous mark and set a new record in the 100-meter breaststroke of 1:09.5, which also set a new DVAL-Contra Costa Division Meet record, besting the previous meet record by almost three seconds. He broke his own record a third time in a meet against Pleasant Hill High School, finishing the 100 meters in 1:09.1. Jack’s tremendous swimming achievements were recognized in several places. The Concord Quarterback Club honored him as its “Athlete of the Week” in 1962, the only swimmer to be honored that year. The Babe Ruth Foundation gave him its Sportsmanship Award. Indiana University offered Jack a scholarship to swim for the Hoosiers, but he declined it, and instead spent a semester at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. By age 19, Jack was swimming for the Santa Clara Swim Club, the nation’s premier training ground for Olympic talent: its swimmers have won a collective 71 medals and produced Olympic champions Donna de Verona and Mark Spitz. With the conflict in Vietnam escalating, Jack went into the Army and was deployed in September of 1965. Just a few weeks after arriving with his platoon, he had some national notoriety when his photo appeared in Life Magazine’s Oct. 22, 1965 issue as part of its coverage of the conflict. He is shown tending to his wounded comrades just after a jungle ambush. Tragically, he was killed in a similar firefight just two weeks later, his family receiving the posthumous bronze star he was awarded for valor.
Antioch High School 1984
A professional ball team would pay millions to have a pitcher with the stats of Dawn Hilgenberg. The Antioch High School phenomenon finished the 1984 season with a 24-1 record (the team was 29-1) and an ERA of .94 with 126 innings pitched. Her batting average was just as impressive: .370. No-hitters? She’s had those, too. Two in fact while at Antioch High and two more in college. Dawn pitched the first softball no-hitter in the history of California State University, Hayward (now East Bay) and performed the same feat at San Jose State University, pitching its first softball no-hitter on record in 1986. Dawn’s talents propelled the Antioch High School girls to their first ever North Coast Section title in 1984 and was named North Coast MVP, the first Antioch- and DVAL – athlete to receive the honor. She was DVAL Player of the Year and the first Panther to be named East Bay Player of the Year by the East Bay Prep Writers Association. Coach Andria Edwards, also being inducted in 2013 into the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame, told a sports reporter in 1984 that Dawn has “a nice change-up and a nice rise and drop on her pitches that really fools batters.” The article referred to Dawn as a “fast worker” because she averaged only one walk a game. Dawn was also a player on the volleyball team in 1983 that competed at North Coast, perhaps one of the only Antioch athletes to play on more than two NCS qualifying teams in the same school year. 1983 was not Dawn’s first appearance in an NCS tourney. She played for the AHS softball team that made it to the NCS Championships during her junior year in 1982. As a junior, Dawn pitched like a machine for the Lady Panther softball program, hurling 23 innings in one day during the St. Vincent Tournament in 1983, in which she also tossed for 17 straight innings during a grueling final championship game against Granada High in Livermore. After her illustrious high school career, Dawn first went to California State University, Hayward (now Cal State East Bay), where she was named Second Team All-League in her freshman season for the Pioneers. Hayward had a 19-1 season in 1985 and was ranked in the national Top Ten. She transferred to a Division I school, San Jose State University, and later accepted a scholarship there, completing her college career with 12 single season and career records that remains in the all-time SJSU Top-Ten. Dawn continued to play softball after college in the Pacific Coast League of the Amateur Softball Association Fast-Pitch Class A, where she was chosen as pitcher for the All-Region Team; She also participated in the Women’s “A” Fast pitch National Championship Tournament in 1987. Dawn now works as a first grade teacher in the Oakley Union School District.
Antioch High School 1962
This powerful tackle helped the Antioch High School football team to a 7-1-1 record in 1962, ending a 15-year league championship drought for the Panthers. John’s job was to keep the other teams from advancing, and he did it well, performing on both offense and defense. The Panthers kept their opponents to a total of only 38 points all season. During the nine-game league season, John says he “pretty much never left the Field.” Dubbed Antioch’s “anchor in the storm” in local news accounts, John was instrumental in keeping three opponents from scoring; out of the seven wins AHS achieved, three were shutouts. The hard‐fought 6‐6 tie game was against Mt. Diablo; John, along with guard Tim Bastian, held the line heroically in the last few seconds of the game on the Panther four‐yard line, not once, but twice, preventing a Red Devil win. John also recovered two fumbles in the game. His senior year performance earned recognition as First Team All‐Diablo Valley Athletic League -Contra Costa Division. The Antioch Ledger’s sportswriters, when compiling their “Cream of the Crop” team in 1967, recognized the 6-0, 200-pounder as one of the best tackles in Panther history, placing him on the First Team Offense. The “Cream of the Crop” team was made up of the best Antioch High School players between 1950 and 1967. John was also a key contributor as a sophomore on the Junior Varsity team. At the annual Quarter Back Club awards banquet, he was awarded the JV MVP trophy. The QBC also singled out John during his junior year for numerous tackles and assists, as well as a fumble recovery, against Liberty High: John’s work enabled the Panthers to shut out the Lions with a 45‐0 victory. John received a full‐ride scholarship to Utah State University, where he was on the team for two years. The scholarship was presented to John personally by Head Coach Tony Knapp, who said only 20 scholarships were awarded for football that year, with two of those going to AHS students; John and Ron Edwards, a 2007 Antioch Sports Legends inductee. John’s first year at college saw little playing time due to injuries. He was again injured as a sophomore, which ended his football career. John returned to Antioch to attend the California Highway Patrol Academy and served five years in the CHP. He then spent the next 33 years with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District prior to his retirement. John joins his late wife Jill Joseph as an inductee into the Sports Legends. Jill, who was honored posthumously in 2011 as a community leader, met the Panther football player when she was an Antioch High School cheerleader.