Class of 2015

Mike Reale

All-Around Athlete

Mike Reale was a poster boy for old-school Antioch.

Country strong and blessed with a blue-collar work ethic, Reale was the rock of Gibraltar. The king of the playing fields. A kid for all seasons.

The 1981 Antioch High School graduate was a three-sport standout — All-Diablo Valley Athletic League in football and baseball and a state-qualifier in wrestling. He earned eight varsity letters overall and was named the school’s Most Valuable Senior Athlete in 1981.

“I absolutely loved being a three-sport athlete,” Reale said. “It’s just something I always did. I loved the different sports and playing with all my different teammates. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”

In football, the 6 foot, 217-pounder was a hard-hitting linebacker for a team that allowed less than a touchdown per game. He and fellow linebacker Mark Halverson won the team’s “Hardest Hitter” Award and each averaged at least 10 tackles a game. Reale was named MVP. “In the traditional 4-3 defense, everything was funneled to us,” he said modestly. “We just did what we were supposed to.” Reale did much more than crunch people. He also played guard and was the team’s kicker. It seemed there was nothing Reale didn’t excel at.  Besides being selected to the 1981 Contra Costa County All-Star team, the Antioch Ledger selected him to its “80’s Team of the Decade” as a first-team linebacker.

Though he had a passion for basketball, wrestling was the sport of choice in the region. Reale went through his sophomore league season unbeaten in action in the heavyweight division and finished second in the DVAL league meet. He was going to skip his senior season, but was talked into by his mentor and assistant football coach Randy Autentico, who just took over the wrestling team.

In his senior year, he was again undefeated in league, won the DVAL league tournament and placed third in the 200 pound class at North coast Section to qualify for the state meet. Reale was named team captain and MVP.  

It proved a good choice, as Reale won the DVAL 200-pound weight class, placed third at North Coast Section to qualify for the state meet. He called reaching the state meet at Chico State one of the highlights of his high school athletic career.

“Considering I wasn’t even planning to go out it was a big surprise and a big deal,” Reale said.

In baseball, he was the Panthers’ starting catcher as a sophomore and team captain as a junior when he hit .313 and led the DVAL in home runs and Antioch to a league crown. “We had great team that year,” he said. “We won 13 straight at one point.” There were many win streaks at Antioch back then, Reale said. Kids were confident because of their blue-collar upbringing. “It felt like a small town,” he said. “Everyone was intertwined. All the parents worked together. There was pride and camaraderie. And that all instilled confidence.”

That spilled over after high school for Reale who went on to excel in football at Cal State Hayward, where he played for future Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. Reale was a special team’s captain as a freshman and started as a sophomore.

He transferred to Sacramento State because it offered electrical engineering, played a season but then focused full time at school. It proved a smart move. He earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees and for the past 19 year he’s run his own engineer business in Roseville, while he and high school sweetheart Renee (Campbell) Reale raised their two children, Kathryn and Michael. Reale coached his kids in soccer, baseball and basketball, while staying very active himself. He’s run six marathons, including The Boston Marathon, and is an avid golfer (8.3 handicap).

Mike points back to Antioch mentors like his late father Mike — “he never missed a game or practice,” Reale said — his late father-in-law Ken Campbell and coaches such as Randy Autentico and Sal Seno, his best friend’s father, as key figures.

Autentico arrived in his life as a ninth-grader at Park Junior High, where Reale was voted the school’s Most Valuable athlete.

“Randy was my mentor, my coach, my champion,” he said. “He was always there for me. He wasn’t just a great athletic coach but a life coach. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about him. He taught me so much.”

Pat Sweeney

Wrestling

To win a CIF team title in any sport takes some extra special and even unexpected performances.

Pat Sweeney, a 1988 graduate, came through with a doozy helping Antioch High win its only State wrestling title that same year at the University of Pacific in Stockton.

Unlike most CIF sports that are broken down by divisions, State wrestling pits all comers, so to win a State crown individually or as a team is an extra-ordinary accomplishment.

Sweeney, who didn’t even win a North Coast Section crown — he finished second in the 132-pound weight class — took third at State after eliminating the number 1 and 2 State ranked wrestlers helping the Panthers capture the title with 89.5 points compared to 66 for runner-up Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo.

Sweeney was one of four State placers for the Panthers; including the team’s only champion Jason Verduzco. That 1988 team was inducted into the 2010 Sports Legends class.

“The State tournament is unique because you can sometimes win with a few individuals,” Coach Steve Sanchez told the Contra Costa Times before a 2008 team reunion. “We not only had a team that could go to the State tournament and win but also if it was a dual meet tournament, we’d be right in there also.”

Sweeney was a huge part of that team, taking first place at four tournaments: the Reno Sierra Nevada Classic, the Clovis/Pepsi Invitational, the San Marin Green and Gold and the DVAL Championships, the second year in a row he captured the league crown. He also second place at Arcata and third place at the Overfelt Tournament.

He finished 41-4 that season — winning the most matches on the team — and earned the Coaches’ Award from Sanchez. Other awards he won his senior year were: The Golden State Wrestling Club Scholarship Award, the Albert Seeno Athlete of the Week award and Wrestler of the Week award. His vast improvement to his senior year was a big reason why the Panthers won it all.

As a junior Sweeney was 28-9 and took fifth at NCS. Besides winning a league title, he was third at the Bellarmine Tournament, fourth at the Reno Sierra Nevada Classic and sixth at the Overfelt Tournament.

As a sophomore, he went 10-3 on varsity, taking fourth at the Far Western Junior Olympics Freestyle and fifth at the Overfelt Tournament. He was the DVAL junior varsity championship that season, the second straight year he won it. As a ninth-grader at Park Junior High, Sweeney also won the title.

In all, Sweeney placed at the State meet once (third), placed at NCS twice (second and fifth) and was two-time varsity and two-time junior varsity DVAL champion.

Mike Vera

Golf

Antioch High School 1996

Starting in the middle 1980s, Antioch High School churned out collegiate golfers almost annually.

Larry Silveira (San Jose State, University of Arizona 1984), Scott Olds (UOP, 1987), Jeff Lyons (Oregon, 1988) and Chris Ryne (St. Mary’s College, 1989) were all scholarship golfers who sported the Panthers’ black and gold.

Holding up that tradition in the 90’s was Michael Vera, a four-time Antioch team MVP and 1994 North Coast Section champion who earned a scholarship to UCLA.

“Antioch has a reputation of having good junior players,” Vera told Antioch Ledger scribe Kerry Young after accepting his scholarship to UCLA. “They don’t have a lot of money and they don’t have as many privileges as some other kids playing at a public course, but they’re competitive.”

The 1996 Antioch graduate was a four-time All-Bay Valley Athletic League first-team performer also tied for seventh in the CIF Northern California tournament as a junior. That year, he won the BVAL title with an even par round of 72 at Rancho Solano Golf Course in Fairfield.

What made that title so special was, five minutes before he teed off he switched to a cross-handed putting stroke. Vera was that talented and versatile.

“He’d never done it before,” Antioch coach Ron Olds told the Contra Costa Times. “He decided to do it because he’s been putting so bad, and it worked.”

Vera finished among the top 10 at NorCals as a sophomore, the same season he won NCS.

Vera was a standout even before high school, acing a hole in one at the Lone tree Golf Course (hole 14) and winning the Northern California Golf Tournament for ages 12 and 13 at age 12. Later he captured the under-14 division of the Las Vegas AJGA Tournament in 1992 and he also won the Antioch Junior Golf title at 14.

He led the Panthers to a BVAL title his freshmen season by recording the team’s best scoring average. That set the tone for a superb four-year prep career that also included a two-year varsity stint on the basketball team. The 6-foot, 165-pound guard averaged 15 points per game and shot 40 percent on three-pointers as a senior.

Shortly after the basketball season, he opened his senior golf campaign by winning the Joe Gambetta Invitational at Lone Tree, by shooting a 2-over-par round of 73. He actually tied Alhambra junior Chad Navarro, but then won in sudden death. He made 14 straight pars during regulation of his round, and then made two more in the playoff to win.

“It definitely wasn’t exciting golf,” Vera told Young afterward. “It was tough out there. It was rainy, windy. … It was hard concentrating on just golf.”

But Vera’s versatility and ability to adapt is what attracted colleges to him. He picked UCLA, where he lettered for four years, because of its superb home courses, tradition and location. The Bruins won the 1988 NCAA title and over the years produced such standouts as Corey Pavin, Duffy Waldorf and Steve Pate.

After graduation from UCLA, Vera set a then Lone Tree Golf Course record with a round of 63.

Kraig Walker

Wrestling

Antioch High School 1983

He was known affectionately by teammates and fearfully by opponents as “The Mauler.” By the end of his two-year wrestling career, he was better known as the first ever Antioch High School grappler to place at the State meet.

The 1983 graduate placed fourth his senior season in the 148-pound division at the State meet held at Selland Arena in Fresno.

As a sophomore, Walker went 18-2 en route to a junior varsity title. Antioch coach Steve Sanchez said of him heading into his junior campaign: “Pound for pound, he’s one of the strongest wrestlers on the team. He is also very aggressive.”

That’s largely why he earned his nickname along with toying with lesser opponents to get in the work. He could have recorded many more pins, but he enjoyed the process. 

“When a guy gets pinned, he can walk away and say it’s a fluke,” assistant Antioch coach Frank Orlando said. “But they can’t say that after they get done wrestling Walker.”

Said Sanchez: “He is a mauler. He’s an ornery kid when he’s out there.”

His skill and nature paved the way to a Diablo Valley Athletic League varsity title as a junior and third in the 140-pound division at North Coast Section.  

Walker was the first Antioch junior to reach state the State meet since 1973 and after clinching third at NCS, he stood in the center of the mat and raised his arms. “I’ve never shown that much emotion after a match,” Walker told the Antioch Ledger “I can’t believe I’m going to state. This is the best moment of my wrestling career.” 

But Walker was just getting started. 

His senior year was even better. He led the Panthers to second place at the Peninsula Christmas Wrest Tournament at South San Francisco High School by winning four straight matches, including 11-9 in the finals to improve to 13-0 on the season. 

He helped the Panthers open Diablo Valley Athletic League play with a 33-18 win over College Park. Walker pinned David Williams 30 seconds into the third round after piling up a 17-1 lead. It was his 17th straight win to start the year, 10 by pins. 

Walker went on to not only win the DVAL title, but the league’s MVP Martin Olivera Award. He then took fourth at State and finished his illustrious prep career with an 81-14 record.

After Walker’s prep success he received a full ride scholarship to San Jose State, where he won the PCAA championship in 1984-85. That qualified him for the NCAA tournament.

One of his college highlights was taking first place in the 158-pound division at the Beehive Tournament on the campus of Utah State. Walker beat Lonnie Currier, the nation’s No. 17th-ranked wrestler, in the semifinals before beating Boise State’s K.C. Lane in the finals 9-3. 

“Kraig was only predicted to finish in fourth place,” San Jose State coach Dale Kestel told SJSU Daily staff writer Marty Picone that week. “But he looked very steady and aggressive and didn’t seem to be bothered by the high elevation.”

Walker always seemed to rise past expectation.

1977 Antioch High School Football Team

Third Row: Coach Gary San Martin,
Coach Ron Morelli, Gordy Darling,
Bert Reese, Bill Douville, Rich Lisa,
Steven Shelton, Joe Gleason,
Reuben Lana, Dan Carden,
Scott Bergerhouse, Greg Taylor,
Gary Noack, Rick Spohn, Mike Olenchalk,
Kevin Bean, Brian Harris, Unknown,
Head Coach Marvin Comstock,
Coach Charlie Jones.

Back Row: Trainer Richard Hammett, Darrell
MacCarter, Joe Aiello, Kenneth Vosmers,
George Del Monte, Jerry Jones,
Pat Welch, Ferris Anthony, Frank Riebschalger,
Gary Pico, Darryl Corzine, Rich Trabold,
Tom Moore, Jim Manly, Rich Taylor,
Ken Harvey, Unknown.

The 1977 Antioch High School football team had it all: speed, power, depth, a Hall of Fame coach and most of all, camaraderie.

“We truly played like a team,” nose guard Ferris Anthony said. “We didn’t even have names on our jerseys. We just played for the guy playing next to us.”

With a roster approaching 60, coach Marv Comstock — a 2009 Sports Legends Hall of Famer — had few, if any, go both ways.

The Panthers, reflecting Comstock’s hard-nosed personality, won 10 straight games before losing in the North Coast Section 3A finals 35-26 to favored Mission San Jose at DVC.

Buoyed in the middle by the 305-pound Anthony and led by active, hard-hitting linebackers Jerry Jones and Doug Jones, the defense allowed 107 points and included three consecutive shutouts heading into the title game.

“The Jones boys were crazy good,” Anthony said. “They attacked sideline to sideline. They were really, really good.”

The offense, run by QB Scott Bergerhouse, was led by fullback Bill Douville, tailback Tony Lang and flanker Mike Shaw. Douville wasn’t swift, but he was an absolute load and earned team MVP and All-Northern California honors.

“Think Marv Hubbard,” Anthony said. “He ran straight down hill.”

Lang (2011 SL-HOF member) and Shaw (2012 SL-HOF), a pair of juniors, were fast and athletic and attacked on the perimeter, leading to big wins over Berkeley (24-19), Pittsburg (36-22) and Mt. Diablo (30-6). They finished second in the final East Bay Poll behind champion Mission San Jose.

Lang reminds Anthony of current Antioch tailback Najee Harris, who is ranked the top junior back in the country by 247 Sports.com. He’s also the No. 6 recruit in the country overall for his class.

“Lang could run over you but he could really scoot to the outside,” Anthony said. “Those two guys (Lang and Shaw) were really lightning to (Douville’s) thunder.”

Six players earned Diablo Valley Athletic League first team honors from the 1977 Championship Team : Douville, Lang, Doug Jones special teams, center Pat Welch, tackle Rich Taylor and receiver Gary Pico.

Six more were second team selections: Shaw, Doug Jones linebacker, guard Mark Long, tight end Tom Moore, defensive lineman Jim Ryan and defensive back Kevin Bean.

Douville and Jerry Jones were first team All-East Bay selections, Lang, Taylor and Bean were second teamers and Welch and Pico were honorable mentions. With Bill Douville earning the sole All-Northern California honor.

All that top talented led to a North Coast Section 3A championship game against Mission San Jose at Diablo. MSJ jumped out to a big lead and then hung on for the victory.

“They were heavily favored,” Anthony said. “And they took it to us early. But we never stopped coming at them. We got inside a touchdown but they scored late to seal it.”

Afterward, the Panthers weren’t that dejected, Anthony said.

“We definitely gave it our all,” he said. “We could have quit when we got down big, but we kept fighting back. It was a great group. One I’ll always remember.”