The First 13 Years: A Championship in Waiting

Galileo Foot­ball His­tory: 1921–1933

This post is the writ­ing of Edward Harl­but, Year­book Staffwriter (June’34), writ­ten for the 1934 Galileo year­book, the Telescope.

Galileo’s thir­teen dry years of foot­ball were brought to a happy ter­mi­na­tion on Novem­ber 7, 1933, when the Lions finally took the bacon off the grid­iron for themselves.



Galileo  3 — Com­merce 14
Galileo  0 — Cogswell 26
(the 9-Man Fin­ish)
Galileo 0 — Low­ell 83
(this is not a typo)
Galileo 0 — Mis­sion 7
Galileo 0 — Poly 1 (F)
Galileo 0 — Lick 1 (F)


Galileo 47 — Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 7 — St. Ignatius 6
Galileo 13 — Cogswell 38


Galileo 0 — Sacred Heart 36
Galileo 0 — St. Ignatius 7
Galileo 7 — Cogswell 14
Galileo 6 — Com­merce 6
Galileo 3 — Low­ell 31
Galileo 0 — Mis­sion 47
Galileo 0 — Lick 77
Galileo 0 — Poly 45


Galileo 0 — Low­ell 18
Galileo 12 — Com­merce 0
Galileo 0 — Mis­sion 16


Galileo 14 — Cogswell 16
Galileo 0 — Sacred Heart 19
Galileo 0 — Mis­sion 24
Galileo 0 — St. Ignatius 18
Galileo 13 — Lick 27


Galileo 3 — Low­ell 0
Galileo 0 — Lick 27
Galileo 27 — Mis­sion 0
Galileo 12 — Cogswell 0
Galileo 13 — Sacred Heart 0
Galileo 34 — Com­merce 0
Galileo 0 — Lick 7 (Play­off)


Galileo 0 — Poly 21
Galileo 21 — Cogswell 0
Galileo 19 — Com­merce 6
Galileo 6 — Lick 6
Galileo 7 — Low­ell 13
Galileo 7 — St. Ignatius 0
Galileo 20 — Sacred Heart 0
Galileo 30 — Mis­sion 0


Galileo 13 — Com­merce 0
Galileo 49 — Cogswell 0
Galileo 12 — Low­ell 13
Galileo 12 — St. Ignatius 0
Galileo 13 — Mis­sion 12
Galileo 26 — Lick 0
Galileo 12 — Poly 0
Galileo 25 — Sacred Heart 0


Galileo 13 — Lick 6
Galileo 13 — Com­merce 0
Galileo 7 — Mis­sion 32
Galileo 0 — Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 0 — Low­ell 19
Galileo 6 — Poly 39
Galileo 48 — Cogswell 0
Galileo 19 — St. Ignatius 6


Galileo 6 — Poly 13
Galileo 32 — Cogswell 6
Galileo 0 — Mis­son 6
Galileo 27 — Bal­boa 0
Galileo 0 — Low­ell 0
Galileo 27 — Com­merce 0
Galileo 25 — Sacred Heart 7
Galileo 8 — St. Ignatius 6


Galileo 13 — Com­merce 6
Galileo 33 — St. Ignatius 7
Galileo 13 — Sacred Heart 0
Galileo 0 — Poly 6
Galileo 7 — Low­ell 0
Galileo 22 — Mis­sion 0
Galileo 32 — Bal­boa 6


Galileo 7 — Poly 6
Galileo 6 — Bal­boa 2
Galileo 7 — Low­ell 0
Galileo 14 — Com­merce 6
Galileo 14 — Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 0 — Mis­sion 13


Galileo 19 — Low­ell 0
Galileo 15 — Poly 6
Galileo 13 — Sacred Heart 6
Galileo 13 — Bal­boa 7
Galileo 20 — Mis­sion 6
Galileo 7 — Com­merce 6 (Cham­pi­onship)

For thir­teen long years, since 1921, Galileo has grad­u­ally become a greater threat to the city gird pow­ers. The school’s ini­tial foot­ball call in the Fall of 1921 brought out just eleven can­di­dates. Coach Bain, who is now on the coach­ing staff at UCLA, had to teach these boys Amer­i­can foot­ball, as rugby had been played for the past fif­teen years. On Octo­ber 17,1921, Galileo tan­gled with Com­merce for the first league game of the San Fran­cisco sea­son since the return to Amer­i­can foot­ball. Despite their num­bers, the Galileo con­tin­gent held Com­merce to 14 points, while they them­selves eked out 3 with a field goal. Dur­ing the same term, Galileo won the esteem of the entire city by play­ing Cogswell. But those nine Galileans fought out the rest of the game. They Built tradition.

The fol­low­ing arti­cle is one of six Boy’s Sports sto­ries from the 1921 edi­tion of Pen­du­lum, Vol. 1, No. 1, and is given in full:

“Galileo’s first sea­son of foot­ball has not been a fail­ure in spite of what may have been said. Many say it has been a fail­ure because not only did the play­ers show a lim­ited knowl­edge of foot­ball tac­tics, but they had high scores piled against them, and not one vic­tory through­out the sea­son. Oth­ers say the sea­son had been a suc­cess because in spite of the fact that the boys knew very lit­tle foot­ball, and many times played against men much larger than them­selves, they always showed the right spirit and fought to the last. This good spirit will last through the com­ing years and will win many cham­pi­onships for Galileo.”

He’s right, that scribe of a bygone day. “This good spirit” has lasted through the years, and Galileo won many cham­pi­onships. Such was the foot­ball sit­u­a­tion of the 1933 cham­pi­ons in 1921.

In 1922 came Coach Fred Swan, who just grad­u­ated from Berke­ley High, where he had played quar­ter­back. Swan went on to Stan­ford at the end of the term and became cap­tain of the var­sity. He is now at Tem­ple Uni­ver­sity with “Pop” Warner. This year saw Galileo in its first foot­ball con­quest. They put the Bates bat­tlers to rout, win­ning 27–2. It was not a league con­test, however.

This fol­low­ing let­ter was received by Mr. Nourse, and serves to show that Galileo mem­o­ries fol­low Fred Swan across the continent:

I have just received the San Fran­cisco papers with the account of Galileo win­ning their first cham­pi­onship foot­ball game. May I offer my con­grat­u­la­tions to all the play­ers, the Stu­dent Body, and your­self on the real­iza­tion of a cher­ished dream of all the Galileo alumni.”

In 1923 Galileo had another instruc­tor, Mr. McK­night. Mr. McK­night stayed at Galileo until 1925, but did not accom­plish much more than his predecessors.

1926 brought James E. Spauld­ing as coach to Galileo. Under Spauld­ing the foot­ball team wound up the sea­son with a triple tie for fist place between Low­ell, Lick-Wilmerding, and Galileo. Galileo was defeated by Lick in the play­off, 7–0. Lick was found inel­i­gi­ble, and the palm went to Lowell.

Galileo changed its foot­ball pre­cep­tor again for the 1927 sea­son. This time James Brad­shaw was the men­tor. Galileo fin­ished third in the title race.

The his­tory of shift­ing men in the head foot­ball posi­tion con­tin­ued through 1928, when Howard Ross was selected, and 1929 when Ralph Chase was dis­ci­pli­nar­ian. Chase had been a for­mer All-American player. Galileo was fourth in ’29.

In 1930, ’31, ’32, and ’33, Galileo placed respec­tively third, sec­ond, and after all these years and coaches, first. Ras John­son is the man who engi­neered these four proud sea­sons. Coach John­son deserves all the praise that has been given to Galileo coaches in the past, and more.

The names of each mem­bers of the 1933 squad are next set down: Right end, Ted Spirz; right tackle, Louis Bedoni; right guard, Milt Seropan; cen­ter, Tyler McHugh; left guard, Vit­to­rio Rebizzo; left tackle, Frank Ste­fani; left end, James Dil­lon; quar­ter­back, Dario Lodi­giani; right half, Bill Roberts (cap­tain); left half, Leon Cheva­lier; full back, Gene Lacau. Orin DeVoto alter­nated at tackle.

The remain­ing play­ers on this cham­pi­onship team are Clarke, Cohen, Craw­ford, Fegu­son, Hart­man, Heb­gen, King, Mar­tinelli, McGuf­fin, Pedrin, Perry, Rosen­thal, Russo, Schaupp, Sensi, and Thompson.

The record of Galileo’s San Fran­cisco grid games for the past thir­teen years which is printed in these pages was made pos­si­ble largely through the kind coöper­a­tion of Prin­ci­pal J. P. Nourse. The two games which Galileo for­feited in 1921 were because of not being able to muster eleven men to start them.

A nice ges­ture was made by the ex-champion Mis­sion High on Mon­day, Novem­ber 13. Prin­ci­pal Drew of Mis­sion, who needs no intro­duc­tion to Galileo, where his bril­liant son Bill was chief cook and bot­tle washer dur­ing his matric­u­la­tion, brought the foot­ball tro­phy held by Mis­sion last year over to Galileo in per­son. With him was Ray Niblock, the stu­dent president.


The Galileo jinx was knocked for a loop when the mighty eleven from Com­merce placed its head on the block for the Galileo execu­tors. And the knit­ting women counted six and seven-Galileo seven.

On Novem­ber 7, the Lions finally crashed through to grab the so long elu­sive San Fran­cisco foot­ball tro­phy. The win over Com­merce was the ninth straight over the Bull­dogs for the Lions.

Early in the first quar­ter Com­merce gave cause for alarm by going against the grain down to the thirteen-yard stripe. The Bull­dogs shot a pass over the goal line, but it was incomplete.

Galileo’s ball on their twenty. Com­m­merce off­side. One, two, three, four, five yards. Galileo’s ball on their twenty-five. Roberts call­ing ‘em. Look at those boys go! Chevalier’s off for twenty-five yards! Lacau through center-Roberts off tackle. The Bull­dog is back­ing up. They are on the two-yard line. And Cheva­lier ter­mi­nates the eighty-yard jour­ney of the Galileo Jug­ger­naut with a touch­down! Dario Lodi­giani, who has done most of the con­vert­ing this sea­son, is back wait­ing for the ball to be snapped. Roberts places it for him and it is good! Galileo leads Com­merce at the end of the first quar­ter 7–0.

Right Half Jimmy Coffis of Com­merce showed lots of light­en­ing. It was chained by Galileo until the third quar­ter when the Bull­dog flash streaked down the side­lines sixty yards to a touch­down. He lanced through Galileo’s line and wormed through five Galileans. He was nearly over­taken on the five-yard line by Ted Spirz, who with a deseper­ate leap caused him to stum­ble. Pur­ple and gold sup­port­ers crossed their fin­gers when Com­merce got off its place kick. The ball missed the cross­bars, how­ever, and the game again set­tled down to air­tight ball.

Orin DeVoto, who had been out most of the sea­son with a bro­ken shoul­der, was acclaimed by his team­mates as the best lines­man of the day. All in all, Galileo out­played Com­merce, chalk­ing up thir­teen first downs to their oppo­nents five.


On Sep­tem­ber 16 Gali­ileo deci­sively defeated Low­ell High School with a 19–0 vic­tory. This was Galiileo’s first league game, and fans expected a close one.

After the kick­off, how­ever, when Low­ell received the pigskin from the well-educated toe of Dario Lodi­giani on their eleven-yard line, the game just seemed to say, “Galileo for me”. Lowell’s first play was to kick out of a tough spot.

The game was spec­tac­u­lar, or erratic, with many kicks, fluke passes, and a fire­cracker that sent spec­ta­tors swarm­ing over the field two min­utes before the end of the game. Play was resumed with sev­eral thou­sand stu­dents bound­ing the gridiron.

The first quar­ter espe­cially was like a game of “Kick­back”, with Bill roberts doing the boot­ing for Galileo. It was Galileo’s ball on the Lowell’s fifteen-yard line when the quar­ter ended.

Lacau bucked the ball up to the one-yard line, and went undre cen­ter for the first touch­down. Lodi­giani failed to con­vert. Fol­low­ing Lodigiani’s kick­off, the Lions beat the Cards back from their twenty-eight to their six­teen. Bedoni blocked the Low­ell punt and Galileo got the ball ontheir seven. A few plays more, all in this dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory, and a pass to Spirz ripped through the Cards for the sec­ond tally. At the half the score­board at the end of Kezar Sta­dium showed that Galileo led 12–0.

Low­ell received the kick­off again, on their thirty-two. Phe­lan brought it up to the thirty-nine. Spirz and Bedoni smashed through and Spirz blocked the kick. His team­mate cap­tured the ball and scur­ried off for the third touchdown.

Although there was no score in the fourth quar­ter, there were sev­eral pretty tosses. Cheva­lier played hid and seek with one of Lowell’s passes by bring­ing the ball around his back. He dropped it. And so, despite the fact that the Low­ellites forced the two extra, or rather, remain­ing min­utes of play, there was no fur­ther scoring.


Galileo’s sec­ond game, with Poly­tech­nic on Octo­ber 6, was another col­or­ful con­test. The Lions again clawed through a stub­born oppo­nent to a deci­sive vic­tory. When the last gun went off, the score, 15–6, indi­cated that the best team had tri­umphed in a fairly close game.

Galileo’s scores were all sparkling plays. The first touch­down was net­ted when a Polyite fum­bled Roberts’ kick on his one and one-half yard line. When Poly attempted to kick, Bedoni blocked it and Roberts recov­ered on Poly’s three. Lacau brought the stands to their feet with a dive over the goal line good for two yards. The con­vert didn’t click. The next Galileo score was after a beau­ti­ful pass from Cheva­lier to Dil­lon. The ball sailed forty yards and into Jim’s arms past the safety. Dil­lon turned and ran another thirty yards to the touch­down. Lodi­giani lifted the pigskin over the bar to make the Galilean thir­teenth point. After the kick­off fol­low­ing, Poly was penal­ized for clip­ping from behind. This put the ball on their one-yard line. Ted Spirz fought through to block Minvielle’s punt. Min­vielle recov­ered, but was smeared for a safety. The score was now Galileo 15, Poly 6.

Poly’s six points were due to a bril­liant thirty-yard run by their star, Al Minvielle.


And was Leo’s face red! Galileo 13, Sacred Heart 6. That is the way a “set-up” game ended on Fri­day, the thir­teenth of Octo­ber. Galileo won, how­ever, and that’s what counts. This made the third hur­dle suc­cess­fully passed in the cham­pi­onship race.

When Galileo received the kick­off, and made four straight first downs, it looked like the Irish didn’t have so much fight after all. But it took plenty of fight to hold the Lions from scor­ing on the twelve-yard line, after the down-field march by the deter­mined beast.

From the one-half yard line Gene Lacau had to “go hard” over cen­ter to make the first six points. Bill Roberts added to the score with a place kick. In this same third quar­ter Galileo got its sec­ond touch­down when Ted Spirz gob­bled up a short pass from Cheva­lier and gal­loped forty-seven yards to the line marked “G”. The try for point failed.


The score should read Klo­tovich 6, because with­out him there would not have been any Mis­sion, on Thurs­day, Octo­ber 26. Coach Elder of Mis­sion stated that Galileo had plenty of power, which recalled Ras Johnson’s state­ment to the same effect ear­lier in the term. They had to have power to plow through the fog which enveloped the sta­dium. This game looked eas­ier than the Sacred Heart one. This was the semi-final of the cham­pi­onship go for Galileo.

From the open­ing whis­tle, Galileo started to play fine foot­ball, backed by enthu­si­as­tic root­ers. The lions’ first touch­down fol­lowed a seventy-five yard drive after receiv­ing the kick­off. The long push was aided by a “Cheva­lier spe­cial”, a run of twenty-five yards. When Galileo reached the twelve-yard line, Spirz went around the right end for the six points on an end-around play.

Galileo scored again the first quar­ter after Roberts had punted the ball out of bounds nicely on the goal line. The Bears kicked to Lodi­giani, who made his most skill­ful return of the sea­son inbring­ing the ball up fif­teen yards to Mission’s eigh­teen. Three plays and it went to the eight. Ted Spirz again dashed from his right end post around the flank, to com­plete another suc­cess­ful end-around, for the touchdown.

The third quar­ter belonged to Yotz Klotvich. He toted the ball eight times in a row and Mis­sion advanced from their own thirty-five, over Galileo’s goal line. Yotz made the touch­down a final fifteen-yard ram­ble around right end. He failed to con­vert. Galileo made its last tally this period. Milt Seropan, right guard, recov­ered a Bear fum­ble some­how in that mist of their twenty-eight. Cheva­lier, Lacau, and Sensi moved it up to strik­ing dis­tance, and Lacau went over. Lodi­giani con­verted. No more scores were reported by the ref­er­ees and the game ended with the fog triumphant.


Galileo won another “breeze” game on Octo­ber 18, by defeat­ing Bal­boa High, the acknowl­edged under­dogs, by the score of 13–7. This made the fourth straight victory.

On the open­ing play of the game, after the Buc­ca­neers had received the kick­off, Galileo scored. Frank Ste­fani crashed through the line to block Balboa’s boot and “Sugar” Rebizzo, hard-working guard, pounced upon the ball over the goal line. Lodi­giani put the ball between the cross­bar to make the score Galileo 7, Bal­boa 0. At this stage of the game it looked as though the Lions would get their work­out by run­ning up and down the field between touchdowns.

The Lion’s tail was twitch­ing when he resumed play in the third quar­ter. Leo smelled blood and pushed the pirates fifty yards until he drew it. It was drawn by Gene Lacau who clawed through left guard for the sec­ond touch­down. Dillion’s place kick went wide.

The Buc­ca­neers gained the trea­sured six points by block­ing a Galileo kick and run­ning the ball over the goal. They converted.

Sensi of Galileo cre­ated a sen­sa­tion when he ran a kick­off eighty-five yards to a touch­down. The points were not awarded to Galileo as Bal­boa charged clip­ping from behind. The final tally was Galileo 13, Bal­boa 7.


Galileo opened its 1933 grid sea­son at Galileo, against Marin Junior C0llege. The home-towners scored after Dil­lon grabbed a Marin fum­ble on their twenty-five. Cheva­lier moved it to the fif­teen and Lacau bucked it over. Roberts failed to con­vert. In the fourth quar­ter, sauder of Marin inter­cepted a pass from Cheva­lier to Dil­lon and ran fifty-three yards to a touch­down. He also made the con­vert. The game ended shortly after­wards with the col­le­gians ahead, 7–6.

The Lions took another jolt on the jaw on Sep­tem­ber 8, when they were handed a 6–0 defeat by Rich­mond High School, at Rich­mond. Coach Ras John­son started the sec­ond stringers. They were scored upon in the sec­ond quar­ter when Rich­mond com­pleted a long pass. Galileo fought hard and stopped the con­ver­sion. The var­sity was sent in for the rest of the game, but they couldn’t nose out the cross-bayers.

On Admis­sion Day Galileo jour­neyed down to Red­wood City to take Sequoia to the tune of 19–13. The out­stand­ing play­ers for Galileo in this game were Cheva­lier, the great­est ground gainer on either side; Pedrin, who played a bang-up game at guard; and Bedoni, who shone as an end. Lacau, steady full­back, plunged for all the three touch­downs. Spirz blocked a punt and gave Galileo the ball on the oppo­nents’  five yard line. The first touch­down fol­lowed a buck.

Lodi­giani added to the score with a place kick. The sec­ond touch­down came after a drive down the field which ended over the goal line. The third Lion touch­down was the result of a com­pleted pass from Cheva­lier to Bedoni, good for about thirty yards. The score fol­lowed. Sequoia got their thir­teen points by total­ing up two touch­downs and a con­ver­sion in the sec­ond half.

A score­less tie ended Galileo’s fourth prac­tice game. It was played at Stock­ton on the night of Sep­tem­ber 30. Leon Cheva­lier played up to form by eat­ing up the turf. He was respon­si­ble in great part for the seven first downs won by the Lions. The Stock­tonites made eleven first downs. The game being played under arti­fi­cial illu­mi­na­tion, a unique con­di­tion for Galileans, might have been respon­si­ble in part for the lack of a Galileo touch­down. The game was extremely close throughout.