The 1959 Warrior football team was a really fun and exciting group to watch. It was the first team in school history to capture the league championship.
The team featured a number of outstanding, colorful players who I have gotten to know. I was still doing graduate work at Humboldt State so I got to see several of their games.
Frank Sperry, a 1960 Warrior graduate, was one of those players. Frank started his Warrior football career as a freshman member of the JV team, but as a sophomore he moved to the varsity squad and immediately made an impact.
He helped Del Norte beat Ashland High School 14-7 by intercepting a pass and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors continued to be tough and as Frank entered his junior year, the team finished second to a strong Arcata team, losing two close games, 10-7 and 21-20.
Frank was a strong player on both offense and defense. As a senior he continued to be a two-way starter on the Warrior team that finally brought a football championship to Del Norte under legendary Warrior coach Tex Gatlin.
At the end of his senior year he was honored by the league coaches as they selected Frank to their coaches’ first team All Star rosters both offensively and defensively. He was also selected to the All North Coast Section Team.
After graduating from Del Norte, Frank was on to Humboldt State, where he was able to continue his football career. I was lucky, since I got to see him play as both a Warrior and a Lumberjack.
When I first returned to Del Norte in 1980, the Warrior Bench sponsored a program where Coach Gatlin selected his Dream Team of the ’50s. This was a select group of players from that decade, and it was a group that a coach can only dream about having together on one team.
Frank was part of that team. He was a special young man.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High sports. He played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, later serving as the school’s football coach for a number of years.