I have always been very thankful to have been given the ability to become a high school football coach and have the opportunity to work with so many great young people.
Even though I am now retired I continue to be impressed by the character of Del Norte High School students. Max Keyes, a 1987 Warrior graduate, is one of those special young men who made coaching great.
Max joined the Warrior football team as a freshman member of the JV program. He was a talented athlete who could play a skill position on either side of the ball, offense and defense.
Watching Max again as a sophomore on the JV squad I
really looked forward to having him move up to the varsity squad as a junior. When I became one of Max's coaches, I found out what a real talent he was: He could run, catch and throw on the offensive side of the ball and was a sure tackler on the defensive side.
During his senior season he was special. Blaine Lopez was in his third year as starting quarterback, and early in the season I decided to let Blaine call his own plays. This was something I had only done once before, and this was with a quarterback in Yucca Valley.
Max was installed as our starting tailback. From this position he was able to use his running and his pass catching skills. Max became our leading rusher and broke the existing record for pass receptions. Max, along with senior Kevin Holben, were Blaine's leading receivers as Blaine set a new league record for passing yards in a single season, throwing for over 2,200 yards.
It was the final game of the season when Max got to show off his throwing ability. We were playing Fortuna at its field, and it had already secured a place in the section playoffs and needed to beat us to secure a first-round home game.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors were down by less than a touchdown. We were able to get the ball back with about a minute to go. Blaine called the halfback pass. He threw the ball to Max, who threw 40 yards to tight end Gene Mitchell for the big upset victory.
We kicked off and Fortuna only had time for one play. It tried a reverse, and defensive end Greg Yeager made a great open-field tackle.
Game over. One of my favorite football memories.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was football head coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.