Warrior Memories: 1957 Del Norte football season a special one

By Dick Trone June 04, 2012 05:10 pm

It is always fun to watch a winner.

The 1957 Warriors provided fans with a lot of thrills. I was a senior at Humboldt State at the time and had completed my football career so I had my Friday nights free. This allowed me to see this exciting group play. Its record was 6 wins and 3 losses and it outscored opponents 182-63. The team shut out five of their opponents.

What made it extra-special was two of those shutouts were against the Eureka Loggers, and Warrior fans love to see Del Norte beat Eureka.

The team was coached by Tex Gatlin, who was in his sixth year as the Warriors head coach. He was assisted by Mel Hurd, a Humboldt State graduate, whom I had fun playing with in my freshman year in 1951.

Mel was a darn good lineman with the Jacks, and an excellent teacher of the skills needed to be a good lineman.

The team had two players, Bill Sullivan and Matt Kelley, who were named to the All State Football Team, Bill for his outstanding  offensive play and Matt for exceptional defensive play. Little did I know that both of these young men would one day work as assistant coaches for me.

Bill was an assistant here when I returned to Del Norte and Matt was my assistant when I was coaching at Yucca Valley High School in Southern  California.

When Matt was with me in Yucca Valley, we had a team that was undefeated until we lost the section championship game 12-0. I always felt Matt was a great part of that team’s success. Matt left Yucca Valley to become a very successful coach at Fortuna High.

Four players from the 1957 team have already been inducted into Del Norte High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Drew Roberts, whom many Warrior fans look at as one of the best all-around athletes ever at Del Norte and a Hall of Famer for his football play at Humboldt. Danny Sousa was an outstanding quarterback who also had an outstanding career at Humboldt.

They have joined Bill and Matt as Warrior Hall of Famers.

There were others on the team whose names are sure to come up in the future, like Frank Sperry, who had a 70-yard interception return against Ashland for a touchdown; Dale Nickle, a terrific running back; Bert Markille, who kicked the field goal to beat Eureka 3-0; plus many others that fans remember.

I sure enjoyed watching this group and really getting to know some of them. I know as a coach that the players who I named were only part of why the team was so good, that there were many others whose contributions were equally important in making the 1957 football season one to remember.

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.