June 14, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Fullerton College celebrates memorable opening of Hal Sherbeck Field with win

David Sherbeck stands beside a statue of his dad, legendary Fullerton College football Coach Hal Sherbeck during Saturday’s first football game at Hal Sherbeck Field. (Photos courtesy Jim McCormack, For OC Sports Zone).

If Hal Sherbeck could have been there …

“Oh, he would have been overjoyed,” Sherbeck’s son, David, said at halftime Saturday night of the first football game played on campus in the 110-year history of Fullerton College.

The game was played on Hal Sherbeck Field which honors Hal Sherbeck, the college’s legendary football coach. Sherbeck coached the Hornets for 31 seasons, winning a then community college record 241 games, 16 conference titles and three national crowns.

Quarterback Brandon Nunez, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Mesa, AZ, ran for three scores and passed for a fourth as the 4th-ranked Hornet defeated Santa Barbara City College 27-14.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

More than 500 of his players went on to play at 4-year colleges and among those who called Sherbeck “coach,” were longtime NFL quarterback Steve DeBerg, NFL defensive back Brig Owens, who played for the Washington Redskins for 11 seasons, and Jim Fassel, who coached the New York Giants to an NFC Championship in 2000. The Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.

“This is an incredible stadium,” David Sherbeck continued. “The field is awesome, the bleachers and the lights are great. This is going to be a huge home field advantage.”

That advantage might have began Saturday night. The Hornets’ opponent was Santa Barbara City College, the last team a Sherbeck-coached team defeated, 45-13, in the Potato Bowl before Sherbeck retired in 1991.

The Vaqueros threatened repeatedly, but the Hornet defense managed to stop each drive after two first-half SBCC scores.

Saturday’s game, before an estimated crowd of 2,000, began with two quick Fullerton scores and the crowd had a premature sense that this was going to be an enjoyable evening.

Santa Barbara had other ideas. The Vaqueros, who were 10-1 last year, undefeated in conference and won the Beach Bowl, stiffened defensively and scored a pair of TDs of their own to take
a 14-13 with five minutes remaining in the second half.

Fullerton regained the advantage 58 seconds before halftime, taking an advantage of a short field, Nunez throwing a 14-yard pass to Christian Steward.

Nunez’s third rushing TD, an 8-yard run to the corner of the end zone early in the fourth quarter, gave the Hornets a little breathing room.

Sherbeck was alive when the playing surface of the field was dedicated in honor in May of 2010, but passed away in 2014. In his 31 years as coach, Sherbeck-coached Hornets never played a game on their campus, although many of their games were across the street at Fullerton High School.

“We played everywhere … Fullerton High School, La Palma Park … Yorba Linda High School Anaheim Stadium … and it did make it a little more challenging,” David Sherbeck recalled.

It took parts of two decades for the stadium to be completed, delayed by permit issues and a small, but vocal, group of nearby residents who opposed the project because of the noise and stadium lights.

That, it seems, is now a thing of the past. Now, when the Fullerton football team lists a “home” game on its schedule it will actually be at home.

Hornet Saturday home football games this season are: Sept. 16, vs. East L.A. noon; Sept. 23, vs. Mt. San Jacinto, noon; Oct. 21, vs Palomar, noon; Oct. 28, vs. Grossmont, noon.

—Courtesy Jim McCormack, For OC Sports Zone