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"The Streak" continues to flourish

Column by Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

“The Streak” began the season after South Tahoe and Whittell high schools miraculously appeared in the 1991 Nevada state football championships together.

Tiger Woods was a scrawny teen-ager who struggled to make birdies and beat the top junior players from California at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. The Buffalo Bills were losing the second of their four Super Bowls; Donovan Osborne, a Carson High grad, won 11 games for the St. Louis Cardinals; the Cleveland Fire charred 60 structures and burned 25,000 acres of timber near Ice House Road north of U.S. Highway 50; Andre Agassi was dating Barbara Streisand, Michael Jordan was busy winning his second NBA title; Evander Holyfield was heavyweight champion of the world; Carl Lewis was anchoring the U.S. 4×100 relay to Olympic gold for his eighth gold in three Summer Games; and the South Lake Tahoe City Council approved a 20-year master plan for Lake Tahoe Airport.

And “The Streak” was just beginning in Concord, Calif.



Sports fanatics like to refer to UCLA’s men’s basketball team’s 88-game winning streak or their seven-year national championship run from 1967-73 as the daddies of all streaks.

But the Bruins’ amazing feats are being diminished by the De La Salle football team.




De La Salle, which hasn’t lost a football game since 1991, lengthened “The Streak” to an unthinkable 127 games with a hard-fought victory 31-21 over St. Louis-Honolulu on Saturday night in Honolulu.

That’s right, the Spartans traveled all the way to Hawaii to risk “The Streak” against the island’s top-rated program. Some boxing champions could learn from the Spartans’ sporting gesture of taking on all comers.

With “The Streak” well into triple digits, Fox Sports has joined in the ride, televising Saturday night’s game.

It gave fans out of the know a unique opportunity to see what “The Streak” is all about. From what can be learned from one televised game, it’s transparent why the Spartans win all of the time.

They aren’t imposing — their offensive and defensive lines actually were smaller than St. Louis’ — but the Spartans are seldom out of position and rarely miss an assignment.

Moreover, the Spartans stress the importance special teams have on the outcome of a game. In addition to converting a 43-yard field goal (STHS’s Ryan Kraw kicked one seven yards further last Saturday), all seven of Tony Binswanger’s kickoffs went for touchbacks. Forcing a team to start 80 yards away from paydirt each time, not only demoralizes an offense, but is a sure-fire formula for defensive success.

“Our special teams were great,” De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur told Student Sports. “They give us excellent field position, which was a key throughout.”

That a high school team can continue to compile unbeaten season after undefeated season despite the continuous turnover of student-athletes is a marvelous story.

What has made “The Streak” more impressive in recent years is that De La Salle hasn’t protected it by only playing the Pinole Valleys and Clayton Valleys of their region. The Spartans have given Mater Dei, Bakersfield and Long Beach Poly repeated cracks at becoming a national story.

Locally, we have seen the chasm between McQueen and the rest of the state year after year, but Ken Dalton’s Lancers have never been able to get their streak out of the 20s. An Elko, Wooster or Las Vegas school has always found a way to bring the Lancers down to earth.

During the Spartans’ record-setting run, they have registered 31 shutouts and outscored opponents 5,998 to 1,172. Mater Dei has come the closest to halting “The Streak,” losing 31-28 in 2000 and 28-21 in 1998.

Interestingly, Sacramento-area power Grass Valley, has had two opportunities to end “The Streak,” falling to the Spartans 48-17 in 1998 and 48-14 in 1997.

Long Beach Poly, which lost to the Spartans 29-15 last year, gets another shot at closing the books on “The Streak” on Oct. 12.

But it would be a shame to see it end now. “The Streak” is 10 years old and nearing puberty.


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