Team that beat Boise and won New Mexico Wool Bowl will be inducted into Hall of Fame along with Dante Scarnecchia, Tom Harrell
This year's class of inductees into the Taft College Hall of Fame has a definite football flavor.
The college has not had a football program since it was scuttled in 1994 along with the rest of the school’s athletic programs (some sports were later restored), but this year’s inductees include the 1966 championship team, the head coach and a player who has five Super Bowl rings as a longtime NFL assistant coach.
The 1966 team, banned in California for using out-of-state players, was forced to play schools from Arizona, Washington, Idaho, New Mexico and Texas along with in-state four-year colleges and universities. It was one of six Tom Harrell-coached teams that played under the auspices of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which did not have California’s highly restrictive rules.
That team finished 9-1, including a victory over Cisco TX in the New Mexico Wool Bowl game. Among the wins was a 41-5 rout of the nation’s No. 1-ranked team – Boise (Ida.), one of the most memorable games in Cougar football history.
After winning their first seven games and outscoring opponents 354-37 the Cougars stumbled against nationally ranked Arizona Western, losing 27-14, before rebounding the next week with the win at Boise that knocked the Broncos out of the NJCAA national championship game in Savannah GA and sending TC to the Wool Bowl.
Inductee Dante Scarnecchia, a freshman center on that team, is currently in his 34th season with the World Champion New England Patriots – perhaps the most notable assistant coach in the NFL and seeking his sixth Super Bowl ring coaching the blockers tasked with protecting franchise quarterback Tom Brady.
Another member of the '66 Cougar team was Jim Anderson, who spent 29 years with the Cincinnati Bengals and is a longtime close friend of Scarnecchia.
One of two quarterbacks on that team was Dan Bonillas, who later became a world skeet shooting champion.
Another inductee at the Nov. 17 ceremony is former football and track star Otis Smith, who spent some time in his NFL career with the Patriots.
Harrell, who is being honored posthumously, coached football at TC for 10 seasons, including those NJCAA teams. It was Harrell who persuaded the TC Board of Trustees to join the NJCAA. It was either that or scuttle football. In the end Taft’s football program was the victim of a budget axe.
The Hall of Fame reception begins at 5 p.m. with the induction ceremony to follow at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75. Table sponsorships are also available for $500. The deadline for ticket sales is Friday, Nov. 1.
For more information or to reserve your seat, please contact Jennifer Edmaiston at 66-763-7829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.