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Compton Football

Feature: Compton Memories of ’78 Title Loom Large During Championship Week

When the Compton football team suits up Saturday night at Compton College for the CIF Southern Section Division 12 championship, they won’t just be playing for the guy standing next to them.

They will be playing for a city that remembers the glory days of when Compton High football was a symbol of excellence in the late 1940s through 1970s.

Compton won championships in 1949 and 1950 thanks future USC quarterback Jim Contratto in wins over Santa Barbara and Fullerton. The Tarbabes then went to back-to-back championships in 1978 and 1979 with a CIF championship title coming in a win against Arcadia in ‘78.

“I’ve had a chance to meet some of those alumni that have played in those games,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “It’s meaningful, we haven’t been to a championship in so long. It brings a lot of people out who played and we get to see some of those people that come to the games.”


One of those alumni is assistant coach, Daniel Tillman, who remembers when the Compton football team was one that everyone wanted to play–because he was on the team.

“We used to sleep in hotels before games because teams out in the valley wanted a piece of Compton,” Tillman said. “And we gave it to them.”

That Compton team went 12-1 on their way to an overtime win for the championship.

It’s not just former players, but also Compton administrators that remember what it was like for Compton during the late 1970s.

“I lived down the street from Compton high when I was nine,” Compton principal Rigoberto Roman told the Compton collective that attended Monday’s CIF Banquet. “I remember the seeing the lights from my house and the sound of the band and how special it was.”

Compton’s players are on the verge of giving the city another memory that will be talked about for decades and it’s something that they look forward to.

“It’s really special for us to be the only Compton school in the playoffs that made it this far,” Compton defensive tackle and offensive lineman Samson Tupuola said. “This is an honor to be here and play for a trophy and try and hold that for the city of Compton. We hope that everyone will come out and show out for us and show there’s love and support for us.”


Matt Simon
Matt Simon has been covering sports since 2013. After graduating from Long Beach State, he has covered sports for multiple publications throughout Southern California.