Dave Curtis led the DeSales High School football program in successful fashion at both the A and B classifications during his decade-long tenure as Irish head coach.
DeSales played in the Class A semifinals in 1984 and Kingbowl IX as a B school the following year.
The Irish lost just one league game in 1984 against rugged competition in the Yakima Valley A League that included the Connell Eagles.
“We had a good offense and our defense was very physical,” Curtis said. “We had good players, but didn’t have a ton of depth. We conditioned hard and the kids bought into it.”
Curtis remembered the mid-season matchup at Connell vividly.
“That Connell game was a classic,” Curtis said. “We were up by two and they drove the ball to our 1-yard line (late in the fourth quarter). We called time out and said we were going to let them score. Then we ran the two-minute offense in less than a minute and won the game.”
Roger Jensen was the Irish quarterback that season. His targets included wide receivers Robert
Washabaugh and Scott Magnaghi, and tight end Darrin Wales, Curtis said.
DeSales opposed East Valley in the opening round of the playoffs. The Red Devils knocked the Irish out of the 1983 postseason and were confident they would do it again.
So confident in fact that the public address announcer, during pregame warmups, reminded East Valley fans to make Kingbowl reservations, Curtis said.
“We were pretty fired up,” Curtis said.
Magnaghi turned a 15-yard, far-sideline pitch from Jensen into an 85-yard touchdown with 2:43 left in the final period that lifted the Irish to a 19-13 upset.
“I’m sure it’s a game the players remember,” Curtis said. “It was a great game in every way.”
DeSales earned its trip to the semifinals by bouncing Columbia-Burbank, 6-2, at Borleske Stadium.
“We got ahead and several players got hurt — Scott Rahn (the state leader in touchdowns), Troy Anderson, Jay Maiuri, Tony Pfau,” Curtis said. “Craig Moyer was hurt earlier in the year.
“We struggled to hold the lead,” Curtis said. “We had to punt in our red zone late in the game. We took a safety.”
The Irish lost in the semis to eventual state champion Cashmere.
“I was proud of the way we played,” Curtis said. “We competed really well.”
DeSales returned several players for the ‘85 campaign including Tom Richard — who played fullback, offensive guard, and tight end in his career. Running back Todd Miller was aboard for his freshman voyage.
“He was fast and physical — not a typical freshman,” Curtis said.
The Irish “won games pretty convincingly,” in the regular season, Curtis said, and continued their dominating play in postseason triumphs over Warden, Ritzville and Asotin.
Jensen suffered an injured sternum in the Ritzville game. His status was in doubt for the semifinal.
“I was worried,” Curtis said. “We tried everything.”
Except a hockey pad — per a recommendation from former Kennewick coach Ed Troxel, Curtis said.
DeSales played Concrete for the state title. The Irish lost 42-21 despite 575 yards total offense. Jensen threw for 424 yards. Washabaugh and Magnaghi combined for 17 receptions.
“It was a great game,” Curtis said. “There were some tough calls. Replays on the big screen showed our guys running for touchdowns, but they called us out of bounds. We lit it up, played good defense, but had several turnovers.”
Curtis concluded by talking about the lasting impact the two teams have had on DeSales High School.
“The kids were educationally motivated,” Curtis said. “They were tough, physical, and willing to play through bumps and bruises all those years.
“They were a lot of fun to coach,” Curtis said. “The kids worked hard and raised money to build the weight room. DeSales is a very special place.”