Southern California  WFL

Sun  - 1975



Head Coach Tom Fears, the All Everything former UCLA and Rams receiver was pleased with the performance of his staff of coaches and brought them back for another season. Offensive coordinator Babe Dimancheff, defensive coordinator Ed Cody, offensive backfield coach and former Falcons, Giants, and Saints fullback Ernie Wheelwright, offensive line coach Dick Enright, and defensive line coach and former Chicago Bear great Earl Leggett had a great deal of respect from their players and were game to give the WFL another year. The Sun had made a big splash before the 1974 season had started by signing USC All America offensive lineman Booker Brown and the UCLA running back tandem of Kermit Johnson and James McAlister. Going into the playoff game that the Sun qualified for McAlister was injured and Brown and Johnson refused to play having not been paid for the season’s final regular season game. The Sun made just as big a splash for 1975 signing one of the major names in college football and a sure fire bet to destroy the salary structure of the Hemmeter Plan. Anthony Davis was a true-to-life Southern California football hero and the Sun had him, not the NFL. Davis was Los Angeles Co-Player Of The Year after completing his high school career as a quarterback at San Fernando H.S. He topped off his senior prom by being named the Los Angeles Player Of The Year for baseball too and was City champion in wrestling. As perhaps the most highly recruited schoolboy in the nation, he chose Southern Cal where he played outfield for the National Championship USC team in the spring and led the football team to a national championship. He had remarkable games against Notre Dame and was runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting, losing out to Archie Griffin of Ohio State. His list of team and conference records was staggering. USC teammate and Rhodes Scholar Pat Haden joined Davis as a member of the Sun with another USC standout, J.J McKay. Thus, the USC quarterback, his favorite receiver, one he had teamed with since their days at Bishop Amat H.S., and the top running back in the country were all members of the 1975 Southern California offensive unit. That Haden was slated to leave the team to fulfill his Rhodes Scholarship responsibilities at Oxford University in mid-September did not stand in the way of his starting. Daryle Lamonica however did and was penciled in as the number one signal caller after jumping to the Sun from the Oakland Raiders. Lamonica was a very highly respected passer, known as the “Mad Bomber” for his skyscraper-like throws to deep route receivers, a penchant that had taken the Raiders and his former team, the Buffalo Bills, to a number of titles. Unfortunately, Lamonica was injured early in the season and retired shortly thereafter. With six members of the 1974 offensive line returning, the Suns entered the 1975 season with great optimism.


The optimism was met with Lamonica’s injury, Haden stepping in to finish third in passing statistics in the final league standings, Terry Lindsey finishing second in receiving, and the vaunted A.D., Anthony Davis leading the league in rushing by a wide margin, almost 400 yards ahead of runner-up Art Cantrelle of Birmingham. Davis also won the scoring title with 133 points, fifty points ahead of second-place man Billy Sadler of the San Antonio Wings. Obviously the Sun offense was potent and when the league was dissolved after the Sun had completed their twelfth game, their talent headed off to other pastures. Haden headed to Oxford but returned to the States on time to join the Los Angeles Rams (they had drafted him in round seven of the 1975 draft) and have a productive six-year stay that he later parlayed into a lucrative broadcasting career. Davis went to the CFL and later returned to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs for the 1977 season. In 1978 he split a four game and three carry year between the Oilers and Rams, a victim of injury. Lindsey finished his second year with the Sun but was not able to make it to an NFL roster. On the defensive side of the ball, Sun tackle Charles Dejurnett teamed with veteran Dave Roller to provide their second year of effective line play. At 6’4” and 263 pounds, Dejurnett was extremely quick and strong, adept at both pass rushing and stuffing the run. An all California product of L.A.’s Crenshaw High School, West Los Angeles Junior College, San Jose State, and then the Sun, he continued his California residence as a starter with the Chargers from 1976-1980 and then played again with the L.A. Rams from 1982 through 1986. Roller sandwiched his Sun career between two stints in the NFL, first with the Giants in 1971 after a heralded career at the University Of Kentucky and again with the Packers in 1975, managing to squeeze in six games after the demise of the WFL. He continued with the Pack through 1978 and finished his playing career with the Vikings in 1979 and 1980. One of the unsung Sun players but one who typified the second, third, or fourth chance that the WFL provided was return man Marvin “Jet Away” Pettaway, a 5’6”, 160 pound ball of fire. Thirty years of age by the time he finished with the 1975 Sun, Pettaway had only a year at Los Angeles City College (JC) before joining the pro ranks in Canada. A six year CFL veteran, he was the league MVP in 1969 as their best defensive back. He came back to the states with the Las Vegas Cowboys of the Continental League for the 1968 and 69 seasons, essentially playing a season and a half  (CFL and Continental League ball) those years. It is commentary on his ability that he was in the top few punt or kick returners each season. 1970 found him in Orlando, returning kickoffs and punts for the Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Football League where he was the league’s leading punt returner. 1971 was another season in the ACFL, this time with the Hartford Knights where he led the league in kickoff return yardage. He returned to the CFL in 1972 and was named the MVP of the Grey Cup Game. Marvin did his thing with the Bell in 1974 and came over to the Sun after the start of the 1975 season, finishing third in kickoff and fifth in punt returns for the year. When the league folded thirty-one year old Marvin called it quits.  


There was a slight alteration in the jersey sleeve stripe pattern but the Sun uniform was essentially the same as it was in 1974. The helmet logo remained unique with a sun decal that seemed to give off heat and the striping design of the distinctive Sun color combination. There was a difference in helmet striping appearance between the MacGregor and Riddell shells, both worn by Sun players, with a gapped appearance presented by one and a thicker center stripe with the other. Their white jersey with “opposite from the helmet” sleeve stripes of orange-white-magenta-white-orange arrangement was nicely set off by the orange pants with magenta stripe, perhaps more so than the dark magenta jersey which for many, seemed to be “too much” California style.  BACK...


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