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Tuesday, November, 27, 2007 | Willie Buchanon will be sitting in the stands at an Oceanside High football game when he hears a score over the loudspeaker from contests at La Costa Canyon or Escondido.
Every Friday night he pulls out his cell phone and calls Kenny Stills or Sammy Seale, whom he knows are attending the La Costa Canyon or Escondido games.
He asks Kenny and Sammy — retired NFL players, like Buchanon — how their sons are doing, and he can hear the excitement and pride in their voices.
Buchanon knows the feeling. The San Diego State All-American from Oceanside High who played 11 years in the NFL with the Chargers and Green Bay Packers has been through the proud papa stage of watching his son as a star on a high school football field.
William Buchanon was an All-CIF wide receiver for the Pirates who went on to play at USC and was with the Oakland Raiders last year and spent time with the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs this season.
La Costa Canyon sophomore wide receiver Kenny Stills and Escondido sophomore running back Ricky Seale have quickly established themselves as among the top players in San Diego County.
But the best part, Buchanon says, is watching your son play a sport with passion for his own dreams.
“Most of us understand that our kids are individuals and they have to play the game because they love it and not because their father played football,” Buchanon said. “It makes it all that much better when your kid has the attitude and desire to play the game.”
Ricky Seale’s season ended with the regular season, when he rushed for 1,227 yards on 155 carries for 13 touchdowns for the Cougars (2-7).
But Stills’ season is still alive at La Costa Canyon. The Mavericks (7-3) travel to Oceanside (9-1) Friday night for a semifinal game in the CIF San Diego Section Division II playoffs between the No. 8-ranked Mavericks and No. 2-ranked Pirates at storied Simcox Field.
He caught a 54-yard touchdown pass in last week’s CIF quarterfinal win over San Pasqual. His 25 catches for 555 yards (22.2 yards per catch) have sparked the offense on what earlier in the year was a team winning with defense.
I haven’t had a chance to see an Escondido game this year, but if you tune into Coach John Kentera’s High School Sports Show from 10 p.m. to midnight on XX Radio when Kentera, Bob Petinak and myself conduct a round table, you know I think Stills is a special player.
“He’s a sophomore sensation with a great future,” La Costa Canyon
senior quarterback Jose Mohler told me after the Torrey Pines game three weeks ago. “He’s going to be one of those special kids that gets to choose his college. It’s ridiculous how good he is.”
Buchanon echoes those thoughts for Seale.
“They’re both going to be highly recruited kids,” Buchanon said. “The No. 1 thing they have is speed. They say you can’t coach speed, but speed also comes from desire and learning. Both of them are good athletes with good techniques that could play just about any position on the field.”
Most dads stop attending high school games when their sons graduate, but Buchanon still loves this time of year. For the defending champion Pirates, it usually means a trip to Qualcomm Stadium, scheduled for Dec. 7 this year.
“The week the football games were canceled because of the wildfires, I didn’t know what to do with myself,” Buchanon said. “I have a group of guys I sit with at the games that I got to know from going to the games to see my son play. John Lopez always brings a baloney sandwich for me on Friday nights.”
Stills, who has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at East Stroudsburg State in Pennsylvania after five years as an assistant coach in NFL Europe, has been able to make it home to see his son’s last two games once East Stroudburg’s season concluded.
Stills played at El Camino High, Palomar College and Wisconsin before spending six years in the NFL with Green Bay and Minnesota. Seale played five seasons with the Raiders and two years with the Chargers before he settled in Escondido.
I wondered what Buchanon thought about an Oceanside/El Camino legacy playing for La Costa Canyon. I believe I’ve heard Herb Meyer — who coached Buchanon during 44 seasons as the head coach at Oceanside and cross-town El Camino — groaning every time Stills makes a big play for La Costa Canyon.
“We lose some great kids when people move out of Oceanside,” Buchanon said. “But the good thing about Oceanside parks and recreation is we have a lot of great people working with kids. The Oceanside Pop Warner coaches do a good job of working with the high school coaches. That helps build up athletic opportunities for kids.”
Not to mention proud papas, especially the ones content to sit back and enjoy without interfering.