A Holguin Family tradition gets revived every third decade:
The Holguins gather for a Thanksgiving feast and, a few days later, watch members of the clan line up with the Santa Barbara High football team to play for a CIF-Southern Section championship.
“The Golden Tornado and the whole Dons’ dynasty is a tradition in my family,” said Frank Jr., Class of 1990.
His father, Frank Sr., was the starting fullback for the Golden Tornado team which beat Centennial High 19-6 at the Los Angeles Coliseum for the 1960 Large Schools crown.
Frank Jr. was the starting center of the Tornado team that tied Muir 7-7 to become Division II co-champions in the fall of 1989.
His son Ryan will live up to the family legacy tonight when he starts at right offensive guard for Santa Barbara in its Division 8 title game against Sunny Hills.
“I told him to go out and one-up his dad,” Frank Jr. said. “We only tied for the title.”
Tonight’s kickoff is at 7 p.m. at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium.
“I’m glad we get to practice on Thanksgiving,” Ryan said as the team drilled at Warkentin on Wednesday night. “We get to be with each other, and then be with our real families.”
Thursday’s family dinner was cooked by grandma Nona, Frank Sr.’s wife.
“The family has been super-stoked,” Frank Jr. said. “It’s been a whirlwind of emotions — for me especially with all the memories of ’89 coming back.”
Not long after that 1989 season, he hunted down the reel-to-reel film from 1960 that had been stored in a top floor of the Santa Barbara High field house.
“I had it transferred onto a DVD tape and gave it to my dad as a Father’s Day gift,” Frank Jr. said. “It’s cool to see those old, grainy, black-and-white films. It’s just as awesome watching my game in the VHS tapes.
“Ryan’s video will be a little bit more crisp and digitally cleaner.”
The family tradition is what prompted Ryan, now a 6-foot and 235-pound sophomore, to sign up for the Youth Football League’s Santa Barbara Red Saints three years ago. The first thing he did was ask for his father’s high school number: 70.
“I told him, ‘Dude, you can have your own identity,’ but he said he really wanted my number,” Frank Jr. said. “He’s been doing great and I’m way beyond proud of him.”
Ryan began dreaming about this night during his first days in the YFL.
“I was always hoping to play for a CIF championship, ever since I started playing,” he said. “It’s really crazy that it’s happening now.”
It came sooner than he thought. He started this season on Santa Barbara High’s junior varsity, a team which wound up going undefeated.
“At first, I was called up to varsity just to dress,” Ryan said.
He did get into five plays at the end of the varsity’s 51-14, season-opening victory at Buena.
Just before the fifth game, however, he was told that he was going to start against powerhouse Pacifica, a team that will play at La Serna tonight for the CIF-SS Division 6 championship.
“It was an absolute shock to us,” his father said. “When they said they’d be dressing a couple of the sophomores from the JV team, we thought, ‘Hey, sweet! That’s an honor just to put on the varsity uniform.’ But after a while, the coaches recognized that he could help them.
“He was pretty surprised, too. They liked his work ethic and how coachable he is. He’s always out there giving 100%.”
Two other sophomores will also start tonight: left tackle Johnny Perez and defensive safety Grant Gonzales.
Ryan had already learned a lot of football at the Holguin dinner table.
“My dad gives me a lot of tips,” he said. “We’re always talking football.”
Much of the conversation has revolved around “sportsmanship” and how to “conduct yourself on the field.”
“He asks about the Golden Tornado stories and what the coaches were like back then,” Frank Jr. said. “His grandpa talks about it, too, and brings up his old teammates, like Rod Dowhower.”
Grandpa Frank also goes to all the games.
“He doesn’t give me advice, he just tells me, ‘Good job,’” Ryan said. “He encourages me.”
Frank Sr. actually had three sons don the Golden Tornado jersey: Michael and Daniel both played for Santa Barbara in the early 1990s along with one of their cousins, Eric Holguin, who comes from “the baseball side of the family.”
Daniel’s son Jack is a senior wide receiver on this year’s squad.
“This is a huge deal for our whole family,” Frank Jr. said. “We have a cousin on my great uncle Frank’s side coming from Oregon. A family member from Nevada came to watch the semifinal game.”
Even his daughter is getting swirled into the Golden Tornado hoopla.
“Not only has my boy been asking questions about the old days, Amanda has, too,” Frank Jr. said. “A few weeks ago, the kids pulled out the scrapbook my mother had put together of the 1989 season and looked it over.
“Mom cut out every clipping from the newspaper.”
Tonight should be another one for the books.
Mark Patton’s column appears on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org