UCLA backfield coach JIM BLEWETT (left) and Bruins line coach RAY RICHARDS (right) help prize recruit JACKIE ROBINSON, the multi-sport sensation who rushed for 1,093 yards while scoring 18 total touchdowns in eleven games for Pasadena Junior College during the 1938 campaign, register for classes in the coming semester after transferring to the University of California at Los Angeles in January of 1939. ======================================================
Good ole’ Tom Sawyer has been doing some fascinating research on the MANUAL ARTS HIGH SCHOOL gridiron program in the mid-to-late 1910s over at his very fine blog specializing in UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA at LOS ANGELES football in the first half of the 20th Century :
Here at this blog, it has already been documented that no fewer than six Manual Arts High School products were on the two-deep depth charts of both the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans for the legendary clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in December of 1939 that was witnessed by the largest crowd ever to watch any football game west of the Mississippi River.
UCLA first-year head coach BABE HORRELL was widely credited by the contemporary sportswriters all throughout the 1939 season for having revamped the Bruins’ traditional Single Wing offense by installing the so-called “Man-In-Motion” feature. Unfortunately, history does not seem to record exactly how much influence UCLA backfield coach JIM BLEWETT, the longtime Manual Arts High School varsity head coach who was now in his first season as an assistant at the collegiate level, had over the design and implementation of the Bruins’ new tactics. However, Blewett’s background certainly seems to indicate that the first-year UCLA backfield coach would have had at least a little input, if not considerably more.
“Jim Blewett was the first great athlete produced at Manual Arts High School,” this according to the official transcript of the Los Angeles High School Sports Hall Of Fame Inaugural Induction Ceremony (June 5, 2011) :
As a track & field athlete, Blewett was recognized as the shot put champion of the City of Los Angeles as a sophomore in 1915 and again as a junior in 1916. As a senior in 1917, the future UCLA backfield coach became the shot put champion of the entire State of California. Blewett was also a standout football player for led powerhouse Manual Arts High School, the Vermont Avenue institution that celebrated the city championship title five times (1913, 1914, 1916, 1917 and 1919) in but a single decade alone.
As a senior on the gridiron in 1916, Blewett was not only named All-City fullback in Los Angeles but was also chosen to represent Manual Arts High School on the presitigous All-Southern California XI picked by contemporary sportwriter Jack Darroch from the San Diego Union newspaper.
Manual Arts High School fullback JIM BLEWETT is shown kicking left-footed in the lower right hand corner of this photo highlighting the 1916 All-Southern California XI. To Blewett’s immediate left is a teammate from the 1916 Los Angeles city championship squad, tackle Ken Brockman, with the other four players all hailing from San Diego High School, recognized as the champion of the State of California that season. The San Diego trio appearing in the top row of this photo displayed — from left to right, left halfback Bryan “Pesky” Sprott (far left, top row), right end Harold “Brick” Muller and quarterback Karl Deeds — all later starred on the University of California Golden Bears’ famous 1920 Wonder Team, the national championship title-winning squad that posted a perfect 9-0-0 record while outscoring its opponents by the overwhelming margin of 510-14 … http://www.partletonsports.com/?attachment_id=5895
Blewett went on to play football at the University of California at Berkeley under the legendary Golden Bears head coach ANDY SMITH but was hampered by injuries. After completing his education, Blewett stayed in the northern California area and got his feet wet as a head coach by filling the position at Fresno High School from 1921 until 1925. At this point, Blewett returned to his Manual Arts High School roots and set about the business becoming a California scholastic coaching legend.
The former Manual Arts High School fullback captured his first Los Angeles city championship title as a head coach at his alma mater in 1930. Three more city championship titles for the Manual Arts football team followed in 1934, 1936 and 1937 before Blewett accepted a job offer from new UCLA Bruins head coach Babe Horrell in December of 1938. Shortly thereafter, Blewett was rewarded with a raise and a four-year contract extension after UCLA finished the 1939 NCAA campaign with an unbeaten record of 6-0-4 and the # 7 ranking in the final Associated Press national poll.
Reportedly, continuing strained relations with Horrell led Blewett to resign from his position as backfield coach at UCLA in late December of 1940. Once again, Blewett went back to Manual Arts High School and resumed his duties as head football coach but only got in one season before going off to serve his country during World War II. After the hostilities had concluded, Blewett returned to his alma mater yet one more time in 1947 and would enjoy a highly successful seventeen-year run as head coach that included five more Los Angeles city championship titles in 1952, 1954, 1957, 1961 and 1962.
When Blewett finally retired in 1963, there was no other high school coach in the entire State of California who could match the impressive record (225 wins, 70 losses, 16 ties) that he had compiled over the course of his distinguished 36-year career (Fresno 1921-25, Manual Arts 1926-38, 1941, 1947-63).
During his long, if often interrupted, tenure as head coach at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, Blewett helped to develop countless numbers of collegiate players including a pair of would-be USC Trojans who also later became very high picks in the annual National Football League Draft. Passing specialist DOYLE NAVE, who gained 52 net yards rushing (4.0 avg) on the ground versus the UCLA Bruins team assisted by Blewett in 1939, was the sixth overall player chosen at the 1940 NFL Draft when selected in the first round by the Detroit Lions. Almost two decades later, exciting All-America halfback and kick returner JON ARNETT was the second overall player taken at the 1957 NFL Draft when tabbed in the first round by the hometown Los Angeles Rams.