La Jolla High football vs. water polo: ‘Tangle in the Tank’ nets $1,200 for cancer research


La Jolla High School’s boys athletics showed its school spirit, camaraderie and sense of humor Oct. 14, 2015 for a very important cause — the inaugural “Tangle in the Tank” benefit for the Susan G. Komen San Diego Foundation for breast cancer research and treatment.

The Viking football team challenged the water polo team to a game of water polo. On the face of it, this doesn’t seem fair, but there were two significant rule changes that helped level the playing field (or in this case, smooth the waters). The football team plays with 11 on its roster, so that’s what it had in the pool, versus seven for the water polo team. When the football team scored a goal, it counted for seven points, much like a touchdown.

With early school dismissal, students lined up at Coggan Pool with $3 in hand to donate to the cause. Many students and athletes embraced the #RealMenWearPink theme by wearing pink speedos, pink zinc and pink bracelets; and pink ribbons were distributed to the fans. The Vikings Cheer Squad even broke out their new pink pom-poms to rally both sides. By 1 p.m., hundreds of students and family members filled the stands.

Prior to the game, water polo head coach Tom Atwell spoke eloquently about the need to find cures for cancer. As a two-time cancer survivor, he spoke from the heart. Coach Atwell also gave the football team an overview of the rules of water polo.

Football head coach Jason Carter may be an offensive genius, but he and assistant coach John McColl needed to design some clever defensive schemes to stop the water polo team from scoring at will. The best idea of the game was the two-goalie system used in the second half.

Seniors Myles Martinez, Simon Hirschfield and Aidan Scott scored early goals for water polo, and the extra defenders for football seemed to be working. When lefty Jonathan Levenson fired a shot from seven meters into the back of the net, the stands went crazy with the football team taking a 7-3 lead.

Cole Atwell and John Murphy added a couple more buckets before Conner Carpenter came up with the shot of the game – a crowd-pleasing helicopter shot into the net’s upper right corner. The water polo team took a 10-7 lead into the half. Milan Dimich served as the game’s announcer with great enthusiasm and humor. Randy Franke was the referee who held back on the whistle in the first half, but called some creative exclusions to eject a few polo players in the fourth quarter.

The football defense worked well in the second half and at one point the score was 14-14. Nice plays for football came from Cole Dimich, Daniel McColl, “Jojo” Russell, Trevor Scully and Stone Scoppetuolo. Levenson continued to shoot well and the two-goalie system blocked several shots.

Douglass Webster and Cole Raulston took turns defending the cage for the water polo team. Jake Marshall and Nico Ivanov scored nice goals and the rest of Atwell’s team took turns in the tank until the score was 22-14 in favor of water polo.

Late in the game, another timely “touchdown” was scored on a power play with polo players out of the pool due to multiple exclusions. With the score 22-21, referee Franke called for a novel two-point conversion from five meters that would have put the game away for the football team, but the skip shot by Mitchell Scott was blocked by goalie Raulston.

The water polo team may have eeked-out a victory, but the real winner on this day was breast cancer research. Proceeds from the gate were in excess of $1,200.

Special thanks to the ASB, PTA and LJHS Foundation for promoting the game and working behind the scenes to make this event a success.

Way to go Vikings!