John Zant: Carpinteria Warriors’ Jimenez Football Legacy

Tim Jimenez Jr. could have stayed in Vegas, a city teeming with very big and very fast young men, and perhaps he’d be playing football with them on a powerful high school team. But that would have defied more than 60 years of tradition in Carpinteria, the hometown of his grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

So after Tim completed the 7th grade, his family moved to Carpinteria. His dad, Tim Sr., kept his job at a club in Las Vegas, commuting every Tuesday and returning home Friday. Why go to all that trouble? “Tim had to live up to the Jimenez legend,” his father said. “He got the triple whammy: my father, myself, and especially my brother.”

John Zant's column appears each week in the Santa Barbara Independent.

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John Zant’s column appears
each week in the
Santa Barbara Independent

Santa-Barbara-Independent

The Jimenez boys have been good-luck charms for Carpinteria High football. Tony Jimenez Sr. was the first, an All-CIF running back as a senior in 1953, when the Warriors went undefeated in the regular season but lost to Hawthorne, a vastly larger school, in the playoffs. His two sons, Tony and Tim, helped take the Warriors several steps further.

Tony Jimenez Jr. was a Carpinteria linebacker and running back in 1975, a season that will be remembered this week and forever, because, as they say, “Warrior Spirit never dies!” Those Warriors went all the way to the school’s first CIF football championship. The community will gather for a 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday, November 7.

Tim Jimenez Sr., Tony’s much younger brother, came along at the tail end of Carpinteria’s run of three consecutive CIF titles (1987-88-89). A linebacker and running back like Tony, he was a key player on the team that brought the school its fifth CIF trophy in 1991.

Tim Jimenez Jr. grew up hearing about those gridiron heroics. Other family members, like his father’s cousin Alex Jimenez, who scored four touchdowns in a game, had their moments under the lights at Carpinteria Memorial Field, which until 1999 was located at the Middle School in the heart of the town. Tim saw his own cousin, Tony’s son J.P., play for the Warriors in 2006.

Another reason young Tim’s parents wanted him to experience his high school years in Carpinteria is the character of the town. “You walk down the street, and you know everybody,” his father said. Instead of Facebook images, residents see real faces.

“In Las Vegas, there are more places to go and things to do,” young Tim said. He could have vetoed the move, but he saw Carpinteria’s positives: the beach, the sense of community, and a quaint Foster’s Freeze.

Tim Jimenez Sr., left, with son Timothy Jimenez Jr., right, and legendary Carpinteria football coach Lou Pannizon.

Tim Jimenez Sr., left, with son Timothy Jimenez Jr., right, and legendary Carpinteria football coach Lou Panizzon. (Paul Wellman Photo)

Tim, a six-foot, 170-pound senior, was appointed a captain of this year’s Warriors, as his father had been 24 years ago. He is a safety and linebacker, a hybrid defensive position that’s called “Warrior.” He also returns kicks. During the October 16 game against Cantwell-Sacred Heart, he scored a touchdown on an 82-yard punt return.

That was the day that all roads leading to the South Coast were jammed with traffic because of the closure of mud-swamped Interstate 5. Tim’s father was stuck somewhere on Highway 150 while the Warriors were romping to a 54-0 victory. “That’s the only game I’ve missed since my son was 6 years old,” he said.

The Warriors went through a tough nonleague schedule, and despite a 3-6 record, they should reach the CIF playoffs if they take care of Fillmore at home Friday night, November 6. But the playoffs are not promising. The Tri-Valley League, comprising four small schools, has been thrown into a postseason grouping of gridiron giants. Not even Bishop Diego, the TVL leader with a 9-0 record, is expected to go far against such teams as Camarillo, Lompoc, and Arroyo Grande.

Ben Hallock is in his second tour of duty as Carpinteria’s head coach. Both of the Tim Jimenezes have played for him. “I couldn’t ask for a more supportive community,” Hallock said. “Even when things aren’t going well, people tell me, ‘Keep after it. Hang in there.’”

Things went very well in 1975, the debut season of alumnus Lou Panizzon as Carpinteria’s coach. After going 7-1 in the regular season, the Warriors took down Santa Ynez, 25-6; Valley Christian, 10-6; and in the semifinals, they stopped Paso Robles for the first time in 27 years, 6-0. In the title game, they defeated L.A. Lutheran, 9-6, on Walter Requejo’s 11th field goal of the year.

Panizzon, who retired as coach after the 1989 championship, will preside over Saturday’s 40th anniversary celebration at the Veterans Memorial Building. Last week he dropped by the campus field, where Tony Jimenez was watching his nephew practice. “Mr. Panizzon!” he said reverently.

“It took me a while to get across town,” Panizzon said. “There used to be just two stop signs.” He reminisced with Jimenez, who was 5’6” and 175 pounds back in the day and still appears to be about the same. “He was one of those little guys who can hit, like a little baseball player who hits home runs,” Panizzon said. “He had a nose for the ball. He forced a fumble against Paso Robles.”

Carpinteria’s first CIF champions were very much a team, with 11 All-TVL and six All-CIF players. They included Jay Canton, who rushed for over 1,000 yards; Requejo, who made a 50-yard field goal; Doug Pauley, a receiver who went on to play for Woody Hayes at Ohio State; and quarterback Keith Bell, the league MVP.

Tony Jimenez, a junior in 1975, returned the next year and made All-CIF, thus completing the first father-son combination at Carpinteria to attain that honor. They were later joined by Henry and Aaron Gonzales. Quarterback Steve Perez, who played a part in the 1975 title, also made All-CIF. But the 1976 team was knocked out of the playoffs by an old nemesis. “Paso Robles ended my career,” Jimenez said. “Damn those guys.”

There are plenty of sweet football memories in Carpinteria, but a few lemons have dropped along the way, even on the Jimenezes.

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