1983 COACHING-FOOTBALL INDUCTEE
The sixty-year history of Fresno City College football is accented by four outstanding chapters that were contributed by state champion teams coached by Clare Slaughter. Slaughter put his stamp of excellence on the state’s competitive football map by achieving state titles in 1968, 1969, 1972, and 1973. Additionally, the Slaughter-coached Rams won seven conference championships-1964, 1966, 1968-1969, 1972-1973, and 1975-with three out of five post-season bowl appearances. During his tenure from 1959 through 1978, Slaughter’s teams compiled a 136-61-6 record in eighteen seasons. From 1968 through 1973, the team captured four state titles for a 52-11-3 record. His teams also won twice as many games as they lost during two decades, going 66-31-2 from 1960 to 1969 and 72-30-3 from 1970 to 1979.
Slaughter was an end for football teams at Porterville High School and the College of the Pacific. He also led the varsity team at Sanger High School, coaching Tom Flores, later of Oakland Raiders coaching fame, for two years at Sanger High. Sanger won three consecutive Valley Prep Championships in its division from 1953 through 1955 during Slaughter’s seven years as coach for the Apaches. After he succeeded Hans Weidenhoefer in 1959 as the third head football coach for the state’s oldest junior college, Slaughter coached Flores for two more seasons at Fresno City College before Tom transferred to COP (now University of the Pacific). Other notable Rams under Slaughter’s influence included wide receivers Bill Herron and Ervin Hunt, running back Freddy Figueroa center/linebacker Jim Merlo, defensive lineman Greg Boyd, defensive backs Mike Freeman, Dewayne Crump, and Rod Perry. Herron and Merlo also prepped at Sanger High. Four players on the Rams’ four state championship teams were picked on the Junior College Grid-Wire All-American First Team: Offensive guard Ken Mayo in 1968, quarterback Mike Rasmussen in 1969, defensive linemen Tom Ryska in 1972, and Mike Long in 1973. Merlo, an honorable mention for the 1969 state champs, was named to the Junior College All-American first team the next season, a non-state title year.
Slaughter still resides near Fresno City College with his wife Eveline, who teaches at her own private school. daughter, Julianne Ely also lives in Fresno and the Slaughters’ two sons, Jeffrey and Jonathon, live in Merced and Illinois respectively. A third son, Jim, who played football for his dad at City College, has passed away. Slaughter declines to name a favorite athlete amongst those he coached, but he does name Gene Green, who played at Sanger High, as the best all-around athlete. What was his biggest coaching thrill? “It would have to be the first state championship we won in 1968,” he said. “My son, you know, also played on that team.” During six decades of football played by Fresno City College, forty-three of those seasons were on the winning side of the ledger, equating to .662 percent. The red and white uniformed Rams have logged an impressive 394 career wins in a state where junior college football has always been hotly contested and 122 of those moments of gridiron glory were stamped with Slaughter’s initials.